Is the Pioneer Football League Open This Spring?

San Diego is the class of the Pioneer Football League as they have won at least a share of nine straight conference titles and won 38 straight conference games. While there was no indication the Toreros run of dominance would end before this Spring, their opening game may have given PFL fans reason to wonder.

A Lackluster Showing

The Toreros had won their last seven meetings against Drake and the last five of them by an average score of 37-8. Yet this past weekend, San Diego struggled throughout, trailing the Bulldogs 7-6 at halftime and 10-6 late in the third quarter.

Ultimately, the Toreros prevailed 13-10, but the stats show this was not their best effort on a usually explosive offense. Mason Randall threw two interceptions and a fumbled snap set up a Drake field goal. One of Randall’s interceptions set up the only touchdown for a Drake offense that gained 25 yards on the day.

While that stat shows the defense was stellar, the offense cannot depend on performances like this every week to bail them out. Could this first week have been rust from over a year of inaction or the result of a California team playing in Iowa in mid-March? Most likely. Yet there is still reason for concern.

Improvement Around the PFL

The sample size for most of the Pioneer Football League has been limited, but it gives reason to believe the gap between the Toreros and the rest of the league is decreasing.

Davidson is 1-1 after a late touchdown bailed out a solid Elon team in their first game and their powerful run game churned out 297 yards in a victory over Stetson last week. Presbyterian took a solid Gardner-Webb team, who beat Elon by 22, to double overtime and had a convincing 31-16 win over Morehead State this past weekend. In the last PFL game of the weekend, Valparaiso defeated Butler 24-14, showing improvement after a 1-11 2019 campaign

These results above further drive the point that this pandemic season may have opened windows for other PFL teams to make the playoffs. In Fall FBS ball, we saw many powers like Michigan and Penn State, take a step back in their shortened seasons.

Even this Spring, with James Madison struggling against Elon and Big South newcomer Robert Morris, and North Dakota State losing for the first time since 2017, we see the effects of this Spring season. Maybe the Toreros are another power to fall in the Ides of March.

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