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Quick Hits: Reaching the midway point

It’s hump week in Division III football: five weeks down, and five weeks remaining after this one. Does it feel like a Wednesday to you? If so, it can only be the best Wednesday ever! Here’s our crew’s predictions for Week 6.

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 Paul Schreel. Paul is an Ohio Northern grad and former Division III broadcaster now coaching high school football in Arizona.

— Pat Coleman

Which game is the Week 6 game of the week?

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Keith’s take: No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor. Red-hot teams could serve notice and crack top 5 or flip No. 1 votes.
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Ryan’s take: No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor. This is my most-anticipated conference title bout every year, and neither team has disappointed this year.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 5 Frostburg State at No. 6 Wesley. The first big battle in the NJAC, which might only have one big battle.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 5 Frostburg State at No. 6 Wesley. A rivalry, in its final year, likely with the conference title at stake. Last year’s OT thriller will be topped.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 5 Frostburg State at No. 6 Wesley. It’s the lowest combined ranking in an East Region matchup I can remember, and the stakes are major with just five Pool C bids available this year.  I expect a low-scoring affair.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor. With the No. 1 and No. 6 total offenses in Division III facing off, the first defense to force a punt could decide the game.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 9 St. John’s. There’s a Johnnies fan at work and he’s worried about quarterback Jaran Roste and the Royals.
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Ryan’s take: No. 9 St. John’s. Bethel is having a resurgence this year and could catch the Johnnies looking ahead to the biggin on Oct. 13.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 22 Whitworth. All the Top 25-on-Top 25 games mean qualifying upset opportunities are few. This pick relies on some overconfidence.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 24 Muhlenberg. The Centennial cannibalization continues as the Mules join Ursinus in the “previously unbeaten” ranks.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 20 RPI. It wouldn’t be an upset on my ballot, because I’ve had Ithaca higher all season. Ithaca’s body of work thus far has been better. Home field helps Bombers win a close game.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: No. 22 Whitworth. A week after a tough win over Linfield, the Pirates will have their hands full traveling to George Fox.

Outside of the ‘big six,’ which Top 25 game will be the most interesting?

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Keith’s take: Carthage at Illinois Wesleyan. Remember, Red Men gave UW-Oshkosh a run for its money.
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Ryan’s take: No. 22 Whitworth at George Fox. Coming off last week’s win, I’m curious if Whitworth is that good or Linfield was that bad. This’ll help me sort that out.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Chapman at Redlands. The last game of the night should be a good one, and the SCIAC automatic bid will likely go to the winner.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 22 Whitworth at George Fox. The Bruins could make it two in a row over the Pirates and the NWC could enter Week 3 of conference play wide open.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Willamette at No. 25 Linfield. Linfield should win big, but their performance so far places a lot in doubt. If Willamette keeps it close, I’d consider dropping Linfield out of my ballot entirely.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: No. 24 Muhlenberg at UrsinusThe Centennial Conference has four legitimate challengers for a title this year. The loser of this game is out of that conversation, though.

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

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Keith’s take: Alvernia at Misericordia. New and new-ish program have combined for four wins so far this season.
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Ryan’s take: Johns Hopkins at Franklin & Marshall. Two teams with a blemish and outside the T25, but I’m not ready to cast either to the curb just yet.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Whittier at Occidental. Oxy did the right thing and gave Whittier The Shoes after Oxy failed to make the 2017 game. Could Whittier snap its 33-game skid and win them outright?
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Manchester at Mount St. Joseph. I’ll be there to see how these prolific offenses stack up against quality competition, which is not always on the opposite sideline in the HCAC.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Norwich at Merchant Marine. I’ll be attending this game, as it’s a nearby matchup between two military service academies. If it’s anything like Norwich/Coast Guard two weeks ago, it will be a classic.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: Chapman at Redlands. It looks like the winner will be in the driver’s seat for a SCIAC title and the automatic playoff berth.

It’s hump week in D-III: Who serves notice that they’re going to turn things around?

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Keith’s take: Linfield. The 1-2 Wildcats chase a record 63rd consecutive winning season by winning at Willamette.
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Ryan’s take: Southwestern. After a solid ASC debut in 2017, my expectations were a lot higher for the Pirates, and the next couple of games are winnable ones.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Aurora. An 0-4 start, albeit against a slate of decent teams, is unexpected and the Spartans should bounce back.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Albright (vs. Wilkes). The Lions have played a brutal schedule and have taken a beating. They could start a run to finish over .500 in their final five games.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Buffalo State. With Alfred coming off a close game vs. Morrisville St., Buffalo State with their first win last week might have enough momentum to upset the Saxons in Buffalo.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: Cal Lutheran. The offense looked good last week against an overmatched Occidental but they will prove it wasn’t a fluke and go on a run in SCIAC play.

Pick an unranked unbeaten team which will lose (to an unranked team) this week?

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Keith’s take: Albion. At Hope, which knocks off one of the three 4-0 MIAA teams.
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Ryan’s take: Union. Granted, they’re not playing the Hobart of old, but this will still be a tough road for the Dutchmen.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Albion. The Britons have done well this season and that includes a win vs. Franklin but Hope comes in well-tested in the first five weeks.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Albion. Hope held a fourth quarter lead over Trine. The Flying Dutchmen regain momentum with a win over the unbeaten Britons.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Amherst. Middlebury has bounced back from its opening loss, playing winning football as consistently as Amherst. The Panthers shock the Mammoths in Vermont.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: Salisbury. Christopher Newport hosts the Sea Gulls and could hand them their first loss of 2018.

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: One last week for all the marbles

As this portion of the Quick Hits season draws to a close, we tackle the big rivalry games, the playoff picture and all the rest. Our guest prognosticator is Frank Rajkowski, who covers St. John’s football for the St, Cloud Times.

— Pat Coleman

Which Week 11 game is the game of the week?

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Keith’s take: No. 18 St. John Fisher at No. 14 Alfred. There are other big games, but none impact the potential playoff field like whether or not the Cardinals are in Pool C.
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Ryan’s take: No. 18 St. John Fisher at No. 14 Alfred. Likely to be much more of a dogfight than the other game between Top 25 teams.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 8 St. John’s at Concordia-Moorhead. This game is frequently given to last-second heroics, and it has playoff implications.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 18 St. John Fisher at No. 14 Alfred. Every team on the Pool C bubble will have an eye on this one.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 John Carroll at No. 1 Mount Union. The Purple Raiders haven’t had a real test. This will show us where they’re at.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: I want to say St. John’s at Concordia since a lot is on the line and, you know, I’ll be covering it. But it’s hard to pick against ranked teams playing for a conference title, when top-ranked Mount Union plays host to No. 16 John Carroll.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 8 St. John’s, and to a lesser degree No. 17 Wabash. Each puts its 8-1 record on the line vs. 7-2 foe; Johnnies have lost 3 of 4 to Concordia-Moorhead.
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Ryan’s take: No. 25 St. Lawrence. WPI played Hobart close — in fact, the Engineers’ three losses all season were by a total of nine points.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: None. Going with a good old-fashioned slate of chalk. Get it, slate? Chalk?
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 8 St. John’s at Concordia-Moorhead. The Cobbers create some more Pool C chaos and stake a claim to one of the six bids.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 21 Case Western Reserve vs. Carnegie Mellon. CMU has been playing consistent ball while Case had a scare last week.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: I guess the Top 25 team with the toughest test is No. 8 St. John’s, which travels to Concordia in a game that both teams have to win if they want to keep their shot at an at-large bid alive.

Who salvages a poor season with a win in the finale?

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Keith’s take: Pacific has won six or seven games for three seasons running, but has three losses by four points or fewer this season. The Boxers win at home vs. Puget Sound to get to 4-5.
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Ryan’s take: Albion. My, how far the Britons have fallen.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Williams. I’m going with the Ephs because Amherst is having an uncharacteristically bad year and Williams, while winless, should smell a chance.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hampden-Sydney defeats rival Randolph-Macon in The Game, because the ODAC can’t possibly have a clear outright champion two years in a row, can it?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Wesley. “Poor” is a relative term, and a two-loss season is considered such for Wesley. A win salvages the season with a playoff berth.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: Bethel can salvage a .500 season with a win at Hamline. The Pipers are already assured of finishing .500 for the first time since 1997. A victory would give Hamline its first winning season since 1995.

Which team ranked No. 1 in its region has the closest game in Week 11?

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Keith’s take: Mount Union. The Purple Raiders look as dominant as always, especially with a D that’s allowed 42 points in six games, but the Blue Streaks (39 in past six) could be their equal.
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Ryan’s take: Alfred, but I guess that goes without saying based on my answer to the first question.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Mount Union, vs. John Carroll. Going with an alternate view here.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Alfred is the top team in the East, but plays No. 2 St. John Fisher. It would be a stunner if this isn’t the closest.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Alfred, vs. St. John Fisher. Their closeness in ranking is fitting as these teams should battle to the finish line.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: Pretty obviously Alfred, which is ranked No. 1 in the East, but faces St. John Fisher, ranked No. 2.

Who goes into the playoffs without momentum?

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Keith’s take: I really looked for other options here, but Alfred seems like the likeliest team to both lose and still get into the postseason..
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Ryan’s take: John Carroll. Finishing out the season against The Machine takes its toll.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: The winner of the ODAC. The fact that I can’t even easily determine who that will be says it all.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 23 Stevenson may have peaked too soon. The Mustangs enter the playoffs following a loss to 3-6 Wilkes and an uninspiring performance against 3-6 Lycoming.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western New England. With a QB named “Victory,” Coast Guard ends the season with a victory as the Golden Bears potentially rest some players.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: Olivet has already wrapped up an automatic bid. But the Comets have given up 115 points over three games. That could continue against Trine (6-3), averaging 35.4 points per game.

Alma mater excluded, pick a winner in a rivalry game.

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Keith’s take: Wesleyan (6-1) keeps Trinity Conn. from an unbeaten season and opens the door for Tufts (6-1) to claim NESCAC by beating Middlebury (6-1).
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Ryan’s take: Case Western Reserve over Carnegie Mellon. Finishing undefeated, this is a team that WILL be riding high going into the postseason.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Monmouth. Haven’t lost to Knox in how long? Add one year to the streak.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 17 Wabash could extend its Monon Bell win streak to a record eight in a row. A win could also secure a Pool C berth for the Little Giants. I’m picking the Tigers to play spoiler and snap DePauw’s losing streak.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: RPI, vs. Union. RPI has played very strong football at home vs. Union over the past years, even as the underdog. Their experience at defense helps keep it close enough for a late win.
Frank Rajkowski
Frank’s take: Well, I went to St. Cloud State (which closes its season vs. Minnesota-Duluth). But Mount Union-John Carroll is usually a game to watch. I’m not going out on any limb here. But I’ll take the Purple Raiders.

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.

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ATN Podcast: Breaking down the conference races

We started our deep dive into the playoffs on last week’s edition and we know we had a lot of new listeners — now we have to really talk about some of the automatic bids. Some conferences have pretty interesting races here in the final two weeks of the regular season and Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan look closely at the PAC, where two teams could finish unbeaten and never play each other, along with the NACC, NCAC, NJAC and the American Southwest Conference. Plus, even though this never has any playoff relevance, Pat and Keith debate whether you can rank a NESCAC team in the Top 25.

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.

Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device. 
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