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Quick Hits Week 8: Tricks, Treats, and a Top 25 Texas Showdown

This week’s main event features a top 25 showdown in Belton with major ASC and playoff implications. Our panel has thoughts on that one, which other top 25 teams have spooky matchups, and which other games around the country may treat D3 fans.

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

— Greg Thomas
Hardin-Simmons athletics photo
by Scott Burkhalter

Which game is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 15 Hardin-Simmons at No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor. No. 15 Hardin-Simmons at No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor: Even with some luster off this after the Cowboys’ early-October loss, it’s still matchup of juggernaut offenses.
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Ryan’s take: No. 15 Hardin-Simmons at No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor. It was my conference GMOY pick in Kickoff, though the Cowboys’ blemish adds significantly to its playoff stakes.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 15 Hardin-Simmons at No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor. If this is a chance UMHB gets upset, it not only upturns the poll, but also the ASC AQ race.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 15 Hardin-Simmons at No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor. One of this season’s greatest mysteries lies in Belton. This is the biggest test for the Cru this season, and how they respond will set the tone for the remainder of the 2019 season.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Keith talked me out of picking Ohio Wesleyan at Hiram on the ATN Friday Podcast. So I guess I’ll have to pick No. 15 Hardin-Simmons at No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor instead.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: UW-Oshkosh at UW-La Crosse. Probably an at-large eliminator for the loser, while the winner will stay alive in the WIAC and take their swing at Whitewater in November.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 17 Chapman. Mostly because Cal Lutheran is 3-3 with three one-possession losses and can probably keep this one close to the end too.
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Ryan’s take: None. I looked long and hard at several games, but any underdog will really have to catch lighting in a bottle to come away with a W this week. I can’t pull the trigger on any of them.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 19 Cortland. If St. John Fisher could play Ithaca that closely, and Cortland wasn’t able to put Morrisville away until late and was nearly doubled in yardage by Alfred…
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 20 Susquehanna. This feels like the week of “none” but the Centennial has been chock full of upsets this season, and an Ursinus win would also shake up the Pool C picture.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 13 Wesley (vs. Montclair). I explain what’s at stake and how it can happen on today’s Podcast.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 19 Cortland. There were some red flags from the Red Dragons last week where a couple of special teams scored bailed out a rough offensive effort. This week Cortland goes on the road to a St. John Fisher squad that can put up major points.

Which one-loss team has its postseason hopes dashed?

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Keith’s take: Also Hardin-Simmons.  Sorry.
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Ryan’s take: Denison. Last year’s playoff run won’t repeat itself, and I’ve seen how well Witt can play with its back against the wall.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hardin-Simmons. Even if we have reason to question the UMHB O, the D can get the job done.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Denison. The Big Red, one of four teams tied at the 4-1 logjam atop the NCAC, travel to Wittenberg. The Tigers keep their playoff hopes alive while dashing Denison’s.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Wilkes (at Misericordia). Wilkes ran into a buzzsaw last week but still has a very remote chance for a playoff berth — until Misericordia QB Brady Williams continues to dazzle Saturday.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 15. Hardin-Simmons. The Cowboys have their backs against the wall, but on the road for UMHB’s homecoming is about the worst possible spot to have to play a must win game. The Texas pod gets sorted out before Round 1 this year.

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

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Keith’s take: Texas Lutheran at Sul Ross State. The Bulldogs look to win their sixth straight in the only game that kicks off after 4 ET; the other panelists will be on dates or doing things besides staring into a laptop screen on a Saturday night.
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Ryan’s take: Texas Lutheran at Sul Ross State. While the ASC’s traditional big dogs battle it out this week, TLU has a tough one against a rising SRSU to stay in the playoff hunt.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Transcendental at Rare font-Bud-Ships. Listen to the pod to crack the code.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Bridgewater at Washington and Lee. The Eagles are the most impressive unranked unbeaten, in my opinion. The alma mater could throw a wrench in the ODAC race by unseating the Eagles. I’d be there if I didn’t have other, not so D-III plans on Saturday.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Dean at Gallaudet. If Dean wins, the ECFC AQ would go to a team no better than 4-4 or 6-4 (and potentially worse). It might force the NCAA to re-evaluate football playoff access with so few at-large berths left.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Mt. St. Joseph at Rose-Hulman. But for a brazen Braden Smith two point conversion in Terre Haute, this would be a game between undefeated HCAC squads. Hanover is still going to have a say in how this league turns out, but the winnowing of contenders starts here.

Which WIAC game will be the closest?

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Keith’s take: UW-Oshkosh at UW-La Crosse. They haven’t looked like the title contenders we expected, but they do look like they’d battle one another tough.
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Ryan’s take: UW-Oshkosh at UW-La Crosse. Hopefully, the Eagles’ defense tightens down after last week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: UW-River Falls is only 47 miles away, but the Stevens Point-Stout game will have a closer score.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: UW-Oshkosh at UW-La Crosse. The teams have each played three one-score contests this season. The Titans have more riding on this one, while the Eagles try to play spoiler at home. I’ll set the line at UW-Oshkosh -4.5, for entertainment only.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: UW-Oshkosh at UW-La Crosse. I see defenses digging in enough to keep scoring reasonable and close in a game between two strong teams.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: UW-Stevens Point at UW-Stout. Going with recent history here, this series has been decided by seven points or less for six years running.

Pick a team that wears orange and black to win on Halloween week.

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Keith’s take: Lewis and Clark. These guys will make easy picks, but yours truly is leaning on a squad that’s allowed 134 points in its past to games to beat Willamette (which has allowed 136).
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Ryan’s take: Hendrix. For someone like me who’s color blind, even locating a team with those colors is a win.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hendrix. Austin will be shooting at the walls of heartache.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Ohio Northern. The Polar Bears face winless Capital. The Crusaders have been outscored by an average of 59.7 to 4.5 points per game, the worst margin in all of D-III. That’s scary.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Hendrix (at Austin). I figure the easy choice is ONU over Capital — but when have I ever picked the conventional option? If you don’t believe me, see my Stagg Bowl sideline outfits from the past three years.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Hendrix. The Warriors have had a tough couple of weeks in the SAA, but get back into the win column this weekend at Austin.

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: 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: Welcome to the season

Thirty-one teams didn’t start their season with the rest of us last week, and while 10 of those are from the NESCAC and would just never play in Week 1 and one was Occidental, which played a game against a Mexican team, basically the rest are getting on the field this week for the first time.

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 Ryan Carlson, former defensive end at Linfield, producer of any awesome Linfield football video you’ve seen in the past decade or so, and 2018 inductee into the school’s hall of fame.

— Pat Coleman

Which game is Week 2’s game of the week?

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Keith’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at No. 12 UW-Whitewater. Both are in the top 18 on my ballot.
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Ryan’s take: UW-La Crosse at No. 21 Illinois Wesleyan. I think a lot of people are curious about how good UW-L is.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 10 Hardin-Simmons at Trinity (Texas). Trinity pounded McMurry last week, but this is the much more difficult Abilene opponent.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at UWW. The Warhawks looked like the UWW of old in Week 1 and have a prove-it game in Week 2.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at UWW. The Cobbers have remained a consistent team over the last six years and can play UWW with a “nothing to lose” approach.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at UWW. I was going to pick Macalester at Hamline just to give my guy Adam Johnson a thrill but that might hurt my “tremendous” amount of credibility.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to be upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 18 Johns Hopkins. Susquehanna led by 10 at the start of the fourth last year, and is at home this time.
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Ryan’s take: No. 18 Johns Hopkins. Susquehanna looked too good last week to gloss over them.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 21 Illinois Wesleyan. This is one spot where the preseason poll and my ballot diverge fairly significantly.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 21 Illinois Wesleyan. UW-La Crosse is determined to keep its momentum from 2017 going, and a non-conference win over a ranked opponent on the road would be the next step.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 24 RPI. RPI struggled early against Allegheny, and with the Transit Trophy on the line, WPI could surprise some folks.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan’s take: No. 21 Illinois Wesleyan. However, UWO is playing a second year D-II and had some struggles last weekend but would losing to a D-II really be called an upset?

Which team making its debut in Week 2 will wish it had a game under its belt?

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Keith’s take: Kean. Springfield rushed for 445 yards last week, although maybe the Cougars have had an extra week to drill triple option.
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Ryan’s take: DePauw. At least they don’t have to go on the road to play Central.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: William Paterson. What might have seemed like an achievable game in Dustin Johnson’s coaching debut changed when FDU beat TCNJ.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Texas Lutheran. Opening the season against Hendrix QB Miles Thompson is no easy task. Last year, Thompson carved up the Bulldogs for 433 yards and four TDs.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Kean. Springfield got its offense humming in Week 1, meaning the Kean defense will have a tough task right of the bat.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan’s take: Linfield. I fully believe that Linfield is going to go out to Carroll College and win, but the Saints already have two games in. That just makes the challenge that much greater.

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

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Keith’s take: Hope at Defiance. In this dictionary-words matchup, eager to see step Matsakis’ (hired July 26) Yellow Jackets take after rough first week.
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Ryan’s take: Hendrix at Texas Lutheran. A good one between teams legitimately eyeing conference titles.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Lawrence at Carleton. I’ll be spending another Saturday off the beaten path, but I love all of D-III.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 7 North Central at Lake Forest. Because I’ll be there in person to see how these two teams are replacing production of their respective 2017 all-conference running backs.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Union at Coast Guard. Both teams were supposed to beat their Maine opponents last week. We’ll learn a lot about both as this game could go either way.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan’s take: Macalester … naw, Pacific Lutheran at Cal Lutheran. This the Lutes’ first game without a Westering as head coach since 1971. I just want to know if PLU is still going to do their ridiculous pregame warmup.

Who will bounce back from a Week 1 blowout and win?

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Keith’s take: Guilford. I like the Quakers hosting Methodist; oh wait, that Week 1 game never happened. 😉
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Ryan’s take: Allegheny. The Gators’ turnaround begins Saturday.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Stevenson. I’m not sure that the Mustangs are MAC contenders but I like their chances vs. Bridgewater.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Rose-Hulman. The Fightin’ Engineers took a 54-0 beating from the defending champs. A home game against Rhodes is a lot different than a road game against Mount Union.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Hobart. Hobart didn’t quit against Brockport in a lopsided affair. I think that spirit will lend to a victory vs. a decent Morrisville State team.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan’s take: Delaware Valley.The Aggies should take care of business against Mass-Dartmouth but the Corsairs have a linebacker named Tony Slaughter and that is outstanding.

Which team will surprisingly be 2-0 after Saturday?

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Keith’s take: Lawrence. Rekindling a rivalry with Carleton, Vikings have a chance for first 2-0 start since, well, farther than our site goes back (1998).
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Ryan’s take: N.C. Wesleyan. Poised for another after already taking down Thomas More.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Sewanee. Yes, this means this is a bit of an upset pick as well.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: SUNY-Maritime. The Privateers had a very late coaching change this summer, but appear to be picking up where they left off after a nine-win 2017 season.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: FDU-Florham. The Devils won 12 games in the prior seven seasons.  A 2-0 start will be a unique position for them.
Ryan Carlson
Ryan’s take: Macalester. 

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.