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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. 
You can subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in iTunes. You can also get this and any of our future Around the Nation podcasts automatically by subscribing to this RSS feed: http://www.d3blogs.com/d3football/?feed=podcast
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Quick Hits Week 6: Welcome to hump week

We’re right at the midpoint of the Division III football regular season. Or, if you’re Mount Union, you’re about done warming up. Five weeks before this one and five weeks after, and yes, then a five-week playoff, which some of the teams we mention this week will qualify for. (Perhaps UW-Oshkosh, with quarterback Brett Kasper above, photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com) This week’s guest is former Linfield defensive end Ryan Carlson, who runs Catdomealumni.com and does all the great video highlights from Linfield games.

— Pat Coleman

Which game is the game this week?

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Keith’s take: No. 5 UW-Oshkosh at No. 2 UW-Whitewater. Two top-five teams and potentially key to a WIAC three-way tie.
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Ryan’s take: No. 5 UW-Oshkosh at No. 2 UW-Whitewater. UW-W’s season is a bit front-loaded.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 5 UW-Oshkosh at No. 2 UW-Whitewater. That’s why I’m going. Next question.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 5 UW-Oshkosh at No. 2 UW-Whitewater. The Titans and Warhawks have split their past four meetings. This one is a toss up.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 13 Salisbury at Rowan. No. 2 vs. No. 5 has two teams in the playoffs, win or lose. This game, though, could control an entire region’s Pool C hopes.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan C’s take: Someone will get cute and NOT say Oshkosh at Whitewater but that’s like one of those stuffy baseball writers who didn’t vote for Ken Griffey Jr. as a first ballot Hall of Famer. Of course, it’s Oshkosh at Whitewater.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 12 Hardin-Simmons (at Louisiana College). Each team is scoring about 47 points per game.
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Ryan’s take: No. 12 Hardin-Simmons, especially if they’re plagued by another tight first half.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 14 St. John Fisher. Morrisville State is 0-4, but against four quality opponents. So, could happen.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 22 Hobart. RPI has a chance, two weeks after losing by six to No. 21 St. Lawrence. There’s no dominant team in the Liberty League this year.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 22. Hobart has yet to play four quarters of football the way the Statesmen should. RPI has been their spoiler before and looks to do it again at home.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan C’s take: No. 13 Salisbury. The Sea Gulls have been on a roll in 2016 but they’re good to drop a few games a year and this matchup against Rowan is one of them.

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: Ohio Northern. Polar Bears, already playing their fourth road game, finally play to their preseason expectations at 3-1 Capital.
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Ryan’s take: Albion. Winless in October is an unenviable place to be.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Lycoming. Taking out frustrations at FDU-Florham. (Ignoring failure to do so at Misericordia.)
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Whichever SCAC team off to a very disappointing start wins the Trinity, Texas (2-2) at Texas Lutheran (0-4) game.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Cortland (vs. Buffalo State). The defending E8 champs struggled to beat Hartwick’s marginal defense last week but finally seize momentum.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan C’s take: Whitworth. They dropped that tight game vs Central and struggled to put away La Verne and George Fox. This week they tighten it up to set up the Linfield showdown.

Pick an upset winner in a conference ATN ranked in the 20s.

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Keith’s take: Norwich, surprisingly 0-4, wins at 2-2 Becker by getting struggling offense on track in the No. 27 ECFC.
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Ryan’s take: Western Connecticut over Mass. Maritime, two teams on opposite ends of the No. 23 MASCAC.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: RIpon over Lake Forest. This is in the No. 21 Midwest Conference.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: From the No. 25 NACC: Concordia (Wis.) knocks off Benedictine at home this week.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western Connecticut nearly beat other co-leader Bridgewater State last week. The Colonials haven’t maximized their offensive weapons.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan C’s take: Occidental over CMS. CMS is flirting with the Top 25 while a Caltech ultimate frisbee team could put up 30 on Oxy. But Oxy and CMS have played tight game after tight game and the Tigers might just have it in them.

What’s your over-under on the Guilford/Hampden-Sydney game?

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Keith’s take: 56. Guilford 42-14?
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Ryan’s take: 68.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: 49.5. Still grass at Hampden-Sydney, right? That should be fun.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: 54.5. The Quakers have so far had little trouble reloading at QB and WR. Now, they must replace their RB, as De’Eric Bell is lost with a knee injury.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: 33. With rain in the forecast, I see this traditional track meet slowing down a bit. That said, I missed the last Over/Under by about 90 points.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan C’s take: 43.5.

Pretend you have all day Saturday to watch four D-III games in sequence, live. Which four?

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Keith’s take: Alfred State/Dean or Finlandia/Trinity Bible in the 12-2 window, then Oshkosh/Whitewater … just for the contrast. Hardin-Simmons at LC at 7, then Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Oxy.
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Ryan’s take: DePauw/Wittenberg, Brockport/Utica, Trinity/Texas Lutheran, Pomona-Pitzer/Cal Lutheran.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Springfield at Union. Since the triple-option game is fast, I sneak in UWO/UWW before Puget Sound-Whitworth, the Belhaven-Sul Ross track meet and Chapman-Whittier, since I’ll need to multi-task.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: I’m heading to DePauw at Wittenberg, then Pacific Lutheran at Willamette, Hardin-Simmons at Louisiana College and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Occidental.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 22 Hobart at RPI, Brockport at Utica, No. 12 Hardin-Simmons at Louisiana College, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Occidental.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan C’s take: Oshkosh at Whitewater, Linfield at Pacific, Hardin-Simmons at Louisiana College, CMS at Occidental (and hit In-and-Out afterwards).

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.