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Quick Hits Week 1: Ready, set, go!

Welcome to Quick Hits 2019! If you’ve just discovered us, this is where we get together six Division III writers and observers to give you their takes on where the best games are each week, which ranked teams are on upset alert, and many other rotating categories throughout the season.  Without further delay, here are our first set of Hits for 2019!

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas

Which game is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 W&J. There are better teams in action, but no matchup that already has these playoff implications. Its winner files away a potential future win over regionally ranked opponent, and the loser’s Pool C hopes are already shot.
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Ryan’s take: No. 6 Johns Hopkins at No. 24 Randolph Macon. The 2018 postseason Cinderellas: one for its deep run, the other for its epic upset. We’re all eager to see what they bring for 2019.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 W&J. At least one of these rankings is wrong, and we’ll know by sundown on Saturday.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 Washington and Jefferson. I always get excited for and appreciate Week 1 games that could just as easily be Week 13 or 14 games. Kudos to both teams for taking on the challenge.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 6 Johns Hopkins at No. 24 Randolph Macon. Emotion for Hopkins without Jim Margraff on #d3fb Opening Night in a battle of Top 25 teams – it’ll be a big night.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 W&J.  These are the second and third winningest teams all time in Division III with over 1,500 wins between them. The winner has a great chance at banking a regionally ranked win which will come in handy in about 11 weeks.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 13 Brockport. Hobart is tough at home, but this is about seeing how the Golden Eagles replace the seven all-Region players it lost. Is Brockport a reload program?.
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Ryan’s take: No. 19 RPI. Two teams on different trajectories: RPI graduated a huge number of starters, and Allegheny has lots coming back to upset the Engineer apple cart.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 10 Bethel. It would be unethical of me to say more, however.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Aurora defeats No. 25 St. Norbert. Don Beebe’s head coaching debut is a memorable one.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 17 John Carroll (by UW-Stevens Point). Honestly, it’s unlikely we see any upsets, but this is the one I feel least sure about.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 20 Centre. Hanover has 20 starters back from a conference championship team. Centre is going to have a lot of debutantes. Experience can carry the Panthers to a win.

Which team in Kickoff’s bottom 25 will start 2019 with a win?

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Keith’s take: No. 232 Alvernia. This one could go either way and I’d be right, but I think the Golden Wolves win in Washington against No. 235 Gallaudet.
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Ryan’s take: No. 235 Gallaudet. Granted they’re playing a team only three spots removed, yet the Bison have more than half their starters back and won’t fall off as much as some predict.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 235 Gallaudet. The Bison lost in Alvernia’s first-ever football game last fall, but Alvernia still has lots of lineup questions to answer in Year 2.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: The winner of No. 238 Cornell vs No. 248 Iowa Wesleyan. I’ll put my faith in the Rams.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 235 Gallaudet (vs. Alvernia). Assuming the game gets played, the return of senior QB Timel Benton from injury will help the Bison win Game 1.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 240 Kenyon. The Lords are headed to the nation’s capital with a 26-game losing streak, but a whole new energy under new head coach James Rosenbury. Kenyon is going to pay this long road trip off with a win.

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

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Keith’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at UW-La Crosse. These two play insane schedules already, and then lined one another up for a Week 1 doozy.
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Ryan’s take: Southwestern at Sewanee. The Pirates are stacked on defense and have school-record potential this season, while the Tigers don’t struggle the way they used to in games. A very fun opener to watch!.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Buena Vista at Hamline. The Thursday night opener comes to the Twin Cities, so I’ll be there, after work, that is.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Guilford at Huntingdon. The teams combined for 106 points last year in a game that didn’t count. Lightning forced the offensive onslaught to be called a no contest. The rematch could be just as high scoring and will hopefully enter the record books.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 14 Delaware Valley at Kean. What seems like a gimme-game for DelVal could be interesting as they adjust to life without Darden.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Redlands at George Fox. The Bulldogs begin their NWC gauntlet this week. Head coach Mike Maynard is sitting on 197 career wins and could set up a shot at win number 200 when Redlands hosts Linfield in two weeks.

Which 2018 playoff team starts 2019 on the wrong foot?

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Keith’s take: Hanover, which won the HCAC in Week 11 last season, gets a Week 1 visit from No. 20 Centre this year. :eek emoji:.
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Ryan’s take: No. 21 Washington & Jefferson. This will be a good year for Wittenberg (despite a noticeable gap on offense) as well as a return to the playoffs. W&J has a tough outing to avoid starting 2019 the way it ended in Round 1 of 2018.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 25 St. Norbert (at Aurora). This is another upset possibility, for sure.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hanover. The Panthers were a surprising 2018 playoff participant and face a tall task against No. 20 Centre. The Colonels needed a fourth quarter rally to eke past the Panthers in last year’s opener, but the offense should come out of the gates hotter in 2019.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: MIT (vs. Carnegie Mellon). The Battle of the Brains could go to CMU as both teams replace graduated QBs.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Denison. The Big Red are entering the post-Gebele era, while Ohio Northern welcomes back 2017 All-American running back Christiaan Williams. The Polar Bears are going to be a big challenge for a team trying to stay on top of the NCAC.

Who has the most successful head coaching debut?

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Keith’s take: Wes Beschorner at UW-Eau Claire. There could be a ton of points scored when Beschorner, a former offensive star and whiz assistant, gets a visit from Loras.
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Ryan’s take: Mike Barainyak at Widener. The Pride haven’t been in the MAC discussion for several years — now a fresh and positive approach, coupled with lots of veterans returners, will change that against Rowan.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Jason Aubry, Concordia-Chicago. In the battle of new head coaches, taking CUC over Beloit.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Greg Chimera, Johns Hopkins. The aforementioned Beebe isn’t the only rookie head coach with a chance to knock off a ranked opponent. Chimera will lead his alma mater to victory in his debut, knocking off No. 24 Randolph-Macon.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Mike Barainyak (Widener). After the 2018 “Blame Google” debacle, the Pride seniors get their first win against Rowan with more cohesion internally.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Greg Chimera, Johns Hopkins. Judging against expectations, other first time head coaches are likely to have more impressive wins this weekend.  This first game without Jim Margraff, however, is going to mean just a little bit more to Chimera and the Blue Jay community.

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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Around the Nation Podcast 225: Just good enough

Keith McMillan pleaded for a first round of the playoffs that didn’t stink. And he got it, if nothing else, because his alma mater, Randolph-Macon, upset John Carroll.

Now, your mileage may have varied. With a margin of victory of nearly 34 points on average, these were not great games. With a near quadruple monkey stomp and several other games that looked like the usual top seed vs. No. 8 seed contests, there weren’t many worth watching for a neutral Division III fan. Unless, of course, you hooked into the Randolph-Macon win, or St. Norbert’s upset of Trine, or Muhlenberg’s dramatic finish at Delaware Valley.

Hear highlights from Saturday, postgame commentary from teams advancing to the Round of 16, and more in the 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.

Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device.
Full episode:

You can subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in Apple Podcasts, and many other places. 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

Link: Our full NCAA playoff coverage
Mentioned in the podcast: Defense lights UW-Whitewater’s fire, feature by Joe Sager

Photo: Eric Hoy needs several John Carroll defenders to bring him down. (John Carroll athletics photo)

Theme music: DJmentos.

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Quick Hits: Clinching time

We detail in the game day podcast how many teams might clinch on Saturday. Here our crew will tackle the game of the week, potential upsets, and tell you who might clinch today aside from, say, Mount Union.

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 Sean Greene, who does play-by-play for Wesley football games on WDEL radio as well as Wesley’s video stream.

— Pat Coleman

Which game is the Week 10 game of the week?

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Keith’s take: No. 10 North Central at No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan. I’ll go with the Titans for a second straight week instead of E8, NJAC clashes and an NCC win could have a cascade effect.
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Ryan’s take: No. 10 North Central at No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan. I think IWU should be ranked higher, and I’ve got them pegged to win.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 10 North Central at No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan. I’m going to assume most of my colleagues here have good reasons, so read theirs.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 10 North Central at No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan. I think the Cardinals are the more talented team, but the Titans have been the more impressive team so far. With a win, IWU can clinch its first outright CCIW title since 2009.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Cortland at No. 3 Brockport. I explain why in the ATN Friday podcast.
Sean
Sean’s take: No. 10 North Central at No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan. IWU clinches the CCIW Pool A with a win, while the loser gets a potential Pool C-crushing second loss. Doesn’t get much better in Week 10.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 4 UW-Whitewater. UW-Stevens Point beat Oshkosh last week, but this only happens if Warhawks relax after clinching a playoff spot.
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Ryan’s take: No. 14 Trine. I think the Thunder have floated high up the poll, and with the way the MIAA has been this year, another shakeup would fit right in.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Salisbury. Wesley has had Salisbury’s number in recent years, so hopefully they lead by enough that a missed PAT won’t matter.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 18 Salisbury. Wesley may take its frustration of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2004 out on the Sea Gulls.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 14 Trine. Yo, Adrian. Your inconsistent season has shown you know how to score plenty. Trine seems fatigued, and here’s your chance to knock them out.
Sean
Sean’s take: No. 18 Salisbury. In 13 years calling Wesley games, they are 11-1 against their Route 13 rivals. Curious to see if Wesley’s scheme changes against the triple-option after the death of head coach/defensive coordinator Mike Drass.

Which non-purple team clinches an automatic bid this weekend?

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Keith’s take: The Yellow Jackets from Randolph-Macon, although The Game is more fun with something to play for.
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Ryan’s take: Eureka. The Red Devils haven’t gotten much national love yet, so I’m sure they’re itching to show their stuff in the postseason.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Brockport. No purple in them Golden Eagles.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Randolph-Macon. The streaking Yellow Jackets just need to get past Ferrum to make this season one of the least wacky in recent ODAC memory.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Husson. Gallaudet’s SOS is less than .200. The thought that they could beat the Eagles is highly unlikely in the ECFC.
Sean
Sean’s take: Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.No violet, lavender, mauve, or lilac to be found in the shadow of Mount Baldy. The Cardinal and Gold-clad Stags win the SCIAC for the first time since 1987.

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

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Keith’s take: Amherst and Trinity (Conn.). Because I’m endlessly fascinated by projecting how the NESCAC’s best would fare if it chose to participate in the playoffs.
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Ryan’s take: Wash. U. at Millikin. Neither are going to the playoffs, but the Bears continue to show why they belong in the CCIW.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Middlebury at Hamilton. The Rocking Chair has been won by Middlebury more times than I care to count, but some inconsistent results just have me wondering if the Continentals might take it home.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Defiance at Earlham. I probably won’t be the only one. But if the Quakers can’t defeat winless Defiance this week, I don’t know when the record-breaking losing streak will end.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Potentially up to 16 of them in nine East Region conferences and Pool B in our “In the Huddle” D3BlitzER whiparound show, noon to 4 p.m. ET on the D3Huddle Facebook channel.
Sean
Sean’s take: Rowan at Montclair State. The 6-2 Red Hawks could still play into the East Regional Rankings which would benefit Frostburg or Salisbury for seeding or a Pool C bid.

Who will still be tied for first in the ARC after this week’s games?

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Keith’s take: Simpson and Wartburg.
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Ryan’s take: Wartburg and Dubuque. Simpson has been hanging on too closely in games this season to remain with the leaders.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Simpson and Wartburg. Wartburg won’t have much trouble with archrival Luther and Simpson has surprised all season, so now we should expect the win.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Dubuque and Wartburg. The Knights take care of Luther with ease at home, while the Spartans get past Simpson on the road. That sets up a winner-take-all showdown in Week 11.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Wartburg and Simpson. Simpson has played somewhat better defense than Dubuque this season. And Wartburg is playing a much lesser opponent.
Sean
Sean’s take: Wartburg and Dubuque. Wartburg should conquer the Norse, but Dubuque won’t need to rely on a Simpson missed PAT this year to stay on top (painful topic for Wesley fans).

Who goes into a rivalry game on a down note?

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Keith’s take: Hard for me not to say Cortland here, although the Red Dragons can surprise us all.
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Ryan’s take: Gettysburg. The Bullets have a very tough Muhlenberg team before taking the field against century-long rival F&M for the Lincoln Trophy.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Cortland. A super down note that’s probably included minus-40 yards rushing.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hanover. The Panthers could play rival Franklin for the Victory Bell and the HCAC title in Week 11. But first, they have to get past a hot Rose-Hulman team. The Fightin’ Engineers have more recent big-game experience.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Amherst. Trinity has steadily regained traction after a stunning loss to Williams. The Bantams nip the Mammoths before The Biggest Little Game in America next week vs. the Ephs.
Sean
Sean’s take: Carnegie Mellon. While they’re studying to cram Case Western Reserve’s Pool C dreams in the Academic Bowl, Westminster could pin a fourth demerit on the Tartans’ report card.

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.