For the first time in nearly two full years, Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) football teams are back on the field in preparation for the fall season.
The simple return of college football to campuses across the conference would have been an exciting enough development; however, there is additional intrigue around the MIAC this year with the departure of the University of St. Thomas to NCAA Division I, the addition of The College of St. Scholastica as a new member institution, Macalester College rejoining the league in football, and the debut of the conference’s divisional structure and revised championship format.
The addition of Saints to the MIAC will expand the conference’s footprint back up to Duluth for the first time since the 1970s, while the Scots will be playing MIAC football for the first time since 2001. With the league now totaling ten football teams, the 2021 season will be the MIAC’s first-ever with two divisions. The Northwoods Division will consist of Carleton College, Gustavus Adolphus College, Saint John’s University, St. Olaf College, and The College of St. Scholastica. The Skyline Division will be comprised of Augsburg University, Bethel University, Concordia College, Hamline University, and Macalester College. Teams will play an eight-game conference schedule with five “in-division” games and three “crossover” games.
The final week of the football regular season will function as “Championship Week.” Teams will be ranked 1-5 in each division based on the results of in-division. Each team will then match up with the corresponding seed in the other division for a “playoff” game and the winner of the No. 1 vs. No. 1 game will receive the MIAC’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Playoffs. Teams from the Skyline Division will host Championship Week games this fall, while the Northwoods Division will be at home for the final week of the 2022 season.
No MIAC games were played in the fall of 2020 and only one contest took place in the spring of 2021, setting the stage for an unpredictable and exciting fall football season. Throughout the 2021 season, the MIAC will also honor outstanding individual performances each week with the announcement of the football Athletes of the Week. Weekly selections will begin on Tuesday, September 7, and continue every Monday after through the end of the regular season.
As health and safety guidelines are likely to remain in place for some time, fans are encouraged to review the MIAC COVID-19 Competition Plan and refer to each campus’ protocols prior to attending events this fall.
LAST TIME OUT
2019 Champion(s): Saint John’s, St. Thomas
2019 NCAA Playoff Berths: Saint John’s
2019 Player of the Year: Josh Parks | RB | St. Thomas
2019 Lineman of the Year: Ben Bartch | OT | Saint John’s
2019 Coach of the Year: Gary Fasching | Saint John’s
D3football.com Rankings: No. 6 Saint John’s, No. 16 Bethel
D3football.com Preseason All-America: Ravi Alston | WR | Saint John’s (2T); Jack Fiedler | OT | Bethel (3T)
First Non-Conference Date: Saturday, September 4
First Conference Game Date: Saturday, September 25
Championship Week: Saturday, November 13
(info courtesy of MIAC)