And then there were two…
By By Greg Grisolano
I think most Gorilla faithful, if they were honest about it, would have been thrilled back in August at the thought of Pitt State finishing the season with eight victories. But as the season has unfolded, and as the Gorillas have spent each week carving another notch in the W column, those expectations have changed.
Once Pitt capped off that thrilling, come-from-behind win to upend Northwest Missouri, anything seemed possible for this team. They’ve hit the eight-win mark with time to spare, and two home games remaining in the regular season.
The Gorillas turned in another dominant defensive effort Saturday, grounding the high-flying Mules passing attack.
On offense, Zac Dickey and the rest of the Five-Finger-Death-Punch ran roughshod on Central Missouri’s defense en route to a 38-17 road win.
After Washburn was blasted 52-28 by Northwest Missouri on Saturday, they handed the keys to the conference race to Pitt. All the Gorillas have to do is protect their own turf, and they should sew up their first MIAA conference title since 2004.When the AFCA Coaches Poll rankings came out Monday, Pitt State moved up one spot to No. 3. Northwest jumped two spots to No. 4. Washburn tumbled from third to 12th following its drubbing at the hands of the Bearcats.
Regional rankings also debuted Monday, and Pitt State is second in the Super Four Region, behind Midwestern State of Wichita Falls, Tex. Northwest and Washburn are ranked third and fourth, respectively.
The top six from each region make the playoffs.
Barring a collapse along the lines of LeBron James’ Q-Score after he decided to take his talents to South Beach, the Gorillas should be looking at a minimum of nine wins (Washburn, if they defeat Fort Hays this week, will be looking to knock off Pitt and stake their claim for the conference title, but the Icabods have to come to The Jungle.
Missouri Southern has some athletic defensive linemen, but that hasn’t kept them in too many close contests with the elite teams of the MIAA. Against Washburn, Central and Missouri Western, the Lions were outscored 107-61. They also dropped a competitive contest to Emporia State and have a date this Saturday with Northwest.
Coach Tim Beck and the rest of the Gorilla coaching staff get an extra week to game plan for Washburn. They get an extra week to get players healthy. They have a favorable schedule that wraps up with back-to-back home games that should be packed with fans who are just as hungry as the players for a return to playoff football.
And, as a result of the way this team has played so far, it also has the added weight of raised expectations. Expectations the talent-level of this team should be able reach.
Greg Grisolano is an award-winning reporter and feature writer. He is also a proud alumnus of the Communication Department at Pittsburg State University. You can find him on the TeamKong message boards under the handle “El-Grizo” or email him directly at email@example.com.