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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: Reaching the midway point

It’s hump week in Division III football: five weeks down, and five weeks remaining after this one. Does it feel like a Wednesday to you? If so, it can only be the best Wednesday ever! Here’s our crew’s predictions for Week 6.

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 Paul Schreel. Paul is an Ohio Northern grad and former Division III broadcaster now coaching high school football in Arizona.

— Pat Coleman

Which game is the Week 6 game of the week?

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Keith’s take: No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor. Red-hot teams could serve notice and crack top 5 or flip No. 1 votes.
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Ryan’s take: No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor. This is my most-anticipated conference title bout every year, and neither team has disappointed this year.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 5 Frostburg State at No. 6 Wesley. The first big battle in the NJAC, which might only have one big battle.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 5 Frostburg State at No. 6 Wesley. A rivalry, in its final year, likely with the conference title at stake. Last year’s OT thriller will be topped.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 5 Frostburg State at No. 6 Wesley. It’s the lowest combined ranking in an East Region matchup I can remember, and the stakes are major with just five Pool C bids available this year.  I expect a low-scoring affair.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor. With the No. 1 and No. 6 total offenses in Division III facing off, the first defense to force a punt could decide the game.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 9 St. John’s. There’s a Johnnies fan at work and he’s worried about quarterback Jaran Roste and the Royals.
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Ryan’s take: No. 9 St. John’s. Bethel is having a resurgence this year and could catch the Johnnies looking ahead to the biggin on Oct. 13.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 22 Whitworth. All the Top 25-on-Top 25 games mean qualifying upset opportunities are few. This pick relies on some overconfidence.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 24 Muhlenberg. The Centennial cannibalization continues as the Mules join Ursinus in the “previously unbeaten” ranks.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 20 RPI. It wouldn’t be an upset on my ballot, because I’ve had Ithaca higher all season. Ithaca’s body of work thus far has been better. Home field helps Bombers win a close game.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: No. 22 Whitworth. A week after a tough win over Linfield, the Pirates will have their hands full traveling to George Fox.

Outside of the ‘big six,’ which Top 25 game will be the most interesting?

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Keith’s take: Carthage at Illinois Wesleyan. Remember, Red Men gave UW-Oshkosh a run for its money.
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Ryan’s take: No. 22 Whitworth at George Fox. Coming off last week’s win, I’m curious if Whitworth is that good or Linfield was that bad. This’ll help me sort that out.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Chapman at Redlands. The last game of the night should be a good one, and the SCIAC automatic bid will likely go to the winner.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 22 Whitworth at George Fox. The Bruins could make it two in a row over the Pirates and the NWC could enter Week 3 of conference play wide open.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Willamette at No. 25 Linfield. Linfield should win big, but their performance so far places a lot in doubt. If Willamette keeps it close, I’d consider dropping Linfield out of my ballot entirely.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: No. 24 Muhlenberg at UrsinusThe Centennial Conference has four legitimate challengers for a title this year. The loser of this game is out of that conversation, though.

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

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Keith’s take: Alvernia at Misericordia. New and new-ish program have combined for four wins so far this season.
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Ryan’s take: Johns Hopkins at Franklin & Marshall. Two teams with a blemish and outside the T25, but I’m not ready to cast either to the curb just yet.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Whittier at Occidental. Oxy did the right thing and gave Whittier The Shoes after Oxy failed to make the 2017 game. Could Whittier snap its 33-game skid and win them outright?
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Manchester at Mount St. Joseph. I’ll be there to see how these prolific offenses stack up against quality competition, which is not always on the opposite sideline in the HCAC.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Norwich at Merchant Marine. I’ll be attending this game, as it’s a nearby matchup between two military service academies. If it’s anything like Norwich/Coast Guard two weeks ago, it will be a classic.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: Chapman at Redlands. It looks like the winner will be in the driver’s seat for a SCIAC title and the automatic playoff berth.

It’s hump week in D-III: Who serves notice that they’re going to turn things around?

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Keith’s take: Linfield. The 1-2 Wildcats chase a record 63rd consecutive winning season by winning at Willamette.
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Ryan’s take: Southwestern. After a solid ASC debut in 2017, my expectations were a lot higher for the Pirates, and the next couple of games are winnable ones.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Aurora. An 0-4 start, albeit against a slate of decent teams, is unexpected and the Spartans should bounce back.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Albright (vs. Wilkes). The Lions have played a brutal schedule and have taken a beating. They could start a run to finish over .500 in their final five games.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Buffalo State. With Alfred coming off a close game vs. Morrisville St., Buffalo State with their first win last week might have enough momentum to upset the Saxons in Buffalo.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: Cal Lutheran. The offense looked good last week against an overmatched Occidental but they will prove it wasn’t a fluke and go on a run in SCIAC play.

Pick an unranked unbeaten team which will lose (to an unranked team) this week?

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Keith’s take: Albion. At Hope, which knocks off one of the three 4-0 MIAA teams.
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Ryan’s take: Union. Granted, they’re not playing the Hobart of old, but this will still be a tough road for the Dutchmen.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Albion. The Britons have done well this season and that includes a win vs. Franklin but Hope comes in well-tested in the first five weeks.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Albion. Hope held a fourth quarter lead over Trine. The Flying Dutchmen regain momentum with a win over the unbeaten Britons.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Amherst. Middlebury has bounced back from its opening loss, playing winning football as consistently as Amherst. The Panthers shock the Mammoths in Vermont.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: Salisbury. Christopher Newport hosts the Sea Gulls and could hand them their first loss of 2018.

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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ATN Podcast 200: What people don’t want to admit

We are getting back into the flow in the D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast. This is the 200th edition of this podcast, entering its 12th season, and Pat and Keith use it to run down the Week 1 games. Plus, we use it as a way to get into talking about a couple of uncomfortable subjects — there are two possibilities about the 2018 season that people seem afraid to admit, and Pat and Keith attack them head-on.

D3football.com staffer Gordon Mann was at Wesley’s opener and talked with Chip Knapp afterward. Pat saw four games this weekend (no, really) and talks about his trip, plus talks with a player who picked off three passes. In all, the guys hand out their game balls, talk about the teams rising and falling in the poll, find highlights off the beaten path and pick out the big numbers of the week. Plus, what happened this weekend that could make the podcast go channel Allen Iverson?

That and more on our Week 1 Monday 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:

UW-Platteville file photo
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

Bonus content: Here’s the 1999 Bridgewater-Johns Hopkins game Pat mentioned in the podcast.