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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.
Guest
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.
Guest
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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Around the Nation Podcast 209: A big six for Week 6

There are six huge games between ranked teams (or ranked teams and unbeaten teams) this week, and this is a week Pat will be on the road, as he is heading out to Los Angeles to see a pair of games involving evenly matched teams at each end of the SCIAC.

Big games abound: No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor; No. 5 Frostburg State at No. 6 Wesley; No. 10 UW-Oshkosh at No. 8 UW-Whitewater; No. 9 St. John’s at Bethel; No. 20 RPI at No. 23 Ithaca; and No. 19 Case Western Reserve at No. 12 Washington & Jefferson. We’ll preview each of those.

Plus, our guest this Friday is Marietta coach Andy Waddle. His team is one of the surprising 4-0 teams through five weeks, and he talks about what goes into the decision to go for a two-point conversion at the end of the game, even when it bucks the conventional wisdom. He talks about where his current running back, Tanner Clark, stacks up with some of his program greats, and we put him on the spot about the purple power that Marietta faces at the end of each season.

Pat and Keith also give us a quick overview of a half-dozen more games, and then they put each other on the spot. And this week, nobody has to rhyme their answers.

That and more on 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 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

Theme music: DJmentos.

Photo: Zai Zai Smith, running back for Hardin-Simmons. (Hardin-Simmons athletics photo)

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Quick Hits: For Duke

While we’re thinking with heavy hearts about the late Mike Donnelly and the Muhlenberg football program, we also have attention to give to the full slate of Week 6 games, including one particular game taking place in Abilene, Texas. Yes, of course we’re talking about the ballyhooed McMurry-Belhaven game. No, wait, the other one. 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 Logan Hansen, who you may have seen on Twitter as @LogHanRatings. His computer ratings system ranks D-III teams and predicts outcomes of games. And this week there are some games.

 — Pat Coleman (photo by Andrew Zavoina, d3photography.com)

Which will be the Week 6 Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 1 UMHB at No. 5 HSU. Two top-five teams; I’ll be stunned if this isn’t unanimous.
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Ryan’s take: No. 1 UMHB at No. 5 HSU. It’s hard not to spotlight this matchup — rankings, history, ASC title hopes all come to a head here.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 10 Delaware Valley at Albright. If you need counterprogramming: People presume much greatness for Del Val and have been waiting on Albright.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Surprised this didn’t come with a caveat. A great slate of games highlighted by No. 1 vs. No. 5. I’ll go with No. 19 Wesley at No. 11 Frostburg State.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 1 UMHB at No. 5 HSU. I called it my “Game of the Year” in Kickoff, and with an interesting at-large scenario in Pools B & C, this game matters A LOT.
Guest
Logan’s take: No. 16 W&J at Carnegie Mellon. Both are undefeated, and are front-runners in the PAC with CWRU & Westminster. UMHB/HSU is too obvious.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 23 UW-Stout. The rush to bury UW-Whitewater might have been premature.
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Ryan’s take: No. 16 Washington & Jefferson. Despite being 5-0, Carnegie Mellon isn’t on enough radars yet and has a chance to really make an impact.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 23 UW-Stout. After we (I) sounded the end of the UWW dynasty, now they finally have a home game and a chance to start salvaging the season.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 16 Washington & Jefferson. Again, I see a lot of great choices here.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 11 Frostburg State. No. 19 Wesley got a wake-up call when Del Val beat them, and Frostburg struggled against CNU (and even vs. Rowan a bit).
Guest
Logan’s take: No. 23 UW-Stout. Despite their struggles, my model still thinks UW-Whitewater is a 13-point favorite at home (which might be a bit too high).

Who will win the four games between ranked teams?

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Keith’s take: Hardin-Simmons, Mount Union, St. Thomas, Frostburg State.
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Ryan’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor, Mount Union, Concordia-Moorhead, Frostburg State.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: UMHB, Mount Union, St. Thomas, Frostburg State.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: UMHB, Mount Union, St. Thomas, Wesley.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: UMHB, Mount Union, St. Thomas, Wesley.
Guest
Logan’s take: UMHB, Mount Union, St. Thomas, Wesley.

Pick an unranked team which will get its first loss this weekend.

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Keith’s take: Carnegie Mellon. 5-0 Tartans slightly better on D, but on O, W&J averages 532 ypg to C-M’s 370.
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Ryan’s take: SUNY-Maritime. There’s no doubt Husson has its sights set on a playoff bid this fall, and Maritime is an immediate threat.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: SUNY-Maritime. This time I am picking the Privateers on a week in which they actually are scheduled to play.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Franklin & Marshall. I can’t see Johns Hopkins losing two Centennial games in a row.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Albright. The Lions have been living dangerously, and Del Val has bounced back from its Wilkes struggle.
Guest
Logan’s take: Albright. They have four wins by four points or less, and Del Val is the best team on their entire schedule.

Pick a team to win in a conference you’ve never seen play.

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Keith’s take: Olivet over Kalamazoo. Seen members of every current conference live but MIAA, and have been to both these campuses..
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Ryan’s take: Hobart, over RPI. Both are coming off of tough losses and are looking for conference win No. 1.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: MIT. (vs. Maine Maritime). I’ve seen members of the NEWMAC in their previous conferences, but haven’t seen them under the NEWMAC banner.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Lake Forest, over Knox. I’ve never seen an MWC game, but really enjoyed my conversations with both of these head coaches.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. (vs. Occidental in the SCIAC). I still think Oxy players deserve kudos for playing despite the odds they’re facing. But the Stags will pull this out.
Guest
Logan’s take: Methodist over Greensboro (USAC). I didn’t realize how many games I’ve watched from random conferences until this question.

Pick a member of the Mike Donnelly coaching tree whose team will win this weekend.

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Keith’s take: Jeff Knarr at King’s (vs. Misericordia). Bolder picks: John Troxell’s F&M over JHU, or Muhlenberg itself over Ursinus.
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Ryan’s take: Jeff Knarr of King’s. His 2-3 squad lines up against 1-4 Misericordia. Not so much a battle of giants as a battle for pride.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Tom Perkovich. I expect his Susquehanna River Hawks will be able to handle Moravian.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Jeff Knarr’s of King’s. His squad picks up the win at Misericordia.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Dan Puckhaber of St. Lawrence (vs. Union). You were a class act on and off the field, Mike. Rest In Peace, and prayers to his family, friends, and players.
Guest
Logan’s take: Tom Perkovich. Moravian’s ground game could keep it close, but their defense won’t stop Susquehanna’s O.

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 Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.