Is there enough offense in Anthony Moeglin’s right arm to overcome a stout Whitewater defense? Can Oshkosh manage to put enough points on the board to win at St. Thomas, or, for that matter, can St. Thomas manage to do enough to put away the Titans? Those are the games there’s the most dispute about this weekend, as our Quick Hits crew takes you through each of the four quarterfinals.
— Pat Coleman
Wheaton (Ill.) at Mary Hardin-Baylor
Keith’s take: UMHB 38, Wheaton 24. Two great D-lines cause havoc early, and the Thunder make it interesting before the Cru pull away.
Ryan’s take: UMHB 31, Wheaton 14. It’s very likely that UMHB is the best team in the country, and while Wheaton has been admirable, it’s hard to see them stop the Cru’s dual-threat offense or break through that hard-nosed defense.
Pat’s take: UMHB 38, Wheaton 14. Team speed and defensive pressure just too much for the Thunder to handle without a little lightning.
Adam’s take: UMHB 41, Wheaton 24. The Thunder are certainly peaking at the right time, but the Crusaders have too many weapons in all three phases. A big special teams play or turnover(s) will be too much for Wheaton to overcome.
Frank’s take: UMHB 31, Wheaton 21. Wheaton’s win vs. NCC was impressive, but the Cru’s win vs. Linfield showed the team’s level of consistency this season.
Josh’s take: UMHB 28, Wheaton 10. The Thunder’s defense was impressive last week vs. North Central. But this UMHB team is a different kind of beast.
Mount Union at Alfred
Keith’s take: Mount Union 35, Alfred 21. The Purple Raiders get the ground game going, and the purple Saxons run out of late-game heroics.
Ryan’s take: Mount Union 45, Alfred 17. Neither team has impressed this postseason, and Alfred, especially, has allowed an ugly amount of points the last two weeks against teams that are far less polished and prominent as The Machine.
Pat’s take: Mount Union 38, Alfred 10.
This ends up being the textbook definition of handily. Mount names its score.
Adam’s take: Mount Union 35, Alfred 23. I guess it’s time for me to stop doubting the Purple Raiders. The Saxons defense has been bending all postseason, and the offense will be facing its toughest test as well.
Frank’s take: Mount Union 33, Alfred 20. Both teams have underwhelmed so far in the playoffs, but Mount Union still retains the edge in this one, having won in less-cardiac form.
Josh’s take: Mount Union 34, Alfred 14. Mount Union’s playoff experience pays off in this matchup, and the Purple Raiders win comfortably.
UW-Oshkosh at St. Thomas
Keith’s take: St. Thomas 20, UW-Oshkosh 17. The winner of this game could well win the Stagg Bowl; Love the Titans but hard to see the Tommies’ D giving up many points.
Ryan’s take: UW-Oshkosh 20, St. Thomas 13. I picked the Titans to win this bracket before the playoffs started, and I still feel good about that. You can’t go into this not expecting it to be a defensive battle with two Top 5 scoring defenses.
Pat’s take: UW-Oshkosh 17, St. Thomas 13. Or 17-15 if UWO’s two-point conversion defense isn’t ready. Defense and special teams battle.
Adam’s take: St. Thomas 17, UW-Oshkosh 14. These two teams and programs have a lot of similarities. The team with home field advantage and playoff pedigree gets the slight edge.
Frank’s take: St. Thomas 27, UW-Oshkosh 17. The teams have won by a combined 178-36 score in their four games. Give the edge to the home team, when all else fails.
Josh’s take: St. Thomas 31, UW-Oshkosh 30. This looks like a great game on paper, and on the field. St. Thomas has just enough, but it’s a game D-III fans talk about for several days after.
John Carroll at UW-Whitewater
Keith’s take: UW-Whitewater 21, John Carroll 13. What could be more exciting than 11 defensive linemen rotating in against perennially the best O-line in D-III? Lots of things, but, uh, this could be a classic game.
Ryan’s take: John Carroll 21, UW-Whitewater 17. I tossed and turned over this pick, but the recent tests that JCU has embraced and overcome gives them the edge after UW-W’s victories over teams with poor records or from weaker conferences.
Pat’s take: UW-Whitewater 26, John Carroll 13. JCU manages to slow the Whitewater offense, but the Warhawks do even more on defense and the UWW offense gets just enough done to win here.
Adam’s take: John Carroll 21, UW-Whitewater 20. JCU has come a long, long way since the season-opening loss at UW-Oshkosh. As long as Anthony Moeglin protects the ball on offense, the Blue Streaks defense will make enough plays in the red zone to deliver a statement win.
Frank’s take: UW-Whitewater 13, John Carroll 10. John Carroll’s defense was tremendous against Wesley, but their offense may not be able to score against the Warhawks. This may be the closest game of the four.
We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Mondays, where Pat and Keith review the picks that were prescient, and those that were terribly off base.
The story goes, one day on a long ride to a playoff game at Thiel (which tells you how long ago this happened), Pat and Keith decided to pass the time by guessing not just the winner of each first-round playoff game, but the score. And there was born the expectations game: Do we expect a close game? A high-scoring game? A blowout? Does everyone agree on who will win? Those are the factors worth looking at.
Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Josh Smith each take their guesses at scores for each first-round game.
Consensus: UW-Whitewater, although a four-touchdown range in what UWW might score.
We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below, or tweet at us at @D3Keith, @NewsTipps and @d3football. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Mondays, where Pat and Keith review the picks and the highlights from Round 1.
We’re still feeling really good about this bracket — about the teams selected, about the first-round pairings, about so much of it. We’ll hear from the NCAA committee chair, Jack McKiernan, gets Keith’s view on watching his alma mater clinch an automatic bid and talk about that John Carroll-Mount Union game. Plus, we’ll discuss who got the best and the toughest draws, what the best first-round games are, what (if anything) the committee got wrong and more in this week’s Around the Nation Podcast.
This week’s podcast is sponsored by the City of Salem, hosts of Stagg Bowl XLIV. For more information about the Stagg Bowl or any national championship Salem hosts, visit salemchampionships.com.
The Around the Nation Podcast is a weekly conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan covering the wide range of Division III football. It drops on Monday morning weekly throughout the season.
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