Five games into the season and a week into November, the Drake Bulldogs’ season looks lost. The Bulldogs have been blown out in multiple paycheck games against Idaho and North Dakota, lost to Division II Missouri S&T, and now stand at 0-5. The Bulldogs’ playoff hopes look lost before the start of the season’s second half.
Surprisingly, one could make the same argument for perennial league favorite, San Diego. The Toreros are 1-3 but have lost to tougher competition with losses on the road to Cal Poly and UC Davis. Yet, their loss to Valparaiso for the second straight year raises serious questions about the Toreros’ contender status in the Pioneer Football League.
If I were to give this to any FCS fan in 2019, when San Diego was at the height of their dominance in the PFL, having won 39 straight conference games, they would have thought this to be fiction. However, this is now the reality for San Diego as Davidson has taken their place as PFL king.
San Diego may reach the low point of their slide if they lose to Drake on Saturday. The Toreros have dominated the series, winning eight in a row over the Bulldogs and nine of the last ten. The gap is closing between the two schools though. The Bulldogs have lost two straight 13-10 games to the Toreros.
In the 2021 Spring season, Drake led for almost three quarters despite only gaining *25 yards of offense* before the Toreros won. The next year, Drake held a 10-3 lead halfway through the third before the Toreros broke through for 10 straight points. Again, the Bulldogs’ defense kept Drake in the game as the Bulldogs only gained 222 yards of offense.
This weekend, the weather may play a factor as the temperatures at historic Drake Stadium are expected to reach a low of 36 degrees. San Diego has played three of its games in the warm confines of California and last week’s game at Valparaiso took place in sunny 67-degree temperatures.
The Bulldogs will need a strong performance from their run game to keep San Diego’s offense off the field and shorten the game. Dorian Boyland looks primed to carry the ball 20+ times as he has 33 carries across his last two games, including a solid 60 yards on 15 carries against the defending champions, North Dakota State.
As San Diego’s decline continues, a loss against Drake would raise even more questions about the Toreros’ trajectory. A win for Drake could salvage a season that arguably had the ugliest start of any in the entire country. Even though the game involves teams with a combined 1-8 record, this may be the Pioneer Football League’s most intriguing game this week.