We’re picking back up from our brief holiday hiatus here to resume D2SDay in the thick of things: the Division II NCAA Football playoffs are well underway, and this weekend brings the quarterfinal round.
Eight teams remain - and we’ve got a very good chance of seeing a first-time champion in Division II, as seven of the eight have never won a championship. We’re going to spend the rest of the week previewing each of the four matchups remaining, in the only way we know how: completely haphazardly.
First up, let’s take a look at a banger of a matchup: #1 Minnesota State University - Mankato vs. #2 Tarleton State University.
This past weekend, the Mankato Mavericks rolled to a 24-10 victory over Colorado State-Pueblo, while the Tarleton Texans unseated last year’s D-II champs, the Lions of Texas A&M-Commerce, in a 34-28 win.
Now they’re head to head, and let’s look at the FIVE KEY FACTORS that could propel each team to victory.
MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITY - MANKATO
1. STAR POWER - The Mavericks’ top football alumnus is Minnesota Vikings star Adam Thielen, who first came to the team on a $500 scholarship before becoming an all-conference star, an undrafted NFL free agent, a Pro Bowler, and currently #2 in the NFL in receiving yards.
Points: 1138 (Thielen’s receiving totals this year)
2. A GLORIOUS HISTORY IN THE ARTS - MSU-Mankato wasn’t always known by that name - from 1975 to 1998, it was known as Mankato State University. Was the shift to “Minnesota State University” nomenclature spurred by anything that happened in the ‘90s?
Hard to say.
Points: 200 (Episodes of Coach)
3. A SHORT LIST OF SURNAMES CULLED FROM A CURSORY REVIEW OF THEIR ROSTER
That’s an A-Team right there. If I have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you I can find them... I’m calling these four.
4. WELL THAT SOUNDS EXCITING BUT UPON CLOSER REVIEW IT ACTUALLY JUST SOUNDS EXCITING AND DEFINITELY IS NOT
Did you know that MSU-Mankato was the first school in the country to offer an MFA in Forensics? That sounds cool as hell.
[pauses for a second to ponder why Forensics would be an MFA instead of an MS]
[looks up what the program actually is]
Ah. Well. I was hoping for a Bones thing, but apparently it’s debating. THEN DEBATE ME, COWARDS. (Please do not debate me. Nothing I do holds up to scrutiny).
Points: I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.
5. I AM GLAD I ATTENDED COLLEGE MOSTLY BEFORE YOUTUBE
Points: I dunno I gotta acknowledge this but not draw too much attention to it, let’s just say 20.
Total points: 1362
Whew. Strong resume from the Mavericks. Let’s see what the Texans have got to offer.
1. LET’S TALK ABOUT JOHN TARLETON
The university was named after an American settler and rancher who left $85,000 in his will to establish the college. The school proudly bears his name and history. For instance! These are the first three entries under “Educational Evolution”, the timeline of the institution’s history provided on the their website:
- 1808 John Tarleton born
- 1865 John Tarleton walks to Texas
- 1895 John Tarleton dies
That is a magnificent biography.
Points: 87, for the age John Tarleton was when he obviously faked his death.
2. ALRIGHT LET’S ALSO TALK ABOUT HIS DUCK
From the school:
Legend has it that John Tarleton had a pet duck named Oscar P who went everywhere with him. The two were so close that Oscar P is said to be buried with Tarleton. At various student activities, the Purple Poo rally Tarleton students by raising the spirit of Oscar P.
Cool, that all makes sense, and-
3. I’M SORRY THE WHAT RALLY
The Purple Poo is the oldest spirit organization in the state of Texas. This group consists of 20 members, 10 guy and 10 girls, with the mission to promote the spirit of Tarleton. The Purple Poo evolved from the TTP/TTS spirit organizations. The members of this still-secret organization appear in public dressed in costumes and speak in high squeaky voices to conceal their identity.
Ah, well, there you have that.
Points for the duck: 200
Points for the poo thing: 1000
JUST FOR A MOMENT, LET’S CONSIDER TRADITION
My dad got kicked out of Tarleton in the early 70s for stealing goats.— Bradey Murphree (@bradeymurphree) November 26, 2018
I didn’t number this one because I’m not counting it as a full bullet point, but it couldn’t go un-celebrated.
Points: 45, for the number of years this guy’s dad has been on the lam
[producer whispering loudly to me, just off camera] “goats aren’t lambs, that pun doesn’t work”
Well, that’s a horse of a different color, isn’t it.
4. THIS SOUNDS INCREDIBLY COMPLICATED
Tarleton Texans show their spirit by raising their hand folded in the shape of Texas. The shape is created by extending the thumb out, the pointer and middle fingers upward while folding the ring and pinky fingers inward to point at where Stephenville would be located on a map of Texas.
I read this four times and could not visualize at all how this was possible. It’s like trying to tell my kid how to tie his shoes. Then I actually did it with my hand and I’m like, oh, yeah, got it. Cool. Also, it looks like the Louisville “L” gesture backwards, which I think means your team goes 10-2 and everyone’s happy.
Points: 30, because it brings my entirely arbitrary scoring to an artificial tie just before the last round
5. MEAT JUDGING
Tarleton State University has a Meat Judging Team.
Points: Six thousand.
Well, there you have it. We’re going to give the narrowest six thousand point edge to Tarleton.