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ATN Podcast: Playoff picture update

About half of the automatic bids have been handed out to the Field of 32 teams which will play for the 2016 Division III football championship. But while two of the remaining ones will be battled out head to head this week, and some are cut-and-dried if teams take care of business, there’s still a lot of intrigue and a lot of moving parts. What might the at-large bids look like? Pat and Keith take a quick tour through that and more in this week’s Around the Nation Podcast.

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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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 5: Welcome to October

Month No. 2, Week No. 5, and one big game right at the top of the Top 25 list to talk about this week. Our guest picker is Ray Biggs, who we think of more specifically as the managing editor of D3hockey.com, but whom also contributes to Kickoff on D3football.com and broadcasts Utica games on ESPN Utica Rome. (You’d have heard his voice twice this season already on Play of the Week highlights.) Westminster (Pa.) athletics photo by Jason Kapusta

— Pat Coleman

My Game of the Week for Week 5 is …

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Keith’s take: No. 2 UW-Whitewater at No. 8 Platteville. Nowhere else has greater implications, especially if the Pioneers, who have only given up one garbage-time TD, win.
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Ryan’s take: No. 2 UW-Whitewater at No. 8 Platteville. There’s just no question about the magnitude of this one.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 2 UW-Whitewater at No. 8 Platteville. Gonna be a few like this this season. Here’s the first of the showdowns.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 16 Thomas More at Westminster (Pa.). The loser of Whitewater at Platteville still has a very good chance at the playoffs. If the host Titans upset the Saints, the PAC race goes into disarray.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 22 CNU at Rowan. This game could have major Pool C implications and help determine what path Wesley might have to make the playoffs.
Ray
Ray’s take: Cortland at Hartwick. Cortland’s offense should get back on track against a porous defense in a must-win. Hartwick can score like crazy.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 24 Central. Dubuque winning wouldn’t really be an upset, but Pat’s questions took up all the other possibilities.
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Ryan’s take: No. 24 Central. The risk is always there when your opponent is 4-0.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 24 Central. Barely an upset, but by the rankings, yes.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 24 Central. Dubuque believes it should be in the Top 25 and will state its case with a road win.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 Thomas More. Westminster (Pa.) has given up 16 points in three games, and hosts an inconsistent Thomas More team.
Ray
Ray’s take: No. 21 Hobart. Hobart has fought a bit against the run. They take on D3’s top rushing team, Merchant Marine.

Who gets a first dose of reality?

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Keith’s take: Westminster (Pa.). This was one of the possibilities, but No. 16 Thomas More scored the first 45 points in their matchup last season.
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Ryan’s take: St. Vincent. Though winning, they have’t been winning by enough to show they’re at Case’s level.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Centre. Off to a great start at 4-0, the Colonels are heading to Hendrix, where the competition moves up a notch.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: St. Vincent. The 4-0 Bearcats have already equaled its 2014 and 2015 win totals. Case Western Reserve will remind St. Vincent what defeat feels like.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Central. Central isn’t on my ballot yet; I’m waiting for this game vs. Dubuque to help me figure the Dutch out.
Ray
Ray’s take: Thomas More. (Call it a second dose.) Westminster (Pa.) should worry the Saints. The Titans play great defense, and keep drives alive on third down.

Which once-competitive rivalry goes off the rails?

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Keith’s take: St. John’s at Bethel. Other possibilities include Trinity at Williams, Widener at Lycoming and Hampden-Sydney at Bridgewater.
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Ryan’s take: F&M at Dickinson. It’s likely F&M will win the Conestoga Wagon Trophy in a landslide.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hampden-Sydney at Bridgewater. Once upon a time, this game was the centerpiece for the ODAC season. Now they’re a combined 1-5.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: F&M-Dickinson. F&M is eager for revenge after Dickinson won the Conestoga Wagon Trophy the past two seasons.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Whitewater at Platteville. Something tells me the Warhawks are out to prove something this season, and Saturday’s game could be lopsided.
Ray
Ray’s take: RPI and Rochester. They’ve had some great battles recently, but this may be the year RPI runs away with one.

Which fading rivalry gets new life?

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Keith’s take: Wartburg at Coe. The Kohawks are 4-0, and the Knights have only beaten D-III noobs.
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Ryan’s take: CNU at Rowan. Few probably remember these two teams playing six years straight when CNU was in its infancy and Rowan was the Beast of the East.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Rhodes at Sewanee. Rhodes has won this rivalry game nine times in the past 10 meetings, but this could be a year Sewanee gets one.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Ohio Wesleyan and Denison. They are fierce rivals — in lacrosse, where both are usually ranked. The rivalry is not at the same level in football but OWU would love to hand the Big Red their first loss.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Widener at Lycoming. This game doesn’t have the excitement that it used to, but both desperately need a win. Expect a shootout.
Ray
Ray’s take: McDaniel-Gettysburg. With McDaniel posting a win, and Gettysburg off to a tough start, this could be the best edition since a one-score game in 2011.

Who makes this week’s NJAC statement?

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Keith’s take: Rowan. It promises to be a sloppy game in Glassboro, but that might suit the Profs fine vs. CNU.
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Ryan’s take: Frostburg State. A loss here sends them and their record toward the wrong side of the NJAC tracks.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Kean. I see the Cougars extending their win streak to four on Saturday vs. Frostburg.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: CNU. A convincing win at Rowan will prove that CNU belongs in the, uh, captain’s seat in the NJAC.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Wesley. The statement will be the way they win at Southern Virginia, as they remind us they aren’t dead yet in the NJAC chase.
Ray
Ray’s take: CNU. Again. They’ve posted wins over two traditionally strong programs, but both have been slow out of the gate. Rowan presents another test.

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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Quick Hits Week 4: The big games, upset picks

Like last week there’s one huge game in the rankings and I’ll be there. And this week, it won’t require a boarding pass. Will this one live up to the hype better than last week’s? Our guest is Gene Schatz, a Division III football fan whose son played quarterback at Wesley a few years back. Gene has continued to follow Division III very closely and was at both the Salisbury-Montclair State game and the Wesley-Christopher Newport game last week. That’s dedication, Division III parents! (Photo by Scott Pierson, d3photography.com)

— Pat Coleman

On Saturday, I’d rather be at …

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Keith’s take: Clemens Stadium. No. 4 St. Thomas at No. 6 St. John’s in an idyllic setting. It’ll probably be the best game-watching experience in D-III all season.
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Ryan’s take: In Springfield, Ohio, at Bash vs. Witt. Going off-grid with so many other eyes likely on Tommie-Johnnie game.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Collegeville, Minn. There’s a pretty cool game going on up there. What, you’ve heard of it? Never mind.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Tommie-Johnnie. For the third time in 364 days. Collegeville will be boppin’ as the home team tries to prevent a St. Thomas three-peat.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Clemens Stadium. I’ve always wanted to experience the atmosphere at this stadium, especially for this game. Their rankings make this year’s game a bonus.
Guest
Gene’s take: Collegeville, Minn. Would love to see if St. John’s can take the top spot back in the MIAC and break up the purple powers.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 13 Wabash. Didn’t have the guts to take Baldwin Wallace vs. Mount Union or pick against Cortland for the second week in a row.
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Ryan’s take: No. 11 Johns Hopkins. A solid Muhlenberg is as good a team as any to end JHU’s 29-game conference win streak.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 16 St. John Fisher. Under the assumption a huge Courage Bowl crowd fires up Brockport and the E8 refuses to be so easily predicted.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 13 Wabash. On the road against a Wittenberg team playing with a purpose this season.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 11 Johns Hopkins. Muhlenberg has built up well so far, while the Blue Jays have had some close results. A late score could decide it.
Guest
Gene’s take: No. 14 Delaware Valley. Taking a chance that Albright will live up to the preseason billing.

Who gets a sorely needed win this week?

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Keith’s take: UW-River Falls. Southwestern appears much improved, while the Falcons nearly beat Gustavus and get one more shot before WIAC play.
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Ryan’s take: Bethel. It’s already a big slide fof a once-major power.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Allegheny. Kenyon is 2-1, but that loss is a 45-7 drubbing by Hiram and Allegheny needs this one since they might not win another all year.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Ursinus. Two of the three winless Centennial teams meet when the Bears travel to McDaniel.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: UW-Eau Claire (at Wisconsin Lutheran). The Blugolds, with a 14-game losing streak, have a winnable game in front of them before WIAC play begins.
Guest
Gene’s take: Bethel. Just 3 years ago they went undefeated in the MIAC. Hard to believe they could start the season 0-4.

Name any Empire 8 team which will win on Saturday:

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Keith’s take: Alfred, against Ithaca. All the games are good, but I’ve warmed up to the Saxons, who are averaging 34 points a game and have two road wins.
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Ryan’s take: St. John Fisher. I added them to my Top 25 ballot last week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Morrisville State. I’ll let the rest of these guys take the easy pick and I’ll move further down the alphabet.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Alfred. The Saxons have been as impressive as anyone in the E8. Alfred hosts an Ithaca team that has one offensive TD in two games.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Alfred. The Bombers can’t find an offensive stride still, while Alfred has scored 30-plus in each of their three games. Advantage: Saxons.
Guest
Gene’s take: Alfred. The Saxons take advantage of a struggling Ithaca offense.

Pick an unranked, unvoted-for 3-0 team that will win this week:

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Keith’s take: Berry, vs. Sewanee. The Tigers have lost their first three games by 21-17 twice and 21-16. So give me Berry, scoring three TDs and winning by four.
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Ryan’s take: Plymouth State, keeping this Cinderella season rolling.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Coe. And Nebraska Wesleyan still won’t have beaten a Division III team since …
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Northwestern. They should beat Martin Luther; the bigger question is, will they allow points for the first time this season?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Centre (vs. Chicago). It’s revenge for Centre after their 2015 loss to the Maroons in what could be a key SAA matchup.
Guest
Gene’s take: St. Vincent. The Bearcats who have only won more than four games once since bringing the program back look to go 4-0.

Which NESCAC game should I care about?

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Keith’s take: Wesleyan at Tufts. It’s the only game between teams picked to have winning records (both 6-2) in Kickoff, or teams that had them last year.
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Ryan’s take: Wesleyan at Tufts, possibly the day’s most competitive matchup.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Wesleyan at Tufts. Night games in the NESCAC are pretty darn rare, so this could be fun.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Wesleyan at Tufts. Can reigning NESCAC player of the year Chance “the Running Back” Brady start another dominant rushing campaign?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Colby at Williams. For the start of the Mark Raymond era, as he tries to turn around the Ephs the same way he turned around St. Lawrence.
Guest
Gene’s take: Wesleyan at Tufts. Two teams near the top of the NESCAC last year don’t want to start the season 0-1.

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.