Photo courtesy of Morningside athletics
It is the biggest week of the year for NAIA football.
The time has come to crown a national champion for the second time in 365 days. Due to COVID-19 last year, the NAIA held its national championship in the spring. Seven months later, we are back at it again.
This year, we have a unique instance where the two teams participating in the national championship game are both from Iowa. The Morningside Mustangs, who have been no stranger to the national championship game, will take on the Grand View Vikings.
The two schools are only 200 miles and a three-hour car drive apart. So let us take a deeper dive into this game and some history around it.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: NAIA is a small-college NCAA alternative that offers athletic scholarships whereas NCAA Division III does not
Past National Champions (Current NAIA Schools Only/Includes NAIA Division II)
The graphic above consists of only current NAIA programs and does include NAIA Division II championships when it existed from 1970 to 1996. For an all-time list, click here.
One notable from the all-time list is Troy University. Now an FBS member, the Trojans started in NAIA athletics. We may be surprised where some of these programs end up 20 or so years down the road.
2021 National Championship: No. 2 Morningside vs No. 3 Grand View
On Saturday in Durham, N.C., both Iowan programs will clash for ultimate bragging rights. For Morningside, this is its third national championship appearance in four years. For Grand View, this will be its first appearance since winning the title in 2013.
Path to the Championship Game for Morningside:
First Round: Defeated No. 14 OUAZ, 63-38
Quarterfinals: Defeated No. 10 Kansas Wesleyan, 58-21
Semifinals: Defeated No. 4 Northwestern College, 28-19
Path to the Championship Game for Grand View:
First Round: Defeated No. 17 Dickinson State, 38-13
Quarterfinals: Defeated No. 8 Concordia, 31-16
Semifinals: Defeated No. 1 Lindsey Wilson, 34-28