Cal State Northridge fell from a tie for eighth to 15th in this week's Division II football poll. The Matadors are 7-2 after a 25-20 loss to second-ranked UC Davis on Saturday.
That's a substantial drop considering that Northridge was 19 yards away from upsetting the undefeated Aggies before an interception killed the drive with two minutes to play.
The national rankings are put together each week by a committee of Division II athletic administrators. Rankings in the four regions--West, Midwest, South and East--are done first. Each regional committee is comprised of a chairman and five other voters.
When the regional rankings are completed, the chairman from each region plus an NCAA official make a conference call to determine the national rankings.
Bob Hiegert, Northridge athletic director, is a member of the regional committee. He said the Matadors were ranked fourth in the West this week. North Dakota State (9-0), the No. 1 team in the nation, was voted best in the West, followed by Davis (8-0) and South Dakota State (8-2).
Hiegert said Northridge has "a very good shot" at a playoff bid if the Matadors can win the Western Football Conference championship by beating Portland State and Cal State Sacramento in their next two games. Only eight teams make the playoffs and a conference championship does not guarantee a team a playoff spot.
Davis will finish at 9-1 if upset by Sacramento in a nonconference game Saturday. If Northridge can finish 9-2, Hiegert said, the Matadors might get the nod because they finished the season with consecutive victories, even though they lost to Davis at home Saturday.
North Dakota State virtually has a lock on a playoff bid. South Dakota State, ranked eighth, plays Nebraska Omaha (5-5) on Saturday and should also make the playoffs by finishing 9-2. That leaves Davis and Northridge.
"Our game with them was close enough to make an argument that we finished stronger than they did by beating Sacramento," Hiegert said.
All of this is academic, of course, if Northridge loses either one of its next two games. It is possible that the WFC champion will not make the playoffs, particularly if it's not Northridge.
Portland has three losses and Sacramento has three losses and a tie. Neither team is ranked. Two of Portland's losses were to Division I-AA Idaho and Division I Nevada Las Vegas. One of Sacramento's losses was to Division I Pacific.
Bowl bids: Moorpark College is only a longshot to earn an at-large bid to one of eight postseason bowl games for California community colleges. The Raiders fell out of contention for the Western State Conference title in a 31-21 loss to Glendale two weeks ago, and barring a miracle, will conclude their season Saturday against Hancock.
Valley is in a better position. The Monarchs can clinch a tie for the Southern California Conference title with a victory Saturday against Chaffey, keeping them alive in bids to play host to the SCC bowl or for an at-large bid to either the Potato Bowl or Orange County Pony Bowl.
Brian Coushay of Portland State is again among the top receivers in the Western Football Conference. The former Newbury Park High player is fourth in the conference with 39 receptions for 663 yards and a league-leading six touchdowns.
Moorpark fullback Jim Bittner Jr., who rushed 31 times for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Raiders' 56-23 tap dance over Santa Monica, is the Western State Conference offensive player of the week. Moorpark defensive back Willie Gutierrez, who tied a Moorpark record of four interceptions against Santa Monica, is WSC defensive player of the week--an honor he shares with Santa Barbara's Ernie Triana.
Glendale receiver Rocky Palamara, formerly of Notre Dame High, leads the Western State Conference in receiving with 37 catches for 541 yards.