ATN Podcast: A fab Final Four

Almost anyone could have come out of the “West” bracket.

But those other three brackets, well, that’s another story. When we did our playoff predictions in Around the Nation, Mount Union, Wesley and UW-Whitewater were unanimous picks to win their brackets.

So, it could be that we just played 28 games over three weeks for the privilege of identifying the four national semifinalists. But we sure had some interesting games along the way, right?

Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan take a look at the four quarterfinals and the teams that emerged in this week’s Around the Nation podcast.

Click the play button below to listen.

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46 thoughts on “ATN Podcast: A fab Final Four

  1. Some takeaways I have been thinking about since seeing Saturday’s game at Whitewater and reading Sunday’s Saint Paul Pioneer Press.

    1. I was not surprised at Wittenberg’s play. Very physical for first three quarters but as both of you mentioned in last weeks posts, UWW wore them down. For a conference that has not had much success in the playoffs (recently), Wittenberg “brought it” compared to when Wabash played Whitewater two years ago. Depending on the number of players back, Wittenberg could/should do well next year. M. Cooper presents matchup problems with his frame. The quarterbacks are quite tall, too.

    2. It sounds like UST hurt themselves with turnovers and was in the game versus Linfield. They could do some damage next year in both the MIAC and possibly in the playoffs as they return 20 of 22 starters next year and have this year’s experience to build on.

  2. As usual, very thorough podcast and wrap up of the weekend games. One point you overlooked as it related to the Mount Union/Albright game was the amount of turnovers by both teams.

    Mount had five fumbles (3 lost) and two interceptions. For a team expecting to contend for a national champoinship, that is five turnovers too many. Albright wasn’t much better, four fumbles (3 lost – two on kickoff returns) and two interceptions but they are not quite a national champoinship contender currently.

    Albright’s defense showed up to play and seemed to be playing Cecil Shorts well and keeping him to short gains on completions but they were not able to contain ALL the receivers. They just got worn down.

    Looking forward to a great game this Saturday in Alliance!

  3. Great podcast as usual, looking forward to some great semi-final match ups.

    Just wondering Pat, you said 538 of the 900 pickem’s choose the final four as is, can you give a rough break down of how many people picked UMHB to come out of the Bracket of Death?

  4. The 538 number is how many picked the other three brackets correctly. Here’s the St. John’s bracket picks:

    St. John’s: 270
    Mary Hardin-Baylor: 220
    Linfield: 214
    Central: 81
    Monmouth: 61
    St. Thomas: 22
    Coe: 5
    Cal Lutheran: 4

    We can’t call this the bracket of death, though, if none of the top three teams in the country are in it. That’s why the men’s basketball bracket got its name last year.

  5. I was at the JHU-Wesley game and came away with the following observations. Wesley is a physically imposing team, but I expected more from them. Hopkins defense kept them out of the endzone except for two short field possessions. Some of the lack of production can be attributed to the weather, but the Wesley QB didn’t seem to have much trouble with the weather and the team in general didn’t seem to have many fumbles or turnovers due to a wet ball. Hopkins, on the other hand continually shot themselves in the foot on offense. Although the Hopkins O-line did a good job against the much bigger Wesley D-line, the Hopkins QB seemed to have a great deal of trouble handling the wet ball, which resulted in quite a few dropped or mis-handled snaps that stopped drives. These miscues appeared to stop Hopkins more often than the Wesley defense did. Also, there were some questionable coaching calls by Hopkins, particularly the fake punt and not calling time out to avoid the delay of game penalty in the 4th quarter. The first gave Wesley 6 points and the second hurt Hopkins’ chances of scoring. In addition, Kase averaged over 4 yards a carry so I’m not sure why Hopkins gave up on the run so early. In any event, it was a fun game to watch and I hope Wesley does well against Mount Union. A good showing by Wesley reflects well on Hopkins too.

  6. So how big of an “upset” would it be if Linfield defeats UWW this Saturday. For the record, I think the ‘Cats may surprise some folks Saturday.

  7. Great podcast. Pat/Keith what an excellent point about the teams that go deep in the playoffs and playing time. Take A UWW or MUC the last two years, add 5 games to each year and its like playing a whole another season in the end.

    Raiderdude: I don’t think I’ve ever seen 5 turnovers in one game by MUC. Give Albright D some credit for stripping the ball.

  8. I am looking forward to this weekend’s games. I see UWW being threatened again from a very good/excellent passing team in Linfield. UWW has showed they are really strong against the run, but they have been hurt by the pass (as Mt. Union did in the first half last year). I hope to see UWW pound the rock in the 20 degree weather, and especially hope to see a lot of Antwaan Anderson (as he is a horse) mixed with Coppage.
    It would be nice to see Mt. Union challenged to the end by Wesley. I don’t have the #’s in front of me, but I don’t remember Mt. Unions being challenged at all in the semis the last few years.
    Hats off to Wittenberg’s effort. They battled to the end, especially in light of losing their excellent quarterback. Hats off to UWW as well though as they weren’t as sharp offensively with several dropped passes and two missed field goals-but still got the victory.

  9. raider58:

    You are absolutely right in that the Albright defense was hawking the ball. Zac Lemmon in particular was susceptible to being stripped. I have no doubt Coach Kehres is focusing on ball protection this week since I would assume that Wesley has seen what Albright’s defense accomplished.

    With Panchik out, Zac Lemmon will need to step it up a bit as he spells Terrance Morring.

  10. I know it’s early but anybody care to take a gander at the outcomes for this weekend?

    MUC 24 Wesley 17
    UWW 31 Linfield 20

    Linfields past two wins were against teams that primarily run the ball and they gave up plenty of yards on the ground——–if UWW establishes the running game early, it is going to be a long day for Linfield.

  11. Gotta weigh in here – The last two (maybe three) Linfield play-off games were primarily “runnin’ the ball” games from the opponents because pass interceptions are very embarrassin’ for the opposin’ Q-backs. Linfield has a quick, well-schooled defense, and what they don’t have in size – they make up in speed, tenacity and “game-smarts”. Give up lots of yards, yup…intercept and force turnovers….YUP Win the game…yup……..:)

    The “higher” scores by opponents in the Puget Sound and Lewis and Clark games occurred because the “first string/starting” players stepped out and gave their younger team-mates a chance to play and learn. This is a training technique that not all schools embrace – and it is honorable and ethical. Winnin’ a game by 40 points is a bit brash – especially if the younger less-schooled players never get on the field. Linfield beat St. Thomas by 11 points, and it could have been 18 points easy if the Linfield offense chose to play the last 3-4 plays @ the 1 yard line, rather than take a knee and preserve the health of their players and the dignity of the game.

    UWW will be a tough, physical game for both teams, well matched, well schooled and well played – it will also be bitter cold and snowy – not something we often have to address in McMinnville, Oregon. The best team on that day will advance to the finals, and EVERY player walking off the field can hold up his head – knowing they are a member of one of the top D-III teams in the US.

    Go- Linfield Wildcats…!

  12. just so everyone knows…the storm that dropped close to a foot of snow on me here in Nebraska has also gone right through my old school and WW is under dang near a foot of snow as well…IDK the temps for Saturday but if its weather that forces teams to run I like WW’s chances…and the fact they’ve played in this same weather the last 4 years

  13. I got to watch more of Mount Union-Albright on DVR since we recorded the podcast, and you’re right, the turnovers were startling. Albright had more success in the first half against MUC than 55-3 might suggest, and the opposite is probably true for Wesley’s score. While Hopkins was a very game opponent that moves way up my final ranking for how they played Saturday, Wesley completely adapted its game plan to the weather and was in control of the game most of the way.

    @d3f … Rowan lost 19-7 at MUC in ’05 and SJF lost 26-14 in ’06. The past two semifinal teams, Bethel and Wheaton, did not challenge them quite as well, but they have been pushed in the semis in this recent run. By so-called weak teams from out East.

    @ Rodrick, Triple Take goes up every Friday morning.

  14. In regards to the MUC/ Wesley game:

    Does anyone know what the weather will be on Saturday in Alliance.
    What type of surface does MUC play on? Field turf or natural grass?

    Both times Wesley made the semi’s; they went to UWW and played in ice, snow, cold temp conditions and did not fair well. They have a lot of team speed and those conditions take some of that away.

    Wesley 30 Muc 28

    ok, not really a prediction but more of what I was hoping. Good luck to all the teams playing this weekend.

  15. Because I have no life, I looked up the Saturday forecast for Whitewater: sunny with a high of 31. This is actually a little warmer than what Linfield is practicing in this week, and not much different than the conditions at the Catdome last Saturday. So, hopefully the weather will be a non-factor.

    CaptainCru: I think UW-W’s ball security will be much more important than establishing the run. Linfield does give up yards and points – they are winning by creating points and momentum off turnovers.

  16. as I waited for the kick-off I heard one of my top ten song sung in barber-shop the always do that at UWW ??

    at 72 just learned
    to tab
    like the
    so now when I make my Sat picks I.ll do it the proper way (it’s good to have a wife that teaches)

    I’m gonna miss these pod-casts
    at least
    two more
    maybe one after

  17. neil,

    If you’re talking about what I think you are, that’s the student group Augmented Four that sang the National Anthem on Saturday. They also sang for the 1st round game against Lakeland. Don’t know if they’ll be singing again this week, but we shall see. Who does the Anthem usually changes from year to year and week to week. I remember a number of years ago UWW had a student make it onto American Idol, so she sang most of the time that year. Other times the Pep Band has done it, other soloists, etc.

  18. It’s only Wednesday, but does anyone have a prediction for both games this coming weekend. I just checked the weather for Alliance on Saturday and the weather man says “partly cloudy and a high around 35 degrees”.

    MUC 31 Wesley 14 (hopefully MUC gets rid of the turnover bug from last week; it’s not very often you can turn the ball over 5 times and still get the “W” let alone by a score of 55-3. This game should be much tighter but I expect MUC to pull away in the 2nd half. This is a very good Wesley football team make no bones about it and very capable of pulling off the upset. Mount will have their hands full that’s for sure. It really should be a great game)

    UWW 38 Linfield 17

  19. I’m predicting Wesley will play MUC closer than it has its past two times vs. UWW, but that’s about it. If it’s a MUC-Linfield final, I’m in Salem for my sixth Stagg. If not, I’ll be on the couch, hoping it’s in HD. Anyone out there know which ESPN channel will carry the game?

  20. I’m guessing that would be Noon Eastern…so Eleven Central (Whitewater) and Nine Pacific (Linfield) depending on who gets there…just clarifying

  21. It was originally thought that the Stagg Bowl would be played at 11:00am EST, but the countdown on the NCAA page is counting down to 2:00PM EST on 12/19/09.

    Larry Kehres Field at Mount Union Stadium had Astroplay installed earlier this decade.

  22. midwest,

    [Heavy, Heavy, Sarcasm] You are aware that Linfield beat UST just a couple of days ago? [/Heavy, Heavy, Sarcasm]

    Good thing you don’t have any votes. Sheese…

  23. Regardless of the NCAA page, the game is indeed at 11 a.m. ET. Typical of the NCAA to not have its D-III act together, though.

  24. I was gonna say I’ve been watching Stagg Bowl since ____ was in 3 quarter pants …..but I won’t ….. let the good times roll … great games coming this weekend

    Good Luck Wesley

  25. Well aware of last week.UST played it’s worst game of the year with 19 starters returning……why doesn;t Linfield follow Cal Lutherans lead and head to Minnesota and play a real schedule. Mary Hardin Baylor is better than both UST and Linfield on most days….but MHB and UST would be a real game. By the way….why is it it that Linfield draws only 2500 for a game in the boonies when even St.Johns which is 50 miles from the boonies draws 10-12 thousand a game.
    Man up and come to the midwest…join the MIAC or the WIAC get beat up each week and see what you have left in the tank at the end of the year.

  26. 8 yes 8 MIAC teams have higher strength of schedule ratings than Linfield. I am not a MIAC guy…actually a WIAC fan….get on a plane and come to the midwest…..we will show you what a crowd looks like and a real football schedule entails.

  27. midwest,

    I guess, I should be falling out of my chair at UWW’s 2,021 in attendance for the Wittenberg game. SJU has incredible attendance but they are the exception in DIII…not the rule.

    Don’t give me any crap about a “real” schedule when Linfield has been playing Division II and NAIA schools for years.

    Hey we’ve been out to the midwest before. I remember when Linfield went out to UW-Stevens Point before in 2004 and laid them their first non-conference home loss since the early 80’s but I’m sure that doesn’t count for some sort of reason.

  28. Strength of schedule doesn’t wear a uniform. Fans don’t suit up, either. UST and UMHB got drilled by the ‘Kitties, and if it was their “worst game of the year”, maybe that’s because Linfield is the best team they’ve played all year.

    I don’t understand the bitterness and the trashing of Linfield and the NWC. DIII Staff: since the NWC moved to the NCAA, they’ve had two different teams win the Stagg Bowl and four different teams win at least one playoff game. Can any other conference match this?

    If UWW wins Saturday, I’ll tip my cap to the better team and wish them luck.

  29. Midwest:

    There will always be some anomalies in rankings. I think even the D3 Top 25 had some this year with a team ranked higher than a team who actually beat them (Ohio Northern and North Central, I believe, was one example). But, if a team loses head to head in a playoff quarterfinal game, the winner should be ranked higher than the loser, simple as that.

    To hide behind a strength of schedule, single bad game, or any other excuse, is not respectful of the opponent. This site encourages debate but works hard to keep it respectful. These young men work hard and ALL deserve respect whether your team won or lost.

    I watched Mike Tomlin’s press conference last night after the Browns beat the Steelers and he didn’t make excuses as to why his team lost. He praised the Browns defense for playing hard and said they were the better team. He was respectful of his opponent. I realize the scenario is not the same as the NCAA DIII Playoffs but the tone an delivery of his message was clear and a model for others to follow.

    I myself will be in Alliance for the Wesley/Mount Union game and will be cheering very hard for the Purple Raiders. If Wesley prevails, I will be disappointed but will be respectful of the Wolverines and wish them the best as they play in the Stagg Bowl.

    Let’s keep the debate civil and respectful and good luck to all four remaining teams (of course, better luck to Mt. Union)!

  30. Good work, Raiderdude.

    It’s actually been about as quiet a year on the boards, with regard to respectfulness, as I can remember. We didn’t even get our annual East Region fan carping about how we bow to the Mount Union altar or what have you.

    @Catdomer87: Other conferences have had four teams win playoff games I’m sure (CCIW, OAC come to mind off top), but nobody’s had multiple national championships, in part because Mount Union hasn’t exactly been letting teams spread them around.

    Among those in the know, the strength of Linfield’s schedule, nor the willingness of NWC teams to take on challenges, is really an issue. And whatever ‘if’ game you want to play — If Linfield had been in the MIAC and St. John’s in the NWC would both still have been undefeated? — I think the Wildcats stack up.

  31. D3 Keith, since we are on the subject of strenght of schedule, is there a possibility that in the future we could see some really great non-conference games. The reason i ask this is because some great teams are next door to each other, but they seem to never play each other.

  32. Wacky — it’s hard for teams to change their schedule on a dime in one offseason, but I’ll say this: The way the NCAA disrespected strength of schedule in this year’s playoff selections, I think we will see fewer teams play good teams in non-conference games for a while.

  33. I am one UWW fan that has no bitterness whatsoever toward Linfield. I know you’ve played a heck of a schedule and have a great program. I’m not sure what’s up with Midwest, seems he’s carrying a big ‘ol axe for some reason.

    I am taking the family to the game tomorrow-this will be our third game in a row and we are having an absolute blast (the snow on the hills inside the stadium allows the kids to escape my non stop strategizing).

    I fear the Linfield passing attack and love the UWW running attack.

  34. Can you please update the printable bracket again? I teach PE, and I print it for my classes to follow to help make them more aware of Division III football. Thanks in advance!

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