It was a struggle for UW-Oshkosh to get anything going on offense on Saturday, and in light of that, it’s a struggle for Top 25 voters. What do you do with a team which lost to a Division II opponent, but a D-II opponent which is only in its third year of football?
We also hear from the interim head coach of Mary Hardin-Baylor, and the Cru’s leading rusher from Saturday, a game in which nobody for UMHB struggled in a 91-7 win. Plus Pat and Keith hand out game balls, pick their off-the-beaten-path highlight, the risers and fallers in the Top 25 and much more.
The D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast is a regular conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan and guests covering the wide range of Division III football.
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Quick Hits returns for the 2018 season! If you’re new to Division III football or D3football.com, this is our weekly predictions page. We assemble a crew of a half-dozen Division III football writers and observers and give you the best take on what the best games are, which ranked team is most likely to get upset, and a variety of other categories. Six six-packs of opinions ought to cover you!
Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer and Frank Rossi. Our sixth spot goes to a guest each week, and this week’s is former Thomas More quarterback Kevin Niehus.
— Pat Coleman (Westminster, Pa., athletics photo by Jason Kapusta)
What’s this week’s Game of the Week?
Keith’s take: No. 17 Delaware Valley at No. 9 Wesley. There are lots of tempting matchups, but Del Val at Wesley is the only clash of Top 25 teams, and it should be highly emotional.
Ryan’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. More than a Top 25 matchup, it’s a look at the new man at the Wolverines’ helm.
Pat’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. I’ll be more clever later in the rundown and later in the season, but this one is obvious.
Adam’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. Getting back on the field should be cathartic for the Wolverines.
Frank’s take: Hobart at No. 6 Brockport. A lot of changes for Hobart, a team that has been uncharacteristically quiet. Brockport’s young O-Line could mean a close important matchup.
Kevin’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. An emotional first game in Dover between two playoff-level programs.
Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?
Keith’s take: No. 8 Frostburg State, by Stevenson. Couldn’t talk myself into Westminster, UW-Stout, ETBU or Hobart.
Ryan’s take: No. 15 Washington and Jefferson. St. John Fisher is poised to sneak up on some folks after a dismal 2017.
Pat’s take: No. 14 Wittenberg, by Westminster (Pa.). Wittenberg wants this credit for playing this opponent; I’m not penciling in a W.
Adam’s take: No. 19 Johns Hopkins. Randolph-Macon returns a ton of starters. Plus, I had a dream this week that R-MC won this game.
Frank’s take: No. 15 Washington and Jefferson. Fisher wants to rebound, and what better way than at home against a W&J team that might underestimate them.
Kevin’s take: None. The closest game will be W&J at St. John Fisher.
Which game are you watching that nobody else on this panel is following?
Keith’s take: Adrian at Ohio Northern. The Emmanuel Stewart feature in Kickoff ’18 has me eyeing this game with interest.
Ryan’s take: Emory & Henry at Ferrum. My wife’s alma mater gets new life as an ODAC member, plus this is a big rivalry game.
Pat’s take: Anderson at North Park. In this case, literally, as the last game of four I’ll see this week.
Adam’s take: George Fox at Redlands. Because I’ll be driving back from the beach all day and won’t be able to watch anything earlier.
Frank’s take: Western New England at Springfield. The Pynchon SAW game between two 2017 conference champs with some major losses to graduation will prove to be an interesting opener.
Kevin’s take: George Fox at Redlands. In a game between teams forecasted to each win 7 games it’s a matchup of defense (George Fox) vs efficient QB and Redlands offense.
Which new program has the better debut?
Keith’s take: Alvernia, with a home opener, against a program that’s won seven games the past four seasons.
Ryan’s take: Alvernia. Opponent Gallaudet has yet to break out of a five-year slump.
Pat’s take: Alvernia. Not enough to win but enough to get a little confidence early on.
Adam’s take: Alvernia. The Golden Wolves have a home game, plus two more days of preparation than University of New England.
Frank’s take: Alvernia. The Golden Wolves are hosting a team that struggled in 2017, setting them up for a chance for a big crowd and a potential win.
Kevin’s take: Alvernia. With nine QBs and 13 RBs among their numbers, the Golden Wolves will be athletic.
Who has a long, disappointing trip home?
Keith’s take: La Verne could be competitive at Whitworth, but it’s a trek back to SoCal from Spokane.
Ryan’s take: Denison. Opponent Southwestern is going to be particularly tough this season.
Pat’s take: Husson. It’s a long trip from Husson to anywhere, including back to Maine after a loss at Union.
Adam’s take: Denison. Southwestern returns the favor to the Big Red in year two of this rare Ohio-Texas matchup.
Frank’s take: Husson. With graduation of John Smith, the ultimate difference maker last year, Husson may see their regular season winning streak snapped.
Kevin’s take: Sounds like John Carroll could be a candidate based upon the Case Western Reserve scrimmage.
Whose head coaching debut are you most interested in?
Keith’s take: WNE’s Jason LeBeau gets a challenge from a rival coming off a 10-win season in his head-coaching debut.
Ryan’s take: Trevor Stellman at Thomas More. Will be interested from Week 1 through their final days in D-III.
Pat’s take: Defiance’s Manny Matsakis. Having only just met his team when camp started, this is a challenge.
Adam’s take: Garrett LeRose. My former teammate is now the head coach of our alma mater (W&L). I’m proud and excited to see what he accomplishes.
Frank’s take: Chad Martinovich at University of Rochester. He left academic-minded MIT for academic-minded U of R. Can he turn them around like MIT, starting with a tough Case?
Kevin’s take: Trevor Stellman, Thomas More. Are the Saints good enough to play spoiler on their way to Pool B during their D3 curtain call?
We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Monday Around the Nation podcast to wrap up the week that was, and the Friday Around the Nation podcast, where Pat and Keith review the Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.
We’re under a week from Selection Sunday. Only seven automatic bids are still up for grabs, and most will be really hard to pry away from the favorites. But what if both Washington & Jefferson and Case Western Reserve run the table? What if Widener upsets Delaware Valley? What if (insert your scenario here)? You can find out more in this week’s D3football.com Around the Nation podcast.