post

Quick Hits: Don’t go 0-2

Some teams can’t go 0-2 because they won last week and some can’t because they didn’t play. But either way, you don’t want to be 0-2 after Week 2. Who will be? Our guest this week is Greg Thomas, a Wabash grad known as Wally Wabash on our message boards and who has been part of our bracketology team. Since we already have a Wabash grad on the panel (Ryan Tipps), we figured we’d better bring Greg in during Wabash’s bye week.

— Pat Coleman

Where in Division III would you prefer to be this weekend?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: At Coast Guard, watching the Secretaries’ Cup game. It’ll be 78 in New London, Conn., on Saturday.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: The Stevenson/Albright game, two teams that may be going different directions in this pollster’s eyes.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hotchkiss Field. That’s Gallaudet’s home field, to see Earlham and Gallaudet on a level playing field.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Shirk Stadium, for Stevenson at Albright #MACtion.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: At my computer. I can watch Stevenson/Albright in the AM, Alfred/RPI, and the Secretaries’ Cup with the A/C on.
Guest
Greg’s take: New London, Conn. Seeing a rivalry game between service academies is a bucket list item.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 18 Ohio Northern. I’d say they and every other Top 25 aren’t likely to lose but Utica has a shot at home.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: None, a pick I try to make only once a season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 17 Wesley. Pardon me if I’m piling on here a little but now I’m selling on Wesley for the moment.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 21 Huntingdon, vs. Birmingham-Southern.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 18 Ohio Northern. Utica has a game played, ONU does not, and I’m not sold on ONU’s poll strength.
Guest
Greg’s take: No. 16 Cortland. Framingham State is due to get a big win over an E8 contender.

Which team is going to wish it had played in Week 1?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Chapman. Playing Linfield is hard enough without it being a road season opener.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Massachusetts Maritime, as its rival already has a game under its belt.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Merchant Marine. The Secretaries’ Cup is just the biggest game of the year. Coast Guard played last week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Chapman. A chance to tune up before Linfield would probably have been helpful.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Rochester. With just a 75-man roster in camp, on-field experience is at a premium against a Catholic team that rallied for a Week 1 OT win.
Guest
Greg’s take: Wartburg. Monmouth can run away and hide if there is too much first-game rust on the Knights’ armor.

Which conference game will we be most likely to remember on Selection Sunday?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Stevenson at Albright, in the MAC.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Frostburg State at Wesley, this one will get people’s blood pumping.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Stevenson at Albright. Who wrote this question? Not enough choices. Oh wait, I did …
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Franklin and Marshall at Muhlenberg. Recent history shows that this is a playoff elimination game, even this early.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Stevenson at Albright. The loser may be in the discussion for a Pool C bid in an interesting MAC race.
Guest
Greg’s take: Frostburg State at Wesley. With the Pool C safety net perhaps gone, every NJAC game is a big deal for Wesley.

Which game involving a non-Division III school should I care about?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: I had to look this up, but NAIA No. 18 St. Francis — not No. 4 — at No. 10 UW-Platteville.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Franklin at Butler, mostly because we care not to see any Griz players get hurt ahead of conference play.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Brevard at Emory & Henry. You can’t make me care about too many non-Division III teams but Brevard is moving to D-III starting next year.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: St. Francis (Ill.) at UW-Platteville.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Franklin at Butler. If Franklin loses the HCAC for some reason, this result could actually matter for Pool C purposes.
Guest
Greg’s take: Franklin at Butler. Interested to see how they back up the Thomas More win and after this the Grizzlies are in the weeds until November.

Which team starts a surprising 0-2?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Texas Lutheran, which follows up the ETBU defeat with a UMHB L.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: St. Norbert, but that means Benedictine will have to play tough to make this come true.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Pacific. With both Adrian and Dubuque coming to town the first two weeks, you’d have thought one win …
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hampden-Sydney.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Probably none is a surprise. If forced, I’d say Thomas More may be flat after last week’s late loss.
Guest
Greg’s take: Texas Lutheran. Maybe less surprised at 0-2 than I am at the Bulldogs getting there via a pair of lopsided games.

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.

post

Triple Take, Week 2: Welcoming the fashionably late

As noted in this space last week, 195 of the 247 Division III teams kicked off in Week 1. Among those who did not were quite a few prominent teams, including third-ranked Linfield and 22nd-ranked Chapman, who open up against one another this week, plus No. 1 UW-Whitewater, No. 5 Wesley and No. 13 North Central.

Of the 195 seasons that got underway, 97 started with a loss, which makes Week 2 a chance to wipe away the disappointment of Week 1. There are some top-25 clashes, intriguing non-conference matchups and more, and we’ll get you prepared for it all.

With so many games each week, Around the Nation columnist Ryan Tipps, editor and publisher Pat Coleman and I boil it down, independently providing our seven-point primers for games to focus on, where to watch for upsets, and other assorted predictions. Then in Monday’s podcast, we run back where we were right and where we were way off. If you’d like to play along, leave your picks in the comments below.

— Keith McMillan

Game of the week

Keith McMillan
Keith’s take: No. 22 Chapman at No. 3 Linfield. It’s a toss up between this and Wartburg-Bethel. And the last game of the weekend, Pacific Lutheran at Cal Lutheran, is an equally intriguing NWC-SCIAC clash. But there’s just so much at stake when the Panthers visit the Wildcats. D-III’s West Coast and Deep South “island” teams are pretty much guaranteed to match up with one another in the first round of the playoffs, unless an odd number of them make the field of 32. (This map is out of date, but will help you visualize how concentrated D-III schools are). So Chapman and Linfield, even if one goes undefeated and the other ends up with only Saturday’s loss, are basically playing for the chance to host in the first round of the playoffs. In their opener. Which is absurd, but reality. Last season, Chapman hosted and led in the second half of a 21-14 loss to Linfield, won every other game and in Round 1 road game, lost to the emotionally charged Wildcats, 55-24.
Ryan Tipps
Ryan’s take: No. 22 Chapman at No. 3 Linfield. It’s opening day for both of these teams. Linfield lost a lot from last year, but the Wildcats are a team that perennially reloads rather than rebuilds. With All-American Alex Hoff on the defensive line and dual-threat quarterback Sam Riddle driving the offense, McMinnville will be a hard place to win. Chapman graduated its quarterback but is replacing him with a player who is already 3-0 as a starter — dating from a stint in the middle of 2012. The Panthers, like Linfield, lost a lot, but they don’t likely have the same depth to overcome such a hit.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 6 Wartburg at No. 19 Bethel. They’re probably expecting me to take this game anyway, and since it’s practically in my backyard, that’s even better for me. But neither team looked invincible in Week 1. Wartburg needed a huge defensive effort in the fourth quarter to beat Augsburg, a team which is further down the MIAC ladder than Bethel is (last year’s Week 11 result notwithstanding), while Bethel showed some weaknesses on defense at UW-Stout that, if nothing else, last year’s Wartburg team would just destroy them for. Bethel had three buses of students at Stout so you know they’ll show up at home. Should be interesting.

Surprisingly close game

Keith McMillan
Keith’s take: Ursinus at Gettysburg. At first glance, this seems like a team always knocking on the door at the top of the Centennial against one usually in the middle of the pack. After Week 1, when the Bullets put up 678 yards and 49 points on Bridgewater (a team it lost to last season), and Ursinus couldn’t score until overtime, this becomes a more intriguing matchup. The Bears beat D-II Millersville in the opener, though, and handled Gettysburg, 31-14, last season. I see it more like a one-score game this time around.
Ryan Tipps
Ryan’s take: Whitworth at Whittier. Should we Fear the Poet, as Whittier hopes? The SCIAC doesn’t always match up well against the NWC, but Whittier is returning most of its defense and has a lot of players competing for the right to start in key positions on offense.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Susquehanna at No. 11 Johns Hopkins. Sure, I’ll bite on the possibility that Susquehanna, which defeated Lycoming last week, has a shot to make this a good game vs. the Blue Jays, who have won 39 of their past 40 Centennial Conference games. If nothing else, just impressed with Tom Perkovich’s debut as Crusaders head coach and hoping to get more info on Susquehanna.

Most likely Top 25 team to be upset

Keith McMillan
Keith’s take: No. 23 Muhlenberg. No. 18 Texas Lutheran has a tough challenge, but the Mules are most vulnerable, against Franklin and Marshall, which returned 17 starters and put up 501 yards and 42 points in Week 1 (while allowing 540 and 37 to Lebanon Valley). The Mules had no such problems, allowing fast-paced Wilkes to convert just 6 of 26 third and fourth downs in their 35-7 Week 1 win, but I’ve got to pick someone. The rest of the top 25 looks liable to cruise to victory, or is in a situation where a loss would hardly be an upset, so I guess I’ve earned a spot on Muhlenberg’s bulletin board/dartboard.
Ryan Tipps
Ryan’s take: No. 23 Muhlenberg. The Mules dropped this one at Franklin and Marshall in 2013, and the question is whether lightning will strike twice in that span. Both teams had good Week 1 wins, so this will be an exciting matchup to take in.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Texas Lutheran vs. Hardin-Simmons. I actually feel pretty similarly to last week, where I expect a lot of chalk in the Top 25, but Hardin-Simmons intrigues me. (Although I got an e-mail this summer asking me, “how Hardin-Simmons continues to get mention in preseason polls despite the fact they haven’t finished in the top two in the ASC in so many years and haven’t made the playoffs since 2008?”) Bottom line on that is that we still think the ASC is capable of having more than one or two good teams. One thing in TLU’s favor is that HSU will have to go from playing a bottom-25 team to playing a top-25 team in consecutive weeks and that’s not an easy transition. Nor is stopping Marquis Barrolle.

Which team that did not play in Week 1 turns in the most impressive Week 2 win?

Keith McMillan
Keith’s take: No. 13 North Central. The sense of urgency should be there for the Cardinals, who open up this week against 1-0 Trine and play No. 25 UW-Platteville and No. 5 Wesley the next two weeks. Trine, under new head coach Troy Abbs, was a 38-14 winner in Week 1, rushing for 403 yards against Manchester. It will be Jeff Thorne’s first game as NCC head coach, and although he has a ranked team and 16 starters back to work with, holding the Thunder under 100 rushing yards in a win would be impressive.
Ryan Tipps
Ryan’s take: Ohio Northern. Any time you can take down an Empire 8 team that finished 7-3 last season, it’s a quality win. The Polar Bears play Utica, and this will give us a good barometer for what heights ONU might be able to ultimately reach in the conference standings.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 3 Linfield. Cats roll. They’re on an even playing field since No. 22 Chapman didn’t play last week either. No big fancy analysis for me here — I just think Linfield is helmet and shoulder pads above Chapman, if not perhaps the best team in all of D-III football.

Which non-conference clash will have the biggest ripple effect?

Keith McMillan
Keith’s take: Hardin-Simmons at No. 18 Texas Lutheran. In 2013, the Bulldogs’ only loss was a Week 10 73-44 shocker at Hardin-Simmons. TLU returned to the site of that beating in Week 2 of last year and won, 37-14. Finally, they get the Cowboys in Seguin. After a Week 1 win in which they were tied with Sul Ross State at 27 to start the fourth, the Bulldogs have every reason to be amped. HSU hung 77 on Southwestern in Week 1, but if they can’t hang a loss on TLU (which plays Louisiana College and No. 4 UMHB, among others, before finishing with their three SCAC opponents), it could have wide-ranging effects. ASC and SCAC are both angling for the one Pool B bid guaranteed to non-automatic bid conferences, so anyone else in Pool B is going to want to see those teams beat up on one another.
Ryan Tipps
Ryan’s take: Trine at No. 13 North Central. In Kickoff 2015, I pegged Trine to surge this year, and cutting their teeth this early in the season against a power like North Central will be telling. And these two teams aren’t annual foes, so there could be surprises on both sides of the ball.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Albion at Augustana. Here we have two teams who had impressive Week 1 performances. Albion put up 65 points in a win vs. UW-Stevens Point and reminds us that the Britons are one of the big dogs in the MIAA despite all the buzz about everything Olivet has returning. Augustana rolled out its new offense after taking more than a decade to painfully back away from the Wing-T that helped define the program during its heyday and beat a Mount St. Joseph team that would like to think it can win the HCAC this season. I’ll be interested to see how these two end up after Saturday.

Which matchup of in-state opponents intrigues you most, and who wins?

Keith McMillan
Keith’s take: Delaware Valley at Wilkes. There are lots of better games that are mentioned elsewhere or are a state border away from fitting here (Cortland State-Framingham State; Lycoming-Stevenson; Rose-Hulman-Illinois College). I’m intrigued by this one following Del Val’s 27-24 season-opening win against Montclair State. Duke Greco led the Aggies to a win despite just two starters back on offense and nine overall, and I’m interested to see more of the new Del Val. Meantime, Wilkes can get a lot of plays off (they ran a record 113 against the Aggies last year), but it hasn’t translated into many points. I’ll pick Del Val.
Ryan Tipps
Ryan’s take: LaGrange at Berry. We’re only in Week 2, and already a state title is about to be decided. What’s not to like? While Berry is on the road upward as its fledgling team gets older and gains more experience, I’ll give the nod to LaGrange in this matchup.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Cornell at Coe. It’s hard to tell just from last week’s blowout at the hands of Wheaton exactly how good or bad Coe is in 2015. But one thing we do know, in addition to the 52-14 loss, is that Coe started camp with just 85 players, which is a low number for them. (I know, Cornell started with even fewer, but that’s their status quo.) Cornell last beat Coe in 1999, and that’s a long time to lose to your rival. Readers of Kickoff got Coe’s take on this rivalry game. It will be interesting to see if these teams, which were 79 spots apart in our preseason ranking, are any closer than that.

They’ll be on your radar

Keith McMillan
Keith’s take: Christopher Newport. Facing what seems like a weaker-than-usual Hampden-Sydney team might not tell us much about what the Captains will look like against NJAC competition, but I’ll be watching anyway. CNU dominated the first half of a 31-21 Week 1 win at TCNJ, while H-SC played a top-10 team in Wabash. I’ll also be watching the Secretaries’ Cup and Coe-Cornell for rivalry purposes, as well as Albion-Augustana and Rose-Hulman vs. Illinois College. Those last two combined for 142 points in last year’s clash, reminding us that epic D-III games can come from anywhere, and was the subject of a Kickoff ’15 prediction question about how many they’ll combine for this time. I’ve got 67.
Ryan Tipps
Ryan’s take: Cal Lutheran. In reading Kickoff 2015, there was something about Cal Lutheran that intrigued me, something that made me feel they’ll improve significantly over last season. Maybe it’s just that their young team is older and wiser, or that there isn’t a clear front-runner in the SCIAC, or that their first opponent (Pacific Lutheran) is going through a rebuilding year. If the Kingsmen can end the day Saturday (which will be Sunday on the East Coast) with a win, be prepared to see a team making noise once again.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Coast Guard at Merchant Marine. Not sure I need to say much more — this is a great rivalry between two of our maritime academies and I’m looking forward to a couple of years from now when these teams are both in the NEWMAC and this rivalry game can be pushed back to Week 11 where it belongs. A decade ago, when Coast Guard abandoned ship on the Liberty League and set sail for the smoother waters of the NEFC, this game was sandwiched into non-conference play, which hurts the exposure of this great matchup.

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.

ATN Podcast: Who’s still in contention?

Cody Pohren
Cody Pohren and Pacific Lutheran benefited from the double losses in the MIAC. How?
PLU athletics file photo by John Froschauer

Subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in iTunes.

We’re down to a final week, with a number of teams left in contention unlike any we can remember. This week’s losses change how some of the teams line up in the pecking order for the seven at-large bids, and if you are new to this process in Division III football, this is your primer, your instruction manual, perhaps your Selection Sunday master class.

Keith and Pat talk about that and more in this week’s Around the Nation Podcast, sponsored by the City of Salem, hosts of Stagg Bowl XL. Tickets on sale now!

Plus there are a bunch of automatic bids left to be handed out, and some were handed out Saturday in interesting ways. We talk about what’s left to be decided as well, including the indecipherable mess that is the North Coast Athletic Conference. Pat and Keith talk about a lot of teams this week — check the tags at the bottom of this page to find out who is on the topics list.

Hit play below to listen, or subscribe to get this podcast on your phone or portable device.

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

Postgame show

Here’s this week’s D3football.com reports and highlight packages.

And this week’s photo galleries from our friends at d3photography.com: