Panthers Barely Ranked, Must Win Saturday To Secure First Playoff Berth In Program History

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Once ranked as high as No.14, the Florida Tech Panthers are unranked in one poll and hanging near the bottom of another. A win on Saturday likely clinches program’s first ever playoff berth.

BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – The Florida Tech Panthers football team is not being shown a lot of love in the national polls.

The Panthers are ranked No.23 in the D2Football.com Top 25 Poll and are only receiving votes in the AFCA Division II Coaches’ Top 25 Poll.

In the all-important regional rankings, which determine who makes the playoffs and who doesn’t, the Panthers are ranked fifth in Super Region II. Division II sends 28 teams to the playoffs, as the top seven teams from the four super regions advance to the playoffs.

The top seeds in each region have first round byes. The puzzling part of the rankings is the teams ranked ahead of Florida Tech.

The Valdosta State Blazers, whom the Panthers defeated by 18-points two weeks ago, rank No.19 in the D2 Poll and No. 23 in the AFCA Poll and the Newberry Wolves, 9-1 on the season, with their lone loss coming to Florida Tech at home in Week 1, are ranked No. 19 in the AFCA Poll.

Newberry does rank behind the Panthers in the D2 Poll at No.25.

In the all-important but confusing Super Region II rankings, the Wolves are second and Valdosta State is third, again, ahead of Florida Tech.

The selection committee will finalize the Super Region rankings on Sunday but if the rankings stay as they are, Florida Tech would travel to play 7-1, UNC Pembroke (No. 16 AFCA, No.20 D2) to open the playoffs.

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At this point, all Florida Tech can do is take care of the business at hand, which is beating Delta State at home on Saturday to close out the season. The Statesman are 4-5 on the season and currently mired in a two-game losing streak.

To further complicate the issue, the only loss suffered by UNC-Pembroke this season was to Tuskegee, who is currently ranked behind Pembroke with Florida Tech in the middle of the two at No.5.

The Panthers did miss an important game on the schedule when Hurricane Matthew forced the cancellation of the contest with the University of North Alabama. The Lions clinched the Gulf South Conference title last Saturday and are the top seed in Super Region II and ranked third in the country in the D2 Poll.

A win or good showing vs. the undefeated Lions may have the poll looking much different today.

At this point, all Florida Tech can do is take care of the business at hand, which is beating Delta State at home on Saturday to close out the season. The Statesman are 4-5 on the season and currently mired in a two-game losing streak.

Delta State did earn a hard fought 55-51 victory over the University of West Florida in mid-October. The Panthers dropped a 42-39 decision to those same Argonauts two weeks prior to the Statesman win.

The Panthers defense will need to be stellar once again this week. Delta State ranks No.2 in the Gulf South Conference behind Florida Tech in total offense and are averaging nearly 40 points per game, good for third in the GSC.

Florida Tech Panthers’ Chris Stapleton Earns Gulf South Conference Defensive Player Of The WeekRelated Story:
Florida Tech Panthers’ Chris Stapleton Earns Gulf South Conference Defensive Player Of The Week

Delta State running back and Harlon Hill Trophy (D2 Heisman equivalent) candidate Chris Robinson leads the GSC with 894 rushing yards and over 1,300 all-purpose yards.

The game vs. Delta State starts at 2 p.m. Saturday and it is Senior Day at Florida Tech Panther Stadium. The contest is FIT’s annual White Out game, with the first 1,000 fan receiving a free white T-shirt.

Space Coast Daily will be on hand to provide coverage and Space Coast Daily Sports Shorts with Alan Zlotorzynski will air on Space Coast Daily Facebook live starting at noon.

SUPER REGION II POLL:

SUPER REGION TWO  REC
1 North Ala. 7-0 7-0
2 Newberry 8-1 9-1
3 Valdosta St. 7-2 7-2
4 UNC-Pembroke 7-1 8-1
5 Florida Tech 6-2 6-2
6 Tuskegee 7-1 7-1
7 North Greenville 6-3 6-3
8 Wingate 8-2 8-2
9 West Ala. 6-3 6-3
10 West Ga. 6-4 6-4

D2 FOOTBALL POLL:

RANK SCHOOL RECORD PREVIOUS
1 Northwest Missouri 10-0 1
2 Grand Valley 10-0 2
3 North Alabama 7-1 3
4 Shepherd 9-0 4
5 Sioux Falls 10-0 5
6 Emporia State 9-1 6
7 Texas A&M-Commerce 8-1 7
8 California 9-0 8
9 Harding 10-0 9
10 Midwestern State 8-1 10
11 IUP 8-1 11
12 Minnesota Duluth 9-1 12
13 Central Missouri 8-2 13
14 LIU-Post 10-0 14
15 Azusa Pacific 9-1 15
16 Ferris State 8-2 16
17 Ashland 8-2 17
18 Tuskegee 8-1 18
19 Valdosta State 7-2 19
20 UNC-Pembroke 8-1 20
21 Assumption 8-1 22
22 Southwest Baptist 9-1 24
23 Florida Tech 7-2 25
24 Colorado Mines 8-2 NR
25 Newberry 9-1 NR

AFCA COACHES POLL:

RANK SCHOOL RECORD POINTS PREVIOUS
1 Northwest Missouri State (30) 10-0 750 1
2 Grand Valley State 10-0 712 2
3 Shepherd 9-0 690 3
4 Sioux Falls 10-0 661 4
5 Harding 10-0 613 5
6 California (Pa.) 9-0 600 6
7 North Alabama 7-1 576 7
8 Texas A&M-Commerce 8-1 530 8
9 Emporia State 9-1 496 9
10 LIU-Post 10-0 480 10
11 Indiana (Pa.) 8-1 447 11
12 Midwestern State 8-1 417 12
13 Azusa Pacific 9-1 374 13
14 Tuskegee 8-1 350 14
15 Assumption 9-1 334 15
16 North Carolina-Pembroke 8-1 300 16
17 Minnesota Duluth 9-1 273 18
18 Ferris State 8-2 219 19
19 Newberry 9-1 206 20
20 Ashland 8-2 161 21
21 Southwest Baptist 9-1 137 22
22 Fairmont State 9-1 119 17
23 Valdosta State 7-2 98 23
24 Central Missouri 8-2 85 25
25 Colorado Mines 8-2 44 NR

Others Receiving Votes: Florida Tech, 38; Colorado Mesa, 10; Washburn, 6; Edinboro, 4; Henderson St., 4; Notre Dame (Ohio), 4; Bowie St., 3; Southern Arkansas, 3; Wingate, 3; Truman St., 2; Ohio Dominican, 1.

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