Quick Hits: Eyes on Texas, New York, Maryland

And as the end of the football regular season approaches and a bunch of schools turn their sights on basketball, we figured it was time to bring in a basketball expert to join us on Quick Hits. Hence, Dave McHugh, of Hoopsville and, stops by to give us hits that resemble quickness. (Possibly edited for extra quickness.) Who will clinch this week? Who can still play their way into the regional rankings? We predict that and more in this week’s Quick Hits.

— Pat Coleman

Which game would you rather be at this weekend?

Keith’s take: No. 21 ETBU at No. 10 HSU is the best game. But I’ve never seen a game at Westminster (Pa.), and their battle with Case should be huge.
Ryan’s take: No. 21 ETBU at No. 10 HSU. A one-loss ASC team should be primed for a Pool C spot, which means this is likely a game to determine who gets to take the field on Nov. 19.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hobart at No. 16 St. Lawrence. I’m taking a pretty crazy trip to get there, so what else would I say?
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: The only game between ranked opponents, No. 21 East Texas Baptist’s electric offense against No. 10 Hardin-Simmons’ stout defense.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Hobart at No. 16 St. Lawrence. I cover the Liberty League on “In the HuddLLe” each week. Where else would I be?  Plus, Pat Coleman will be there. That’s like the sprinkles on an already great sundae.
Dave’s take: Lycoming at Delaware Valley. While the Warriors are not in the race, they have Del Val this week and Stevenson the next and could change the complexion of the conference. The Aggies have to stay in postseason position.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

Keith’s take: No. 18 Salisbury. The Sea Gulls finally beat their Route 13 rival last season, but Wesley is scrapping for its playoff life.
Ryan’s take: No. 18 Salisbury. Wesley’s slow start is behind them, and they’re trending upward going into the famed Route 13 rivalry game.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Salisbury. It might be a chic pick by this point, but I’m going to buy into the Wesley resurgence and see if they can’t go down Rte. 13 and get a W.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Wesley is playing with its back against the wall, needing to upset No. 18 Salisbury on the road. I think the Wolverines pull it off to keep their playoff streak alive, for now.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 St. Lawrence. SLU hasn’t faced an air attack like Hobart’s. While I don’t usually favor one-dimensional offenses, SLU’s offense has also been somewhat off since their bye. Close game favors Hobart’s cardiac kids.
Dave’s take: No. 16 St. Lawrence. I decided to look for the best basketball matchup. The teams’ similar outcomes against common opponents intrigues me. I like Hobart finishing on top Saturday and in February, too.

Pick a Chicago-area team to win and a Cleveland-area team to lose.

Keith’s take: Baldwin Wallace has lost its past three by a total of five points, and Heidelberg should send them to another loss. Benedictine, while keeping one eye on Aurora-Lakeland, tops Concordia-Chicago.
Ryan’s take: North Central and Oberlin. NCC will notch an impressive and SOS-boosting win over 6-2 Cathage. Oberlin’s first win of the season will continue to be elusive against DePauw.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Elmhurst and Oberlin. Elmhurst hosts Millikin, which is having a strong season, but I like the Bluejays at home. Oberlin hosts DePauw and it’s not enough of a trap game for the Tigers to lose.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Wheaton and Case. Wheaton continues to build its Pool C resume. I have a feeling Westminster (Pa.) is going to resolve a lot of playoff questions by ending Case’s perfect season, sending Indians fans into a deeper spiral.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: North Central and Case Western Reserve. NCC will beat a Carthage team with just two losses (both by 19-14 scores), and Case will lose against Westminster (Pa.), which would potentially open up a Pool C bid.
Dave’s take: Benedictine and Baldwin Wallace. The Cubs already won. Why do we need to pick someone else? Benedictine’s men’s basketball tournament run allowed me to get back to my childhood home of Chicago, and sorry, Baldwin Wallace — Heidelberg wins this.

How many yards will Belhaven throw for vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor?

Keith’s take: Belhaven averages 420. UMHB allows 194. So let’s split the difference and say 307.
Ryan’s take: 305. The Cru defense is sure to rein in the average.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: 347. Not a random number — this is the number of yards Linfield threw for vs. UMHB in September.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: 298, with the majority coming in fourth-quarter garbage time.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: 307. Belhaven averages 419.75 yards per game, and UMHB gives up 193.9 yards in the air. I split the difference here.
Dave’s take: 450. A top 5 squad whose pass defense is not the strongest suit against an offense that likes to throw. This is like when basketball teams play Grinnell. I would be surprised if they throw for less than 450 yards.

Pick a team outside the regional rankings who will clinch an automatic bid.

Keith’s take: Husson clinches the ECFC by beating Norwich, and causes a 500-mile radius problem for the playoff field.
Ryan’s take: Redlands, back in the dance after missing the last two seasons.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Eureka. When I predicted in Kickoff the Red Devils would go 8-2, that left them one game short of the playoffs. They’re in position to do that prediction one better if they beat Northwestern.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Bridgewater State. The Bears opened the season 0-2 but have been perfect in MASCAC play. A win at Framingham State will clinch the conference title, but it won’t be easy.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Husson. This takes two events: 1) Husson beats 4-4 Norwich; and 2) SUNY-Maritime beats 4-4 Mount Ida (the Privateers nearly beat Norwich a week earlier).
Dave’s take: Eureka! The Red Devils are having an outstanding season. Despite the fact Northwestern has been on top of the conference and now regionally ranked, I think Eureka pulls off the upset.

Who plays their way into next week’s regional rankings?

Keith’s take: Salve Regina moves in if it beats Western New England, although I am not making a pick one way or another in that clash.
Ryan’s take: Huntingdon. Against Maryville, this is basically for the conference crown.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Redlands. I’m not sure why the Bulldogs weren’t in there already. They have a similar record to Northwestern and a much better strength of schedule.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: At least two ranked East Region teams are guaranteed to lose on Saturday. That opens the door for a two-loss Delaware Valley team to creep into next week’s rankings.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Husson. Staying at one loss should be enough for the Eagles to crawl into the East Regional Rankings.
Dave’s take: I think the matchup between Wash U and Hendrix could potentially result in one of them being regionally ranked, though the Bears have the best chance. Wash U enters the week with a .564 SOS. The bottom of the South Region appears to be rather fluid.

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.

Triple Take: Some we haven’t seen yet

Jared Morris
In Jared Morris’ first game as a defensive back, he picked off four passes.
Wesley athletics photo

Who would have thought that we’d see the record books being rewritten right out of the gate? But that’s why the game is played, isn’t it, to see the greatness of individual players and of teams emerge? Some rise up and conquer their opponents against the odds, and sometimes it’s not just the record books that are rewritten — but our perspectives as well.

Pat Coleman, Keith McMillan and Ryan Tipps lay out their evolving perspectives, building off the week gone by and forecasting the Saturday ahead. We don’t live in a bubble, so please comment below or light it up on Twitter using the hashtag #3take.

Lots of teams that took Week 1 off are joining the fray this weekend:

Game of the week.
Ryan’s take: No. 3 Wesley at No. 6 Salisbury.
Two of the top teams in the country, led by two of the highest-outputting quarterbacks at this level, and playing in the storied Route 13 Rivalry. This is the kind of matchup worth salivating over.
Pat’s take: Christopher Newport at Hampden-Sydney. It’s high time these two teams played each other. They have scrimmaged each other fairly frequently, but have not met in a regular season or postseason game. But with a combined record of 139-53 over the past decade, these two Virginia schools should be on the field together, and it should be an entertaining game.
Keith’s take: No. 14 Redlands at No. 13 North Central. When the Bulldogs beat the Cardinals in California, it echoed throughout the top 25 for much of last season. This year, North Central is hosting, coming off a Week 1 loss to a WIAC team and looking to return the favor. North Central, long considered one of the D-III programs most likely to break through to Salem in place of the purple powers, is now fighting to avoid an 0-2 start. Meanwhile, it’s the opener for Redlands and quarterback Chad Hurst, and an opportunity to score another one for the SCIAC while national observers are paying attention. 

Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: Washington U. at Rhodes.
I typed and deleted this answer probably six times before settling on this game. Because, when it comes down to it, almost every game at this point in the season has a surprise element of some sort that affects the outcome, even if it’s just how a new player is going to perform under center or how well an offensive line will mesh. Me, I can see Washington being pretty beat up after taking on the defending national champs. That opens a door, even if just a crack, for Rhodes to be competitive.
Pat’s take: Eureka at St. Scholastica. The teams couldn’t have been further apart in their first-week opponents. There are a couple of other UMAC teams stepping up to play strong non-conference opponents (Northwestern playing St. John’s, MacMurray playing Wartburg) but Eureka beating Knox and St. Scholastica losing to Whitworth doesn’t show the relative strength of the teams. But Eureka, our pick to finish tied for sixth in the league, and St. Scholastica our pick to win it, should play an entertaining and relatively high scoring game. The question is whether the front six can get enough pressure on Eureka quarterback Sam Durley to force him to get rid of the ball. Otherwise he will pick apart just about any secondary in the UMAC.
Keith’s take: Montclair State at Salve Regina. The teams met last season, and the Seahawks were game but not able to win in New Jersey, losing 18-7. This time around, the game is in Rhode Island, the Red Hawks are fielding a much younger lineup and coming off a Week 1 loss. Salve, on the other hand, beat Union despite just 246 yards of total offense. That might not be enough to beat Montclair State, but Salve should against give them a scare, at least.

Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: No. 15 Bethel.
Bethel travels to Wartburg, but don’t think for a moment that the Knights’ 73-0 stomping of a lower-tier UMAC team did them many favors in terms of preparation. Complacency can’t set in. The Royals are a whole different beast. Wartburg at least has a game under its belt, which Bethel can’t claim.
Pat’s take: No. 21 UW-Platteville. Dubuque still has enough offensive talent to cause trouble. They won’t be intimidated by a WIAC team, especially not the ones across the river. I look at Dubuque and picture them thinking Platteville has the notoriety and the ranking Dubuque earned with its play last season.
Keith’s take: No. 9 St. John Fisher. Boy, one week we love you and the next … well, it’s not really that the Cardinals are ripe for upset. It’s that there’s playing at Washington & Jefferson, often the equal to fellow PAC power Thomas More. The Saints pushed the Cardinals into overtime in Week 1.

They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: No. 5 Linfield.
In Kickoff, I made an unusual prediction about the Wildcats, but to have a good run this fall, they need to make sure that they shore up their fresh-faced secondary. Hardin-Simmons has the ability to spread the ball around and get some yards, but turnovers for the Cowboys were a killer in Week 1. If Linfield can replicate that kind of containment of the HSU passing game, then the future in McMinnville will look even brighter.
Pat’s take: Huntingdon. If the experienced front four can bottle up or at least slow down Birmingham-Southern running back Shawn Morris, it will give the Hawks a little room to work with. Only the winner is likely to stay in contention for a playoff bid, and even then they really have to beat Wesley.
Keith’s take: Buffalo State and Brockport State. Okay, you got our attention in Week 1. The Bengals put up 49 points and 706 yards on Cortland State. The Golden Eagles limited Lycoming to 31 yards rushing, three third-down conversions and just 23:17 of possession and 60 snaps. Something’s got to give in this week’s clash of the SUNYs, and we’ll be watching the game at Brockport to see what.

Which team will bounce back from a Week 1 loss?
Ryan’s take: Christopher Newport.
Don’t be fooled by the Captains’ 40-16 loss last week. With 3:30 left in the third quarter, the score was 20-16, and CNU was notably keeping pace with the sixth-best team in the nation. CNU showed it had offense thanks to a strong passing attack, but the defense was simply worn down in the trenches. Hampden-Sydney doesn’t play such a hard-nosed style — they’re more of a finesse team. CNU should be ready to handle that well.
Pat’s take: No. 16 Franklin. Butler is beatable, even though it’s apparently “Band Day” at the D-I non-scholarship school. Butler’s better than Valparaiso is, a team which Franklin beat last year, but even being competitive is better than last week’s loss to Mount Union.
Keith’s take: Adrian, St. Norbert and Monmouth. This was covered in my Around the Nation column this week, so I have three teams at the ready. Defiance, Knox and Beloit are this week’s opponents for the Bulldogs, Green Knights and Scots, and if they all don’t win by double digits, I’d be stunned. 

Opener you’re most curious about.
Ryan’s take: DePauw.
I’m not sure that lining up against St. Olaf is going to tell me much about how well the Tigers will play against their new North Coast conference mates. DePauw’s lone year as an independent in 2011 told us a lot about the considerable rebuilding the team was going through (first losing season since 1995). The Oles are good at breaking through the bricks and mortar of a team, but DePauw can’t let Saturday’s likely setback cripple the next nine weeks.
Pat’s take: Bethel. I know the passing game has not been a big part of the Royals’ offense so I’m more interested in new quarterback’s Erik Peterson’s running ability. They’ll get a big test right out of the gate. Normally I would give Wartburg a bit of a bonus for having played a game already but MacMurray didn’t put up much of a fight and the starters were out early.
Keith’s take: Cal Lutheran. There are six teams who have yet to open up in the top 25, including Wabash, Redlands, Bethel, Baldwin Wallace and Mary-Hardin Baylor. I’m intrigued by all of them, but none more than the Kingsmen, who were a hair away from winning a playoff opener at Linfield last year, and earning the SCIAC unprecedented respect. I wanted to ride that wave and rank them higher, but with only 13 starters back, including six on offense and five on defense, I was wary. Seeing how the Kingsmen play in the opener against Pacific Lutheran will help define how voters feel about them, not to mention how they feel about themselves. Plus we’re all curious to see 6-4 star wide receiver Eric Rogers back in action.

Which long road trip will turn out the best?
Ryan’s take: Washington and Lee at Sewanee.
In Week 1, the Generals fell to Franklin and Marshall, in a matchup that’s opened the season for several years now. But even in those years in which W&L has lost, the Generals have shown themselves adept at bouncing back, righting their ship ahead of conference play. Making this all the more exciting is Sewanee, coming off its best season in nearly a decade and starting 2012 with a win. This should be a good matchup, with W&L ultimately landing its first win of the season.
Pat’s take: St. Olaf at DePauw. I think DePauw has more work to do before it can begin to bounce back from last year. The long trip is not all that unusual for the Oles, who played at Pacific Lutheran in 2009, so the only issue is that St. Olaf needs to play better than it did at Luther last week.
Keith’s take: Rowan at Merrimack. It’s basically NWC-SCIAC challenge week out West, but the matchups are surprisingly even. There are a ton of short non-conference trips this week, like Methodist to Guilford and Case Western Reserve to Hiram, leaving me to take a out-of-division game here. But if the Profs, like the Rowan teams of old, beats a team from a scholarship division, it sends a message to the NJAC that perhaps the program is back. Nevermind that Merrimack, from the D-II Northeast-10, is probably recruiting players who compare to those recruited into the NJAC, with Rowan’s public-school tuition and dearth of in-state competition for players. This is a winnable game for Rowan, riding high after the Week 1 upset. Merrimack, which lost, 45-18, to New Haven in its opener could be demoralized by an early Profs score or two.

ATN Podcast: Welcome back!

Chris Denton
Chris Denton was the Purple Raiders’ top receiver and returned two punts for touchdowns.
Photo by Dan Poel for

It was a long, strange trip. But when you see four games, you are bound to see a good one, and that’s what happened when Pat Coleman (and his 10-year-old son) drove into Galesburg, Ill., where Eureka quarterback Sam Durley was about to have the game of his life.

You see, you never know what you’re going to get when you roll into town for a game in Division III. There are so many schools and rivalries and storylines that you could end up seeing something truly memorable, like a last-second win, a surprise upset or a great individual performance.

Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan discuss in this week’s Around the Nation podcast.

Plus, they talk about the teams who got their 2012 off to a good start by ending long losing streaks, look at UW-Whitewater’s opening game, as well as Mount Union’s, and the surprises put up by North Carolina Wesleyan, Buffalo State, Rowan, Norwich, Willamette … as was said, a very interesting week.

Press play below to listen or follow the download links included.

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Plus, here’s this week’s reports.