TAG | Olivet
Trinity (Texas) answered Huntingdon’s statement with one of its own.
Trinity athletics file photo
It was an interesting week down south, with Birmingham-Southern and Huntingdon taking losses and Centre and Trinity (Texas) getting a leg up in the SCAC race. Salisbury rolled up an amazing point total and continues to dominate against Empire 8 foes. Wartburg fell and Redlands rose in crazy fourth quarters. (Here’s a link to that video.) Plus Kean picked up its first loss after flirting with it in previous weeks.
Keith McMillan and Pat Coleman discuss that and more in this week’s Around the Nation Podcast. See the list of tags at the bottom of this post to see who else is discussed.
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
Plus, here’s the first look at this week’s D3reports, as well as Division III football highlight reels. These will also appear on the front page on Monday afternoon.
Alfred · Birmingham-Southern · Brockport State · Cal Lutheran · Central · Centre · Claremont-Mudd-Scripps · Cornell · DePauw · Dubuque · Heidelberg · Huntingdon · Kean · Loras · McMurry · Mount Union · Olivet · Presentation · Randolph-Macon · Redlands · Salisbury · St. Scholastica · St. Vincent · Texas Lutheran · Thomas More · Trinity (Texas) · UW-Oshkosh · UW-Stout · UW-Whitewater · Wartburg · Washington and Lee · Westminster (Mo.)
Redlands quarterback Chad Hurst led four second-half scoring drives in the Bulldogs’ win.
The opening weekend of the season is exciting enough without all these hear-stopping finishes we had. North Central … Otterbein … Delaware Valley … Mississippi College … Bridgewater … Illinois College. Plus a big Top 25 matchup and much more to talk about.
The Around the Nation Podcast is a weekly discussion between D3football.com Executive Editor Pat Coleman and Deputy Managing Editor Keith McMillan, who writes the Around the Nation column. It’s the first analysis of the week that was. The show tends to run anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes per week — fit it into your lunch hour.
Click the play button below to listen.
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
Plus, we want you guys to get in on the act as well. See below for more:
Alma · Bethany · Bridgewater (Va.) · Central · Coe · Cornell · Delaware Valley · Endicott · Framingham State · Frostburg State · Gallaudet · Geneva · Guilford · Hardin-Simmons · Heidelberg · Illinois College · Lycoming · McMurry · Millikin · Millsaps · Mississippi College · Monmouth · Muhlenberg · North Central · Olivet · Otterbein · podcast · Redlands · Rowan · Salve Regina · Shenandoah · St. Thomas · St. Vincent · Stevenson · Trine · Union · UW-La Crosse · UW-Oshkosh · UW-Stevens Point · UW-Whitewater · Wartburg · Willamette
Week 4 marks the debut of the remaining Division III teams — those from the NESCAC. After this week, every one of the 238 teams we cover will have game time in the bank.
But while some teams are taking the field for the first times, in other parts of the country, squads are setting up for some pretty big showdowns, and they go beyond the purview of the Top 25.
Three D-III minds – Pat’s, Keith’s and mine — help make sense of what’s in store.
– Ryan Tipps
Game of the Week.
Ryan’s take: No. 8 Hardin-Simmons at No. 5 Mary Hardin-Baylor. There’s so much to pick from this week, but I have to go with this battle in the heart of Texas because on my Top 25 ballot, I have these two teams flipped around. Especially coming off of a trouncing of another top-ranked team last weekend, it’s hard not to be excited about what HSU brings to the table. The offense is operating as if Justin Feaster and ZaVious Robbins never missed a year. UMHB is good, too, but if the Crusaders get in the unenviable position of falling behind early (which can happen against a team like the Cowboys, which hits hardest in quarters 1 and 2), UMHB won’t have the tools to claw back by the end of 60 minutes.
Pat’s take: No. 7 Central at No. 9 Coe. Must. Stay. Home. Too. Many. Good Games. This is the closest of the great games to me but if I drove four hours (or so) each way to Iowa I would miss being able to follow all of the other good ones. Hoping to set up both screens and see this Wittenberg-Allegheny game on Fox College Sports-Central. Do I get that with the sports pack on DirecTV? Central has a habit of pulling out great games late but Coe has to know that because it played practically nobody in the non-conference schedule, it needs to win this to have a real playoff shot.
Keith’s take: No. 17 UW-Eau Claire at No. 11 North Central. I’m in agreement with Ryan, that Hardin-Simmons looks dangerous, and with Pat that there are more good games than one can watch this Saturday. And since they chose first, that leaves me Blugolds at Cardinals for my GOTW. But it’s worthy, not only as the week’s third clash of top 25s, but as one of the last big inter-conference clashes of 2010 until the playoffs in November. So can we try to extrapolate some meaning from it, with CCIW teams off to a 19-2 start, and the WIAC at just 5-9 but having played No. 2 Mount Union, No. 4 St. Thomas, No. 5 Mary Hardin-Baylor, No. 7 Central, No. 10 Ohio Northern, No. 11, No. 14 Trine, No. 15 Willamette, No. 18 St. John’s and No. 22 Wheaton? Honestly, it’s hard to say. It might just be about how the Blugolds rush offense (175 yards per game so far) deals with the Cardinals’ run D (36/game). It’s North Central’s first big test, if nothing else.
Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: Dickinson at McDaniel. Most years, you’d expect Dickinson to be the top dog in this fight, but 2010 brings a twist with McDaniel being undefeated and Dickinson currently winless. The Red Devils don’t boast any of the obvious strengths they’ve held in the past, but they’re not likely to play into the hands of the Green Terror’s conference-leading run defense. Dickinson can throw the ball well, which means they will still be an offensive threat late in the game, no matter what the scoreboard is showing.
Pat’s take: Washington and Jefferson at No. 12 Thomas More. W&J hasn’t shown much of late and the scuttlebutt might be that Thomas More has left them in the dust, but there’s still a lot of pride left in this program and this is a chance to make a splash again and return to relevancy on the national scene. Three losses in six games isn’t Presidents football.
Keith’s take: Lewis & Clark at Whitworth. Coming off a 63-point Saturday against Pomona-Pitzer, the Pioneers’ confidence might be the highest its been since we I can remember. L&C features the the nation’s sixth-most productive rushing attack at 330 yards per game, with both Joevonte Mayes and Keith Welch averaging more than 130 per. But doing it against a pair of mid-level SCIAC teams isn’t like winning in the NWC. ‘Surprisingly close’ might just mean another touchdown closer than the last three (48-7 in ’07, then 42-7 and 34-7 last year), but when coming from the depths the Pioneers have seen, any step forward is progress.
Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: None. This might be the first time ever that I’ve said “none” to this question. Aside from the game in Texas I already mentioned up top, I don’t see any teams losing to a lower-slotted opponent this weekend.
Pat’s take: No. 23 Alfred. Springfield has just been too efficient on offense this season and only one game is against an opponent from a bottom-feeding conference. The fact that Springfield took it to Wilkes last week (566 yards, 90 carries) gives the offense a legitimate performance against a representative Division III team. Alfred isn’t in for a rude awakening, because it knows what it’s getting into, but this first salvo in the war for the top of the Empire 8 is going to shuffle the Top 25 a bit.
Keith’s take: No. 12 Thomas More. Even with six teams playing each other in what would be slight upsets at best, and with Montclair State-Morrisville State, Linfield-La Verne and Mount Union-Wilmington on the docket, there are still some distinct possibilities. Chicago might not be a pushover for Wabash, and Allegheny could be the toughest opponent Wittenberg sees until November. Capital could do a number on Wesley. But football, and the pride its players have, is funny sometimes. Just as we start to hand over ‘dominant team in the PAC’ status from Washington & Jefferson to Thomas More, the Presidents could summon an effort that throws it all into doubt again.
They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: Denison. On the standings list, here’s this little undefeated team sandwiched between the NCAC’s power W’s. The Big Red have struggled to land just two winning seasons in the past decade, but here they are, 3-0 and facing a Case team that’s been surprisingly impressive despite the holes left by graduations. I’ll be looking at Denison much in the same way I did with McMurry last week: I’m not expecting a win, but a strong showing will go a long way toward seeing how much this once-lower-rung NCAC team has risen.
Keith’s take: St. John Fisher. When I saw this team play last year, I thought they looked good … probably for this year. So far that’s been true, as they’re the country’s No. 4 scoring offense (49 points is their low game during the 3-0 start). Hobart (2-0) is averaging 36.5 points and five sacks a game, and this marks a test stronger than any the Cardinals have had this season. With a win, SJF could shoot into the top 25.
Pat’s take: Salisbury. This team should already be on your radar, but Hampden-Sydney will be the highest-profile team the unbeaten Sea Gulls have taken on. It might be tempting to think that Salisbury won’t be ready for a close game after beating Christopher Newport by 48 and Husson by, yes, 77, but the Sea Gulls also beat North Carolina Wesleyan 13-7 to open the season. The defense came up with two stops inside the Sea Gulls 25 in the final four minutes to seal the deal. More than 278 total yards will be needed this week, however.
In a game between winless teams, pick a winner in one of them.
Ryan’s take: Hope, against Lakeland Not since 2005 has Hope won a nonconference game. I thought that the Dutchmen were going to get the nonconference monkey off their back in Week 2. I was wrong. If they fall short on Saturday, they’re likely left with another 11 months before the opportunity arises again.
Pat’s take: Anna Maria, against Becker. Neither team’s resume gives it a clear advantage over the other, but I’m picking the Amcats not because of their nickname (AMCAT = Anna Maria College Athletic Team) but because this program is still in search of its first win. Becker wasn’t on the schedule last year, so there’s no history to draw from.
Keith’s take: Thiel, against St. Vincent. It’s been a rough week for the Tomcats, first with the death of freshman defensive end Louis Giuntini, and much less importantly, with a Pittsburgh news organization wondering if they’d lose to their No. 1-ranked high school team. Later in Triple Take we look at situations where a team could lose focus; Thiel’s rough week might have sharpened theirs. It’s not hard to give it all in practice with such a stark reminder that you’re lucky to be playing; I’d go Thiel this week even if the opponent weren’t the Bobcats, 1-31 since reviving football. Both SVU losses are by five, while Thiel’s gained just 183 yards per game (216th of 226 teams recognized in the national stats and with games played) and scored 4.33 points per (224th), so without the emotional factor, it’d be wise to have picked the other way.
As the NESCAC debuts, which game from there are you most looking forward to?
Ryan’s take: Wesleyan at Middlebury. Mostly I’m looking to see how Middlebury quarterback Donald McKillop responds on the field to having lost to graduation three of his five favorite throwing targets. With the ground game missing a key element, too, McKillop will have to lead his team against an opponent it hasn’t faced since 2007.
Pat’s take: Wesleyan at Middlebury. But I’m interested for a different reason, wondering what the first game in the Mike Whalen era is like. The successful Williams coach returned to his alma mater this offseason.
Keith’s take: Colby at Trinity (Conn.) Amherst, as defending champions returning 15 starters, is the team I’m most curious about, but opening up with Bates (1-7, last place last season) won’t tell us much. The White Mules (14 back) and Bantams (15) are among the teams which could push to finish in the NESCAC’s top half, with Trinity among the three traditional challengers.
What team could get caught looking ahead?
Ryan’s take: Endicott. The Gulls are staring down Curry in two weeks, but first they have to line up against 1-2 Salve Regina on Saturday. The Gulls are coming off a 42-point margin win last week, so bottom line will be adjusting to a Salve Regina team that has given up an average of just 12 points per game all year. But the Seahawks’ secondary will be playing on its heels all day against Endicott’s pass game, and a few breaks one way or another could leave the favored Gulls in trouble.
Pat’s take: No. 4 St. Thomas. Coach-speak is all well and good but let’s be honest: After the frustrations of the past two seasons for St. Thomas against archrival St. John’s, what Tommie doesn’t at least have the Oct. 2 date with the Johnnies mentally circled, if not actually physically marked on some form of calendar? This week’s game against Concordia-Moorhead is the definition of a trap game. Oh, and I said this last year too. But it’s still the case.
Keith’s take: No. 22 Wheaton. With a CCIW clash against No. 21 Illinois Wesleyan (off this week) looming, it could be difficult for the Thunder to take Olivet seriously, even under the lights in Michigan. Coaches preach against it, but it absolutely happens.
So, how about your thoughts on this week’s games? What’s most interesting about your team’s game? Give us a comment below.
Alfred · Anna Maria · Becker · Central · Coe · Colby · Concordia-Moorhead · Denison · Dickinson · Endicott · Hampden-Sydney · Hardin-Simmons · Hobart · Hope · Lakeland · Lewis and Clark · Mary Hardin-Baylor · McDaniel · Middlebury · North Central · Olivet · Salisbury · Salve Regina · Springfield · St. John Fisher · St. Thomas · St. Vincent · Thiel · Thomas More · Trinity (Conn.) · UW-Eau Claire · Washington and Jefferson · Wesleyan · Wheaton · Whitworth
When game time is so near you can almost smell the food from the concession stand and hear the cheerleaders’ voices, and all you want to know is who’s supposed to win, Triple Take arrives.
Let us introduce you to our weekly forecast, a Friday morning staple on the Daily Dose. We bring it to you a day early to celebrate the Sept. 2 kickoffs. In Triple Take, three panelists think aloud, asking some key questions and providing some insight into the national landscape. The D3football.com Top 25 is certainly a factor, but we like to go beyond football’s upper echelon and talk about some games that might otherwise fly under the radar.
The weekly contributors are D3football.com Executive Editor Pat Coleman, Managing Editor and National Columnist Keith McMillan, and Senior Editor and Mid-Atlantic Columnist Ryan Tipps.
Here now are our picks for great matchups, upsets and much more:
Game of the Week.
Ryan’s take: No. 15 Hardin-Simmons at Whitworth. I think that this is going to be the kind of year the Cowboys were supposed to have in 2009. Justin Feaster is back under center, and standout receiver ZaVious Robbins returns, too. Add that to the nearly full slate of returning offensive hardware, and the 10 opponents on the schedule better watch out. To kick things off, HSU goes up against Whitworth, a top-notch Northwest Conference team that prides itself on defense. Notable, too, is that memories of HSU’s second-half comeback in 2009 will certainly be haunting the Pirates.
Keith’s take: Lycoming at Rowan. Just a dozen years too late. It would have been a monster clash if this series had started when both were Eastern powerhouses and Stagg Bowl contenders playing just nine games a season. So what makes it a GOTW in 2010? Urgency. If Hardin-Simmons or UW-Stevens Point or St. Thomas lose one of this week’s sexier matchups, a perennial conference champ awaits in a game that could revive the season. The Warriors and Profs, however, face multiple roadblocks along their AQ path. Rowan is unlikely to get through Montclair State, Cortland State and Kean unscathed, so a non-conference win is crucial.
Pat’s take: No. 18 Willamette at No. 16 UW-Stevens Point. I got an e-mail from one Willamette fan who was sure that if St. Thomas was No. 5, then Willamette must be in the Top 10. If that’s true, they’ll have to prove it the first two weeks. There’s no shame in being No. 18, you know, especially out of 238. Like being No. 9 or so in Division I FBS.
Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: No. 22 Mississippi College. Since 2000, the Choctaws hold a 5-4 advantage in the Backyard Brawl rivalry with Millsaps. And like many great rivalries, the emotion of the day can make for some unique outcomes. Both teams are fairly balanced on what they bring back, so even if this isn’t an upset situation, it should be great matchup.
Keith’s take: No. 15 Hardin-Simmons. Not because I don’t think the Cowboys will be good. In December, they might be the last team from Texas standing. But we’ve seen HSU fly to the Pacific Northwest early in the season and take one on the chin more than once. Whitworth is no easy W on any field, and flying to Spokane can’t be much help.
Pat’s take: None. I just can’t say I have a strong feeling about any of these teams losing this week. I would throw a shout-out to St. Norbert opening its new stadium with a home game against No. 5 St. Thomas but if St. Thomas can win handily at Monmouth it should be able to do the same at St. Norbert.
Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: Susquehanna at Moravian. Last year, these two teams were separated by a hefty six wins. But don’t expect Moravian to chuck in another 24-0 loss to its new conferencemate, Susquehanna. This year will certainly be a rebuilding one for the Greyhounds, but expect them to make every effort to take advantage of the five All-Conference players that the Crusaders lost from last season.
Pat’s take: John Carroll at Case Western Reserve. Here’s a backyard brawl without the fancy promotional graphics between these two Cleveland schools which were separated by light-years figuratively over the past four years. But I think the gap will be a lot narrower this time around and Keith and I ended up ranking them very close together in Kickoff. Alright, I promise, last Kickoff sales pitch.
Keith’s take: Bridgewater (Va.) at St. Vincent. The Bearcats, since reviving their program, are just 1-29. They were outscored by 20 points per game in 2009 and didn’t keep one closer than 13 points. But everything sets up for SVU to make this interesting: They host, the coaching staff came from Bridgewater and knows the Eagles’ style as well as anyone, and most importantly, there are finally seniors who have played four seasons for the Bearcats on the roster.
They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: Averett. The Cougars are in a nice position to reclaim the conference glory that escaped them after the 2006 season. Since that season, which saw Averett 30 minutes from a playoff berth, they’ve been 0-10, 4-5 and 7-3. This season marks a good opportunity to be at the top of the USA South pack — but that also means opening against the ODAC’s defending champion Hampden-Sydney. A win here would be telling for the rising Averett squad.
Keith’s take: Illinois Wesleyan. I’m as curious about the Titans as any team in the country this year. Just three offensive and four defensive starters return from a playoff team that represented one of Division III’s top half-dozen conferences in the playoffs last year. Is IWU deep enough as a program to stage a repeat? We’ll find out on its visit to Hope, a program many a Midwestern power has cut its teeth on en route to the playoffs.
Pat’s take: Massachuetts Maritime. That’s if Nathan Sherr can come anywhere close to the production he put up at running back last season, where he ran for 525 yards in a little over two games. The Buccaneers open up Thursday night against SUNY-Maritime.
Which 2009 playoff team is going to end up wishing it had a Week 1 bye?
Ryan’s take: No. 17 Monmouth. The Scots should walk away with a win on Saturday, but it will be hard-fought, and they’ll likely have their cage rattled a time or two. The last three times these teams have met, Wartburg has walked away with a trio of wins, including one that sent them to the NCAA Regional Finals. Monmouth has a lot of weapons, but Wartburg is also readied for battle.
Keith’s take: No. 3 Wesley. There are at least four top 25 teams who deserve to be called on the carpet for less-than-aggressive Week 1 scheduling. If you’ll be disappointed if you don’t win by at least 30, then you know who you are. The Wolverines, on the other hand, are likely either going to have their game canceled or are going to have to travel over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the remnants of a hurricane to get drenched in a game they could very well lose. A bye sounds better than either of those options.
Pat’s take: No. 8 Wittenberg. Sorry if this comes off as a little harsh, but opening against an 0-10 team playing its first game under a new coach might be good prep for playing Kenyon, Hiram and Oberlin, but not for playing Wabash or a playoff team. Plus, it will end up being a big drag on their strength of schedule. And yes, I was already thinking about that in July.
Which conference will have the most impressive non-conference win?
Ryan’s take: The Centennial, thanks to Ursinus. Albright certainly took a couple of hits in the skill positions, but it’s hard to erase their 2009 Cinderella story from people’s memories. Conquering them would give Ursinus a morale boost and a lot of momentum early on, even if Albright’s star doesn’t wind up burning as brightly this year.
Keith’s take: The Heartland, by Mount St. Joseph. Opening with a win against a team that changed coaches mid-summer following a 1-9 season isn’t generally the stuff of legends. But for the HCAC, a conference still clamoring for respect, a win against Wilmington is a win against a team from a D-III power conference in the OAC.
Pat’s take: The ODAC, with Hampden-Sydney. I think the Tigers are a little stronger than we give them credit for entering their opener with Averett. How many times has a Marty Favret offense plugged in another quarterback and been off to the races? I remember worrying about a Favret offense once. That was 1998, however.
Whose long losing streak is most likely to end?
Ryan’s take: Bluffton’s. Sure the Beavers are riding a 17-game losing streak and coming off a year where they really couldn’t get much offensive momentum going — but in that regard, it’s easy to wonder whether opponent Kalamazoo (sans Brandon Luczak) will either. To top it off, Kalamazoo was the last team that Bluffton beat, dating to 2008.
Keith’s take: Puget Sound’s. The Loggers haven’t won since 2008, and they’ll trot out a new coach (Jeff Thomas) and the new energy that usually accompanies one. Energy alone doesn’t win games, but established programs playing debuting expansion teams — Pacific, in this case — usually do.
Pat’s take: Mass-Dartmouth’s. How Mass-Dartmouth went from 6-4 to 0-10 is a bit of a surprise. I don’t think they go back to 6-4 or even 4-6, but a home game to open against Fitchburg State is an opportunity to end an 11-game losing streak.
Albright · Averett · Bluffton · Case Western Reserve · Hampden-Sydney · John Carroll · Kalamazoo · Massachusetts Maritime · Monmouth · Moravian · Olivet · St. Norbert · St. Thomas · Susquehana · Triple Take · Ursinus · UW-Stevens Point · Willamette · Wittenberg
Welcome back to Triple Take, where Keith McMillan and I lead a virtual roundtable discussion of the top upcoming games in each of a handful of categories. Sometimes a third member of our “staff” of part-time D-III football journalists gives the third take and sometimes we invite a guest analyst to join us. This week the third chair is occupied by our newly minted Senior Editor, Ryan Tipps.
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Game of the Week
Ryan’s take: Olivet at Wittenberg. Though Wittenberg nabbed a few Top 25 votes, neither team typically registers as one to watch. In fact, even in their recent playoff years, these teams haven’t finish the season ranked. Why do we care? Because these teams have more riding on Week 1 than most other teams, and it should prove to be one of the most evenly matched games of the week. Each team is the other’s own worst nonconference enemy. Coming from relatively weak conferences, losing here means it’s the AQ or nothing.
Pat’s take: Mississippi College at Millsaps. Let’s see, we’ve got the rivalry, two teams that are both in the top three of their conferences … oh, and the way last year’s game came out. If you’re new to Division III, remember that Millsaps somehow treated it like an NFL exhibition game, pulling the starters with a second-half lead. Except, of course, that exhibition games don’t count. And on Selection Sunday, Millsaps, at 8-2 with a 27-26 loss to Mississippi College, was left out. So yeah, let’s not let that happen again.
Keith’s take: Hardin-Simmons at UW-La Crosse. There are (according to my preseason ballot) three clashes between top 25 teams plus UW-Whitewater facing off against NAIA quarterfinalist St. Xavier, but I like this game because it’s got the most riding on it. Think about it. St. John Fisher can recover from a loss at Mount Union to win the Empire 8, Christopher Newport could do the same in the USAC if it loses to Wesley. But the Cowboys and Eagles, each at least second fiddle in its own conference, could really use the non-conference victory to boost a potential Pool C resume — that’s if they get that far. Both teams have tons of talent but struggled to disappoint four-loss seasons last year. One is going to build confidence tomorrow, the other is going to have doubt creep back into its mind.
Ryan’s take: Washington & Lee at Franklin & Marshall. Last year, the Generals dealt a shutout thumping to the Diplomats. Not this time. F&M is a sleeper team in the Centennial, still a little shaky in some areas, but poised to take advantage of W&L losing its best offensive and defensive weapons.
Pat’s take: Bridgewater (Va.) at Averett. That’s if the game gets played, since we don’t know what the weather will be like. But even without the rain I think Averett is better than last year and Bridgewater has a lot of work to do.
Keith’s take: Lakeland at No. 9 Central. With just nine starters back, including two on defense, the Dutch might struggle to hold on to their lofty ranking. The Muskies haven’t fared well in non-conference play — they were outscored 138-30 in three losses last year. But they have surviving in the AQ age figured out. Play tough teams that prepare you for your conference slate. Lakeland has eight defensive starters back in the fold, but Central rarely loses, let alone at home. Since this a more or less a new era for the Dutch, close games can qualify as surprises.
Most likely top 25 team to get upset
Ryan’s take: No. 6 St. John’s. The Johnnies could very well struggle right out of the gate as they try to find the right man to replace four-year starting quarterback Alex Kofoed. If East Texas Baptist gets its engines rolling early, St. John’s might not have the offense to bring the team back into the game. That sixth-place ranking could turn into a not-so-sweet 16 real fast.
Pat’s take: No. 12 Salisbury. The Sea Gulls are replacing a good portion of their running game and making the trip to face Albright. I’ll spare the usual ‘revenge on their minds’ cliche and just mention that Salisbury won at home 42-12 last year. But that was when Albright was young and expected to go 3-7, not maturing and on its way to a 7-4 season.
Keith’s take: No. 21 Franklin. There’s a lot to like about the Grizzlies, with 17 starters back, including eight on offense. But there’s also traditionally been a big gap in the quality of play in the OAC and HCAC, so even if Baldwin-Wallace ends up in the lower half of its conference this year, it isn’t an easy non-conference win. Kickoff ’08 had Franklin pegged for 10-0, but Grizzlies players know they’d better worry about 1-0 first.
They’ll be on your radar
Ryan’s take: Albright. The Lions took a nose-dive at the end of last season, but not for a lack of talent. With 18 starters back, including stars Tanner Kelly and Matt Christ, the Albright coaching staff has to have a warm-fuzzy feeling in their stomachs — and opponents should have a pit in the bottom of theirs.
Pat’s take: Hardin-Simmons. At the very least, it should be an entertaining game between contenders from two of the strongest conferences in Division III. That is, I’m hoping it’s entertaining, because it will be my third game in 28 hours and staying awake is an issue.
Keith’s take: Augustana. It’s hard enough to debut a new offense, but with the switch as drastic as going from the Wing-T to the spread, and the opponent being Coe, which by having a new coach possibly means film from last year is halfway useless, I’m curious to see how both teams do in this opener.
Team that will get its only 2008 win
Ryan’s take: Hiram. This should be the week that the Terriers snap their 26-game losing streak, but even this won’t be a cake-walk at Gallaudet. Were this the end of ’07 rather than the start of ’08, I’d give the edge to the Bison.
Pat’s take: Lewis and Clark. And that’s a bad sign for Principia.
Keith’s take: Beloit.: With 20 starters back, the Buccaneers could have more than one win on tap, but a visit from No. 237 MacMurray is the best shot they’ll get. Also watch Eureka at Knox, Denison at Kalamazoo and Grinnell at Cornell.
Team with a long trip home
Ryan’s take: Concordia (Wis.). It’s tough to get blown out by the same team twice in a row. It’s even harder when it’s the last thing you remember from the past season and it becomes the first thing you know in the current season. Bethel is the Falcons’ first in a trio of tough nonconference games, and the trick for Concordia’s first-time coach will be to not get himself buried too deep.
Pat’s take: UW-Eau Claire. It’s a shame nobody will play UW-Eau Claire or UW-Whitewater and they not only have to play each other twice, but each have to play 2007 NAIA playoff teams this week as well.
Keith’s take: East Texas Baptist. I was pleasantly surprised to see a trip to St. John’s as the opener after hearing some of coach Mark Sartain’s ideas for non-conference opponents midway through last season. With 16 starters back from a 5-5 team, I wouldn’t rule out a Tigers upset completely, but it’s more likely this trip will function as an experience — first, to play a game in one of Division III’s best home atmospheres and most idyllic settings, and second, a lesson on how a national power handles business.