Around the NAIAtion Week 4: Chip’s Picks, Recaps and What to Expect for September 23rd.

The best game in the NAIA last week will spawn the best game in the NAIA this week. We’re moving into the season of the cream rising to the top and the top teams separating themselves from the pack.

Last weekend I had my eyes on RV Missouri Valley at No. 25 Graceland. This game had all the makings of an early season test for both squads. MoVal prevailed 49-42 by going on an 8 play, 90 yard drive in the final minutes of the game to secure the victory with 15 seconds left. MoVal jumped out to a 14-0 lead and stayed ahead of the Yellow Jackets until the 3:34 mark of the 4th quarter when Graceland knotted things at 42. Even though the Vikings gave up 42 points, they limited Graceland’s offense to 281 yards of total offense. MoVal RB Jeremiah Bryant carried the ball 23 times for 126 yards and four touchdowns for the Vikes while the Yellow Jackets were unable to move the ball on the ground, finishing with -11 yards rushing. MoVal WR Khaleel Dampier had 8 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns to add to the Vikings offense. The games don’t get any smaller for the Vikings this week as they take on one of the best in the NAIA, No. 2 Grand View. Both squads are undefeated with something to prove.

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Around the NAIAtion Week 3: Chip’s Picks, Recaps and Why This Week is Tough.

I’m a coward. That’s the best way to describe it. If anyone looked at my predictions or every bet I’ve ever put on college football they could probably say one of two things and be accurate.

He’s a coward.

He’s an idiot.

Last week I predicted that Benedictine at Graceland would be one of the biggest games of the week in the NAIA. I also went so far as to say “this game has upset written all over it.” But what did I do? Not pick the upset and look like a coward.

Graceland is not playing like cowards. They knocked off previous NAIA Top 10 Benedictine 37-35 in Lamoni, Iowa Saturday night. The Yellowjackets are now 3-0 behind one of the most high powered offenses in the NAIA. GU trailed 35-28 with 7:45 remaining before punching in another touchdown and kicking a game winning FG with 13 seconds left in the game. What’s interesting is GU kicker Alex Tuyo had a chance to tie the game at 35 when the XP failed and Benedictine retained the lead. On the ensuring drive, Benedictine couldn’t move the ball and was forced to punt. Graceland took over at their own 14 with 2:10 left to play and went 59 yards to set up the game winning kick.

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NAIA Football: Around the NAIAtion Week 2

Football is HERE! Everyone is playing, teams are getting upset and we’ve already got questions on what’s going to happen this year. We’ve finally gotten a look at all of the NAIA and we can start making some estimations on what to see this coming season. We’ve also seen our first baseball/football score of the season with William Penn beating Missouri Baptist, 6-2!

As I do every week, let’s take a look at what happened last weekend and give some predictions for what’s to come this week.

No. 1 Northwestern (Iowa) defeated GPAC conference foe Concordia, 48-35. NWC led 21-7 at the half before Concordia made it interesting by putting up 21 points in the 3rd quarter. Northwestern still led 35-28 going into the fourth before pulling out the victory. NWC QB Jalyn Gramstad was 20-25 for 227 yards and three scores through the air while adding 91 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Konner McQuillan pounded out 252 yards on the ground on 19 carries for two scores as well. Michael Story had 11 catches for 159 yards for the Red Raiders. Concordia QB DJ McGarvie was 33-53 for 413 yards and three scores. I’m gonna be honest, the No. 1 team in the country played this game much closer than I thought they would.

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NAIA Football: Around the NAIAtion Week 1

Aug 31st and Sept 2nd Game Predictions

While it wasn’t a full slate a of games it was still enough to quench your long overdue NAIA football thirst as Week 0 provided some nice games to check out. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now and I still don’t understand why we insist on calling it Week 0 instead of Week 1. Start counting to 10 in your head right now. . .did you start 1, 2, 3 or 0, 1, 2? Sorry, I guess at this point I’m just an old guy yelling at clouds.

Each week I plan on providing at least one article looking at NAIA football as whole. AKA an “Around the Nation” blog that gives you a quick overview of what to expect that week. In our case, it’s “Around the NAIAtion.”

See what I did there? Clever? Not at all. Annoying to see in print? Absolutely.

WEEK 0 Review and Highlights:
Probably the most interesting win of the weekend was one not on anyone’s national radar. Graceland defeated Doane 42-17. Neither team is seen as a national power at this point but Graceland is casting a slight “blip” on the far outside. Like most who covered NAIA football for years, I saw the hiring of Pat Ross at Graceland and thought two things; No. 1 Pat wouldn’t take a job he didn’t think he could win at. No. 2 If the administration commits to the program the Yellow Jackets could be scary.

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NAIA Football Week 0 Recap

NAIA Week 0 is in the book and man it feels good to have college football back. Sure it wasn’t a full slate of games but that doesn’t mean it didn’t lack drama. It also doesn’t mean there weren’t some real shitty games. Here’s the high level “what you need to care about” from this weekend’s slate

Morningside defeats Benedictine, 20-17: We knew there would be questions at the QB position for both teams coming into this game. We also knew these two teams could be considered for national title implications later in the season. In the end, the result was what I expected but the manner of the result was not. Morningside turned the ball over 5 times in a road game. That almost never results in a victory. Is it a testament to this team’s ability to never say die? Or did they just get lucky and Benedictine couldn’t capitalize? Too early to tell. QB Lennx Brown of Morningside had 246 total yards in this game and scored from 12 yards out to put the Mustangs up for good.

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The 2023 Version of NAIA Football Arrives. Chip’s Picks for Week 1. (Or is it Week 0? I dunno.)

#7 Benedictine College hosts #4 Morningside College in the biggest NAIA game of the week. (I stole this photo from BC’s website. Thanks Josh)

NAIA FOOTBALL IS HERE! Thursday, August 24th will be the 124th meeting for the Paint Bucket in Valley City, N.D as the University of Jamestown Jimmies travel to Valley City State University to kickoff the 2023 NAIA season.

Honestly, I can’t think of a better game to represent the start of the season. We’ve got a storied rivalry, playing for a traveling trophy, on a Thursday night when no one else is playing college football. Sure, there are some scrimmages and a few more games on the slate this Saturday. . .but this game truly represents what NAIA football is all about. VCSU HC Dennis McCulloch is entering his 30th year with VCSU while UJ’s Brian Mistro begins his 5th season. Mistro is an NAIA alum, playing for UJ in the mid 2000’s under Tom Dosch when the Jimmies were making the playoffs.

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The NAIAFOOTBALL.NET 2023 Preseason Top 25

It’s that time of year. We’re one month away from the start of the NAIA Football season! Camps will be reporting soon, players will be back after a summer of workouts and new coaching staffs will be determining what they have to work with this fall.

I did my first ever NAIA Football Top 25 Rating in 2002. Since then I’ve done hundreds of these with some being spot on and some being the equivalent of throwing a four day old burrito at the wall to see what sticks.

Without further ado, here’s my NAIA Football Preseason Top 25.

RankTeam NameThoughts on Chip’s Picks for the Top 25
1.Northwestern (IowaYou win the Championship Belt you keep it until you’re beaten.
2.Morningside (Iowa)The team I think will take that Championship Belt.
3.Keiser (Fla.)Solid team. Don’t let their early record fool you this year.
4.Grand View (Iowa)Don’t sleep on the Vikings. Could be in Raleigh come December.
5.Marian (Ind.)Great program w/ solid foundation for the return of Ted Karras Jr.
6.Bethel (Tenn.)11-1 LY. Only loss to National Runner Up. They’ll be ready.
7.Reinhardt (Ga.)8-2 LY. Lost to LW in round 1. I think they’ll improve.
8.Benedictine (Kan.)Aug 26 test against Morningside to show if the Ravens are real.
9.Indiana WesleyanNew HC is OC from Morningside. Solid team, could contend.
10.Saint Xavier (Ill.)9-3 LY. It’s hard not to trust this program will be good.
11.Southwestern (Kan.)Defense is the name of the game for the Moundbuilders.
12.Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)The top scoring defense in the NAIA last year at 10.3ppg allowed.
13.Georgetown (Ky.)GC takes the leap this year. Solid 7-3 squad LY.
14.Avila (Mo.)New HC with a solid foundation to work from.
15.Bethel (Kan.)9-1 LY and didn’t make the postseason. That’ll light a fire.
16.College of IdahoThe best team in the Frontier to start 2023. Let’s see the finish.
17.Dickinson State (N.D)Best team in their conference, will content for postseason berth.
18.St. Thomas (Fla.)If they’re 4-0 going into league play, watch out.
19.Ottawa (Ariz.)OUAZ wins the Sooner this year and goes to the postseason.
20.Montana TechSolid program that could turn the corner this year.
21.Dordt (Iowa)Tough league, DC could be anywhere from 3rd to 6th in the GPAC.
22.Texas WesleyanSolid 2022. 2nd best in the Sooner. Could be in the postseason.
23.Carroll College (Mont.)Early season will show if CC will be back in the postseason.
24.Olivet Nazarene7-4 last year with a new/old head coach back. I’m interested.
25.Arizona ChristianFrontier Conf this year. Butte, MT on Oct 28th?!? Good luck.

As a reminder, my nickname is Chip. It’s been that since 1998. There is no secret guy behind the curtain making these picks and ratings.

The Allstate AFCA Good Works Team® nominees from the NAIA are. . .

NORTHBROOK, Ill., JULY 11, 2023 – Playing college football, attending school full time and giving back to the community is no small commitment. Yet, that’s how 136 Good Works Team nominees invest their time and that’s why their coaches recommended them for the 2023 Allstate American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Good Works Team.®

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2024 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot Released with Former NAIA Greats Nominated.

Larry Korver of Northwestern College is among the nominees.

IRVING, Texas (June 5, 2023) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today the names on the 2024 ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, including 78 players and nine coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and 101 players and 32 coaches from the divisional ranks.

Headlining the list of nominees is former Northwestern College head coach Larry Korver. Korver led Northwestern to two National Championships, 14 playoff appearances and 212 victories in 28 seasons on the sidelines. He was twice named NAIA National Coach of the Year and coached 32 players to All-American status.

Below is a listing of former NAIA players and coaches who are on this year’s ballot.

Mark Cotney Cameron (OK) Defensive Back 1973-74
Duane Fritz Chadron State (NE) Punter 1973-76
Bob Gaddis Mississippi Valley State Wide Receiver 1970-74
Chris George Glenville State (WV) Wide Receiver 1991-94
Ron Hausauer Jamestown (ND) Offensive Guard 1978-81
Bobby Hedrick Elon Running Back 1977-80
Lynn Hieber Indiana (PA) Quarterback 1971-75
Jeff Loots Southwest Minnesota State Quarterback 1990-92
Randy Page Central Oklahoma Quarterback 1980-83
Dave Pomante Whitworth (WA) 1979-81
Bobby Saiz Adams State (CO) 1987-90
Ed Smith Bethel (KS) Wide Receiver 1983-86
Brad Tokar Westminster (PA) Running Back 1987-90
Jay Wessler Illinois College Running Back 1978-81
Mike Wiggins Iowa Wesleyan Punter 1983-87

Paul Durham Linfield (OR) 1948-67 122-51-10 .694
Howard Fletcher Northern Illinois 1956-68 74-48-1 .606
Ross Fortier Minnesota Moorhead 1970-92 152-80-4 .653
Art Keller Carthage (WI) 1952-82 177-87-7 .666
Larry Korver Northwestern College (IA) 1967-94 212-77-6 .729
Dick Lowry Wayne State (MI)/Hillsdale (MI) 1974-79 172-75-3 .694
James Malosky Minnesota Duluth 1958-97 255-125-13 .665
Forrest Perkins Wisconsin-Whitewater 1956-84 190-89-7 .677
Bill Ramseyer Virginia-Wise 1972-90 175-104-4 .625
Clarence Stasavich Lenoir-Rhyne (NC) 1946-61 170-64-8 .719
Allen Zikmund Nebraska-Kearney 1955-71 121-32-3 .785

Olivet Nazarene Moves Mike Conway into Head Coaching Role

Some of you are probably reading this knowing nothing about the history of ONU football saying, “Who cares? They were 7-4 last year.”

Well, you probably should. Conway came back to ONU to be the Athletic Director after bouncing around the profession the last 20 years after leaving ONU the first time. It’s tough to argue that his previous stint as head coach took ONU football to heights they’d never been nor seen since. In 1998, he had the Tigers playing for an NAIA football national championship. After that, he had a lot of success at North Park University and played a role as an assistant at several universities.

This is a big deal because it’s not often a school can find a high quality replacement when they lose their head coach going into the summer. ONU has done that and seemingly should be able to make the transition to fall with limited interuption.

Full release below. . .

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