Just how good is the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in football this season?
We’ll see soon as its top two teams — Colorado State Pueblo and Colorado School of Mines — battle in the Division II playoffs.
Mines and Pueblo tied for the RMAC regular-season title at 8-1 each in league play and 10-1 overall. Pueblo beat Mines head-to-head, 20-12 on Oct. 25, but fell to last-place Fort Lewis, of all teams, for its lone loss.
The ThunderWolves, ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation (before losing to Fort Lewis), go into the playoffs as the No. 2 team in Super Region Four and will receive a first-round bye. It’s Pueblo’s fourth consecutive berth to the playoffs. Pueblo will host the winner of Michigan Technical University and Angelo State University on Nov. 29.
Mines, ranked 17th in the country, will open the tournament on Saturday when it hosts No. 9 Ohio Dominican in the No. 4 vs. 5 game at noon at the North Area Athletic Complex in Arvada, Colo. This will be the Orediggers first time back in the playoffs since the 2010 season.
Black Hills State University head coach John Reiners, whose team competed against both Pueblo and Mines, said he is looking forward to seeing what the RMAC representatives can do in the tournament.
“When you look at Pueblo, obviously they got the wake-up call with Fort Lewis. But since that point, they have been playing as good of football as I have seen them play,” Reiners said. “Mines, on any given day, can put points on the board. Their defense has the ability to stop people and they are very aggressive.
“You get to this point and anything can happen. It’s all about who plays their game and who is hot. Depending on where you play, weather can be an equalizer. Multiple things can happen. I’m excited to see two teams in the RMAC in the playoffs, and I’d like to see both of them do well.”
Both RMAC teams are on the same side of the 12-team bracket and could meet on Dec. 6 in the third round. They are also on the same side as Minnesota State-Mankato and Minnesota-Duluth, the top two teams from the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
Ouachita Baptist and Ferris State are the top seeds in Super Region 3 and 4, while Concord and Lenior-Rhyne are the top seeds from Super Region 1 and 2.
There are six teams in the tournament with multiple losses, including 8-3 LIU-Post (Long Island University). A couple of notable teams left out include 10-1 Sioux Falls College and 10-1 Azusa Pacific, the winner of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
The national championship game will be on Dec. 20 in Kansas City, Mo., and televised on ESPN 2.