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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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Quick Hits: Nailed to the cathedral door

Alright, so last week the crew — mostly Keith McMillan — was unimpressed with the questions provided. Perhaps they’ll learn to be glad for what they have, because this week requires them to know some stuff about how some schools operate. Or to take the easy way out and just pick schools with “Catholic” and “Lutheran” in their names. Our regular crew is Keith, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer and Frank Rossi. Our sixth spot goes to a guest each week, and this week’s is Ryan Carlson, who can be seen at @catdomealumni on Twitter.

— Pat Coleman

Which game will be the game of the week?

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Keith’s take: Westminster at No. 15 W&J. The latter doesn’t play Case, but the Titans do, and could stand in way of both PAC 10-0’s en route to AQ.
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Ryan’s take: No. 19 George Fox at No. 7 Linfield. There’s probably no team in the nation I’m more curious about than the Bruins.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 13 Wittenberg at No. 25 DePauw. It has been so, so long since Witt opened the season with Westminster (Pa.), aka its last competitive contest.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 19 George Fox at No. 7 Linfield. This would be a program-defining victory for the Bruins.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 13 Wittenberg at No. 25 DePauw. With the Wabash loss last week, this game takes on extra meaning for NCAC leadership and the playoffs.
Ryan
Ryan’s take: No. 19 George Fox at No. 7 Linfield. Control of the NWC is on the line. I didn’t even know there were other football games this weekend.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 11 Illinois Wesleyan. Carthage is 4th nationally in total D, 2nd in turnovers. Titans are 8th scoring D, 3rd rush D.
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Ryan’s take: No. 15 Washington and Jefferson. Westminster (Pa.) is on a roll, so give them credit for having a shot.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 11 Illinois Wesleyan. Going big or going home. Could make the case that IWU’s two big wins need asterisks.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 12 Brockport (vs. Hartwick). The Hawks have three losses: by one, one, and four points. They also boast two of the nation’s top receivers.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 15 Washington & Jefferson. W&J’s résumé isn’t as strong as it seemed earlier, while Westminster’s loss is by six to Wittenberg.
Ryan
Ryan’s take: No. 20 Wartburg. Luther is undefeated on their new hideous blue turf and I hear that the Knights’ starting QB is deathly afraid of water.

In memory of our fallen (for now) Occidental Tigers, pick a Division III Tigers team to win on Saturday.

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Keith’s take: There are seven choices. In No. 13 Wittenberg vs. No. 25 DePauw, I guarantee the Tigers win.
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Ryan’s take: East Texas Baptist (vs. Louisiana College). They’ll be particularly eager to bounce back after last week’s upset.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Iowa Wesleyan. In a week where there are two Tigers-Tigers clashes, I’m taking a non-obvious one.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Trinity (Texas). But even if they lose, the Tigers (Sewanee) will win.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Trinity (Texas). They’ll beat Sewanee in the Battle of the Tigers, reversing both teams’ Week 7 fortunes.
Ryan
Ryan’s take: Bring back Dale Widolff! I’ll go with Hampden-Sydney knocking off those scoundrels from Washington & Lee.

Pick a former Mount Union regular-season non-conference opponent (1999 or later) to win a game on Saturday.

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Keith’s take: Picking No. 3 UW-Oshkosh (2010-11) is too easy, so I’ll go Averett (2006-07) over NCWC, the Purple Raiders’ current non-con opponent.
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Ryan’s take: Allegheny (2000-01), against Kenyon. The Gators continue to build on their best season since 2012.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Allegheny (2000-01). The Gators’ rebuild continues with a home win vs. Kenyon.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: UW-Whitewater (2002-03) vs. UW-River Falls. Fun to remember that the Purple Powers rivalry began in the regular season back in 2002 and 2003.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: UW-Whitewater (2002-03). Once upon a time, this was a sure thing. This year, it’s a continuation of the Warhawks’ rebound.
Ryan
Ryan’s take: Allegheny (2000-01). I didn’t even know Mount Union played a football game until the semifinals.

In this, the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, pick an unranked Lutheran school team to win and an unranked Catholic school team to lose, or vice versa.

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Keith’s take: Luther to win, Catholic to lose. No need to overthink. Luther could upset rival No. 20 Wartburg on the blue turf, while Catholic loses to No. 23 Springfield.
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Ryan’s take: Cal Lutheran to win, Loras to lose. Cal Lutheran should be able to handle Whittier. And I think Coe will get the best of Loras.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Anna Maria to win, Augsburg to lose. Anna Maria over Alfred State, Augsburg losing to Concordia-Moorhead.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Pacific Lutheran to win, Catholic to lose. PLU over Willamette. I write Snap Judgments while y’all are at church on Sunday.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Pacific Lutheran to win, Catholic to lose. Who the heck wrote these things?!
Ryan
Ryan’s take: Pacific Lutheran to win, Catholic to lose. PLU to knock off a terrible Willamette team and Catholic (easiest one to find) to get smacked by Springfield.

St. John Fisher and Ithaca have had some epic battles in the past 20 years. Pick a meeting from the archives that this year’s game will most resemble.

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Keith’s take: Fine, Pat, I’ll never insult your easy questions again. And the 2011 OT game.
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Ryan’s take: The 2002 game. This game (30-20 Ithaca) ushered in competitiveness. Let’s hope 2017 isn’t ushering it out.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: The 2002 game. Ithaca beat St. John Fisher 30-20 and I think it’s Ithaca by more than one score.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: The 2005 game. Ithaca won 41-35. Want to read more about these former beasts from the East?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: The 2003 game. Ithaca wins a thriller, 20-19. It set up Ithaca for a playoff run (lost to RPI in the quarterfinals). Fisher may be down, but the Cardinals are still a tough out.
Ryan
Ryan’s take: The 2003 game. (Ithaca 20-19). I live in the Pacific Northwest so that’s like asking someone from East Jersey what fishing season is like on the Columbia River.

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.

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ATN Podcast 179: Big games lead to playoff talk

All of a sudden we drop a few big games into the mix, set a couple of Top 25 ballots on fire, and then it’s not too early to talk about strength of schedule, and the playoffs, and how at-large bids might be even more at a premium this year than usual. Pat and Keith talk first about the games that caused all that upheaval, then later dive into a couple of playoff scenarios. Plus, find out who Keith thinks could stick around in the playoff bracket a little longer than normal this November or December.

This week, we thank Fanraise for sponsoring our podcast.

Pat and Keith hand out game balls, find the hidden highlights, the correct pronunciations (yep, again), the interesting stats and much 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. 

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Wesley, Delaware Valley file photos
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