INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - NCAA Division II and CBS Sports Network have announced their regular-season television schedule for the 2014 football season.
The seven-game Thursday night slate opens Sept. 4 and features three conference champions and four teams from last year's championship field. Teams appearing in this year's television package combined for a 103 – 55 (.651) overall record last season, and seven teams included in this year's schedule received votes in the final 2013 AFCA Coaches Poll.
"We know that our student-athletes really enjoy competing for a national audience, and we expect this year's lineup of nationally televised games to produce a series of exciting games showcasing the quality and competitiveness of NCAA Division II football," said Frank Condino, chair of the Division II Football Committee and athletics director at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Over the nine years of Division II's partnership with CBS Sports Network, more than 40 percent of the division's football-playing member schools have appeared in nationally televised games. This will be the first nationally televised Division II Football Game of the Week in program history for each of the seven schools hosting. In total, national telecasts have originated from 42 different DII campuses.
"This year, schools from eight different conferences will be represented on national television, with several schools making their first nationally televised appearances," said Terri Steeb Gronau, vice president of Division II. "These games on national television afford us another opportunity to demonstrate what is special about Division II schools and student-athletes. We look forward to showcasing tremendous student-athletes as they succeed on the field, in the classroom and in life."
The 2014 season opens Sept. 4, featuring Grand Valley State University, who is ranked in the top-five of three different preseason top 25 polls and advanced to the NCAA DII National Semifinal in 2013, traveling to Glendora, Calif., for the season opener against 2013 Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion Azusa Pacific University.
On Sept. 18, Southeastern Oklahoma will travel to Henderson State for a rematch of last year's game, in which the Reddies needed 20 fourth-quarter points to rally from a second half deficit to beat Southeastern on their way to a second straight GAC Championship. The Reddies, ranked No. 5 in Lindy's preseason top 25, will be led on the field by quarterback Kevin Rodgers, a 2013 Harlon Hill Trophy finalist and the elected captain of the All State Good Works Team. Currently a graduate student working on his MBA, Rodgers has a 27-3 record as Henderson's starting quarterback.
On Sept. 25, Lindenwood University will host Missouri Western. Lindenwood received the 2014 Division II Award of Excellence –part of which included the opportunity to host a nationally televised game – for its support of Sterling Thomas, a Lindenwood football player who suffered a severe spinal injury in 2012.
On Oct. 2, Miles will host Benedict at Albert J. Sloan Alumni Stadium in Fairfield, Ala. In 2013, Miles defeated Benedict on its way to a 6-1 regular season conference record, before falling in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship game.
The following week, on Oct. 9, Winona State will host reigning Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference champions Minnesota State. Ranked No. 3 in the USA Today preseason top 25, the Mavericks are coming off an 11-1 season that resulted in Division II playoff appearance for the second consecutive year.
On Oct. 16, Colorado School of Mines will travel to Fort Lewis. Last season, Mines defeated Fort Lewis, but Fort Lewis head coach John L. Smith, a former DI coach in his second year with the Skyhawks, hopes to lead the team to victory in its first ever nationally televised performance.
The final game in the lineup, on Oct. 30, will feature Saint Joseph's (IN) at the University of Indianapolis. UIndy narrowly defeated Saint Joseph's in 2013 in its second consecutive perfect season in Great Lakes Valley Conference play and went on to win the conference championship.
The first televised game this season, featuring Grand Valley State at Azusa Pacific, is scheduled for kickoff at 9 p.m. ET. All other games are scheduled for kickoff at 8 p.m. ET. All games are also streamed live on NCAA.com.
2014 CBS Sports Network Division II Thursday Night Football Schedule
- Thursday, Sept. 4 – Grand Valley State at Azusa Pacific
- Thursday, Sept. 18 – Southeastern Oklahoma at Henderson State
- Thursday, Sept. 25 – Missouri Western at Lindenwood
- Thursday, Oct. 2 – Benedict at Miles
- Thursday, Oct. 9 – Minnesota State at Winona State
- Thursday, Oct. 16 – Colorado School of Mines at Fort Lewis
- Thursday, Oct. 30 – Saint Joseph's (IN) at University of Indianapolis