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Quick Hits Week 6: Where the rubber meets the road

Week 6 features key games at the top of the MIAC, NJAC, PAC, SAA, and SCIAC. Not every team is playing for control of their league, and our panel also takes a look at teams likely to get their seasons jump started as the season moves into the second half.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas

Which game is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 12 Wesley at No. 14 Salisbury.  There are MIAC, WIAC, SCIAC and SAA games that could fit here, but the Route 13 Rivalry winner will have a second victory against a playoff-caliber team and a clear path to the NJAC title and playoffs.
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Ryan’s take: No. 12 Wesley at No. 14 Salisbury. Two undefeated rivals sharing the top spot in the conference — made even more interesting by the NJAC being down this year and no guarantee the loser will make the playoffs with one loss.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 6 Bethel at No. 4 St. John’s.  Next question.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 12 Wesley at No. 14 Salisbury. The Wolverines have reversed their fortunes from 2018 and found ways to win close games. The Sea Gulls have struggled to put opponents away late but have hung on to remain unbeaten. This should be a nail-biter with the winner holding the inside track on the NJAC championship.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 12 Wesley at No. 14 Salisbury. One will be in a great NJAC race position. One will need to start counting Pool C bids and hope to win out.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 6 Bethel at No. 4 St. John’s.  Several good games on the docket this week, but 4 vs. 6 is a rare bird, indeed. The first of three titanic MIAC games this season, and the weather will give this one the late season feel it deserves.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 8 Berry.  Not that I think the Vikings aren’t favorites at home, but there’s not as much distance between them and unranked, unbeaten Hendrix as the poll might suggest.
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Ryan’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve. Though, admittedly, I’ve got W&J ranked on my ballot and not Case, so I wouldn’t see a Presidents’ win as being all that much of an upset.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: None.  With six ranked teams playing each other, not so many teams left in upsettable positions.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve. Either the Spartans create separation and set themselves up for a title tilt at Carnegie Mellon in Week 11, or the Presidents prevail and create some #PACtion chaos. A W&J win could create a five-way tie atop the conference standings.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 25 Case Western Reserve (vs. Washington & Jefferson). The merry-go-round in the PAC continues as W&J needs this win to stay alive.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 15 Redlands.  The Bulldogs are on the road at a sneaky good Chapman squad that might be flying a bit under the radar. This is a dangerous game for Redlands.

Which ECFC teams get their first wins?

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Keith’s take: Castleton. The six ECFC teams are 2-22, but only the Gallaudet-Castleton winner is guaranteed a W. Vermont is a long way from D.C., and I’ll take the Spartans at home, and that’s it.
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Ryan’s take: Castleton and Dean.  The Spartans can lean on their dual-strength offense against Gallaudet, and it shouldn’t be overlooked that Dean’s Terrell Watts is the conference’s best quarterback.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Anna Maria.  I think the AMCATs are a little further ahead in their program building than Alfred State is.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Castleton and Dean. The Spartans’ defense has kept them in close games this season and the offense should be able to do enough to defeat Gallaudet. The Bulldogs’ defense has been a weakness, but so has SUNY-Maritime’s offense. The defenses hang on for wins this week.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Castleton.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Castleton. The wait for win number one goes on for another week for Gallaudet, Dean, and Anna Maria.

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

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Keith’s take: Occidental at Whittier.  The Tigers haven’t beaten an NCAA team since defeating the Poets 56-38 on Oct. 29, 2016, but it could happen here in 2019.
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Ryan’s take: Bowdoin at Amherst.  Last week’s narrow loss to NESCAC top dog Wesleyan puts winless Bowdoin’s outing against Amherst on my upset radar.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Brevard at Methodist.  The Tornadoes aren’t playoff-eligible yet but are unbeaten and interesting.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Heidelberg at Marietta. The middle of the OAC is crowded, with both of these teams coming off their first loss of the season. How will they respond, knowing that playoff berths are likely already out of reach with the toughest part of the conference schedule still ahead of them?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Misericordia at Widener. I explain why in this week’s ATN Friday Podcast.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: St. Vincent at Thiel. This might be the one. It’s been a long time since Thiel has been able to Taste the Feeling of victory.

Which team with a tough first half starts the second half of the season on a positive note?

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Keith’s take: Lycoming is one point from being winless, but should start the second half off with a win over Alvernia, which hasn’t scored more than 13 in a game since Sept. 14.
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Ryan’s take: George Fox.  I did think the Bruins would be better-positioned at this point, but while the defense has largely been solid, the offense is only now starting to click. That fact alone can help turn things around.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Husson.  The Eagles are just 1-3 so far but Curry has to travel to Maine to play them.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Rowan. The Profs have played as well as any 0-4 team in the nation. Their opponents are a combined 13-4. Rowan’s last two losses were on the road to then-ranked opponents by a combined total of four points. The Profs take their frustration out on Kean in front of a home crowd this week.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Rowan (vs. Kean). Give them this much: the Profs schedule a rough beginning set of opponents. This should be their first win.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Christopher Newport. This has just not gone the way the Captains thought it would. They should break a long touchdown drought and get one in the win column this weekend.

Which team with a strong first half starts the second half on a negative note?

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Keith’s take: Chapman  begins the middle third of its season with its first loss when Elias Hackney and Redlands take care of business.
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Ryan’s take: Westminster (Pa.).  The Titans’ four wins so far have come at the expense of teams that are a combined 2-16. Upcoming battles against Grove City (this week), W&J and Carnegie Mellon will prove difficult.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Puget Sound. Linfield’s struggles don’t go as far as losing this game.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Central. The Dutch are off to an impressive 4-0 start, but the schedule is heavily backloaded. Central closes the season against the other top three teams in the ARC (at Simpson, Wartburg, at Coe), but can’t get caught looking past a battle-tested 2-3 Dubuque squad this week.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Hobart (vs. RPI). The Statesmen failed to kick in the Union game, and RPI has bounced well since the 6-3 loss vs. WPI.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 12 Wesley. The Wolverines have been walking a tightrope for a few weeks now and I think their Route 13 rivals are going to deal the Wolverines their first loss of the season.

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

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Quick Hits Week 2: Titanic games on tap

This week we’ve got our eyes on two big games featuring midwestern Titans, plenty of contests with titanic travel, a throwback Texas showdown, and a huge game between East region powers.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com

Which game is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 22 Wesley at No. 13 Delaware Valley. Even though I get all googly-eyed when Linfield and UW-Oshkosh visit the East Coast, I got assigned Wesley-Del Val for the podcast, and it holds up as GOTW.
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Ryan’s take: No. 14 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 23 UW-La Crosse. The Eagles are certainly happy to already have a game under their belt, but I’m not sure they have to tools to slow IWU’s skilled returning offense.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 14 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 23 UW-La Crosse. Losing this game last year derailed IWU’s postseason hopes, while UWL can solidify contender status with another W.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 22 Wesley at No. 13 Delaware Valley. The Wolverines are back in the Top 25. Now, they have a chance to show that they are back in contention as one of the top programs in the nation.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 22 Wesley at No. 13 Delaware Valley. With Brockport’s loss, and with RPI facing a strong WPI team this week, the winner of this game could be considered the front runner of the East Region.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 14 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 23 UW-La Crosse. The Eagles upset the Titans last year, a loss that ultimately cost IWU a spot in the playoffs. There is little reason to believe that the stakes won’t be similar this time around.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 21 Wabash. Susquehanna beat No. 7 Johns Hopkins last year, which takes a savvy pick out of the “upset” category. The Little Giants could struggle against UW-Stevens Point though.
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Ryan’s take: No. 7 Johns Hopkins. It happened last year against Susquehanna, and the River Hawks already have debuted strong this season. (Apologies for the earlier typo, River Hawks!!)
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 9 Hardin-Simmons. The game with Trinity (Texas) last year was a two-point game until the final 60 seconds and Trinity looks to be just as strong, if not better than 2018.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 9 Hardin-Simmons. The Cowboys haven’t lost a non-conference regular season game since 2014. Trinity (Texas) is a program on the rise and gave the Cowboys a battle last season. This would be Jerheme Urban’s signature win as head coach of his alma mater.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 19 RPI (at WPI). Yes, Coach Isernia, I’ll bring the thumbtacks for your bulletin board. WPI’s record-sized senior class wants a signature win to go out on; this could be it.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 9 Hardin-Simmons. A lot has to go right for Trinity to pull this off, but Jerheme Urban has been steadily building his alma mater back into a player in the South region. Knocking off the Cowboys would be the perfect springboard into SAA play.

Which team debuting this week will most wish they played in Week 1?

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Keith’s take: No. 14 Illinois Wesleyan. While this week’s opponent, No. 23 UW-La Crosse, was busy battling it out with Concordia-Moorhead, the Titans were doing who knows what.
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Ryan’s take: No. 21 Wabash. The Little Giants will need its veteran defense to really shine to help avoid the tension of last year’s narrow contest against UW-Stevens Point.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 21 Wabash. UW-Stevens Point had a quality first-week performance in a loss at No. 17 John Carroll, so the Pointers will definitely have a leg up on the Little Giants.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: DePauw. The Tigers are eager to wash away a disappointing 4-6 season marked by narrow defeats. Traveling to face a 1-0 Central team is their first chance to avenge one of those losses, but it won’t be easy.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Massachusetts Maritime. SUNY-Maritime won in a huge late comeback last week, giving the Privateers important momentum heading into this rivalry game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 21 Wabash. The Little Giants have a tricky road trip up to UW-Stevens Point this week. The Pointers pushed Wabash in Crawfordsville last year without the benefit of one game head start.

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

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Keith’s take: Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Northwestern (Minn.). The Stags lost in Washington last week, but hit the road again, and should bring back a W this time.
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Ryan’s take: Hampden-Sydney at Christopher Newport. Two Virginia teams (and past state powers) that faltered in Week 1 are sure to be looking for the right footing this time around.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Catholic at Georgetown. The last time these teams played, I was a senior in college and a pretty crappy broadcaster to boot. I won’t be there on Saturday, and neither will be TE Jim Opfinger, who had a huge game against the Hoyas.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Rose-Hulman at Rhodes. It’s the Fightin’ Engineers’ only non-conference game against a team without a national championship pedigree and realistic 2019 Stagg Bowl aspirations.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Montclair State at Salve Regina. Both teams were surprise losers in Week 1. They both need momentum before conference plays begins. This could be a close game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Aurora at Elmhurst. In this game featuring two first year head coaches, I want to see if last week’s points avalanche is going to be the norm for Don Beebe’s squad or if Jeff McDonald’s Blue Jays can slow them down.

Which team will be a surprising 0-2?

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Keith’s take: Bridgewater State. The Bears might still be contenders once MASCAC play begins, but they got roughed up by the Empire 8’s Morrisville State last weekend and go to St. John Fisher.
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Ryan’s take: George Fox. The Bruins came out flat last week — slow to score and stuggling to step up on defense. Against a team like Alfred that shut out its first opponent, that kind of play spells trouble.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Bridgewater State. The Bears have had some wild swings in won-lost record in recent seasons and with a 32-point loss to Morrisville State in Week 1, it might sound reasonable to expect a loss at St. John Fisher on Saturday..
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Misericordia. The Cougars shocked the world with an 8-win campaign in 2018. Losses to McDaniel and Lebanon Valley to start 0-2 would be more in line with the program’s historic struggles.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Framingham State. The Endicott win last week was unexpected, and Brockport needs a rebound. That ends up making the two-time reigning MASCAC champs 0-2.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Ohio Northern. Muskingum shouldn’t be a big problem for ONU, but the Polar Bears have a lot of things to correct from their Week 1 loss at Denison.

Which region wins the East vs. West games?

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Keith’s take: West. I’ve got Linfield over Rowan, Alfred over George Fox, and UW-Oshkosh edging Salisbury to break the tie.
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Ryan’s take: East gets the majority, with Linfield being the West’s bright spot.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: West: Linfield over Rowan, UW-Oshkosh over Salisbury, but Alfred beats George Fox to avoid the sweep.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: West. Alfred notches a win for the East over George Fox. Linfield evens the score for the West by defeating Rowan. In what should be the marquee Week 2 game between unranked opponents, UW-Oshkosh squeaks past Salisbury.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: East. (Salisbury, Alfred, Linfield).
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: East. I’ll take Linfield to win at Rowan and Alfred to defeat visiting George Fox. Salisbury holds serve at home against UW-Oshkosh to give the East a 2-1 series win.

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

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Quick Hits Week 1: Ready, set, go!

Welcome to Quick Hits 2019! If you’ve just discovered us, this is where we get together six Division III writers and observers to give you their takes on where the best games are each week, which ranked teams are on upset alert, and many other rotating categories throughout the season.  Without further delay, here are our first set of Hits for 2019!

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas

Which game is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 W&J. There are better teams in action, but no matchup that already has these playoff implications. Its winner files away a potential future win over regionally ranked opponent, and the loser’s Pool C hopes are already shot.
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Ryan’s take: No. 6 Johns Hopkins at No. 24 Randolph Macon. The 2018 postseason Cinderellas: one for its deep run, the other for its epic upset. We’re all eager to see what they bring for 2019.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 W&J. At least one of these rankings is wrong, and we’ll know by sundown on Saturday.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 Washington and Jefferson. I always get excited for and appreciate Week 1 games that could just as easily be Week 13 or 14 games. Kudos to both teams for taking on the challenge.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 6 Johns Hopkins at No. 24 Randolph Macon. Emotion for Hopkins without Jim Margraff on #d3fb Opening Night in a battle of Top 25 teams – it’ll be a big night.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 18 Wittenberg at No. 21 W&J.  These are the second and third winningest teams all time in Division III with over 1,500 wins between them. The winner has a great chance at banking a regionally ranked win which will come in handy in about 11 weeks.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 13 Brockport. Hobart is tough at home, but this is about seeing how the Golden Eagles replace the seven all-Region players it lost. Is Brockport a reload program?.
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Ryan’s take: No. 19 RPI. Two teams on different trajectories: RPI graduated a huge number of starters, and Allegheny has lots coming back to upset the Engineer apple cart.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 10 Bethel. It would be unethical of me to say more, however.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Aurora defeats No. 25 St. Norbert. Don Beebe’s head coaching debut is a memorable one.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 17 John Carroll (by UW-Stevens Point). Honestly, it’s unlikely we see any upsets, but this is the one I feel least sure about.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 20 Centre. Hanover has 20 starters back from a conference championship team. Centre is going to have a lot of debutantes. Experience can carry the Panthers to a win.

Which team in Kickoff’s bottom 25 will start 2019 with a win?

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Keith’s take: No. 232 Alvernia. This one could go either way and I’d be right, but I think the Golden Wolves win in Washington against No. 235 Gallaudet.
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Ryan’s take: No. 235 Gallaudet. Granted they’re playing a team only three spots removed, yet the Bison have more than half their starters back and won’t fall off as much as some predict.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 235 Gallaudet. The Bison lost in Alvernia’s first-ever football game last fall, but Alvernia still has lots of lineup questions to answer in Year 2.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: The winner of No. 238 Cornell vs No. 248 Iowa Wesleyan. I’ll put my faith in the Rams.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 235 Gallaudet (vs. Alvernia). Assuming the game gets played, the return of senior QB Timel Benton from injury will help the Bison win Game 1.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 240 Kenyon. The Lords are headed to the nation’s capital with a 26-game losing streak, but a whole new energy under new head coach James Rosenbury. Kenyon is going to pay this long road trip off with a win.

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

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Keith’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at UW-La Crosse. These two play insane schedules already, and then lined one another up for a Week 1 doozy.
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Ryan’s take: Southwestern at Sewanee. The Pirates are stacked on defense and have school-record potential this season, while the Tigers don’t struggle the way they used to in games. A very fun opener to watch!.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Buena Vista at Hamline. The Thursday night opener comes to the Twin Cities, so I’ll be there, after work, that is.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Guilford at Huntingdon. The teams combined for 106 points last year in a game that didn’t count. Lightning forced the offensive onslaught to be called a no contest. The rematch could be just as high scoring and will hopefully enter the record books.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 14 Delaware Valley at Kean. What seems like a gimme-game for DelVal could be interesting as they adjust to life without Darden.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Redlands at George Fox. The Bulldogs begin their NWC gauntlet this week. Head coach Mike Maynard is sitting on 197 career wins and could set up a shot at win number 200 when Redlands hosts Linfield in two weeks.

Which 2018 playoff team starts 2019 on the wrong foot?

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Keith’s take: Hanover, which won the HCAC in Week 11 last season, gets a Week 1 visit from No. 20 Centre this year. :eek emoji:.
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Ryan’s take: No. 21 Washington & Jefferson. This will be a good year for Wittenberg (despite a noticeable gap on offense) as well as a return to the playoffs. W&J has a tough outing to avoid starting 2019 the way it ended in Round 1 of 2018.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 25 St. Norbert (at Aurora). This is another upset possibility, for sure.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hanover. The Panthers were a surprising 2018 playoff participant and face a tall task against No. 20 Centre. The Colonels needed a fourth quarter rally to eke past the Panthers in last year’s opener, but the offense should come out of the gates hotter in 2019.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: MIT (vs. Carnegie Mellon). The Battle of the Brains could go to CMU as both teams replace graduated QBs.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Denison. The Big Red are entering the post-Gebele era, while Ohio Northern welcomes back 2017 All-American running back Christiaan Williams. The Polar Bears are going to be a big challenge for a team trying to stay on top of the NCAC.

Who has the most successful head coaching debut?

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Keith’s take: Wes Beschorner at UW-Eau Claire. There could be a ton of points scored when Beschorner, a former offensive star and whiz assistant, gets a visit from Loras.
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Ryan’s take: Mike Barainyak at Widener. The Pride haven’t been in the MAC discussion for several years — now a fresh and positive approach, coupled with lots of veterans returners, will change that against Rowan.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Jason Aubry, Concordia-Chicago. In the battle of new head coaches, taking CUC over Beloit.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Greg Chimera, Johns Hopkins. The aforementioned Beebe isn’t the only rookie head coach with a chance to knock off a ranked opponent. Chimera will lead his alma mater to victory in his debut, knocking off No. 24 Randolph-Macon.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Mike Barainyak (Widener). After the 2018 “Blame Google” debacle, the Pride seniors get their first win against Rowan with more cohesion internally.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Greg Chimera, Johns Hopkins. Judging against expectations, other first time head coaches are likely to have more impressive wins this weekend.  This first game without Jim Margraff, however, is going to mean just a little bit more to Chimera and the Blue Jay community.

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