TAG | Cornell
Joe Wojceichowski and the Widener defense will try to shut down Delaware Valley.
Widener athletics photo
The intensity of rivalries is virtually unmatched. The players become more focused, the crowd more vibrant. Alumni flood to stadiums, and memories are dredged up. A win against a rival opponent can rescue an otherwise sour season. And it makes Saturday night celebrations so much sweeter.
Across the country, rivalries will be taking place Saturday as the regular season comes to a close and the playoff prowess in a few remaining conferences shakes out.
Pat Coleman, Keith McMillan and Ryan Tipps walk you through the action, with Selection Sunday right on the horizon.
Game of the Week.
Ryan’s take: Huntingdon at No. 7 Wesley. It’s been a couple of years now since the Wolverines were in a position in which losing the regular season finale would likely mean no playoff performance. But there are question marks for Saturday. Wesley’s loss to Kean earlier in the year made perfection necessary for the final eight games of the season. And Huntingdon won’t be a pushover. The Hawks have already dealt losses to teams that currently stand at 8-1 and 7-2. Could a team like Wesley, which has been to the national semifinals each of the past two seasons, get left out in the cold entirely? Their performance Saturday will be telling.
Keith’s take: Wherever you’re headed. The other guys nail the games with the farthest-rippling playoff implications. So I’ll go ahead and cop out, under the premise that there’s no need to single out a game when we have five conference championships decided (NEFC, NJAC, MAC, LL and NWC), rivalry games from Indiana to Massachusetts to Virginia — and Iowa and Pennsylvania — that make or break seasons. And beyond that, it’s Week 11 — the last game of the season for all but 32 playoff teams and 14 ECAC bowl-bound squads. Hundreds of seniors will hang it up after this. Parents will see their son play one last time, and tailgate grills will make a final appearance before heading into the garage for offseason storage. So I’ll play the Jon Gruden “everything’s awesome” role. Because, you know, it is.
Pat’s take: Widener at No. 11 Delaware Valley. Literally, you can’t do a playoff projection without the result of this game, and there are a lot of factors. Let’s see, Delaware Valley has this tremendously backloaded schedule, with Lycoming and Widener at the end. The Aggies haven’t looked very much like the young team that they are this season. Widener surprised Delaware Valley last year and sent them on a course for Mount Union in the second round, so the rivalry got amped up a little higher and Delaware Valley has even more motivation. But what could be more motivating than the only chance Widener has to get a playoff bid?
Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: No. 12 Johns Hopkins at McDaniel. Part of the motivation here is seeing JHU almost drop their matchup against Franklin and Marshall last week, a team that should have been handled easily by the high-powered Blue Jays. However, what makes McDaniel a thinker in this situation is its track record this year: of the Green Terror’s seven losses, five were by eight points or less. McDaniel hasn’t really been able to bring all the pieces together to get wins, but the team has been able to hang around long enough to make it interesting. This Saturday’s game will be interesting, too.
Keith’s take: Trine at Albion. Maybe surprising only in the sense that the Britons are playoff-bound no matter the outcome, and Trine — the dominant MIAA program of the past few seasons picked up two conferences losses by mid-October. But I’m not sure I expect Albion to win, observing from afar. After an impressive five-game stretch, the Britons outgained DePauw 380-126 last week but managed just three points. Trine is the MIAA’s top rush offense (179 yards/game) and Albion is the top rush defense (96 yards). Should be a fun one.
Pat’s take: UW-La Crosse at No. 1 UW-Whitewater. UW-La Crosse gave UW-Whitewater a decent game in the season opener. It’s not likely to be the same close game it was in September, but it will be interesting to see how the teams have grown since Week 1 … not to mention how Whitewater might do if it needed to use Levell Coppage in the fourth quarter.
Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: No. 18 Franklin. Over the past four weeks, the Grizzlies have progressively played their way through the bottom four teams in the HCAC, starting with 4-5 Rose-Hulman and ending with 0-9 Earlham. So how will they react to all of sudden having to play a more competitive team again? Franklin is unquestionably the better team in this matchup, but Hanover’s advantage is being able to push Franklin enough to throw the Grizzlies off their game. This is a rivalry game, too, played for the Victory Bell. Hanover will be well aware of the fact that this is the last game of their season, win or lose. The Panthers will surely want to win.
Keith’s take: No. 9 Wabash. Just kidding Little Giants fans. Admit it, you got mad there for a second. No. 22 Bethel is my real pick. And with the 10th best rushing offense in the country at 279 yards a game, and with the No. 14 total defense, the Royals probably are just an unfortunate version of the team that played in a national semifinal last season. That said, it’s not easy to force yourself to play just for pride, and that appears to be all the Royals have left when they face 6-3 Augsburg in the Metrodome. Bethel and Augsburg had similar results against St. Thomas and St. Olaf, but only the Royals have to realize there’s no long playoff run ahead this year, just a long football-free December like most of are used to, and turning that into positive motivation.
Pat’s take: No. 13 Redlands. Last year, Redlands barely beat Chapman, finishing 8-1. The previous two years, Redlands lost in Week 11 to finish 7-2 each season and miss out on any shot at the playoffs. Not going to say any more.
They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: Muhlenberg. A win in the Mules’ crosstown rivalry game against Moravian would position them well for an ECAC postseason game. Muhlenberg stumbled a couple of times during the season but showed they could compete with the likes of Delaware Valley and Johns Hopkins. The team’s seniors certainly remember the special run the Mules had during their freshman year, and they’ll certainly be eager to channel that energy again.
Keith’s take: UW-Platteville. If the Pioneers can beat UW-Stevens Point for a second time, they’ll finish 7-3 and go down as the best team not to beat anybody great, but to only lose to really good teams. The three losses are to Wheaton, UW-Whitewater and UW-Oshkosh, which are 22-5 combined. A seventh win would also eclipse the best record of the D3football.com era, a 6-4 mark in 2004.
Pat’s take: UW-River Falls. The Falcons started the season 0-8, but had two close losses at home, then won at UW-La Crosse last week to snap the losing streak. River Falls returns home this week to face UW-Eau Claire.
Rivalry game you’re most interested in (alma maters excluded).
Ryan’s take: Amherst at Williams. No matter what, this is the end of the road for both of these teams, which opt not to compete in the playoffs. So at stake is pride: the Ephs’ pride in keeping Amherst from an undefeated 2011 season; the Lord Jeffs’ pride in avenging last year’s loss. If you don’t know the history between these two schools, look it up. It’s unlikely that any two institutions have claim to a more natural rivalry than these two. And it’s rare for them to produce anything but a captivating game.
Keith’s take: Coe at Cornell. Okay, you can get Curt Menefee to pose in a “beat Cornell” shirt. Probably could get Fred Jackson too. But as long as I’ve been writing rivalry stories, I’ve never been able to say anything about this game but that they’ve played it for a long time (121 and counting). Am I just not talking to the right people? The two teams have followed each other from the MWC to the IIAC and are going their separate ways as Cornell heads back to the MWC, but I’m interested in whether fans in Iowa really care about this rivalry.
Pat’s take: No. 14 Kean at No. 15 Montclair State. Okay, so it won’t appear on too many lists of great rivalries but I’m going to go ahead and pick it here because there should be plenty of bad blood … or blood, anyway … to go with what’s on the line in this game, for the NJAC title. Kean coach Dan Garrett and both of his coordinators played at Montclair, which is just 18 miles from Kean, in northern New Jersey.
Who will have the least momentum going into the playoffs?
Ryan’s take: Albion. The Britons have to be scratching their heads after last weekend’s loss to DePauw and should have spent this week learning how to once again become in tune with their offensive mojo. Even though Trine doesn’t have the luster of the last couple of seasons, the team still knows how to force turnovers and run the ball down its opponent’s throat. Albion knows how to handle the run — usually — and the ability to stop that will help them with their confidence going into the playoffs. However, it won’t be a surprise if Albion is an eighth seed in the region, which wouldn’t be doing them any favors. The mental hurdle will be as tough as the physical one.
Keith’s take: St. Thomas. They’re 10-0, sure. But they don’t have a game this Saturday. So I guess it depends how you define momentum.
Pat’s take: Thomas More. Regardless of whether Thomas More wins this week or not, the Saints are already back on their heels after the loss to Waynesburg. Thomas More went solely from being a heavy favorite to being a favorite against Mount St. Joseph in their local rivalry game, but either way, the damage has been done.
Which team can alter its fortunes the most?
Ryan’s take: Lewis and Clark. The question isn’t which team “will,” but rather which team “can.” And the Pioneers certainly can. A win at Linfield puts L&C — a team just three seasons removed from a long string of 0- and 1-win seasons — in the playoffs. On the flip side, a loss for the Pioneers means they’ll be sitting at home next week.
Keith’s take: Hampden-Sydney. Besides Widener and the other teams that can play their way into the playoffs with wins, H-SC could change course the most on Saturday. A win over 7-2 Randolph-Macon continues the Tigers’ dominance in the series and gives them an advantage in recruiting. A loss could mean the difference between a home playoff game against somebody like Christopher Newport, Centre or Thomas More, or a road game at Salisbury, Wesley or Johns Hopkins.
Pat’s take: Trinity (Texas). Not sure it’s in a positive way, however. Austin has to be motivated to not finish the season 0-10. The Kangaroos have been fairly decent at home while the Tigers have struggled a little bit on the road.
Albion · Amherst · Augsburg · Bethel · Chapman · Coe · Cornell · Delaware Valley · Franklin · Hampden-Sydney · Hanover · Huntingdon · Johns Hopkins · Kean · Lewis and Clark · Linfield · McDaniel · Montclair State · Moravian · Mount St. Joseph · Muhlenberg · Redlands · St. Thomas · Thomas More · Trine · Trinity (Texas) · UW-Eau Claire · UW-Platteville · UW-River Falls · UW-Whitewater · Wabash · Wesley · Widener · Williams
Trinity (Texas) answered Huntingdon’s statement with one of its own.
Trinity athletics file photo
It was an interesting week down south, with Birmingham-Southern and Huntingdon taking losses and Centre and Trinity (Texas) getting a leg up in the SCAC race. Salisbury rolled up an amazing point total and continues to dominate against Empire 8 foes. Wartburg fell and Redlands rose in crazy fourth quarters. (Here’s a link to that video.) Plus Kean picked up its first loss after flirting with it in previous weeks.
Keith McMillan and Pat Coleman discuss that and more in this week’s Around the Nation Podcast. See the list of tags at the bottom of this post to see who else is discussed.
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
Plus, here’s the first look at this week’s D3reports, as well as Division III football highlight reels. These will also appear on the front page on Monday afternoon.
Alfred · Birmingham-Southern · Brockport State · Cal Lutheran · Central · Centre · Claremont-Mudd-Scripps · Cornell · DePauw · Dubuque · Heidelberg · Huntingdon · Kean · Loras · McMurry · Mount Union · Olivet · Presentation · Randolph-Macon · Redlands · Salisbury · St. Scholastica · St. Vincent · Texas Lutheran · Thomas More · Trinity (Texas) · UW-Oshkosh · UW-Stout · UW-Whitewater · Wartburg · Washington and Lee · Westminster (Mo.)
Redlands quarterback Chad Hurst led four second-half scoring drives in the Bulldogs’ win.
The opening weekend of the season is exciting enough without all these hear-stopping finishes we had. North Central … Otterbein … Delaware Valley … Mississippi College … Bridgewater … Illinois College. Plus a big Top 25 matchup and much more to talk about.
The Around the Nation Podcast is a weekly discussion between D3football.com Executive Editor Pat Coleman and Deputy Managing Editor Keith McMillan, who writes the Around the Nation column. It’s the first analysis of the week that was. The show tends to run anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes per week — fit it into your lunch hour.
Click the play button below to listen.
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
Plus, we want you guys to get in on the act as well. See below for more:
Alma · Bethany · Bridgewater (Va.) · Central · Coe · Cornell · Delaware Valley · Endicott · Framingham State · Frostburg State · Gallaudet · Geneva · Guilford · Hardin-Simmons · Heidelberg · Illinois College · Lycoming · McMurry · Millikin · Millsaps · Mississippi College · Monmouth · Muhlenberg · North Central · Olivet · Otterbein · podcast · Redlands · Rowan · Salve Regina · Shenandoah · St. Thomas · St. Vincent · Stevenson · Trine · Union · UW-La Crosse · UW-Oshkosh · UW-Stevens Point · UW-Whitewater · Wartburg · Willamette
Thirty-two teams are preparing for NCAA playoff games and a handful of others are readying for other postseason experiences. Others headed for the offseason with a warm feeling from beating an archrival in the final game, or breaking a streak of losing seasons, finishing on a hot streak or any of a bunch of ways to gather some momentum going into the offseason.
And then there’s a fairly large group at the other end as well, teams whose seasons ended on a down note. That doesn’t include just RPI, Redlands, Montclair State and the others who played their way out of a likely playoff bid with Week 11 losses, but teams who were quickly out of the playoff running altogether.
Or winless, even.
Such was the fate of Colorado College, along with McMurry, Principia, Maranatha Baptist, Massachusetts Maritime and Cornell. And if you remember from early on in the season, Colorado College freshman Chris Jarmon was writing on his blog, The D3 Experience, about the season.
Reading back on it now, you can sense the frustration. This was from a post heading into the final game:
We’re 0-8 now, and just saying that feels strange. It’s hard to believe that with all of the talent and confidence we entered the season with, we’ve been unable to win a single game. I feel especially bad for our seniors, who have busted their tails for four years and deserve better.
For all of those out there who feel that pain, good luck this offseason. Don’t give up. It can get better. But college football, at any level, is hard work.
Here’s a little guide to those picking out obscure college football games each week. It’s easier to name games that have a little something more going for them.
Here, for example, are some interesting games being played this week. And joining us for our Triple Take look at the weekend this time around is a man who will be seeing one of them, Dan Padavona of CortlandFootball.com.
Game of the Week
Dan’s take: Whitworth at No. 23 Redlands. And honestly I don’t think it will be too close. Redlands was impossible to run on against Dubuque, and the offense was incredibly balanced in churning out over 450 yards. Look for Colton Hansen to pick apart Whitworth.
Keith’s take: No. 25 Ohio Northern at No. 1 Mount Union. The Purple Raiders have a habit of making seemingly tough matchups look not difficult at all, and even if that happens again, this is the Game of the Week because of the clarity it would bring to the national picture and OAC race. We think Mount Union is the nation’s best team, but it hardly resembles last year’s juggernaut except in the offensive backfield, so let’s see how they respond.
Pat’s take: Whitworth at No. 23 Redlands. Whitworth lost at home last season and ended up not going to the playoffs at 8-1 in-region while 5-2 UW-Eau Claire was selected. Does Whitworth remember who one of the two 2007 West Region co-chairs is?
Surprisingly close game
Dan’s take: No. 6 Muhlenberg at Union. This is a good matchup and I don’t think anyone should be surprised if it comes down to the fourth quarter. I was tempted to go with Union due to the long trip into northeastern N.Y. But I think Muhlenberg ekes out a win.
Keith’s take: Coe at Cornell. The Rams haven’t won an IIAC game since 2005, but hosting the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi against the Kohawks, who are also off to a slow start, is a recipe for interesting game.
Pat’s take: No. 18 Case Western Reserve at Oberlin. Case is struggling with injuries, while Oberlin played Washington and Jefferson well in Week 1 and had a bye week to focus on the Spartans, including a short scouting trip.
What obscure game would you have picked for Mike & Mike?
Dan’s take: Rochester at St John Fisher. St. John Fisher may end up being not quite as overpowering as we had all expected, but this is a fun matchup every season. Besides the schools being in the same city, the football programs have an interesting history. The battle belonged to Rochester until the early portion of the new century, and has swung 180 degrees to Fisher since. Apparently so has the recruiting war.
Keith’s take: Cal Lutheran at Pacific Lutheran. It’s always a good time when a couple of Lutherans get together.
Pat’s take: No. 12 North Central at Benedictine, The Battle of Maple Ave. The stadiums are just 2.7 miles apart in suburban Chicago, though at the moment, the programs are much further apart than that. This could also be surprisingly close, but only geographically. (Keith, in your Lutheran battle, who’s bringing the hot dish?)
Which team playing its opener this week has the better chance: St. Scholastica (at Wisconsin Lutheran) or Christopher Newport (at No. 8 Salisbury)?
Dan’s take: Definitely Christopher Newport. I don’t expect the Captains to win on the road, but I feel they are underrated and will give Salisbury a game.
Keith’s take: Christopher Newport. In the past two weeks, we’ve seen LaGrange win the first game in program history in its 21st game and St. Vincent in its 12th. Therefore, with all due respect, I’d be surprised if St. Scholastica, playing its first game ever, wins this season, much less this week.
Pat’s take: St. Scholastica. Not sure either team spotlighted wins its game but I have to think they have the better chance, against Wisconsin Lutheran which has scored 14 points in two games. But if they don’t win this week they do have Trinity Bible later.
Most likely top 25 team to get upset
Dan’s take: No. 20 Cortland State. The NJAC is very balanced this season. I see Rowan winning this game, but Cortland winning the league with 1 loss. Cortland has not won in Glassboro in this era, so until they do so, I think you have to go with the Profs. Cortland is also missing arguably its most explosive player on offense in Zacc Guaragno, and has been suspect in the secondary. I just think this matchup favors Rowan, but will be happy if Cortland proves me wrong.
Keith’s take: No. 23 Redlands. A loss to Whitworth, basically No. 26, might hardly be an upset. Throw in the consequences losing to the Bulldogs had for the Pirates last year, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them play inspired, even though Redlands is coming off a 46-9 win in its opener.
Pat’s take: No. 5 Capital. If this happens, we’ll know the Heidelberg resurgence is for real. The Student Princes dropped 62 points on Westminster (Pa.) in Week 1.
Which surprise 2-0 team is least likely to go 3-0?
Dan’s take: Becker WPI has already beaten Mass-Dartmouth, who is significantly better than any team Becker has played.
Keith’s take: Louisiana College. Even if Hardin-Simmons, which has looked much better on defense this season than last, has a relapse, the Tigers haven’t shown the offense in their two wins (24 points total) to make us believe they can score with Justin Feaster, Mychal Carillo and company.
Pat’s take: Aurora. Illinois Wesleyan is a significantly better team than Lake Forest was, Aurora’s surprise victim in Week 1.
They’ll be on your radar
Dan’s take: Kean They won in a rout over a hapless Merchant Marine team. I fully expect them to beat West Conn in Union, N.J. What I am looking for is a convincing victory. If they win by 14-plus points, the entire conference had better take notice.
Keith’s take: UW-La Crosse. Hate to keep harping on the same team, but since they were completely overmatched against North Dakota, I’m still wondering how they’ll respond to blowing a lead against Hardin-Simmons. A trip to Azusa Pacific might provide an answer.
Pat’s take: Johns Hopkins. A win this week would put the Blue Jays at 3-0 and make it seem like the mid-’00s are here again.
Benedictine · Cal Lutheran · Case Western Reserve · Christopher Newport · Coe · Cornell · hot dish · Mount Union · Muhlenberg · North Central · Oberlin · Ohio Northern · Pacific Lutheran · Redlands · Rochester · St. John Fisher · St. Scholastica · Triple Take · Union · Whitworth