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Around the Nation Podcast 215: Three weeks to Selection Sunday

Well, there were some interesting losses and some unexpectedly narrow wins on Saturday. While that didn’t change the playoff picture as much as it changed the Top 25, there were still some key changes. There’s one team out there specifically that has to feel much better about its playoff chances after this week, and Pat and Keith talk about that and more in the latest D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast.

So, with Wesley dropping out of the picture, who’s next up? There are plenty of possibilities, plus Frostburg State still has Salisbury to play, and Frostburg didn’t exactly look like world-beaters on Saturday. You can hear Bobcats coach DeLane Fitzgerald’s reaction on this edition of the pod, then find out where they ended up on Pat and Keith’s Top 25 ballots. Plus, what team do Pat and Keith make up the vast majority of the votes for? All those nuggets are in this pod, plus game balls, the off-the-beaten-path highlights and everything you’ve come to expect from our Monday wrapup podcast.

That and more in the latest D3football.com Around the Nation podcast. The D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast is a regular conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan and guests covering the wide range of Division III football.

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Full episode:

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

Photo: Devin Limerick gave John Carroll the lead for good on a fourth-quarter touchdown run. (Photo by Tara Byrne for John Carroll athletics)

Theme music: DJmentos.

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Quick Hits: For the birds

Eagles, Cardinals — perhaps not more fierce than Bears or … more Bears, I suppose. But those are the focus this week in Week 8 of the 2018 Division III football season.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer and Frank Rossi. Our sixth spot each week goes to a guest prognosticator, and this week’s is Logan Hansen. You may remember him as the Wartburg alumnus who does a computer ranking of D-III teams, and he is on twitter at @LogHanRatings.

— Pat Coleman

Which game is the Week 8 game of the week?

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Keith’s take: UW-La Crosse at No. 12 UW-Oshkosh. This should be closer than the rankings suggest, and could upset the playoff apple cart.
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Ryan’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan at Washington U. The Bears’ win last week over Wheaton put them on everyone’s radars, and this is another tough test.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan at Washington U. I priced out flights to St. Louis for this one. Not in the budget.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: UW-La Crosse at No. 12 UW-Oshkosh. Plenty to choose from this week, but this is essentially a WIAC and playoff elimination game.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Hobart at No. 19 RPI. This could have Pool C implications if Hobart wins. RPI’s strength of schedule is excellent and will improve — a 1-loss RPI could win an at-large bid.
Guest
Logan’s take: No. 17 IWU at Wash U. I’m not sure which result would throw the bigger wrench into the  tiebreakers, but Wash. U has shown they belong, and IWU has shown last season wasn’t a fluke.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 15 North Central. Carthage pushed UW-O, IWU and Millikin to the brink, so NCC best bring its A game.
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Ryan’s take: No. 12 UW-Oshkosh. Though Oshkosh is coming off a real quality win, UW-La Crosse has shown more than a few flashes of greatness this fall.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan. I look forward to learning if it really is as tough for teams to win in St. Louis as it is for Chicagoland teams in Bloomington.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 19 RPI. Hobart and the Engineers have both played their share of nailbiters this season. The Statesmen win another close one.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan. WashU at home, following a win vs. Wheaton … I’ll play the momentum as the Titans have looked mediocre in wins lately.
Guest
Logan’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan. The model has Wash. U favored by a field goal, 28-25.

Whose unbeaten run comes to an end this week?

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Keith’s take: Marietta. The Grey Pioneers allow 31.8 points per game, which is way too loose to beat John Carroll.
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Ryan’s take: Marietta. I expect this one to be a popular pick, as the Pioneers are facing John Carroll this week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Kalamazoo. Kzoo’s 6-0 isn’t far from Alma’s 1-5, just a different schedule. Similar results vs. Adrian and Albion.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Marietta. The Pioneers travel to No. 10 John Carroll, and leave with their first loss of 2018. Also, RPI.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western Connecticut. The Bridgewater State Bears have been stalking the frontrunners of the MASCAC — a win would give them a chance for the playoffs.
Guest
Logan’s take: Central. There’s a reason they haven’t cracked the Top 25 yet, because they haven’t beaten a proven team (except maybe DePauw). Wartburg by a TD according to the model.

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

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Keith’s take: FDU-Florham at Misericordia. The former could hit five wins for the first time since 2000; the latter had won five ever before this year & now five straight.
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Ryan’s take: Hanover at Manchester. I’ve enjoyed watching the Panthers’ resurgence this season. It’s reminiscent to how I remember them from the late ’90s.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Luther at Nebraska Wesleyan. It’s part of my 25-game tour of D3 from west to east from the podcast.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Central at Wartburg. The Dutch could also fall from the ranks of the unbeaten, and the ARC race could turn into a logjam at the top.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor at Belhaven. UMHB wins, but will the Cru finally resolve their QB contest?  Two (let alone, three)-QB systems aren’t optimal, and could be a problem in playoffs.
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Logan’s take: Emory & Henry at Shenandoah. If I’m picking a random game to watch, it would be this — the model has the spread at -3 Shenandoah, with an O/U of 93.5. Gonna get pointsy.

Which team is probably safe to focus more on next week?

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Keith’s take: Muhlenberg. By the fourth quarter vs. McDaniel, the Mules will allow themselves to ponder Week 9 vs. Johns Hopkins.
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Ryan’s take: No. 16 Trine. Opponent Finlandia has a long way before it’ll be competitive at Trine’s level.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: St. Thomas. Carleton has improved this season but won’t be a match for the Tommies.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Endicott. No coach would approve of this question, but Paul McGonagle’s team faces winless Becker a week before taking on its top CCC competition, Western New England.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Trinity (Conn.). In a topsy-turvy NESCAC race, Bowdoin is winless.  Next up would be Middlebury, the team that shocked Williams last weekend.
Guest
Logan’s take: Muhlenberg and Johns Hopkins. Both teams are greater than 97% favorites this week, and most computer models (not mine) think they’re both Top 10 teams.

Who has the edge this week: Cardinals or Eagles?

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Keith’s take: Eagles. It’s five against seven, and the Eagles have Brockport and UW-La Crosse on their side.
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Ryan’s take: Eagles. In terms of both quantity and quality (see my upset pick above).
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Eagles. But only because of the Golden Eagles of Brockport. Without them, the Cardinals would take it.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Eagles. Thanks to the Golden variety, ranked No. 3 and hosting Buffalo State.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Neither. Cardinals: North Central, St. John Fisher; Eagles: Brockport, Husson.
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Logan’s take: Eagles. Brockport and Husson basically guaranteed to win. 2.1 expected wins for Cardinals, 2.8 for Eagles.

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 2018

Quick Hits returns for the 2018 season! If you’re new to Division III football or D3football.com, this is our weekly predictions page. We assemble a crew of a half-dozen Division III football writers and observers and give you the best take on what the best games are, which ranked team is most likely to get upset, and a variety of other categories. Six six-packs of opinions ought to cover you!

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 former Thomas More quarterback Kevin Niehus.

— Pat Coleman (Westminster, Pa., athletics photo by Jason Kapusta)

What’s this week’s Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 17 Delaware Valley at No. 9 Wesley. There are lots of tempting matchups, but Del Val at Wesley is the only clash of Top 25 teams, and it should be highly emotional.
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Ryan’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. More than a Top 25 matchup, it’s a look at the new man at the Wolverines’ helm.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. I’ll be more clever later in the rundown and later in the season, but this one is obvious.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. Getting back on the field should be cathartic for the Wolverines.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Hobart at No. 6 Brockport. A lot of changes for Hobart, a team that has been uncharacteristically quiet. Brockport’s young O-Line could mean a close important matchup.

Kevin’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. An emotional first game in Dover between two playoff-level programs.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 8 Frostburg State, by Stevenson. Couldn’t talk myself into Westminster, UW-Stout, ETBU or Hobart.
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Ryan’s take: No. 15 Washington and Jefferson. St. John Fisher is poised to sneak up on some folks after a dismal 2017.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 14 Wittenberg, by Westminster (Pa.). Wittenberg wants this credit for playing this opponent; I’m not penciling in a W.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 19 Johns Hopkins. Randolph-Macon returns a ton of starters. Plus, I had a dream this week that R-MC won this game.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 15 Washington and Jefferson. Fisher wants to rebound, and what better way than at home against a W&J team that might underestimate them.

Kevin’s take: None. The closest game will be W&J at St. John Fisher.

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

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Keith’s take: Adrian at Ohio Northern. The Emmanuel Stewart feature in Kickoff ’18 has me eyeing this game with interest.
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Ryan’s take: Emory & Henry at Ferrum. My wife’s alma mater gets new life as an ODAC member, plus this is a big rivalry game.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Anderson at North Park. In this case, literally, as the last game of four I’ll see this week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: George Fox at Redlands. Because I’ll be driving back from the beach all day and won’t be able to watch anything earlier.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western New England at Springfield. The Pynchon SAW game between two 2017 conference champs with some major losses to graduation will prove to be an interesting opener.

Kevin’s take: George Fox at Redlands. In a game between teams forecasted to each win 7 games it’s a matchup of defense (George Fox) vs efficient QB and Redlands offense.

Which new program has the better debut?

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Keith’s take: Alvernia, with a home opener, against a program that’s won seven games the past four seasons.
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Ryan’s take: Alvernia. Opponent Gallaudet has yet to break out of a five-year slump.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Alvernia. Not enough to win but enough to get a little confidence early on.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Alvernia. The Golden Wolves have a home game, plus two more days of preparation than University of New England.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Alvernia. The Golden Wolves are hosting a team that struggled in 2017, setting them up for a chance for a big crowd and a potential win.

Kevin’s take: Alvernia. With nine QBs and 13 RBs among their numbers, the Golden Wolves will be athletic.

Who has a long, disappointing trip home?

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Keith’s take: La Verne could be competitive at Whitworth, but it’s a trek back to SoCal from Spokane.
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Ryan’s take: Denison. Opponent Southwestern is going to be particularly tough this season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Husson. It’s a long trip from Husson to anywhere, including back to Maine after a loss at Union.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Denison. Southwestern returns the favor to the Big Red in year two of this rare Ohio-Texas matchup.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Husson. With graduation of John Smith, the ultimate difference maker last year, Husson may see their regular season winning streak snapped.

Kevin’s take: Sounds like John Carroll could be a candidate based upon the Case Western Reserve scrimmage.

Whose head coaching debut are you most interested in?

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Keith’s take: WNE’s Jason LeBeau gets a challenge from a rival coming off a 10-win season in his head-coaching debut.
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Ryan’s take: Trevor Stellman at Thomas More. Will be interested from Week 1 through their final days in D-III.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Defiance’s Manny Matsakis. Having only just met his team when camp started, this is a challenge.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Garrett LeRose. My former teammate is now the head coach of our alma mater (W&L). I’m proud and excited to see what he accomplishes.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Chad Martinovich at University of Rochester. He left academic-minded MIT for academic-minded U of R. Can he turn them around like MIT, starting with a tough Case?

Kevin’s take: Trevor Stellman, Thomas More. Are the Saints good enough to play spoiler on their way to Pool B during their D3 curtain call?

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Monday Around the Nation podcast to wrap up the week that was, and the Friday Around the Nation podcast, where Pat and Keith review the Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.