The Quick Hits take on the semifinals

Well, we’ve spent this past week talking about these games, envisioning what these semifinals look like and now it’s time to get down to the finish and tell you how the games will go. We’ve got a rematch of a season opener and a rematch of the 2004 and 2012 semifinals, and we’re expecting two great games that will be great examples of Division III football to the audience on ESPN3.

Enough with the pleasantries. Here’s our takes:

— Pat Coleman (photos by

The Quick Hits
playoff crew:

Keith McMillan
Ryan Tipps
Pat Coleman
Pat Coleman
Adam Turer
Adam Turer
Frank Rossi
Frank Rossi
Josh Smith
Josh Smith

John Carroll (12-1) at UW-Oshkosh (12-1), 12 p.m. CT, ESPN3

UW-Oshkosh logoKeith: Normally beating Mount Union, UW-Whitewater and Wesley in a four-week span would mean a team has already won it all. John Carroll still needs two more wins, and standing in its way is an offense more dynamic than any the Blue Streaks have defeated. They’ll tell you themselves how dangerous UW-Oshkosh is, and while Round 2 14 weeks later will be closer, the Titans still score enough to make a Stagg Bowl. UW-Oshkosh 27, John Carroll 16.

UW-Oshkosh logoRyan: The first meeting between these two teams feels like a lifetime ago, so we can’t automatically assume the same outcome. The defenses are particularly impressive for both teams, and we’re going to see all three phases of the game getting points on the board. When the clock hits zero, the Stagg Bowl will again have a WIAC rep, as it has so many times in recent seasons. UW-Oshkosh 28, John Carroll 24.

JCU logoPat: Over the course of a 14-week season, both teams will have improved, no doubt. But UW-Oshkosh came into the season already close to the finished product, while John Carroll was starting a freshman quarterback, figuring out its defense, oh, and traveling more than 500 miles to get to its opener. I feel that the arc for John Carroll is much higher than it has been for UW-Oshkosh, which was much closer to its ceiling. Now, all of what I said here could be true and UWO could still well be favored. But I also think that John Carroll will win this game and keep the OAC in Salem. John Carroll 33, UW-Oshkosh 29.

JCU logoAdam: Kudos to UW-Oshkosh for its disruptive defensive showing against St. Thomas, but a team winning the turnover battle 8-0 and only winning the game by three points is concerning. I’m looking forward to a defensive battle with few mistakes from either side. Ro Golphin and the Blue Streaks rushing game will make the difference, keeping the chains moving and leaving Dylan Hecker and Brett Kasper on the Titans sideline. Salem will still host an OAC champion, just not the usual purple one. John Carroll 24, UW-Oshkosh 10.

UW-Oshkosh logoFrank: With the high temperature forecast for 19 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit, folks) and snow showers, you generally have to give the edge to a team that’s used to going deeper in the playoffs and this type of weather. In their earlier matchup, the Titans started with a 27-0 lead. Asking the Blue Streaks to completely turn that result around is a tough request, even with their improvement on defense. It will be a closer game, but… UW-Oshkosh 20, John Carroll 13.

UW-Oshkosh logoJosh: I’m guilty of underestimating each of these teams in the quarterfinal round. But both the Titans and Blue Streaks recorded key takeaways to reach the semis. Oshkosh has a turnover margin of plus-23 this season, so if turnovers play a critical role again this weekend, the Titans will likely have the edge. Oshkosh’s big play ability on offense helps too. UW-Oshkosh 35, John Carroll 28.

Mount Union (12-1) at Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-0), 3:30 CT, ESPN3

UMHB logoKeith: Mount Union has done a tremendous job getting the most out of an inexperienced roster, and embracing the role of road underdog. But this is the first time their opponent actually has more talent. Haston Adams, Teidrick Smith and the UMHB defensive front will make running the ball difficult, and this Purple Raiders offense can’t flourish if it can’t. The third matchup between these teams isn’t nearly as epic as the first two. Mary Hardin-Baylor 35, Mount Union 17.

UMHB logoRyan: Both teams will come close, or surpass, the number of points they’ve given up all season. Each boasts an All-Region Offensive Player of the Year (Cru quarterback Blake Jackson, and Mount rusher Bradley Mitchell), so scoring is what these guys are all about. Still, there are almost too many reasons to list why I had UMHB as No. 1 on my ballot — the Cru is Salem-bound. Mary Hardin-Baylor 44, Mount Union 33.

UMHB logoPat: It’s been an amazing run for Mount Union, one that this relatively young team can build on and go back to blowing the doors off nine regular-season opponents next year. But I think it ends here. And it’s not because of some hokey BS about being tired from being on the road for four consecutive weeks — it’s because UMHB is damn good, better than Mount Union up front, better at quarterback, better in the secondary, better at receiver. The Cru have certainly had their issues at crucial times in big games in their history, but this game doesn’t come down to one or two plays, in my estimation. Mary Hardin-Baylor 35, Mount Union 20.

UMHB logoAdam: Statistically, this is the most evenly matched contest possible. These teams are nearly identical on paper. The Purple Raiders have proven that their playoff pedigree discounts their opponent’s home field advantage. Both teams excel in all three phases, but the Crusaders have an edge thanks to their aggressive special teams play and dominant D-line. Mary Hardin-Baylor is responsible for the only Stagg Bowl without Mount Union this millennium (2004). The Cru does it again, emphatically. Mary Hardin-Baylor 38, Mount Union 20.

UMHB logoFrank: I was told a long time ago that picking against the Purple Raiders is a fool’s game. Well, regular readers and listeners know that’s never stopped me before… You have a home team with a rock-solid quarterback leading the offense, and a top-caliber defensive end as the helmsman of the defense. The experience and success of the year pay off for the Cru. Mary Hardin-Baylor 52, Mount Union 37.

UMHB logoJosh: The Cru has been my pick to win the Stagg Bowl since the bracket was released, so I won’t waiver now. But Mt. Union’s playoff run can’t be overlooked. If Mary Hardin-Baylor continues to play well up front on offense and defense, it should make things tough for Dom Davis and Bradley Mitchell while offering opportunities for Blake Jackson. I wouldn’t be surprised if a key special teams play factored into the final score. Mary Hardin-Baylor 31, Mount Union 28.

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below or tweet at us at @D3Keith, @NewsTipps, @D3football, @adamturer, @FrankRossi and @By_Josh_Smith. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Mondays, where Pat and Keith review the picks and the highlights from the semifinal round.


6 thoughts on “The Quick Hits take on the semifinals

  1. While I am really pulling for UW-O, I am a little surprised at the prognostications noted above and want to be even handed and not a UW System homer.
    There seems to be an “it” factor with John Carroll and what they did last week was impressive. We will see. I thought I read somewhere that John C. has had issues in the kicking game but maybe I am thinking of someone else. That could be key in a semi. Hard to look at the Wesley and the UW-W body of work to know what will take place.

    JCU 17.
    UW-O 14. I hope I am wrong and like the dynamism of the offense and the rub routes and option play.

    UMHB 44.
    MUC 14. (I hate the name change for the sake of being called a univ.).

  2. What would be better than a John Carroll-Mount Union ( All OAC) rematch in the Stagg Bowl!

    JCU 21

    Oshkosg- 17

    Mount Union- 42

    Mary Hardin Baylor-35

  3. Thanks Pat Coleman for getting me a password! I wanted to write this opinion/rebuttal to Adam Turer’s prediction of a 24-10 JC victory over UWO last night but did not have a password.
    UWO won today 10-3. Adam Turer felt that 5’8″ 180 lb. Ro Golphin and the JC rushing game would make the difference. I saw the first game in which UW-Oshkosh trounced JC 33-14. Ro Golphin had 4 yards on one carry. I wondered why those inept stats would make Adam Turer possibly think that Ro Golphin would have a big game running the ball in 16-18 degree weather on the road against a very solid UW-Oshkosh defense? I felt that prediction was boastful and specious.
    Today Ro Golphin had 42 yards and basically didn’t touch the ball in the second half.
    UWO – and almost every other team at the D3 level – has problems with a very quick back running behind a huge offensive line…like Josh Parks running behind the St. Thomas line that averages 290 lbs.
    What Mr. Turer failed to take into consideration was that 6’2″ 225 running back Dylan Hecker did not play in the first game between UWO and JC. Today Hecker ran for 74 yards on 18 carries. He’s a power back which perfectly fits UW-Oshkosh’s scheme to power run behind a large, strong offensive line that averages 288 lbs.
    Mr. Turer downplayed the 8 turnovers that UW-Oshkosh made against a powerful St. Thomas team that averaged about 50 points per game. Said they didn’t score enough and the game was still close. Today Oshkosh turned John Carroll over for 3 more interceptions. That makes 15 turnovers that UW-Oshkosh has forced in 4 playoff games. I wondered why Mr. Turer would imagine that Anthony Moeglin, a freshman quarterback, would have a good day passing the ball in 16-18 degree weather, on the road, against a tough UWO defense. He didn’t. Anthony Moeglin now has 5 INTs in two games versus UWO.
    Power running, big offensive line, solid quarterback play and bend but don’t break defense – that is UWO’s style. Pat Cerroni is a very conservative coach and this is his style of play. However I tip my hat to Adam. He did correctly guess UWO’s final score – 10 points.

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