post

ATN Podcast 257: The one with the bronze and the turkey

This is where stuff gets tight. We already have some of our traditional season-ending rivalry games going on this weekend (Bronze Turkey, The Drum, Amherst-Williams) and the chase for the Walnut and Bronze is in full swing. We start by talking about the regional rankings, first with NCAA Division III football national committee chair Jim Catanzaro, where we ask him about some of the oddities at the bottom of the East and West Region rankings. Plus, his Lake Forest team essentially plays in a conference semifinal on Saturday against St. Norbert. Then Pat and Keith have a viewers’ guide for everyone on the bubble. We’ll tell you who you need to root for, or against, on Saturday.

Plus, Pat and Keith make up a rivalry trophy for a South Region game this week. Keith picks six winners and also has to mock a famous (or infamous) broadcaster, while Pat crosses the country to pick winners.

This edition of the D3football.com Around the Nation podcast is sponsored by Gotta Have It: 3D Fan Foam Wall Signs for the D-III fan in your life.

This edition of the D3football.com Around the Nation podcast is also sponsored by The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum and their limited-edition Mount Union football bobblehead.

Pat and Keith talk about it all in the latest 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

Here’s how to find us on some of the major podcasting apps:

Theme music: DJmentos. Texas Lutheran athletics photo; Joe Fusco, d3photography.com.

post

Quick Hits Week 4: Cracking the win column

This week the panel looks at a top-12 clash in the OAC, some big games down south, and which teams are poised to get their first win of 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?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll.  On the pod I took SJF-Ithaca, but I think this is the right call.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No 8 Bethel at Gustavus Adolphus.  The Gusties hung tough with St. John’s already, and Bethel will need to be ready for its first real test of the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Franklin & Marshall at No. 24 Susquehanna.  Also in contention for the longest game when listed on scoreboards.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll. After thrashing Baldwin Wallace last week, the Purple Raiders face their biggest test of the regular season. If the Blue Streaks can’t put up a fight, expect The Machine to pick up even more top votes in next week’s poll.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll. Mount was moved to the No. 1 slot on my ballot last week, and John Carroll did a huge leap on it. I’m curious to see how this plays out, even if it’s a close JCU loss.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: St. Norbert at Monmouth. It’s a rematch of last year’s MWC championship. And the one before that. And maybe a preview of this year’s MWC championship. These teams know each other well is what I’m saying.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: No. 24 Susquehanna.  I hate when panelists do the none thing, and F&M is averaging 41 points a game.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: No. 13 Ithaca.  Oppenent St. John Fisher is already better than they were last year, and there’s a sense of returning to form. And the Bombers have crept up unusually high in the poll.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor.  I actually feel we are unlikely to have any upsets at all, but HPU is improving and UMHB has struggled.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 24 Susquehanna. If there’s any week to pick “None” this is it. But what’s the fun in that? I’ll take undefeated Franklin and Marshall to contribute to the Centennial Conference chaos.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 18 Johns Hopkins. I think the topsy-turvy season for Hopkins continues here against a Dickinson team that has been a little inconsistent, but that has the pieces needed to win at home.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 25 Hobart. It took a pretty furious rally for the Statesmen to survive winless Rowan last week. This week, Montclair State closes the deal.

Which 0-3 team cracks the win column this weekend?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Hiram. Of the 35 choices, I like Hiram, as its level of competition has been tougher so far than Kenyon, this week’s opponent.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Bridgewater State.  The Bears line up against Fitchburg, which statistically has the worst defense in the conference.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Belhaven.  In the battle of 0-3 teams, taking the one that looked good last week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Belhaven. The Blazers put a scare into Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday. If they can get the offense on track, they should be able to defeat fellow winless ASC foe McMurry.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Belhaven. Their three losses have been by a combined 30 points, but they include a close 10-point loss to UMHB last week. Their experience should lead to a win.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Belhaven. It’s hard to see the Blazers’ 23-13 loss at UMHB last week and not think they’re close to a cracking the win column in 2019. Hosting McMurry is a great opportunity.

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

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Southwestern at Texas Lutheran. I am very fascinated by Southwestern’s hot start, yet Texas Lutheran is no easy W.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Southern Virginia at Bridgewater.  The Knights are 2-0 for the first time in … ever. Curious to see if lightning will strike a third time.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Defiance vs. Anderson.  I think Anderson is beyond the point where it can be Defiance’s only win, but watching to be sure.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Mount St. Joseph at Franklin. Listen to my preview on today’s podcast. The Grizzlies will try to extend their win streak over the Lions to 10 games. Mount St. Joe has the edge at quarterback. Will that be enough to shake up the HCAC standings?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western New England at University of New England. For a second-year program like UNE, a huge upset like this would be a signature win. But UNE has a small chance here. WNE can’t look past this game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Denison at Wabash. It’s Homecoming. It’s Senior Day. It’s a critical conference game for both teams. And it’s also the first of the last five games at the current iteration of Hollett Little Giant Stadium.

Pick a winner in a LL vs. E8 game.

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Cortland. SUNY Buffalo State and SUNY Cortland are in different conferences, and tiers. The Dragons outscoring opponents 94-7, and will get top 25 consideration soon.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: St. Lawrence over Hartwick.  The Saints’ Tyler Grochot puts up good numbers even in losses — he’ll be hard for the Hawks to stop.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Alfred.  There are a bunch of games that seem like pretty easy picks in this group, so I’m sure we’ll have a bunch of upsets instead.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 13 Ithaca defeats St. John Fisher. A battle of unbeatens, a turning point for two resurgent programs trying to reclaim the top spot in the East Region. I think this is Ithaca’s year.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: St. Lawrence (vs. Hartwick). The Saints got their first win last week and have played stronger generally based on schedule comparisons and scores. Home cookin’ seals this deal for them.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Cortland over Buffalo State. In their first season out of the E8, the Bengals are on the verge of a four-game non-conference sweep courtesy their former conference rivals. The good news is that they’re still 0-0 in league play.

Which Week 3 upset victim gets back on course this week?

keith-mcmillan-150x200
Keith’s take: Ursinus.A surprise 44-38 loser to Juniata last week, Ursinus gets a chance to get right against 0-3 Moravian.
ryan-tipps-150x200
Ryan’s take: Washington & Jefferson. The game won’t come down to the fourth quarter for the Presidents, like it has two of the past three weeks already.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Ohio Northern. I’m not confident in any of them, but will take ONU to beat Otterbein.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Washington & Jefferson. Most of last week’s upset victims have an unwelcome bye week. They would much rather be on the field with the opportunity to get back on the winning path. The Presidents face a hungry Grove City team, which just had its nine-game winning streak snapped by Case Western Reserve.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Washington & Jefferson (at Grove City). That said, I think Grove City plays them very close, unlike last year and unlike last week’s disappointing Case Western Reserve loss.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Ohio Northern. Back home and under the lights, the Polar Bears shake off last week’s shocker and get a win over winless Otterbein.

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.

post

Quick Hits: Predictions for Stagg Bowl XLVI

We have one game left, and we are beyond quick predictions, and beyond six predictions at that. So for the big game, we bring out a couple more experts, and we give everyone a couple hundred words to work with. We’ve been making these predictions ever since 1999, when our panel correctly picked what everyone in Division III thought was an upset — Pacific Lutheran over Rowan. Last year, our panel correctly picked Mount Union, in a 5-3 decision over Mary Hardin-Baylor.

Nobody consulted with one another. Feel free to add your pick and reasoning in the comments section below.

Pat Coleman, D3football.com publisher and executive editor

Sometimes the entirety of a football season, especially a 15-game one, is a battle of attrition. Last year, surely, UMHB would have liked to have had T.J. Josey healthy for more than a couple of snaps in the title game. This year, that person could be De’Nerian Thomas for UMHB or Jared Ruth or Cole Moxie for Mount Union. Or D’Angelo Fulford for the Purple Raiders, for that matter. Regardless of who is able to go, though, the keys will likely remain the same: control the running ability of whomever is taking snaps. Keep the receivers in front of you so the quarterback can’t burn you with the deep ball. That sort of thing. When I moved my No. 1 vote from Mount Union to UMHB earlier in the season, it was with the thought that the Cru have enough quarterback options to provide the depth needed for the long haul. Now, however, the offense has to be in doubt a bit. And perhaps that’s true for both sides. Regardless, I’m looking forward to a game that has a bit more scoring than last year, despite all the time I just spent doubting everyone’s offense.
Mary Hardin-Baylor 17, Mount Union 14

Keith McMillan, D3football.com national columnist and managing editor emeritus

I’ve had UMHB No. 1 since midway through the season, and in beating three top-10 teams (Hardin-Simmons, St. John’s and UW-Whitewater) to get to the first Stagg Bowl held in their home state, the Crusaders earn the right to go in favored, even against the defending champions. Mount Union’s best trait this year seems to be something that’s hard to quantify — the ability to win a game however it needs to be won, with opportunistic defense, high-powered offense, grit — so by no means is this a “it’s definitely going to happen this way” pick. Both UMHB and UMU are in the Stagg Bowl because they’re adaptable, and because they mirror each other — the direct-snap run package, the turnover-causing defenses, the swarming tacklers. So this game might not be much prettier than last year’s, unless one side figures out how to turn turnovers or special teams plays into points. If it boils down to a conservative defensive slugfest where both teams need to play mistake-free, UMHB has the edge.
Mary Hardin-Baylor 21, Mount Union 14

Adam Turer, D3football.com Around the Nation columnist

Both teams enter Friday’s rematch with questions behind center. Is Jase Hammack healthy enough to start and finish the game? Is DeNerian Thomas healthy enough to provide a run/pass threat and change of pace? Will former quarterback turned wide receiver T.J. Josey be pressed into quarterback duties, a la Cecil Shorts in 2010? On the other side, is D’Angelo Fulford physically and mentally recovered from his rough outing in the semifinals? Or will the Purple Raiders be forced to rely on running back Josh Petruccelli taking direct snaps to grind out a win? I don’t think Mount Union repeats its performance from last week. Instead, I think the Purple Raiders repeat as champions for the first time since 2005-2006. Like they did in Stagg Bowl XLV, the Cru will struggle on offense due to inexperience at the quarterback position. The Purple Raiders will load up to stop Markeith Miller and will come up with enough big plays, either turnovers or on special teams, to squeeze out some points against the nation’s top scoring defense. This could be a heartwarming story for the local program, but the Purple Raiders will refuse to cooperate. Mount Union has the rare chance to do something the program has never done before, winning a Stagg Bowl outside of Salem. Mount Union’s playmakers on defense get the job done, leaving the home crowd in Shenandoah disappointed.
Mount Union 20, Mary Hardin-Baylor 12

Ryan Tipps, D3football.com senior editor

Despite the fact that this Stagg Bowl features the teams with the first- and second-best scoring offenses in the nation, I don’t forsee this as being an obscenely high-scoring game. The fact of the matter is that these defenses are among the elite, too. UMHB’s journey (involving the dismantling of two Top 5 teams) has prepared them better for the destination than did Mount’s. The past two weeks have proven UMHB’s ability to expertly defend against both the pass and the run, and the team can move the ball to get the points it needs. Mount, on the other hand, has a lot of great aspects but has shown vulnerability at times, and I think they haven’t really faced anyone yet to take advantage of those soft spots the way UMHB can (and will). It’ll be a good game, but the home-state squad gets the W.
Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, Mount Union 14

Frank Rossi, D3football.com Stagg Bowl sideline reporter

I see this game as a huge first-half chess match, with two teams that will resume a tight, conservative battle from last year’s game and two defenses that will thrive in that. However, the changes that UMHB made between last year and this year focused on their offense and the issues they experienced in the pocket. That meant finding a pocket passer and also a quarterback with pure speed that could ensure the ball moved out of the pocket quickly. Eventually, that will pay off for UMHB. They’ll take a lead in the second half, and that will inspire D’Angelo Fulford to fight back — an offensive showdown will finally develop between the teams. On paper, the teams line up very evenly. That means the home-state advantage matters here — with the crowd likely being 6-to-1 in favor of the CRU. That’s why I give them the edge in a higher-scoring game than many people expect.
Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, Mount Union 21

Greg Thomas, D3football.com contributor and bracketology consultant

Here we are again. Despite usual and expected grumblings about bracket balance, the best two teams in the division have reached the final. Once again both teams have suffocating defenses. While I don’t expect the same absence of offense that we saw last year, points will still come at a premium. Both teams also enter with some questions at quarterback. UMHB has been nursing Jase Hammack’s shoulder through these playoffs and his primary backup — DeNerian Thomas — is questionable for Friday. On the other side D’Angelo Fulford has battled an ankle issue and inconsistency through these playoffs; enough so that the Purple Raiders turned almost exclusively to a running back direct snap package in the fourth quarter of their semifinal. The run defenses being deployed in this game will demand that these quarterbacks conjure a moment of two of brilliance, without backbreaking turnovers, for their teams to be successful. I expect this game to tilt on a big special teams play or a a turnover. Through these playoffs, the Crusaders have taken better care of the ball and, if there is one area of clear separation between these teams, it is the Cru’s kick return units. I’m going with the Crusaders to win their second title in a tight, thrilling ballgame. Mary Hardin-Baylor 20, Mount Union 16.

Kevin Niehus, Division III football analyst and former Thomas More quarterback

Arguably the top two defenses in the division, each facing an offense that put up video game numbers in their respective league. Throw that out: Both leagues were down this year. This game will be another defensive battle, like last year in Salem.   We have seen both teams prepare their version of the Wildcat for this game, with both having won titles by running some variation of it in past years.  I like Mount Union in this game, even though it’s a road game.   They are disciplined enough to keep UMHB WR’s AND kick returners out of the end zone. We have all seen the highlights, Simms runs 90 yards faster than most humans run the 40. I like that Mount Union has a QB in Fulford who has been in an intense spotlight for the past 56 weeks.  He can erase a lot of the questioning on Friday night, and I guarantee he knows that. I just feel like he makes one more play – and that’s all it will take to separate these two teams. One caveat: Mount Union must play clean: No personal fouls and no procedure penalties. If I’m Vince Kehres I’m confident in my players to play fast, make physical mistakes not mental ones.   Mount Union 13, Mary Hardin-Baylor 10.

Eric Drennan, Temple Daily Telegram Sports Editor

Both teams have high-scoring offenses, stingy defenses and quality coaching staffs, so this game is a toss-up that could be decided in three areas. First: If Mount Union can shut down UMHB’s rushing attack like it did last year and free up a Purple Raiders defense with 67 sacks to pin its ears back and go after the passer, then I like Mount Union’s chances. If the Crusaders can have some balance on offense, they might have the upper hand because of their playmakers on the outside. Second: If Mount Union quarterback D’Angelo Fulford is able to consistently make plays with his legs when UMHB drops into pass coverage, the Purple Raiders have the edge. The Crusaders have to keep Fulford in the pocket. A QB who is dangerous on the run will give any defense fits. Mount Union has one. UMHB doesn’t. Third: I think UMHB has the advantage when it comes to special teams, specifically the return game. Aaron Sims and K.J. Miller can turn a game around because they’re threats to score anytime they get the ball in space. All of that being said, of course I’m picking UMHB. The people in this football-crazy state would find a tall tree and a short rope if I didn’t. I’ll say UMHB 24, Mount Union 21 in what will seem like an absolute scorefest after the last two Stagg Bowls.
Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, Mount Union 21