The power rankings are back after a week hiatus! I wanted to wait until Central — the only conference team in action last week — played its final non-conference game. Here is a summary of the Dutch’s win last week:
Central (2-1) 31, Albion (2-2) 6
PELLA, Iowa — After a slow start on a raining Homecoming, Central erupted for 24 unanswered points to crush Albion 31-6. Josh Osborn carried the ball 31 times for 192 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 6.2 yards per carry. The Dutch piled up 279 yards on the ground and held the Bulldogs to just 60. Aaron Eiseler was only 13-of-29 for 113 yards but did throw two touchdown passes. Albion quarterback Dominic Bona was 24-of-43 for 239 yards and a touchdown but Central picked him off twice.
And here are my power rankings heading into the first week of conference play:
1. Central (2-1): In a league where multiple teams have a shot at winning the conference title, Central has frankly been the most impressive thus far. Looking past that second-half collapse against UW-Oshkosh, the Dutch are an experienced squad and displayed their power running game on Saturday. It seems QB Aaron Eiseler will have to be consistent in IIAC play for the Dutch to take home the title.
2. Coe (2-1): I’m over the scare the Kohawks had against Monmouth in Week 1. After all, this group is quite inexperienced in terms of starting roles, but, much like last year’s team, there are a ton of seniors contributing. The defense has been extremely impressive the last two weeks and that’s a sign of a good, well-coached team.
3. Dubuque (1-2): Last week’s No. 1 falls two spots after a road loss to UW-Stevens Point in Week 3. Is it a terrible loss? No. But my No. 1 team should not be turning over the ball four times and digging themselves into a 21-0 hole after the first quarter. The Spartans came back, though, and QB Bryan Bradshaw and company will still be a team to be reckoned with in the IIAC.
4. Wartburg (2-1): I simply haven’t seen enough from the Knights to warrant being ahead Central, Coe or Dubuque. I don’t think a dominant performance against Carthage — one of the weaker teams in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin — would have been too much to ask but the fact is, it was a close game for quite awhile. The defense is solid but the offense, especially the running game, needs some work.
5. Simpson (2-1): This team has had comebacks in the past and they did it again in Week 3. Eighteen fourth-quarter points gave the Storm a dramatic 35-34 win over UW-River Falls, which albeit was not the strongest opponent but it shows Simpson has some life. With Taylor Nelson at QB, the Storm can beat anyone in the Iowa Conference.
6. Buena Vista (0-3): We know by now to look past the Beavers winless record due to their daunting non-conference schedule. However, they got absolutely handled by Bethel in Week 3, down 27-7 at the half. Sure, Bethel is a top 10 team in the nation but I think some of the top teams in my power rankings would have stayed closer.
7. Luther (1-2): A loss to Wheaton (Ill.) is nothing to shake your head about if you’re a Norse fan. This team has already done more than I thought they would this season and that’s win a game. The top-tier IIAC teams should be on upset alert when they come to Decorah.
8. Loras (1-2): The Duhawks will have a chance to prove me wrong when they visit Luther this week but I think they’re the worst team in the league by quite a bit. They’ve struggled running the ball against worthy opponents and they haven’t passed it well for a couple years now. Loras will be in for some long Saturdays in IIAC play.
Ranking this week’s matchups
1. Central (2-1) @ Dubuque (1-2), 1 p.m.: This is the biggest matchup in the Iowa Conference this week as two teams who are very much in the mix for the conference title clash in Dubuque. The winner certainly has a leg up against the rest of the IIAC. The loser will have some work to do despite this being just the first week of conference play.
2. Simpson (2-1) @ Wartburg (2-1), 1 p.m.: The Storm have shocked the Knights with one-point wins via blocked extra points each of the last two years. Wartburg will surely be out for revenge and for me, it’s a must win to prove they belong in the championship discussion.
3. Coe (2-1) @ Buena Vista (0-3), 1 p.m.: The Beavers don’t get a break when they enter conference play as they take on the defending champs right out of the gates. BV surprised Central and Simpson at home last year so this is no easy ‘W’ for the Kohawks. Both teams have changed since that 51-0 loss in Cedar Rapids.
4. Loras (1-2) @ Luther (1-2), 1 p.m.: You could certainly argue that this is the biggest game of the week in the IIAC play as the loser is likely to finish last. With six teams seemingly in the mix for the title, though, Loras and Luther won’t get a lot of publicity.