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Quick Hits: Coming down to the wire

Conference races are coming down to the wire, and some of those key matchups come this week. That includes the game for bragging rights between our founding Around the Nation columnist (Keith McMillan, former defensive back at Randolph-Macon) and our current columnist (Adam Turer, former defensive back at Washington & Lee). Our guest prognosticator this week is Doug Rothschild, a Wheaton football alum who played for coach Swider and is currently the color analyst for Wheaton’s broadcasts.

— Pat Coleman

Which Week 9 game is the must-watch game?

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Keith’s take: There are two. Rowan at Frostburg and Salisbury at CNU. If the Profs and Captains win, Wesley could be atop the heap of five NJAC 6-2 teams.
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Ryan’s take: Middlebury at Trinity (Conn.). Because sometimes, you don’t have to be Top 25 teams to bring an awesome performance to the field.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Ithaca at St. John Fisher. I hear faint echoes of cries about bounced interceptions but just looking for an exciting game.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Case Western Reserve at Washington U., in a rare late-season non-conference game with playoff implications for both teams.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Brockport at No. 15 Alfred. This has national appeal as E8 is one of few East conferences with Pool C still in play. A Brockport win could undermine that.
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: Rowan at Frostburg. I am a sucker for good defense and these teams are 1-2 in the NJAC in scoring defense. Frostburg is 11th in D-III in defense behind Niles Scott and Will Sewell, who spend a lot of time in other team’s backfields.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 15 Alfred. The Saxons’ opponent, 5-2 Brockport, is two scores from being unbeaten and has played five one-score games.
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Ryan’s take: No. 24 St. John Fisher. Week in and week out, the Empire keeps striking back at one another.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve. In all honesty, this wouldn’t be much of an upset, either.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 19 Salisbury at Christopher Newport, because the NJAC is as balanced as ever this year.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 15 Alfred. It’s the time of year when leaves change, pumpkins are carved, and the E8 cannibalizes itself out of strong Pool C contention.
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve. Easy come, easy go. They just appeared in the poll last week and a road trip to 6-1 WashU will be their stiffest test of the season.

Of the three NCAC teams ranked 20-23, which one makes the biggest statement to Top 25 voters?

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Keith’s take: Denison winning at DePauw would be more impressive than anything Wabash or Wittenberg could accomplish on Saturday. It’s not a lock to happen though.
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Ryan’s take: Wabash, with a win over upward-trending OWU. Still, I have exactly zero NCAC teams on my ballot, so they’re all needing to prove themselves to me.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Denison. The question, however, is whether it’s a positive statement made by the Big Red.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Denison winning at DePauw would be the biggest statement. Wittenberg is expected to win, and I expect Wabash to struggle against a hot Ohio Wesleyan squad.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Wabash (vs. Ohio Wesleyan). After a scare vs. Wooster, Wabash needs a statement win. They’ll start this game like a cannonball to win big.
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: Wabash. A convincing win @OWU tells Denison they are ready for next week’s showdown, shows their Monon rival how to do what they haven’t done in 4 seasons and keeps Pool C hopes alive.

Who wins the Around the Nation Classic between Keith McMillan’s and Adam Turer’s alma mater?

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Keith’s take: I’m obligated to pick the Yellow Jackets, but there’s solid logic. The past three games have been decided by 6, 4 and 3, and none of those R-MC teams had a D as good as this one.
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Ryan’s take: The nod goes to Washington & Lee. With the slate Randolph-Macon has coming up, it’s easy to get caught looking ahead.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Washington & Lee. Something in me just wants to recognize the team that scheduled Johns Hopkins, and that’s no longer Randolph-Macon.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: The mighty Generals take the hill.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Newspaper ink companies. A lot of letters & symbols for one game. (I’ll pick RMC, but Turer can gloat during our Stagg pregame show if I’m wrong.).
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: Randolph-Macon. While I may not be siding as much with Keith as my fellow Wheaton alum Pedro Arruza, Keith is the benefactor this week as his RM brothers have the No, 1 defense in the ODAC and defense wins championships.

Which team bounces back after a tough loss?

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Keith’s take: Hardin-Simmons. The foe is 1-6 Belhaven, which has given up 52 or more points in six straight games.
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Ryan’s take: Texas Lutheran, after losing its first-ever SCAC game. The Bulldogs beat Trinity (Texas) once already this year; don’t be surprised to see them with new fire to do it again.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: UW-Platteville. After the Pioneers have run the gantlet here over the past few weeks, a trip to UW-Stout should be a little easier to take. As long as they don’t take it too easy.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Franklin can stay in the HCAC mix and keep its playoff streak alive by winning at Mount St. Joseph.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Franklin. An extremely inconsistent ship needs to be righted immediately vs. Mount St. Joseph if the Griz have any hopes of playoffs.
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: Franklin lost its first conference game in 3 years last week. Mount St. Joseph might be on a roll but Mike Leonard’s teams have lost two conference games in a season just once since 2005. Grizzlies roll.

Pick an under-the-radar 1-loss team which will pick up its second loss Saturday.

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Keith’s take: Wash U. is surprisingly 6-1, and 7-0 Case Western Reserve needs this win to bolster its credentials because 9-1 against its schedule might not get it in the playoffs..
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Ryan’s take: Washington University, as it goes against undefeated former UAA foe Case.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Bluffton. Rose-Hulman has to have its eyes on the HCAC automatic bid and shouldn’t be subject to a letdown after beating Franklin.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Tufts is an under-the-radar 4-1, but has to travel to an angry Amherst team that just got blanked by Wesleyan. The nicknameless home team wins.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Olivet. What’s lost from the AMAZING “Play of the Week” throw: the Comets struggled vs. a middling Benedictine team. Alma wins Saturday.
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: Pomona-Pitzer. The SCIAC is likely decided this week as two 1-loss teams play when 5-1 Redlands visits 5-1 Pomona-Pitzer. I give the edge to Redlands despite being on the road so Pomona-Pitzer picks up loss No 2.

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: Conference leaders changing hands

It was another really interesting week in Division III football, with four teams dropping out of the Top 25, two of them plummeting. Similarly, in a handful of conferences, the first-place team and the highest-ranked team in our poll changed over based on Saturday’s results. Pat and Keith break down where things changed in the Empire 8, the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the North Coast Athletic Conference based on Saturday’s games, plus talk to two coaches whose teams have made big turnarounds and much more.

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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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: Hard act to follow

Last week was such a great one in Division III that it might be hard to follow, but we will do our best, since there are quite a few great games and some really intriguing ones on tap. Our guest prognosticator this week is Mary Hardin-Baylor fan Chad Hammonds, someone who follows UMHB very closely and knows that in order to be a fan of a top team, you need to know a little bit about the rest of the country, since you could be playing them in Week 12, 13, 14, etc. (Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com)

— Pat Coleman

Which game is your game that’s a must-watch this week?

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Keith’s take: No. 11 Wheaton at No. 6 North Central. Loser could make the playoffs, but within 500 miles of WIAC, MIAC and OAC, you want as high a seed as possible.
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Ryan’s take: No. 3 UMHB at No. 16 ETBU. One of these sets of initials will earn an exclamation point on the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 11 Wheaton at No. 6 North Central. You can almost never go wrong with this game — it’s a rivalry that has blown up in the past decade.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 11 Wheaton at No. 6 North Central. We’ll finally find out what kind of team the Thunder is.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 3 UMHB at No. 16 ETBU. ETBU needs to prove itself as better than the team that lost by 47 last year. Their playoff lives depend on it.
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Chad’s take: No. 3 UMHB at No. 16 ETBU. Scotty Walden has the Tigers flying high. Can the Tigers take their outright conference hopes a step further, or will the Cru continue their dominance?

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 13 St. John Fisher or No. 23 Alfred. The two best teams in the Empire 8 face Utica and Cortland, respectively, and neither has been defensively smothering.
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Ryan’s take: No. 22 Hendrix. I’m not sure I’d put money on this happening, but Berry is as tough as they come in the SAA.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 21 Dubuque. A little far for me to drive this weekend but I will be paying attention to their game vs. Coe.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 21 Dubuque. Can Coe make it two wins in a row over ranked conference opponents?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 13 St. John Fisher. Fisher’s defense has begun to struggle. This game will be a track meet on enemy turf — and Utica likes the spoiler role.
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Chad’s take: No. 22 Hendrix. This game has playoff ramifications. Can the anchor of the DLine for Berry stop the dual threat of Winn and Millsap?

Predict the winner in a game between unbeaten conference opponents.

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Keith’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor beats East Texas Baptist. I wouldn’t be surprised if the teams combine for 80 or 90 points.
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Ryan’s take: Wittenberg over Denison. Next.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: UW-Whitewater over UW-La Crosse. It’s been a great start to the season for La Crosse, but they’re not ready to pick off the Warhawks.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 15 Wittenberg stays unbeaten by handing fellow NCAC unbeaten Denison its first loss of the season.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 6 North Central. I grabbed a coin. I flipped it. North Central was heads. Heads it was. This is a tremendous game with so much on the line.
Guest
Chad’s take: Besides the Cru, I have to go North Central over Wheaton. The home night game  in Naperville and the 28th defense will prove too much for the Thunder.

The Centennial Conference is back after its midseason break. Pick an upset.

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Keith’s take: I’ll take 0-5 Ursinus to win at Juniata. The Bears held one-touchdown leads with 7 and 4 minutes left in its past two games.
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Ryan’s take: Susquehanna over Moravian. Even 1-1 the last two games, the River Hawks have shown they’re trending upward.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Ursinus over Juniata. It does seem like Ursinus is playing better the past two weeks and if forced to pick an upset, this is the one.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Ursinus finally gets in the win column by knocking off Juniata.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: McDaniel (at Franklin & Marshall). McDaniel can put up points, making me believe they’re not a one-hit wonder. With a rested defense, F&M might struggle.
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Chad’s take: Susquehanna over Moravian. The River Hawks were left with a sour taste in their mouth after that close loss two weeks ago. They’ll look to bounce back here.

Who bounces back from a noteworthy loss?

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Keith’s take: UW-Oshkosh has to bounce back. UW-Stevens Point is 4-1 and trailed UW-Platteville by only four in the second half last week.
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Ryan’s take: Trinity (Texas). Southwestern won’t get a repeat of a conference win, at least not this week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: DePauw. Allegheny is improved but is still a cure for what ails you in the NCAC. Just need to show up to play after losing to Witt last week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Concordia-Moorhead, which suffered a whirlwind of emotions. They have to move forward against a surprisingly 4-1 Hamline team.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: 25 Salisbury (at William Paterson). The NJAC woke up once Paterson beat Montclair. Salisbury knows another loss spells playoff doom. This won’t even be close.
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Chad’s take: Oshkosh looks to prove that they deserve a second shot at UWW in the playoffs, and to do that, they must bounce back at Stevens Point.

Which of the 3 winless SCIAC teams finally gets a W?

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Keith’s take: Whittier can hardly score, and Occidental allows more than 30 per game. So that leaves La Verne, which looked bad in its past two but hung with Whitworth in Week 2.
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Ryan’s take: Occidental. Despite being winless, they’ve at least been putting points on the board.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Occidental. Once upon a time, picking Whittier over Pomona-Pitzer would have been a no-brainer, but Oxy-ULV is the only viable option here.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: If Occidental’s defense can step up, the Tigers have enough offense to get a win and keep defending conference champion La Verne winless through five games.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Occidental (at La Verne). So, I grabbed that coin again… And then, I looked at offensive output for both teams (since they’ve both faced routs) and gave the advantage to Oxy.
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Chad’s take: Occidental. The Tigers will go into La Verne and pick up the much needed win.

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.