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Quick Hits Week 6: Where the rubber meets the road

Week 6 features key games at the top of the MIAC, NJAC, PAC, SAA, and SCIAC. Not every team is playing for control of their league, and our panel also takes a look at teams likely to get their seasons jump started as the season moves into the second half.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas

Which game is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 12 Wesley at No. 14 Salisbury.  There are MIAC, WIAC, SCIAC and SAA games that could fit here, but the Route 13 Rivalry winner will have a second victory against a playoff-caliber team and a clear path to the NJAC title and playoffs.
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Ryan’s take: No. 12 Wesley at No. 14 Salisbury. Two undefeated rivals sharing the top spot in the conference — made even more interesting by the NJAC being down this year and no guarantee the loser will make the playoffs with one loss.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 6 Bethel at No. 4 St. John’s.  Next question.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 12 Wesley at No. 14 Salisbury. The Wolverines have reversed their fortunes from 2018 and found ways to win close games. The Sea Gulls have struggled to put opponents away late but have hung on to remain unbeaten. This should be a nail-biter with the winner holding the inside track on the NJAC championship.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 12 Wesley at No. 14 Salisbury. One will be in a great NJAC race position. One will need to start counting Pool C bids and hope to win out.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 6 Bethel at No. 4 St. John’s.  Several good games on the docket this week, but 4 vs. 6 is a rare bird, indeed. The first of three titanic MIAC games this season, and the weather will give this one the late season feel it deserves.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 8 Berry.  Not that I think the Vikings aren’t favorites at home, but there’s not as much distance between them and unranked, unbeaten Hendrix as the poll might suggest.
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Ryan’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve. Though, admittedly, I’ve got W&J ranked on my ballot and not Case, so I wouldn’t see a Presidents’ win as being all that much of an upset.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: None.  With six ranked teams playing each other, not so many teams left in upsettable positions.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve. Either the Spartans create separation and set themselves up for a title tilt at Carnegie Mellon in Week 11, or the Presidents prevail and create some #PACtion chaos. A W&J win could create a five-way tie atop the conference standings.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve (vs. Washington & Jefferson). The merry-go-round in the PAC continues as W&J needs this win to stay alive.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 15 Redlands.  The Bulldogs are on the road at a sneaky good Chapman squad that might be flying a bit under the radar. This is a dangerous game for Redlands.

Which ECFC teams get their first wins?

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Keith’s take: Castleton. The six ECFC teams are 2-22, but only the Gallaudet-Castleton winner is guaranteed a W. Vermont is a long way from D.C., and I’ll take the Spartans at home, and that’s it.
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Ryan’s take: Castleton and Dean.  The Spartans can lean on their dual-strength offense against Gallaudet, and it shouldn’t be overlooked that Dean’s Terrell Watts is the conference’s best quarterback.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Anna Maria.  I think the AMCATs are a little further ahead in their program building than Alfred State is.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Castleton and Dean. The Spartans’ defense has kept them in close games this season and the offense should be able to do enough to defeat Gallaudet. The Bulldogs’ defense has been a weakness, but so has SUNY-Maritime’s offense. The defenses hang on for wins this week.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Castleton.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Castleton. The wait for win number one goes on for another week for Gallaudet, Dean, and Anna Maria.

Which game are you following that nobody else on this panel is following?

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Keith’s take: Occidental at Whittier.  The Tigers haven’t beaten an NCAA team since defeating the Poets 56-38 on Oct. 29, 2016, but it could happen here in 2019.
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Ryan’s take: Bowdoin at Amherst.  Last week’s narrow loss to NESCAC top dog Wesleyan puts winless Bowdoin’s outing against Amherst on my upset radar.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Brevard at Methodist.  The Tornadoes aren’t playoff-eligible yet but are unbeaten and interesting.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Heidelberg at Marietta. The middle of the OAC is crowded, with both of these teams coming off their first loss of the season. How will they respond, knowing that playoff berths are likely already out of reach with the toughest part of the conference schedule still ahead of them?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Misericordia at Widener. I explain why in this week’s ATN Friday Podcast.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: St. Vincent at Thiel. This might be the one. It’s been a long time since Thiel has been able to Taste the Feeling of victory.

Which team with a tough first half starts the second half of the season on a positive note?

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Keith’s take: Lycoming is one point from being winless, but should start the second half off with a win over Alvernia, which hasn’t scored more than 13 in a game since Sept. 14.
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Ryan’s take: George Fox.  I did think the Bruins would be better-positioned at this point, but while the defense has largely been solid, the offense is only now starting to click. That fact alone can help turn things around.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Husson.  The Eagles are just 1-3 so far but Curry has to travel to Maine to play them.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Rowan. The Profs have played as well as any 0-4 team in the nation. Their opponents are a combined 13-4. Rowan’s last two losses were on the road to then-ranked opponents by a combined total of four points. The Profs take their frustration out on Kean in front of a home crowd this week.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Rowan (vs. Kean). Give them this much: the Profs schedule a rough beginning set of opponents. This should be their first win.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Christopher Newport. This has just not gone the way the Captains thought it would. They should break a long touchdown drought and get one in the win column this weekend.

Which team with a strong first half starts the second half on a negative note?

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Keith’s take: Chapman  begins the middle third of its season with its first loss when Elias Hackney and Redlands take care of business.
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Ryan’s take: Westminster (Pa.).  The Titans’ four wins so far have come at the expense of teams that are a combined 2-16. Upcoming battles against Grove City (this week), W&J and Carnegie Mellon will prove difficult.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Puget Sound. Linfield’s struggles don’t go as far as losing this game.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Central. The Dutch are off to an impressive 4-0 start, but the schedule is heavily backloaded. Central closes the season against the other top three teams in the ARC (at Simpson, Wartburg, at Coe), but can’t get caught looking past a battle-tested 2-3 Dubuque squad this week.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Hobart (vs. RPI). The Statesmen failed to kick in the Union game, and RPI has bounced well since the 6-3 loss vs. WPI.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 12 Wesley. The Wolverines have been walking a tightrope for a few weeks now and I think their Route 13 rivals are going to deal the Wolverines their first loss of the season.

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Fridays, where Pat and Keith review the Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.

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Quick Hits Week 5: Ringing in October

Our Quick Hits panel is back with (Little Brass) bells on to get you ready for the second month of the season. This week we’re looking at big games in the Liberty League and the MIAA, who is circling the wagons, and who might springboard into the Top 25 after this weekend. Oh, and there’s a big one in Chicagoland as well.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas

Photo: Union athletics

Which game not involving a brass bell is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. There are a handful of WIAC & MIAC games that belong, and this one might effectively end someone’s playoff hopes. Already.
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Ryan’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. We’re all still trying to gauge the No. 2 and 3 spots in the WIAC. Both teams already have quality wins, and this will provide clarity.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. I haven’t investigated whether there is a bell involved in this game, to be honest. Hope it qualifies.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at No. 14 St. Thomas. Every game is now a must-win for the Tommies. The Cobbers fared equally well, if not better than, St. Thomas against WIAC competition. Interested to see how UST responds after last week’s setback.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 21 Hobart at Union. I explain the intriguing matchup in today’s ATN Podcast.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Hope at Trine. This game has decided the MIAA champion in each of the last two seasons and may be the de facto championship game again this year.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 14 St. Thomas. The loss last week was quirky and not too concerning. But Concordia-Moorhead might be really good.
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Ryan’s take: No. 24 Trine. The Thunder seem shaky at times considering how many points they’ve given up so far this season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 24 Trine. Probably others as well, but Trine seems like a team trading on 2018 success in the 2019 Top 25.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse. The narrow non-conference wins over quality opponents aren’t looking quite as impressive since those teams have both underwhelmed this year. Facing UW-Platteville on the road will give the Eagles a chance to prove themselves worthy of this high ranking.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse (at UW-Platteville). It seems like the roles are reversed this year for these teams, with Platteville having the chance to play spoiler instead of having to protect its ranking.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 15 Wesley. Yes, Rowan is winless, but the Profs have shown well against Linfield and Hobart. Reports out of Dover that E.J. Lee has been shut down for the year create more questions for a Wesley offense that hasn’t really taken off yet.

North Central’s top ranked offense or Wheaton’s top ranked defense?

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Keith’s take: Wheaton’s defense. I watched Wheaton shut down Illinois Wesleyan, so give me the Thunder.
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Ryan’s take: North Central’s offense. I’m normally all about D in these situations, but this year’s NCC offense under Rutter is too potent to slow down.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: North Central’s top-ranked offense. This game has been pretty high-scoring over the past few meetings and don’t expect a change now.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: North Central. As much as it pains me to ever choose offense, I can’t pick against two of the nation’s top offensive players in quarterback Broc Rutter and offensive lineman Sharmore Clark.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: North Central’s offense. Defense wins championships, but offense wins games like these.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: North Central’s offense. These teams have split the last 14 Little Brass Bell games and it feels like Broc Rutter has started all of them. I’m not betting against him in his last shot at rival Wheaton.

Which game are you following that nobody else on this panel is following?

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Keith’s take: Albright at FDU-Florham. After three games against teams that are 8-1, the Lions get to face someone on their level and try to snap a 14-game losing streak.
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Ryan’s take: Willamette at Whitworth. I’m eager to see how the bye week treated the Pirates, after the Week 3 upset by Chapman.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Kenyon at Oberlin. But, you’ll have to listen to today’s podcast (No. 247) to find out why.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Carnegie Mellon at Grove City. The Tartans are on some Top 25 ballots already and can continue to climb if they knock off the Wolverines on the road. Grove City is trying to avoid a three-game losing skid on the heels of a nine-game winning streak.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Mass-Dartmouth at Framingham State. The Corsairs look to move to 5-0, but 1-2 Framingham State looks to remain undefeated in the conference and defend its MASCAC crown.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Eureka at Aurora. Look, I like points. Lots of points. These teams both score over 40 points per game and gain over 500 yards per game. If you like wide open offense, this game is for you.

Pick one of the seven six groups of Pioneers in action to get a win this week.

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Keith’s take: William Paterson. A lot of tough matchups for Pioneers this week, but this is both podcast appropriate, and vs. TCNJ, a safer bet.
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Ryan’s take: Marietta, though it won’t be as close as last-year’s one-point win was.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Marietta. Literally the only one I can get on board with here.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Marietta. Whatcha gonna do, brotherrrr, when Tanner Clark runs all over you? He’s sixth in D-III at 145.7 yards per game. ONU’s defense has underwhelmed so far.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: William Paterson (vs. TCNJ). Dustin Johnson has the Pioneers clicking right now, and TCNJ continues to struggle at 0-3.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: UW-Platteville. The Pioneers from Wisconsin have been impressive through the early part of the season while La Crosse has been forced to overtime twice already.

Which unbeaten, unranked team makes the strongest statement for Top 25 votes this weekend?

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Keith’s take: The Case Western Reserve/Westminster winner. If you’re making me pick, I’ll take the Titans, I suppose.
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Ryan’s take: Cortland. They don’t need much of a nudge to crack the Top 25, and taking down a 2-1 Utica team should get them there, especially if it’s as lopsided as their other games have been.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Cortland, vs. Utica. These Pioneers are off to a pretty good start and if Cortland handles Utica, it should open some eyes.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Union. A win over ranked Hobart would almost assuredly get the Dutchmen into the Top 25. At least if other voters share my belief that winning all your games this season is more representative than program pedigree or past seasons’ performance.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Union (vs. No. 21 Hobart). Because I’m a 1998 grad, and because I’m making my first appearance at Union in three years.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Carnegie Mellon. The Tartans only need to find themselves on a few more ballots to crack the Top 25 and an impressive win over Grove City may well collect the additional support they need. Also, Platteville (see above).

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Fridays, where Pat and Keith review the Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.

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Quick Hits Week 4: Cracking the win column

This week the panel looks at a top-12 clash in the OAC, some big games down south, and which teams are poised to get their first win of 2019.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas

Which game is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll.  On the pod I took SJF-Ithaca, but I think this is the right call.
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Ryan’s take: No 8 Bethel at Gustavus Adolphus.  The Gusties hung tough with St. John’s already, and Bethel will need to be ready for its first real test of the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Franklin & Marshall at No. 24 Susquehanna.  Also in contention for the longest game when listed on scoreboards.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll. After thrashing Baldwin Wallace last week, the Purple Raiders face their biggest test of the regular season. If the Blue Streaks can’t put up a fight, expect The Machine to pick up even more top votes in next week’s poll.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll. Mount was moved to the No. 1 slot on my ballot last week, and John Carroll did a huge leap on it. I’m curious to see how this plays out, even if it’s a close JCU loss.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: St. Norbert at Monmouth. It’s a rematch of last year’s MWC championship. And the one before that. And maybe a preview of this year’s MWC championship. These teams know each other well is what I’m saying.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 24 Susquehanna.  I hate when panelists do the none thing, and F&M is averaging 41 points a game.
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Ryan’s take: No. 13 Ithaca.  Oppenent St. John Fisher is already better than they were last year, and there’s a sense of returning to form. And the Bombers have crept up unusually high in the poll.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor.  I actually feel we are unlikely to have any upsets at all, but HPU is improving and UMHB has struggled.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 24 Susquehanna. If there’s any week to pick “None” this is it. But what’s the fun in that? I’ll take undefeated Franklin and Marshall to contribute to the Centennial Conference chaos.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 18 Johns Hopkins. I think the topsy-turvy season for Hopkins continues here against a Dickinson team that has been a little inconsistent, but that has the pieces needed to win at home.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 25 Hobart. It took a pretty furious rally for the Statesmen to survive winless Rowan last week. This week, Montclair State closes the deal.

Which 0-3 team cracks the win column this weekend?

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Keith’s take: Hiram. Of the 35 choices, I like Hiram, as its level of competition has been tougher so far than Kenyon, this week’s opponent.
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Ryan’s take: Bridgewater State.  The Bears line up against Fitchburg, which statistically has the worst defense in the conference.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Belhaven.  In the battle of 0-3 teams, taking the one that looked good last week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Belhaven. The Blazers put a scare into Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday. If they can get the offense on track, they should be able to defeat fellow winless ASC foe McMurry.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Belhaven. Their three losses have been by a combined 30 points, but they include a close 10-point loss to UMHB last week. Their experience should lead to a win.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Belhaven. It’s hard to see the Blazers’ 23-13 loss at UMHB last week and not think they’re close to a cracking the win column in 2019. Hosting McMurry is a great opportunity.

Which game are you following that nobody else on this panel is following?

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Keith’s take: Southwestern at Texas Lutheran. I am very fascinated by Southwestern’s hot start, yet Texas Lutheran is no easy W.
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Ryan’s take: Southern Virginia at Bridgewater.  The Knights are 2-0 for the first time in … ever. Curious to see if lightning will strike a third time.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Defiance vs. Anderson.  I think Anderson is beyond the point where it can be Defiance’s only win, but watching to be sure.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Mount St. Joseph at Franklin. Listen to my preview on today’s podcast. The Grizzlies will try to extend their win streak over the Lions to 10 games. Mount St. Joe has the edge at quarterback. Will that be enough to shake up the HCAC standings?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western New England at University of New England. For a second-year program like UNE, a huge upset like this would be a signature win. But UNE has a small chance here. WNE can’t look past this game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Denison at Wabash. It’s Homecoming. It’s Senior Day. It’s a critical conference game for both teams. And it’s also the first of the last five games at the current iteration of Hollett Little Giant Stadium.

Pick a winner in a LL vs. E8 game.

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Keith’s take: Cortland. SUNY Buffalo State and SUNY Cortland are in different conferences, and tiers. The Dragons outscoring opponents 94-7, and will get top 25 consideration soon.
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Ryan’s take: St. Lawrence over Hartwick.  The Saints’ Tyler Grochot puts up good numbers even in losses — he’ll be hard for the Hawks to stop.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Alfred.  There are a bunch of games that seem like pretty easy picks in this group, so I’m sure we’ll have a bunch of upsets instead.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 13 Ithaca defeats St. John Fisher. A battle of unbeatens, a turning point for two resurgent programs trying to reclaim the top spot in the East Region. I think this is Ithaca’s year.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: St. Lawrence (vs. Hartwick). The Saints got their first win last week and have played stronger generally based on schedule comparisons and scores. Home cookin’ seals this deal for them.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Cortland over Buffalo State. In their first season out of the E8, the Bengals are on the verge of a four-game non-conference sweep courtesy their former conference rivals. The good news is that they’re still 0-0 in league play.

Which Week 3 upset victim gets back on course this week?

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Keith’s take: Ursinus.A surprise 44-38 loser to Juniata last week, Ursinus gets a chance to get right against 0-3 Moravian.
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Ryan’s take: Washington & Jefferson. The game won’t come down to the fourth quarter for the Presidents, like it has two of the past three weeks already.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Ohio Northern. I’m not confident in any of them, but will take ONU to beat Otterbein.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Washington & Jefferson. Most of last week’s upset victims have an unwelcome bye week. They would much rather be on the field with the opportunity to get back on the winning path. The Presidents face a hungry Grove City team, which just had its nine-game winning streak snapped by Case Western Reserve.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Washington & Jefferson (at Grove City). That said, I think Grove City plays them very close, unlike last year and unlike last week’s disappointing Case Western Reserve loss.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Ohio Northern. Back home and under the lights, the Polar Bears shake off last week’s shocker and get a win over winless Otterbein.

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Fridays, where Pat and Keith review the Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.