The California season has just four games remaining, and with the NJCAA programs having some key matchups in two weeks the Dirty 30 is still up for grabs. As many as 5-7 programs still have a chance to make a case for a national title.
Although some programs need to have a lot of things go right, East Mississippi looks like the only program that holds its own destiny. The Lions face No. 4 Iowa Western in the NJCAA title game on December 7 and with a win are the odds-on favorites to win their third title in four years.
Among NJCAA challengers is No. 2 Trinity Valley, who has an intriguing resume of their own. The Cardinals have run up crazy points this season playing a tough schedule and get a chance to put a stamp on things when they play a solid No. 9 Coffeyville program on December 6. An impressive, lopsided win could have the pollster taking a second look.
Let's not forget Iowa Western, who has beaten the top three teams in the Jayhawk Conference, including a 24-point win over Jayhawk champion No. 6 Hutchinson. An impressive win over EMCC could have the Reivers holding their second Dirty 30 title in the past three seasons.
One NJCAA program that has no shot is No. 6 Hutchinson. The Blue Dragons are likely going to drop in the rankings due to the scheduling of Hudson Valley College for a bowl game. For the second straight season Hutch has cowardly opted to invite an inferior opponent in order to improve their record rather than taking a challenge and playing something meaningful. They had a chance to finish in the top-5, but now have no shot. Congrats to them on finally winning a Jayhawk title, but the Jayhawk title used to stand for something and they have now made a mockery of the once-proud conference.
Two teams from California still in the thick of things are No. 3 City College of San Francisco and No. 5 Riverside City College. Both teams had a rough patch in the beginning but have really heated up to make a late run. San Francisco's lone loss came to No. 11 American River and now they get a chance to set the record straight when they host the Beavers for the Northern California title this weekend. Riverside's lone loss was a bad one to Grossmont College in week three, which really has them on the outside looking in. However, wins over No. 19 Bakersfield, No. 8 Long Beach City, No. 10 Mt. San Antonio, No. 21 Fullerton, No. 24 Ventura, No. 40 Saddleback and No. 41 Chaffey gives them one of the better resumes in the country. Another win against Mt. SAC and a win against San Francisco/American River in the finals could make for a compelling case.
Another dark horse is No. 11 American River, who has wins over No. 3 San Francisco, No. 12 San Mateo, No. 27 Sacramento City, No. 33 Butte and No. 35 Siskiyous. With the potential of two massive wins remaining on the schedule, they could make a late case should they win convincingly. Their lone loss was a 3-point loss to perennial power Butte in a game where they turned the ball over six times. The drawback for ARC has been a handful of wins that were somewhat uninspiring.
To view the entire JCGridiron.com Dirty 30 Rankings, click on the link in the above grey box.
BIG GAMES THIS WEEK
#11 American River at #3 San Francisco
#10 Mt. San Antonio at #5 Riverside
#46 Contra Costa at #47 Hartnell