It seems Halloween came a couple of days earlier for the Minot State University football team.
Trick, but no treat, was what the NAIA coaches must have been saying as they knocked on the MSU Dome's front door.
The Beavers fell one place in the NAIA national football poll - following a 58-6 rout of Mayville State.
What more does a team have to do?
The Beavers' rise through the NAIA national poll has been tepid at best.
MSU is one of nine one-loss teams in the country and is the lowest ranked team of those nine. There is also a two-loss team ahead of them. Over the past two seasons, the Beavers have climbed into the top 25 and were ranked in the top 25 at the start of the season, so they aren't a team that has come out of no where. The Beavers have defeated every NAIA school they have faced and defeated an NCAA Division II team in Concordia-St. Paul.
Haven't we been over something similar to this before?
Last basketball season I wrote an eerily similar column about the men's basketball team not getting much respect in the national polls. Without giving MSU head basketball coach Mike Hultz too much credit (we wouldn't want it to go to his head), he put me on the path of the computer.
Hultz is the basketball rater for the Dakota Athletic Conference and uses computer rankings to help him better understand the national scene as he doesn't get a chance to see many of the teams.
It seems Hultz is in the minority - the vast minority.
After doing some sleuthing on the Massey Ratings site (www.masseyratings.com), it was easy to see the raters in the NAIA haven't been there too often. I made the joke to someone that I wondered if some of the older football coaches even know how to use the computer.
Here's what I found.
Minot State is No. 17 in the NAIA coaches poll. They are 14th in the Massey Ratings.
Of the eight one-loss schools ahead of the Beavers, seven are rated lower than MSU in the computer ranking. Ottawa, Kan., is ranked seventh in the country by the NAIA coaches poll, but is 16th on the Massey Ratings. McKendree University, Ill., is 11th in the NAIA, 19th by Massey; University of Cumberlands, Ky., and Northwestern College (Iowa) are tied for 12th by the coaches, 42nd and 22nd respectively by the computer; Friends University (Kan.) is tied for 14th in the NAIA, 30th by the computer; and McPherson, which moved ahead of the Beavers after last week's games, is 16th NAIA, 17th Massey.
The two loss team ahead of the Beavers, Langston University (Okla.), is tied for 14th with Friends in the NAIA poll and is all the way down at 46th in the Massey Ratings. Langston is just two places ahead of Jamestown College and three in front of Black Hills State - teams MSU beat handily during the season.
OK, so the computers are not perfect either. Just ask every one loss team in the BCS system who has been frozen out of a shot at the national championship game.
But the computers take out much of the bias. They are pretty extensive, too, factoring in the rank of the conference, offensive and defensive ratings, strength of schedule and even have a homefield advantage penalty. In the NAIA, where there are very few cross-conference games, there has to be something more than just someone's own personal opinion.
If there isn't, Minot State is in for a long couple of seasons. The DAC all but forced the Beavers out of the DAC during the summer when the school announced its plan to move to NCAA Division II and won't likely get any favors by the conference's various raters.
Oh, if you were wondering, there are 716 teams that play college football according to the Massey Ratings. Alabama is No. 1 overall, with Florida at No. 2, Texas at No. 3 and surprising TCU at No. 4. Coming in at No. 716 - Trinity Bible College in Ellendale.
(Michael Linnell is the sports editor at The Minot Daily News. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)