TAG | Oberlin
Cody Pohren and Pacific Lutheran benefited from the double losses in the MIAC. How?
PLU athletics file photo by John Froschauer
We’re down to a final week, with a number of teams left in contention unlike any we can remember. This week’s losses change how some of the teams line up in the pecking order for the seven at-large bids, and if you are new to this process in Division III football, this is your primer, your instruction manual, perhaps your Selection Sunday master class.
Keith and Pat talk about that and more in this week’s Around the Nation Podcast, sponsored by the City of Salem, hosts of Stagg Bowl XL. Tickets on sale now!
Plus there are a bunch of automatic bids left to be handed out, and some were handed out Saturday in interesting ways. We talk about what’s left to be decided as well, including the indecipherable mess that is the North Coast Athletic Conference. Pat and Keith talk about a lot of teams this week — check the tags at the bottom of this page to find out who is on the topics list.
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Here’s this week’s D3football.com reports and highlight packages.
And this week’s photo galleries from our friends at d3photography.com:
- Baldwin Wallace vs. Mount Union
- UW-Whitewater vs. UW-Eau Claire
- Northwestern (Minn.) vs. Greenville
- Alma vs. Kalamazoo
Amherst · Baldwin-Wallace · Bethel · Bridgewater State · Cal Lutheran · Concordia-Moorhead · Cortland State · Delaware Valley · DePauw · Elmhurst · Framingham State · Franklin and Marshall · Hampden-Sydney · Hardin-Simmons · Heidelberg · Huntingdon · Linfield · Louisiana College · Lycoming · Mount Union · Muhlenberg · NCAA · North Central (Ill.) · Oberlin · Ohio Wesleyan · Pacific Lutheran · Pool C · Randolph-Macon · Rowan · Salve Regina · selection process · St. Olaf · St. Thomas · UW-Oshkosh · UW-Platteville · Wabash · Washington and Jefferson · Washington and Lee · Waynesburg · Wesley · Wheaton (Ill.) · Widener · Williams · Wittenberg
Three clashes between ranked teams take place this weekend, and a handful of other games involve undefeated schools. That gives us a lot to talk about and to look forward to on game day.
Conference races will be clarified, and, harder for some teams to swallow, playoff hopes will erode.
Pat Coleman, Keith McMillan and Ryan Tipps bring you a rundown of some of these make-’em or break-’em matchups. And, as always, we welcome comments from readers. Give us your perspective on games we missed or predictions you think we have backwards. We want to hear from you.
Game of the Week.
Ryan’s take: No. 7 Wheaton at Illinois Wesleyan. What I love about the CCIW is how it’s more than just an impressively strong conference, it’s also an unpredictable one. Three different teams have been in the playoffs the past two seasons, and two of those teams are currently undefeated Wheaton and Illinois Wesleyan. Both come into Saturday playing a so-so nonconference slate that leaves many questions to be sorted out. Is IWU as strong against the pass as they seem? Will Wheaton bring more to the table than just offense? It’s a game worth watching — and watching closely.
Keith’s take: No. 13 Redlands at No. 20 Cal Lutheran: Based on their non-conference results against North Central, Linfield and Pacific Lutheran, I’m bullish on the SCIAC powers. If the Kingsmen defend the brand new turf at William Rolland Stadium, it could be a boon for the conference. Two playoff bids could be in the offing. Wins at East Texas Baptist and against Whitworth weren’t enough for Redlands to overcome a 24-22 loss to CLU last season. But an 8-1 finish this year with a win against North Central, assuming the Cardinals finish strong, should get the Bulldogs in. If they win in Thousand Oaks, of course, they’ll be the front-runner for the automatic bid and not chasing an at-large. More on this game in ATN.
Pat’s take: No. 19 Louisiana College at No. 4 Mary-Hardin Baylor. I think these teams are much closer together than their 15 spots’ distance in the rankings suggests. I would favor Louisiana College at home, would think about it on a neutral field, and would not be at all surprised if the Wildcats pulled off the road win. The tests have been getting better for Louisiana College in the past week but the issue in my mind is whether they can protect the ball.
Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: Guilford at Washington and Lee. The Quakers are standing with just a 1-2 record, but that’s not because teams have been able to run all over them. And that’s what W&L does: Run. A lot. And then some more. Best of all for Guilford is that they should be able to respond and put some points on the board, keeping this matchup against the defending ODAC champion within reach.
Keith’s take: Mount St. Joseph at Franklin. The Grizzlies have become the face of the HCAC, and get the national attention. They’re even one of the best at filing D3Reports. The Lions’ 3-0 start, however, has barely been mentioned. So allow me to rectify that. Beating Wilmington, Anderson and Bluffton isn’t overwhelming, but they’ve done it by rushing for 246 yards a game, leading the nation in kick returns and generating turnovers. Franklin has scored 49, 49 and 52 aside from being shut out by No. 1 UW-Whitewater, so MSJ’s defense has its hands full. The Griz would seem to be a big favorite, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they won by seven or 10.
Pat’s take: St. John’s at St. Thomas. You have to figure the Johnnies come in fired up for this game. If not for two plays at the end of the game … or St. John’s inexplicable failure to go for two on its touchdown in the final minute … the Johnnies’ season would have a different look about it. The last three games in this series have come down to the final play, and even in a 3-7 season in 2003, the Tommies nearly derailed the Johnnies’ dream season, one which ended in an unbeaten run and Stagg Bowl near-rout of Mount Union. This game won’t disappoint, at least not neutral fans.
Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: Trine. Adrian and Trine each enter Saturday’s game with an undefeated record. The difference, though, is that a Thunder victory isn’t as much of a foregone conclusion as it’s been in the past. In fact, I’d say the 20-game winning streak comes to an end. Trine’s not bad this year, but they’re also short of the greatness they’ve gotten used to. That shortcoming is going to prevent them from breaking through the defense that has gotten Adrian so far already this season. The Bulldogs are top in the conference in sacks and will put pressure on Trine quarterback Ryan Hargraves, essentially nullifying his impressive accuracy. The conference race will be decided Saturday.
Keith’s take: No. 7 Wheaton. The choices are cruddy. Toss out the six teams playing other top 25 teams; those are hardly upsets (although No. 24 Ohio Northern beating No. 2 Mount Union would be a shock). Then you’ve got teams playing Thiel, Kenyon, Oberlin, Morrisville State, Cornell, Juniata. No disrespect, but not exactly a murderer’s row to top 25 teams. So I’m left with really the only unranked team I think has a good chance at an upset: IWU, which has given up points in just 1 of 12 quarters so far (1st nationally in scoring defense). The Titans will have to figure out how to slow down the Thunder (484 yards a game so far; 437 in a 29-19 Wheaton win last season.)
Pat’s take: No. 4 Mary Hardin-Baylor. I gave my reasons above and I don’t usually repeat games like this but it’s my best bet.
They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: Muskingum. How can they not be a team to talk about after toppling Ohio Northern last Saturday? The question is: Did the Muskies (highlighted in this week’s Around the Great Lakes) just get the better of ONU that day or is this the start of something bigger and better for the team out of New Concord? They are off to a 3-0 start, and it’s likely to continue through this week’s game with Wilmington. But the back end of the conference schedule will be their toughest.
Keith’s take: Centre. I’d like to see UW-Platteville be competitive against Whitewater, but I’m more curious about the Colonels. They’ve scored nearly 42 points per game in a 3-0 start, rushing for 201 yards per game and passing for 177. DePauw, meanwhile, is down after a 1-2 start, able to score less than 16 points per game. Centre can continue building its case for national recognition by putting a hurting on a team that was often atop the SCAC.
Pat’s take: Albright. Or at least, they could be. They definitely have the opportunity, coming into a game at Lycoming at 4-0. Even a close loss qualifies them for the radar because it might bode well for the following games against Lebanon Valley and Delaware Valley.
Team most likely to salvage a bad season.
Ryan’s take: Hardin-Simmons. We all had our eye on HSU after their opening-week win over Coe. Even without graduated quarterback Justin Feaster and his go-to guy ZaVious Robbins, the Cowboys galloped past their first two opponents convincingly. What followed were two big losses and with them, gone was any hope of a trip to the playoffs. HSU has four games (including this week against East Texas Baptist) to rebuild their confidence and their focus before finishing with the McMurry rivalry and with ranked Louisiana College. The salvaging starts Saturday.
Keith’s take: St. John’s. No need for a long explanation here. No. 3 St. Thomas is no easy W. But I never dreamed of the day the Johnnies could have three losses on Oct. 1, and I’m sure no one recruited to play in Collegeville did either. If there’s any soul, any Johnnie pride left, they’ve got to somehow go into a more talented team’s home and win. Would add a chapter to the storied rivalry.
Pat’s take: Wesley. I mean, a Division I FCS opponent isn’t supposed to have an impact on a team’s playoff hopes, but with just one Pool B bid available and a loss already on the books, Wesley doesn’t have any margin for error. Charleston Southern is 0-4, including a loss to D-I non-scholarship Jacksonville. Wesley can take these guys.
Conference race most likely to get some clarity.
Ryan’s take: SCIAC. Because of the conference’s shorter-than-usual schedule, we haven’t seen as much from either Redlands or Cal Lutheran as we’d like. But there have been some solid glimmers of excitement, not least of which was Redlands’ win over North Central. It’s unlikely that any SCIAC opponent can challenge these two teams, making this matchup a big one in terms of foreshadowing the conference’s playoff representative.
Keith’s take: CCIW. Conference play begins with four teams at 3-0 and three more at 2-1. Beyond Wheaton-IWU, North Central goes to Carthage in a matchup of a team that’s scored 156 points in its past two wins (that’s not a typo; 70 and 86) against a team that’s allowed three in its past two.
Pat’s take: IIAC. The Coe-Central game is an intriguing one, with two programs with playoff experience who have their back against the wall. Central has beaten an ordinary team handily, lost to two Top 40 teams and beaten Augustana by eight (a last-minute touchdown made that closer). Coe’s resume is pretty well known. One of a handful of games that is needed to get this conference race figured out, but a Coe win will essentially end Central’s chances of winning the league.
Quarterback most likely to pass for 400 yards.
Ryan’s take: Wittenberg’s Ben Zoeller. The senior signal-caller hasn’t topped 400 yards since his team’s win over Capital in Week 1. But up strides Oberlin, a team that’s improved this year but not enough to slow Zoeller and his favorite receiving pair of Michael Cooper and Josh McKee. Wittenberg is famously dangerous at home, and that’s right where they’ll be Saturday.
Keith’s take: Illinois College’s Michael Bates. There’s a shootout brewin’ in Appleton. Bates, a freshman, has passed for 1,257 yards in four starts. His per-game average of 314 puts him two spots behind MWC conference cohort Alex Tanney (Monmouth), and two in front of Lawrence sophomore Luke Barthelmess. He’s Bates’ opponent Saturday, and although he’s got a shot at hitting 400 himself (IC is 3-1 despite being 214th nationally in pass efficiency defense, 219th in total defense and 229th against the pass, at 306 yards per game), his defense probably won’t help much. Lawrence could actually be more porous, at 221st in pass efficiency defense and 236th in total defense.
Pat’s take: Travis Lane, Hampden-Sydney. Unless Catholic’s defense got completely revamped over the bye week, the Cardinals will be in trouble. There won’t be a fourth-quarter comeback this time, but Catholic and Greg Cordivari will score enough points to keep the Tigers in a passing mode, where Lane will have his share of success.
Adrian · Cal Lutheran · Catholic · CCIW · Central · Centre · Coe · DePauw · East Texas Baptist · Franklin · Guilford · Hampden-Sydney · Hardin-Simmons · IIAC · Illinois College · Illinois Wesleyan · Lawrence · Louisiana College · Mary Hardin-Baylor · Mount St. Joseph · Muskingum · Oberlin · Redlands · SCIAC · St. John's · St. Thomas · Trine · UW-Platteville · Washington and Lee · Wesley · Wheaton · Wittenberg
Brandon James ran for 77 yards in Pacific Lutheran’s opener. Are the Lutes ready to pick up where they left off in 2010?
Pacific Lutheran athletics photo
We’ve seen what teams can do, and some may already be grinding their way into conference play. And, perhaps most exciting of all, upsets happening around the nation have been forcing us to reshape our notions of who will compete and who will get left behind as we inch toward the playoffs.
In each of the first two weeks, a national Top 4 team has been knocked off. Is being that high in the rankings is a curse? If so, that means Mary Hardin-Baylor and St. Thomas, as well as Division III’s reining purple powers, will be fending off the ghosts this week.
Pat Coleman, Keith McMillan and Ryan Tipps bring you an inside look at some of the captivating games taking place tonight and Saturday.
Game of the week.
Ryan’s take: Lebanon Valley at No. 25 Delaware Valley. Recent matchups between these two have been far more lopsided than they should have been, but the Aggies no longer have big-gun quarterback piling up the stats. DelVal is 2-0, but the team’s total margin of victory is 2 points. Lebanon Valley, meanwhile, has been finding the end zone fast and frequently so far in their undefeated debut weeks. The X-factor? It could be penalties. Both teams have lacked some discipline in that category so far this year, with the Dutchmen at six per game and the Aggies at eight per game.
Keith’s take: No. 18 Kean at No. 11 Cortland State. We’ll find out quickly if last week’s big upset was due to Kean being top 25-worthy this season, or Wesley being weaker than normal. Cortland State has played Kean every year since 1996, according to the game notes, but has only lost to the Cougars once, at home in ’09. For Kean, this is as long a road trip as it’ll have in the NJAC, and it’s an opportunity to set up a great season; its next five games are against teams it should beat. Defense will be the key on Saturday; both are opportunistic teams in the turnover battle.
Pat’s take: St. John’s at Concordia-Moorhead. It’s probably been a pretty interesting week for the Johnnies after getting blown out at home by UW-Eau Claire last week. The Johnnies have won five of six in this series and 15 of 18 and coach Terry Horan was a wide receiver for the Cobbers the last time they won at home against St. John’s (1986). Last year’s meeting resulted in 70 combined points (42-28 St. John’s) and 950 yards of total offense.
Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: Mount St. Joseph at Anderson. Despite being a lower-tier HCAC team, Anderson has had a knack for being able to put up some significant points against the Lions. And Anderson has many of its core skill players back to make even more dents in the MSJ defense.
Keith’s take: Pacific Lutheran at No. 19 Cal Lutheran. When those Lutherans get together, things can get out of hand! In all seriousness, PLU doesn’t come in ranked, but it does come in having held Hamline to 144 yards in an opening-game shutout. Cal Lutheran, and particularly Eric Rogers, who scored one touchdown rushing and had another receiving against Linfield in the opener, is more of a threat than anyone the Lutes saw in Week 1. Yet it appears PLU picked up right where it left off after an 8-1 season. Although CLU should be hungry for its first victory, its home crowd might be a little more sparse than usual with the game moved to Moorpark College because construction at the on-campus stadium is incomplete.
Pat’s take: No. 21 Wittenberg at Washington U. It’s a big test for the 2-0 Bears, who have beaten Knox and Rhodes but now face a team that has won 22 consecutive regular season games. If there’s a time for Wash U to knock the Tigers off, it’s this year, with 12 senior starters and seven consecutive home wins. Last year this game was not competitive at Wittenberg, with the Tigers winning 37-7, but the Tigers have also had some close calls on the road in the past season-plus.
Most likely Top 25 to get upset.
Ryan’s take: No. 12 Ohio Northern. It’s not as if either the Polar Bears (with a win over N.C. Wesleyan) or opponent Otterbein (with a win over Gallaudet) were overly impressive in Week 1. ONU may not be able to slow Ott’s passing game come Saturday, and it’s tough for them to be guaranteed the edge in the turnover battle. Still, the Cardinals should not have been pushed into overtime by Gallaudet, so there are clear flaws to be worked out in that corner, too. Each team has had the past two weeks to make repairs.
Keith’s take: No. 7 Wheaton, by UW-Platteville. There are quite a few vulnerable top 25 teams, but they aren’t facing a real rugged slate of opponents this weekend. Platteville usually fits in the “not rugged” category as well, but after allowing just 6 points in two wins, outrushing UW-Stevens Point and Buena Vista 197.5-66.5, Wheaton could be in for a much tougher game than last year’s 51-20 victory. The game is a night kickoff at Platteville’s 10,000-seat Pioneer Stadium to boot.
Pat’s take: No. 22 Trine, by UW-River Falls. The Falcons were in the game for a half last week against St. Thomas, which isn’t really an indicator of future success, but I believe that River Falls is ready to bounce back at least a little in its first year under coach Matt Walker. Trine has won two games but not in convincing fashion against teams it would normally beat in a convincing manner.
They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: Adrian. It’s been several years since the Bulldogs started a season 2-0. Brandon Miller has proven himself a very capable quarterback, Damon Brown a skilled rusher and the defensive line a stingy bunch. The team’s toughest test of the season comes now against Augustana, whose 0-2 record is deceiving. The Vikings, armed with a pass game that will put a lot of pressure on the Adrian defensive backs, have played two solid teams close.
Keith’s take: St. Vincent. After giving it to FDU-Florham pretty good in a 55-3 victory, let’s see how the Bearcats deal with success. The program has not won consecutive games since its revival, but with trips to Thiel and Geneva (both 0-2) on deck, three in a row is possible. Of course, the Tomcats and Golden Tornadoes are probably licking their chops as well; PAC teams are used to St. Vincent being easy pickings.
Pat’s take: No. 23 Hampden-Sydney. Truth be told, the Tigers should be on your radar already, but wins against the USA South don’t always mean much on the national scene. They have one last USAC opponent this week, Ferrum, then travel to Huntingdon next week.
Which 0-2 team will earn its first win?
Ryan’s take: Franklin and Marshall, vs. Ursinus. Both F&M and Ursinus got the season started on a rough foot. But I think the Diplomats have the ability to do a better job of stopping Ursinus’ balanced but average offense than the Bears do of stopping F&M’s pass-heavy attack. Ursinus has yet to really break out of the middle of the pack in any significant statistical category, showing that the need remains for them to light a spark before they’ll be taken seriously as Centennial competitors. For F&M, it’s all about follow-through. Seven trips to the red zone and only two touchdowns? That has to improve if F&M wants to win some games this season.
Keith’s take: Coe, vs. Simpson. Both the Kohawks and Storm were blown out against a top-five team in Week 1 and lost a close one last week. Coe, ranked in the preseason, comes back home against a team it beat 42-21 last season. Coe has rushed for 206 yards per game and 5 per carry; Simpson allowed 411 and 7.6 against Bethel and could be similarly vulnerable in the ground game this weekend.
Pat’s take: Wooster, vs. Oberlin. Although the Yeomen are 1-0 themselves, with a 42-0 win against Kenyon, Wooster will still have an easier time than it had against Baldwin-Wallace and Wabash to open the season. The Scots will need to do a better job hanging onto the ball, though, having turned it over eight times in the first two weeks.
Which upset winner from last weekend will have the biggest letdown?
Ryan’s take: UW-Platteville. In Wheaton’s opener, the Thunder posted 570 yards. Passing, rushing, it was all good news for this stalwart of the CCIW. After Platteville shocked UW-Stevens Point into a lopsided affair last week, don’t expect Wheaton to be as likely to fall. Platteville’s undefeated season ends here.
Keith’s take: Utica. Perhaps the Pioneers have risen enough and Union has fallen to the point where last week’s 28-27 Utica win is no longer an upset. But this week has letdown written all over it, with a lengthy road trip down to Maryland, where the Pioneers may be walking into a beehive of emotion. It’s Frostburg State’s first home game since teammate Derek Sheely died in the preseason. Fans are asked to wear white. On the field, the Bobcats have looked potent offensively; they racked up 411 yards in a losing effort at Springfield last weekend.
Pat’s take: McMurry. Mary Hardin-Baylor is a much better team than UT-San Antonio, regardless of the number of scholarships either one offers. But the War Hawks shouldn’t be intimidated by anything the Cru throws at them, having gotten knocked around hard by a Top 25 FCS team in Week 1 and having played in front of 30,000-plus in Week 2.
If you were a bird, what kind of bird would you be?
Ryan’s take: A Cardinal from Catholic. For two weeks in a row, quarterback Greg Cordivari has led his offense on last-minute, game-winning drives to usher in a team that’s 2-0 instead of the other way around. Being a CUA fan has been a heart-pounding feat so far this season. Tonight, Carnegie Mellon is on tap.
Keith’s take: A War Hawk from McMurry. I see what you did there. Interesting question. After an 82-6 loss to one D-I-FCS program and a televised win over another last week, I’d be a War Hawk so I can take confidence from that win over UT-San Antonio into the atmosohere under the lights at No. 3 Mary Hardin-Baylor and see if that helps our team, um, soar.
Pat’s take: Hawk. The one from Huntingdon. This weekend is Huntingdon’s chance to write perhaps the final chapter in the Bible Bowl, a rivalry between the Hawks and crosstown rival Faulkner. An NAIA member, Faulkner is seeing its conference schedule expanded to 10 games next year, and the rivalry needs to go. But the game doesn’t help Huntingdon’s playoff chances anyway, and in addition, Huntingdon has won all four meetings so far.
Adrian · Anderson · Cal Lutheran · Catholic · Coe · Concordia-Moorhead · Cortland State · Delaware Valley · Franklin and Marshall · Frostburg State · Hampden-Sydney · Huntingdon · Kean · Lebanon Valley · McMurry · Mount St. Joseph · Oberlin · Ohio Northern · Otterbein · Pacific Lutheran · Simpson · St. John's · St. Vincent · Ursinus · Utica · UW-Platteville · Washington U. · Wheaton (Ill.) · Wittenberg · Wooster
There are nine undefeated teams still outside of the Top 25. That will change this week as we get to more pairing off in conference play, particularly in the OAC and IIAC.
But as teams look forward to the playoffs, they also have to find ways to stay in the moment. Teams can get caught looking ahead, and midseason is when players’ bumps, bruises and other injuries begin to take their toll, especially on squads that lack depth. Last week, we saw how injuries can help derail teams that appeared to be on track to the postseason.
Pat Coleman, Keith McMillan and Ryan Tipps go over a few teams that will bring the hurt on Saturday, while spotlighting some of the country’s biggest contests.
Game of the Week.
Ryan’s take: Baldwin-Wallace at No. 13 Ohio Northern. We usually count Mount Union as getting the automatic qualifier in the OAC. But what about the other nine teams in the conference? I appreciate history, and history suggests that the OAC will get a second team into the playoffs. In fact, over the past decade, the conference has fielded a second team all but three times. Right now, B-W and ONU are the clear front-runners for that spot, so playoff gold will be on the line come Saturday.
Pat’s take: Wartburg at No. 6 Coe. Wartburg has been sitting outside the Top 25 for too long, and admittedly, I could find a higher spot for the Knights on my ballot. This weekend provides for the distinct possibility that Wartburg could move up in our poll with a close loss. The dissenting view would point out that after the season-opening win against Monmouth, Wartburg has faced Gustavus Adolphus, Cornell, Loras and Buena Vista, not the strong part of its schedule. Coe and Wartburg have no common opponents so far to make the comparison easier.
Keith’s take: No. 23 Cortland State at Rowan. The Red Dragons lead the nation in scoring defense (19 points allowed, or 3.80 per game; They haven’t given up a point since Buffalo State’s third-quarter touchdown on Sept. 18.) and are second to NJAC rival Montclair State in total defense (194.60 yards per game). To stay on track for the all-red defensive showdown in Week 9 (Oct. 30), Cortland needs to eliminate the only other remaining threat to the conference throne in the Profs. Rowan has settled on quarterback Tim Hagerty but hasn’t found its way offensively, averaging just 17.60 points per game despite rushing for 205 yards a contest. The Profs aren’t bad defensively, surrendering a shade over 14 points per game, so long drives should be tough to come by for either side, and the game could be swayed by a fluke turnover or a special teams score.
Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: Adrian at DePauw. DePauw might be undefeated, but Adrian has been down this road before — they’ve already squared off against UW-Whitewater and Trine this season. So let’s take any intimidation factor off the table right now. Adrian is not a running team, clearly, but against a rush defense like DePauw’s, that’s probably for the best. What Adrian can do is air out the ball, and a few big plays here and there could present some big problems for the Tigers’ secondary.
Pat’s take: Oberlin at Wabash. Actually, I’m not even sure who to favor, except that Wabash is at home which would give them a bit of an edge. But from a name perspective, this game is likely to produce a score that 12 months ago would make you sure it was posted incorrectly.
Keith’s take: St. Vincent at No. 11 Thomas More. Because the Bearcats are just 1-4 and haven’t developed into a consistent winner so far in the program’s revival, folks outside the PAC might not have taken note of the improvement. Three of St. Vincent’s losses have come by five points or fewer, and all have come against teams .500 or better. In last week’s 31-20 loss to the other PAC power, Washington & Jefferson, St. Vincent fell behind 17-0 but didn’t let the game get away, making the score 24-14 in the second half. Thomas More poses quite the challenge, as the measuring stick for PAC teams these days, and we’ll likely see another mark of progress for the Bearcats.
Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: No. 20 Randolph-Macon. I don’t see a lot of potential for upsets outside of the Game of the Week contests that we’ve already addressed. And I’m not saying here that Macon is flawed, but in going up against Washington and Lee, we do have a nice comparison in Emory and Henry to use. E&H played each team in the past two weeks and was beaten by at least two scores each time. What’s caught my attention though, is how many points W&L has been putting up. The team’s wins this season have come on 48-, 55- and 45-point performances. R-MC should win this one, but W&L could sneak up if the Yellow Jackets aren’t on their game.
Pat’s take: No. 23 Cortland State. The distance between Cortland State and opponent Rowan is probably not very significant. Rowan struggled on offense earlier in the season but has rebounded with Hagerty taking over the starting quarterback spot.
Keith’s take: No. 1 UW-Whitewater. Okay, so they’re technically the least likely top 25 team to be upset, but if it’s going to happen before the Stagg Bowl, this Saturday is likely as any. UW-Eau Claire is 3-2 and doesn’t stand out statistically, but they’ve played St. John’s, No. 7 North Central and UW-Stevens Point already, so they’ve proven they can stand up with top Division III talent. If the Blugolds can hang close to the almighty Warhawks, they might fare well; UW-EC beat the Johnnies and Pointers in overtime. Plus, the state’s pride, the Badgers, kick off later in the evening, which means any football fan near Eau Claire can come out to Carson Park to give the Blugolds a raucous home atmosphere.
They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: McDaniel. Over each of the past four weeks, Green Terror defenders have been honored by the conference. And rightfully so. McDaniel opponents average only about 13 points a game this season. All will be on display when the team faces its 4-1 conference bedfellow, Muhlenberg. Both teams are trying to regain their peak, but McDaniel has been enduring a much longer climb to get there.
Pat’s take: Ursinus. See Wartburg above. This is a no-room-at-the-inn exclusion from the Top 25 as well, in my opinion. Perhaps beating Johns Hopkins will get the Bears on enough voters’ radar.
Keith’s take: Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. The Stags are one of the nine unbeaten teams mentioned frequently in this post, and their four wins are Lewis & Clark, first-year Pacific, La Verne and Chapman. SCIAC power Redlands is the stiffest test to date, but CMS has mixed and matched with Patrick Rooney, Peter Kimney, Spencer Clark and Alex Wheatley to rush for nearly 250 yards per game, and if they can pull off a victory against the Bulldogs, nationally we’ll start to take notice.
Which team will we have to start taking seriously?
Ryan’s take: Lycoming. With perennial MAC star Delaware Valley looking good, lots of preseason hype around Lebanon Valley and the not-so-distant playoff past of Albright, the Warriors seemed to duck under the radar for the first six weeks. But now they’re coming off a 50-point walloping of Albright and standing at 4-1, their only loss to a tough Rowan team. With Widener and DelVal games over the next two weeks, we’ll see exactly what Lycoming is made of.
Pat’s take: Salisbury. The Sea Gulls lost their showdown with Hampden-Sydney three weeks ago — barely — but they’re not out of the Pool B race by any stretch, especially considering they have a head-to-head shot with Wesley later. First things first, though, including this week’s home game against Huntingdon.
Keith’s take: The Elmhurst/Illinois Wesleyan winner, and Carthage. Rarely do we discuss defending conference champs as teams we’re not certain about this far into the season, but IWU has underwhelmed while going 4-1, which is the same record both the Bluejays and Redmen have. IWU (29-19) and Elmhurst (27-24) lost to Wheaton, and Carthage (43-8) lost to North Central. But all of these teams can stay in the CCIW hunt with wins on Saturday, Elmhurst or IWU against one another, and Carthage against Augustana. And the CCIW is known for its frequent three-way tie scenarios and sending two teams to the field of 32.
Which team will be affected the most by injury?
Ryan’s take: Wabash. The Little Giants drew their first loss of the season after starting quarterback Chase Belton left midway through last Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury. The sophomore signal-caller who went 9-12 that day was replaced by Tyler Burke, who managed only 11 for 19 the rest of the game. What makes this particularly stinging isn’t just Belton’s injury but the fact that this is compounded upon other wounds in the skill positions to wideouts Kody LeMond and Wes Chamblee. As of Thursday, Belton is still not cleared to play. A resurging Oberlin team is in town Saturday, and then three even tougher games are right around the corner for Wabash.
Pat’s take: UW-Whitewater. The Wisconsin State Journal report regarding the status of running backs Levell Coppage and Booker Stanley gives pause. That still leaves Antwan Anderson — you remember him, he rushed for 1,213 yards in 2008 — but that’s not the same as having three guys who could rush for 100 yards at the drop of a hat.
Keith’s take: No. 2 Mount Union. The Purple Raiders have D-III’s most dynamic talent in wide receiver Cecil Shorts III (3,938 career receiving yards @UMU) and perhaps its most prolific Twitter user (7,493 @CShorts10). Bothered by a foot injury that cost him part of last week’s game against Marietta, Shorts tweeted midweek that his boot “had to go.” Mount Union, which hosts Heidelberg, might not be affected in the win-loss column, but you can bet the loss of Shorts changes what they do offensively.
How many undefeated teams will be outside the Top 25 after Saturday?
Ryan’s take: Six. I could see two of those teams taking headers: an Adrian upset at DePauw and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps falling to Redlands. And factor in a Baldwin-Wallace loss to Ohio Northern. I also reserve the right to leave on the table any other combination that results in six remaining.
Pat’s take: Four. Well, I see that we have 19 unbeatens in the poll so far and nine out of the poll. We’re guaranteed to lose one unbeaten because Wartburg and Coe face off. Some of our unranked unbeatens aren’t going to make the poll no matter what. I count four additional unbeatens who could lose, one in the poll, and will bank on one moving into the Top 25. But this is still a guess.
Keith’s take: Six. Here are the nine: Wartburg (first team outside the top 25 in also receiving votes), Case Western Reserve (third), Baldwin-Wallace (fourth), Ursinus (sixth), DePauw (seventh), Amherst (11th) and Williams, SUNY-Maritime and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps not receiving any votes. Two factors are at work; how many teams will stay unbeaten, and how many move into the top 25 with wins? Safe bets are on CMS losing to Redlands, and either Wartburg losing to Coe or B-W to ONU. So I say seven of nine stay unbeaten, but only Wartburg or B-W are close enough to move in and playing an opponent that will make voters shake up their order. And there aren’t many top 25 teams facing ultra-tough challenges this week, so not many poll spots will open up. One moves in, and two lose, leaving six.
Adrian · Amherst · Baldwin-Wallace · Carthage · Claremont-Mudd-Scripps · Coe · Cortland State · DePauw · Elmhurst · Illinois Wesleyan · Lycoming · McDaniel · Montclair State · Muhlenberg · Oberlin · Ohio Northern · Randolph-Macon · Rowan · Salisbury · St. Vincent · Thomas More · Ursinus · UW-Eau Claire · UW-Whitewater · Wabash · Wartburg · Washington and Jefferson · Washington and Lee · Williams
Conference races are at full steam, unbeaten teams are still falling at a good clip, and players are beginning to get glimpses of the playoff pastures on the horizon.
It’s Week 6, the midpoint of our 11-week regular season.
So much happened on the field last Saturday that we’re left to pick up the pieces and make sense of what’s to come. That’s what we’re here for, after all. It’s done in the Around the Nation podcast, it’s done again for the national and regional columns, and to cap the week, it’s broken down for you here in Triple Take.
Pat Coleman, Keith McMillan and Ryan Tipps crunch the numbers before predicting how they will all add up this Saturday.
Game of the Week.
Ryan’s take: Hampden-Sydney at Bridgewater. Going off script from the Top 25 a bit here, but last week, we saw the first of the ODAC’s four undefeated teams fall. This week, we’ll see yet another. The Tigers have been uncaged all season, with quality wins against Averett, N.C. Wesleyan and Salisbury. The Eagles, however, have reached 4-0 in less convincing fashion and will need their defense to step up if they don’t want to get clipped. This week we will see clarity in the highly balanced ODAC. To top things off, Bridgewater’s Stone Station, one of the best tailgate crews in the country, will have their grills fired up and ready to go.
Keith’s take: No. 23 St. John’s at Bethel. The buildup to the Tommie-Johnnie game would have almost lead you to believe the MIAC is a two-horse race, with one having fallen a step behind. Yet the Royals are unbeaten, have always given St. John’s fits and have a 16-14 loss in 2009 that ended on a 49-yard field goal to avenge. Bethel brings into the clash the nation’s third-best run defense (36 yards/game, while the Johnnies rush for 189 per). There are no clashes of ranked teams this week, but this game comes as close as any.
Pat’s take: No. 7 North Central at Augustana. Augustana has quietly put together a strong early season. The loss in a close game to Central is a “good loss” by all accounts, although last week’s last-minute win against Millikin nearly derailed this showdown. So far the Vikings have performed pretty much as one would have expected against their schedule; this game will tell whether they will contend for the CCIW title.
Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: McMurry at Sul Ross State. The Lobos are 1-2, yet still average 468 yards per game. That barely seems plausible. We’ll see how that figure stacks up once they go against 3-2 McMurry, a team that has blown out weak competition and has a statistically stout defense. To win, that defense will have to do something few teams have been able to do this year: get pressure on Sul Ross State quarterback Monty Morales.
Keith’s take: SUNY-Maritime at Castleton State. Each side is suddenly winning more than expected. The Privateers (5-0) are harboring playoff hopes and Castleton (2-2) seems uninterested in being a second-year program happy the losses aren’t worse. As the last two teams unbeaten in ECFC play, each 2-0, Saturday’s winner gets the conference lead and a chance to begin polishing its resume for an at-large playoff selection (no ECFC automatic bid yet). So there’s plenty reason to believe this could be a shootout. Here’s another: SUNY-Maritime rushes for 329 yards per game, fifth best nationally. The Spartans pass for 335 a game, sixth nationally.
Pat’s take: No. 17 UW-Eau Claire at UW-Platteville. The Blugolds have had a tendency to drop a puzzling game over the past years (2007 and 2008 vs. UW-River Falls, for example). Teams know not to take anyone in the WIAC lightly, but perhaps Eau Claire might get caught with an eye ahead to next week’s game against UW-Whitewater and take a little while to put the Pioneers away.
Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: No. 20 St. John Fisher. Fisher’s offensive balance will likely present a mighty challenge for opponent Ithaca on Saturday. But the Bombers have been playing well enough to stand at 4-1, and if they harness their ability to force turnovers (plus-10 on the season), they will be a threat.
Keith’s take: No. 13 Ohio Northern. Capital’s given up 92 points the past two weeks. ONU scored none last week against No. 2 Mount Union. Could be a recipe for a get-right game (see below), since the Polar Bears will be expecting to score early and often. But if it doesn’t start off well, ONU might begin to press. And bad things happen when teams press, or worry too early in the game about the score.
Pat’s take: None. At least, not other than the aforementioned St. John Fisher. I pondered the likelihood of Whittier taking down Cal Lutheran, and I look forward to the Bethel-St. John’s game but not sure Bethel winning would be much of an upset other than in the eyes of our poll.
They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: Oberlin. At 3:50 last Saturday afternoon, just seven points separated the Yeomen from a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in more than 50 years: beating Wittenberg — let alone a Top 10-ranked Wittenberg. Suddenly we’re apt to stand up and take notice of Oberlin’s game against undefeated Case Western Reserve. I don’t know that the Yeomen could pull off the upset, but last week’s result suggests it’s possible. To top it off, just two weeks ago, Oberlin set a school record with 622 yards of offense in a game. It’s been a few years since we saw an Oberlin team this good.
Keith’s take: LaGrange. The trip to Trine (Georgia to Indiana) is a rare distance for a D-III road game, and it’s an odd time for a non-conference clash, at least for the team here who’s in a conference. The Panthers, who are making their fourth consecutive road appearance,have shown some flashes, including in a win against Millsaps, so I’m curious how they stack up with Trine, which might be rising higher in the poll than its competition to date (5-13 combined) should warrant. A solid double-digit win for Trine would draw virtually no attention nationally, which is probably fine by the Thunder.
Pat’s take: Bethel. The Royals’ non-conference schedule didn’t show much, with wins against Simpson and Concordia (Wis.) not proving much. (Simpson’s 1-4 start doesn’t help Bethel one bit.) Victories at Carleton and St. Olaf are a little more telling, but hosting St. John’s this week will finally give the voters the info they need to do something with Bethel.
Which of last week’s big showdown winners will struggle the most with its Week 6 opponent?
Ryan’s take: Franklin, who is hosting Rose-Hulman. The Grizzlies are coming off of steamrolling conference rival Mount St. Joseph. This week, Rose may not pose the challenge they did last year, when they were one of only two teams in the HCAC to beat Franklin, but Rose does have a solid corps of linebackers to keep the Grizzlies honest in the run game. Franklin will be forced to pass, something they admittedly do quite well.
Keith’s take: No. 20 St. John Fisher, who is hosting Ithaca. If only because the Cardinals are the from last week’s dozen ATN-worthy clashes who has a tougher opponent this week.
Pat’s take: No. 22 Cal Lutheran, at Whittier. Whittier is just 1-2, but played Occidental competitively last week and Cal Lutheran isn’t the same team that beat Linfield, not without Daniel Mosier, who ran for 202 yards against the Wildcats but has left the team for personal reasons.
Which team is going to rebound the best after suffering its first loss of the year last week?
Ryan’s take: Ohio Northern. We’ve known for a long time that Mount Union can make even great teams look like JV squads. After getting shut out by The Machine last week, the Polar Bears are going up against Capital. Capital may not be as strong or as intimidating as in other recent years, but a win over Capital still means something. And it will give ONU the right kind of momentum before hosting Baldwin-Wallace on Oct. 16.
Keith’s take: Mount St. Joseph. So much of football is psychological, and the mind matters beyond the three hours of game time on Saturday. The Lions were humbled against Franklin, and if there’s one good thing that can from from getting your butts whipped, it’s that it ignites the competitive spirit. I’d be stunned if MSJ didn’t have one of its best weeks of practice this week. That’s bad news for host Defiance.
Pat’s take: Illinois Wesleyan. Keith mentioned the concept of the “get right” game earlier and nothing fits the bill like a home game against North Park. We’ll have to wait until next week when the Titans host Elmhurst before we really learn how Illinois Wesleyan bounces back from the loss to Wheaton.
Which game will be least like last year’s matchup?
Ryan’s take: Lycoming at Albright. The Warriors have shed their dreary 2009 image and are able to pound the rock time and time again. This year they punish defenses; last year produced little more than a tickle in that regard. Albright, on the other hand, is playing better than I expected they could without some of last year’s playmakers, but it’s unlikely they’ll cruise to the 26-7 victory we saw last season. Hitch yourself to the Lycoming wagon on Saturday.
Keith’s take: Union at Hobart. Usually a matchup with playoff and top 25 implications, both teams have a loss, are coming off underwhelming games and need to win to keep pace in the competitive-by-default Liberty League. The Statesmen are coming off rare consecutive losses.
Pat’s take: Mississippi College at No. 5 Mary Hardin-Baylor. Last year, the Cru scored a season-low 14 points as the Choctaws beat them 17-14. The Crusaders might not have all of their questions answered but they are certainly putting points on the board this season, and if you like to play the comparative scores game, Hardin-Simmons lost to UMHB 42-28 but beat Mississippi College 45-10.
Albright · Augustana · Bethel · Bridgewater · Cal Lutheran · Franklin · Hampden-Sydney · Illinois Wesleyan · Lycoming · Mary Hardin-Baylor · McMurry · Mississippi College · North Central (Ill.) · North Park · Oberlin · Ohio Northern · Rose-Hulman · St. John Fisher · St. John's · Sul Ross State · UW-Eau Claire · UW-Platteville · Whittier