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Quick Hits: Coming down to the wire

Conference races are coming down to the wire, and some of those key matchups come this week. That includes the game for bragging rights between our founding Around the Nation columnist (Keith McMillan, former defensive back at Randolph-Macon) and our current columnist (Adam Turer, former defensive back at Washington & Lee). Our guest prognosticator this week is Doug Rothschild, a Wheaton football alum who played for coach Swider and is currently the color analyst for Wheaton’s broadcasts.

— Pat Coleman

Which Week 9 game is the must-watch game?

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Keith’s take: There are two. Rowan at Frostburg and Salisbury at CNU. If the Profs and Captains win, Wesley could be atop the heap of five NJAC 6-2 teams.
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Ryan’s take: Middlebury at Trinity (Conn.). Because sometimes, you don’t have to be Top 25 teams to bring an awesome performance to the field.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Ithaca at St. John Fisher. I hear faint echoes of cries about bounced interceptions but just looking for an exciting game.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Case Western Reserve at Washington U., in a rare late-season non-conference game with playoff implications for both teams.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Brockport at No. 15 Alfred. This has national appeal as E8 is one of few East conferences with Pool C still in play. A Brockport win could undermine that.
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: Rowan at Frostburg. I am a sucker for good defense and these teams are 1-2 in the NJAC in scoring defense. Frostburg is 11th in D-III in defense behind Niles Scott and Will Sewell, who spend a lot of time in other team’s backfields.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 15 Alfred. The Saxons’ opponent, 5-2 Brockport, is two scores from being unbeaten and has played five one-score games.
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Ryan’s take: No. 24 St. John Fisher. Week in and week out, the Empire keeps striking back at one another.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve. In all honesty, this wouldn’t be much of an upset, either.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 19 Salisbury at Christopher Newport, because the NJAC is as balanced as ever this year.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 15 Alfred. It’s the time of year when leaves change, pumpkins are carved, and the E8 cannibalizes itself out of strong Pool C contention.
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve. Easy come, easy go. They just appeared in the poll last week and a road trip to 6-1 WashU will be their stiffest test of the season.

Of the three NCAC teams ranked 20-23, which one makes the biggest statement to Top 25 voters?

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Keith’s take: Denison winning at DePauw would be more impressive than anything Wabash or Wittenberg could accomplish on Saturday. It’s not a lock to happen though.
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Ryan’s take: Wabash, with a win over upward-trending OWU. Still, I have exactly zero NCAC teams on my ballot, so they’re all needing to prove themselves to me.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Denison. The question, however, is whether it’s a positive statement made by the Big Red.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Denison winning at DePauw would be the biggest statement. Wittenberg is expected to win, and I expect Wabash to struggle against a hot Ohio Wesleyan squad.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Wabash (vs. Ohio Wesleyan). After a scare vs. Wooster, Wabash needs a statement win. They’ll start this game like a cannonball to win big.
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: Wabash. A convincing win @OWU tells Denison they are ready for next week’s showdown, shows their Monon rival how to do what they haven’t done in 4 seasons and keeps Pool C hopes alive.

Who wins the Around the Nation Classic between Keith McMillan’s and Adam Turer’s alma mater?

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Keith’s take: I’m obligated to pick the Yellow Jackets, but there’s solid logic. The past three games have been decided by 6, 4 and 3, and none of those R-MC teams had a D as good as this one.
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Ryan’s take: The nod goes to Washington & Lee. With the slate Randolph-Macon has coming up, it’s easy to get caught looking ahead.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Washington & Lee. Something in me just wants to recognize the team that scheduled Johns Hopkins, and that’s no longer Randolph-Macon.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: The mighty Generals take the hill.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Newspaper ink companies. A lot of letters & symbols for one game. (I’ll pick RMC, but Turer can gloat during our Stagg pregame show if I’m wrong.).
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: Randolph-Macon. While I may not be siding as much with Keith as my fellow Wheaton alum Pedro Arruza, Keith is the benefactor this week as his RM brothers have the No, 1 defense in the ODAC and defense wins championships.

Which team bounces back after a tough loss?

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Keith’s take: Hardin-Simmons. The foe is 1-6 Belhaven, which has given up 52 or more points in six straight games.
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Ryan’s take: Texas Lutheran, after losing its first-ever SCAC game. The Bulldogs beat Trinity (Texas) once already this year; don’t be surprised to see them with new fire to do it again.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: UW-Platteville. After the Pioneers have run the gantlet here over the past few weeks, a trip to UW-Stout should be a little easier to take. As long as they don’t take it too easy.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Franklin can stay in the HCAC mix and keep its playoff streak alive by winning at Mount St. Joseph.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Franklin. An extremely inconsistent ship needs to be righted immediately vs. Mount St. Joseph if the Griz have any hopes of playoffs.
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: Franklin lost its first conference game in 3 years last week. Mount St. Joseph might be on a roll but Mike Leonard’s teams have lost two conference games in a season just once since 2005. Grizzlies roll.

Pick an under-the-radar 1-loss team which will pick up its second loss Saturday.

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Keith’s take: Wash U. is surprisingly 6-1, and 7-0 Case Western Reserve needs this win to bolster its credentials because 9-1 against its schedule might not get it in the playoffs..
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Ryan’s take: Washington University, as it goes against undefeated former UAA foe Case.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Bluffton. Rose-Hulman has to have its eyes on the HCAC automatic bid and shouldn’t be subject to a letdown after beating Franklin.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Tufts is an under-the-radar 4-1, but has to travel to an angry Amherst team that just got blanked by Wesleyan. The nicknameless home team wins.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Olivet. What’s lost from the AMAZING “Play of the Week” throw: the Comets struggled vs. a middling Benedictine team. Alma wins Saturday.
Doug Rothschild
Doug’s take: Pomona-Pitzer. The SCIAC is likely decided this week as two 1-loss teams play when 5-1 Redlands visits 5-1 Pomona-Pitzer. I give the edge to Redlands despite being on the road so Pomona-Pitzer picks up loss No 2.

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Mondays, where Pat and Keith review the picks that were prescient, and those that were terribly off base.

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ATN Podcast: It’s truly time to talk playoffs

Yep, we’re eight weeks into the season and it’s finally time to talk in-depth about the postseason — picks, prognostications, problems and the like. If you’re new to Division III, we’ll give you a quick roundup of how it’s set up and if you’re a veteran, we’re ready to talk about strength of schedule and who the top at-large candidates are. Will three WIAC teams make it? Can Hardin-Simmons avoid playing Mary Hardin-Baylor in the first round? The first full answers are in this podcast.

The Around the Nation Podcast is a weekly conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan covering the wide range of Division III football. It drops on Monday morning weekly throughout the season.

Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device. 
Photo by Andrew Zavoina, d3photography.com
You can subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in iTunes. You can also get this and any of our future Around the Nation podcasts automatically by subscribing to this RSS feed: http://www.d3blogs.com/d3football/?feed=podcast
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Quick Hits: Bringing your ‘A’ game

It’s too early for this group to be peaking and on the way down, so we’ve exhorted our panel to continue to bring their best here in Week 8. Our guest this week is Derek Jones, who has called Rowan games on WGLS for more than a decade and not long ago became the station’s general manager.

— Pat Coleman

This week, which game?

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Keith’s take: No. 11 Hardin-Simmons at No. 3 UMHB. Could make a case for games that will eliminate teams from playoff race, but I’d rather see if UMHB is No. 1-worthy.
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Ryan’s take: No. 11 Hardin-Simmons at No. 3 UMHB. This is my favorite conference rivalry in the nation — and that’s been the case for more than a decade.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 7 UW-Platteville at No. 5 UW-Oshkosh. I’m just going to play the full Midwesterner card here, plus note that the loser is in a world of hurt for playoffs.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: I want to see what No. 8 Linfield does in its second big test of the season. The Wildcats can prove something with a convincing win at 5-1 Whitworth.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 25 Delaware Valley at No. 15 Stevenson. The Mustangs are one of three undefeated East teams left but DelVal is on a roll. Loser might be eliminated from playoffs.
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Derek’s take: Rowan vs. Wesley. It’s a must win for Wesley with Salisbury looming in a few weeks. The door on the postseason may close if they can’t win. If Rowan prevails, it puts them a step closer to an NJAC title.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 16 St. Lawrence. This may be a reach, but all but one Merchant Marine game has been decided by 4 or fewer, and the Saints only give up 7 a game. In NYC rain, could get interesting.
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Ryan’s take: No. 21 Rowan. Can we assume that Wesley has found it’s groove by now?
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 2 UW-Whitewater. Going up to the top for this one, at home to UW-Stevens Point. UWW has given up a ton of yards in recent weeks and needs to get healthy on defense. Soon.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 21 Rowan, by Wesley. Despite two losses, the Wolverines are very much alive. To keep intact Wesley’s goal of extending its playoff streak to 12 years, this is a must-win.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 St. Lawrence, at Merchant Marine. I picked it on “In the HuddLLe,” so I’ll stay with it here. With rain in the forecast, the triple-option will lead the Mariners to a major upset.
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Guest’s take: No. 15 Stevenson. They’ve had a terrible time with Delaware Valley no matter where the game is. The Aggies responded well after the loss to Albright and need this one to keep their postseason hopes afloat.

Which game between ranked teams will be the closest?

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Keith’s take: No. 25 Delaware Valley at No. 15 Stevenson. The Mustangs probably pull it out, but they have to work for it.
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Ryan’s take: No. 7 UW-Platteville at No. 5 UW-Oshkosh. Fully expect this to be a one-score game.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 25 Delaware Valley at No. 15 Stevenson. That should be a barn-burner, perhaps the best atmosphere for a game this week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 7 UW-Platteville at No. 5 UW-Oshkosh. Point differential against UWW and UWSP: Titans plus-7, Pioneers plus-10. Both teams narrowly lost to the Warhawks and defeated the Pointers.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 7 UW-Platteville at No. 5 UW-Oshkosh. They played UW-Whitewater virtually evenly in narrow losses. It’s doubtful either pulls away here.
Guest
Guest’s take: No. 11 Hardin-Simmons at No. 3 Mary Hardin-Baylor. Both teams know how to score but the defenses will come to play.

Which team brings its ‘A’ game this weekend?

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Keith’s take: Alma and their odd helmets continue the turnaround under Greg Pscodna vs. Albion, which is stunningly 0-6 after a nine-win season.
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Ryan’s take: Adrian, over Kalamazoo. To stay in the hunt, the Bulldogs need to take care of business.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Adrian, vs. Kalamazoo. The Bulldogs have to be smarting from their unexpected loss to Hope last week and will be bringing their ‘A’ game.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Albright. After starting 0-2, the Lions can force a four-way tie atop the MAC if they can defeat Wilkes and No. 25 Delaware Valley knocks off No. 15 Stevenson.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Albright, at Wilkes. The Lions will make it five straight wins after an 0-2 start, giving them slight hope in the MAC race.
Guest
Guest’s take: Averett, my father’s alma mater. They’ve scored 117 points in their last two games and play at Maryville on Saturday in a USAC battle.

There are 25 winless teams remaining. Pick one to win this week.

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Keith’s take: Morrisville State. The Mustangs are gaining 400 yards a game, about 40% of it on the ground, but are giving up 39 points.
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Ryan’s take: Morrisville State. Playing the E8 wild card here.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Loras, at Simpson. The Duhawks have a disappointing record but have only been blown out once.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Dickinson finds just enough offense to snap a nine-game losing streak. The Red Devils win on the road at McDaniel.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Finlandia, vs. Maranatha Baptist. Time to give our independent teams some love. Finlandia beat them twice last year, so here’s to a three-peat.
Guest
Guest’s take: TCNJ. They allowed 116 points vs. Salisbury, Wesley, and Frostburg State. Granted, it’s at Montclair State but the low-scoring Red Hawks will feel like a vacation in comparison.

Rowan, Salisbury, Frostburg and CNU each enter the weekend with one loss. Which team(s) stay that way?

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Keith’s take: The Maryland two. Rowan won’t score enough to beat Wesley, and I have to pick the Bobcats, even if out of totally transparent allegiance to the sleepers piece I wrote for Kickoff.
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Ryan’s take: Salisbury and CNU. Both are ready to shake off their losses to Rowan.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Salisbury and Frostburg. I like home field for Frostburg after a long drive for CNU, but that’s about the only factor I could use.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: The NJAC tie is down to three teams–Wesley, Salisbury, CNU–after this week.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Salisbury and Frostburg. Rowan will struggle vs. Wesley. Frostburg will handle a struggling CNU offense. I can’t see Kean beating Salisbury, especially in rain.
Guest
Guest’s take: Rowan, Salisbury, and Frostburg. It will not be easy for Rowan or Frostburg but their defenses could carry them through tough opponents. If so, that sets up quite the battle next week when Rowan travels to Frostburg State.

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Mondays, where Pat and Keith review the picks that were prescient, and those that were terribly off base.