By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. — Back in August, at the MIAA preseason gathering of coaches, players and media up in KC, one phrase was continually thrown around, especially by the league's new coaches.
The MIAA, they would say, is the SEC of Division II football.
But now, with just one game left on the MIAA schedule, we in the Globe sports department got to thinking. If the MIAA is the SEC, who is who when it comes to individual teams this season?
Now, things don't equate perfectly. The SEC has two divisions while the MIAA is one big, jumbled league, etc. But it's still fun to talk about.
We'll start at the top. Northwest Missouri and Missouri Western are Alabama and LSU, two powers that have been very good lately. As Alabama knocked LSU out on Saturday, the Bearcats and Griffons will beat each other up this coming Saturday.
Emporia State could be Florida, a team that has had success in the past and is suddenly back toward the top of the league.
Washburn is Georgia: always solid and always ranked high at the start of the season, but more often than not they fall short of their expectations.
Lindenwood is Texas A&M. Both teams are newcomers in their league and both are having more success than most predicted. Lindenwood made the jump from NAIA two years ago and A&M jumped from the (supposedly inferior) Big 12. Both teams have proven that they belong and that they could immediately be players for conference titles.
Pittsburg State could be seen as Auburn. While the Gorillas haven't fallen nearly as hard as the Tigers (heck, Pitt State can still finish the regular season with seven wins and a bowl game), both teams are in the midst of extremely disappointing seasons after winning national titles recently.
Central Missouri could play the part of South Carolina: always solid, but always dropping a game or two that it shouldn't.
At this point, Missouri Southern could be Mississippi State. Both are programs that haven't had a ton of success recently, but appear to be on the upswing.
Nebraska-Kearney could fill in nicely for Mizzou, a team with a solid recent history that hasn't found much success in its first season in a new conference. Injuries have taken a toll on both teams, too.
The rest -- outside of Truman State and Vanderbilt being their league's respective 'smart' schools who don't have much success on the gridiron -- can be mixed and matched.
What are your thoughts? I'm sure I could have dug a little deeper into the numbers and made a couple changes, but it was a fun excercise. Any changes you'd make?