Triple Take: Full accountability

Bryan Bradshaw and the rest of the Dubuque Spartans face a ranked team for the second time this season.
Photo by Larry Radloff,

If you aren’t listening to the ATN Podcast, you’re missing out. Not only do Pat and Keith offer up a thorough breakdown of the week gone by, they also recap how we did in our Triple Take picks — assuming you make it to the tail end of the podcast.

What we write here isn’t done in a vacuum and isn’t necessarily forgotten about by Saturday afternoon. We welcome your comments both here and via Twitter. We want to make this an open forum for discussion. There are so many exciting things happening every weekend and we know you read, so why wouldn’t you want to talk about it? And talk. And talk. And talk … Put your own predictions in the comments below.

Game of the Week.
Ryan’s take: No. 9 St. Thomas at No. 5 Bethel.
I don’t think there’s much debate here about which game will have the biggest impact nationally this week. Lining up two Top 10 teams against each other earns them that recognition. Since I’m not sure if one of my colleagues picking after me for Triple Take will share some first-hand insights into this game, I’ll stick to sharing the stat sheet with you: Bethel is 19th in total offense, with a pretty balanced delivery; 66th in defense, again balanced on that front; and is 17th and fourth at third-down conversions and turnover margin, respectively. St. Thomas is 39th in total offense, with a solid balance; fourth in defense, particularly stifling against the run; and 19th in third-down conversions.
Pat’s take: Dubuque at No. 21 Coe. This is kind of a sleeper game. But I think whoever wins the Iowa Conference will not emerge unscathed from the conference schedule. Between Coe, Dubuque, Simpson, Wartburg and Central, I expect there to be a game or two that don’t go as expected. Dubuque is 3-2 but one is to a ranked team and the other is to another WIAC opponent, both of whom are probably better than anyone Coe has beaten so far.
Keith’s take: No. 9 St. Thomas at No. 5 Bethel. I agree with Ryan, from the impact standpoint. There are a bunch of other intriguing games, but nothing that matches this meetup in Minnesota. The Tommies, a Stagg Bowl team last year, could be in two-loss, playoff-spot jeopardy by sunset on Saturday. A St. Thomas win sets up a furious race to the MIAC finish, as Bethel, UST, St. John’s and Concordia-Moorhead would each have a conference loss with four or fewer games to play. Which sets up the delicious scenario of a bunch of fans who really dislike the Tommies having to pull for them on Saturday. Key games down the stretch, should UST win, would be the Cobbers at the Tommies on Nov. 9 and the Royals at the Johnnies Nov. 16.

Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: Northwestern at Greenville.
When we talk about undefeated teams that fly under the radar, Greenville is just such a team. Though, there’s nothing quiet about how they got to where they are, often flirting with 50 points a game, shouldered by a run game that has averaged 349 yards an outing. But Greenville’s strength might well be muted by Northwestern’s key asset: the ability to shut down the run. Three times this season, the Eagles have held opponents to fewer than 100 yards on the ground. We’ll see how far these teams have to stray from their comfort zones to earn the win.
Pat’s take: No. 22 Willamette at Lewis and Clark. Lewis and Clark has been putting some points on the board lately behind quarterback Keith Welch, scoring 34 vs. UW-Platteville and 21 vs. Pacific Lutheran, both teams we believe to be better than Willamette. It’s not a stretch to see the Pioneers scoring enough points to make the game surprisingly close.
Keith’s take: Sewanee at Centre. The Colonels are 4-1 and the Tigers just 2-4, but Sewanee’s slate has included competitive losses from coast to coast (at Willamette and Washington & Lee), and a win against Birmingham-Southern. The Tigers’ past five opponents are 20-6. Centre is racking up 440 yards a game, most of it passing, and 31.6 points per. Sewanee rushes for 243 yards a game and takes care of the ball, but defensively is 201st nationally on stopping third downs and tied for 230th in the red zone. That gives Centre the opening they need to get by while it’s close and then break it open.

Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: No. 7 UW-Platteville.
In a stacked WIAC, Stevens Point (with only one Top 25 vote) has been overshadowed by Platteville, Oshkosh and Whitewater this fall. And we’ll see this weekend if an injustice has been done there. The 4-1 Pointers’ only loss came last month at the hands of No. 4 North Central, but an overtime win against UW-Eau Claire last week hasn’t done a lot to instill confidence. Platteville should win, but Stevens Point could rattle the cage.
Pat’s take: No. 19 St. John Fisher. Man, this is a tough one. I do think there’s a 10% to 15% chance that Platteville loses to Stevens Point. Salisbury has quietly put together a couple of good games since losing to Wesley. Where I’m hanging my hat on this is St. John Fisher barely beat Frostburg State and Salisbury is a much tougher opponent. Obviously that’s a pretty simplistic “analysis,” because St. John Fisher will never take Salisbury lightly.
Keith’s take: No. 21 Coe. Finally a top 25 slate where we don’t have to scramble to find three where the ranked team could lose. I count eight, although the best two already got picked, and No. 5 Bethel losing to St. Thomas would hardly be an upset. So I lean toward the Kohawks, who have played outstanding defense since a 23-22 nail-biter over Monmouth in Week 1. But they also haven’t faced anyone the quality of the Spartans, while Dubuque played three WIAC teams and Central already. Coe has beaten Monmouth, Cornell, Wash. U., Buena Vista and Loras. They’ll get their respect if they start winning in the tougher part of their schedule, but Dubuque QB Bryan Bradshaw (1,333 yards, 14 TDs) won’t make their first big game an easy one.

They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: The ODAC.
Every week brings surprises in this conference, which has been referenced before as arguably having the most parity of any in the nation. This week, with Guilford at Bridgewater and Washington and Lee at Randolph-Macon, we get two see two teams at the top in conference play go up against two other above-.500 squads. As usual, expect these teams to continue beating themselves up ahead of the playoffs.
Pat’s take: Trinity (Conn.). The Bantams are one win short of their 50th consecutive home victory and host Bowdoin on Saturday. The last time Trinity lost a home game was to Williams on Sept. 29, 2001 and the Bantams have never lost a game played on artificial turf.
Keith’s take: Wesleyan. We’re so NESCAC-y today! Good teams from that conference tend to find themselves high on the national defensive rankings, and Bill Belichick’s alma mater is no differnt. Wesleyan is 4-0, facing 4-0 Amherst and their speedy offense on Saturday. The Cardinals have given up 22 points this season, no more than nine to any team. But the best part is, since they miss Middlebury in the 10-team conference’s eight-game schedule, a win points them toward a showdown with Connecticut rival Trinity for the conference title in November. Amherst allows 71 rushing yards a game and the Cardinals pound it for 266 per, so it should be a fun one along the line of scrimmage.

Which team will turn the biggest 180 from last week?
Ryan’s take: Augsburg.
Two straight losses to two of the toughest teams in the MIAC. Still, the Auggies impressively hung 28 points each time on those opponents. But I have to believe what they want most is a win. And it’s a floundering St. Olaf that stands in the way.
Pat’s take: Pacific. This is a 180 in the opposite direction. Pacific is riding a great unbeaten streak and blew out Puget Sound but has to go to No. 17 Pacific Lutheran this week.
Keith’s take: Rowan. The Profs, who lost by 20 to Morrisville State last week, on Saturday face national power Wesley, ranked 11th. I don’t know that the Profs will win, but they’ll give a performance more befitting their reputation. Rowan has played good defense, particularly against the run, and kept games low scoring prior to the 502-yard mess at Morrisville. Wesley is going to throw playmakers at the Profs like they haven’t seen before, and it will require a 180 from last week just to hang close.

Which team with two or more losses is worth watching this weekend?
Ryan’s take: Gettysburg, against another two-loss team, Muhlenberg.
Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve never heard of the Old Tin Cup rivalry. Most people haven’t. The trophy dates to the 1950s and early ’60s and is just one of many awards linked to intra-Centennial play during the fall. This one, though, highlights an annually competitive matchup that has proven to be either fun shootouts or defensive battles, depending on the year. Both the Bullets and the Mules have been neck and neck for the past few seasons, their games separated by only a couple of points each meeting. I’d expect nothing less here.
Pat’s take: Bethany. Their PAC game at Waynesburg features two of the most prolific quarterbacks in Division III this year. Bethany’s Matt Grimard and Waynesburg’s Carter Hill rank 1-2 in passing yards per game in the PAC and 1-3 in total offense per game. Hill’s 302.7 passing yards per game is No. 11 in Division III, while Grimard is No. 3 at 336.4. Bethany is 2-3, but beat Washington and Jefferson its last time out and has had two weeks to prepare for this game.
Keith’s take: LaGrange. Originally I spotlighted 3-2 Alfred, which is hosting 4-1 Hartwick, here, but the 2-3 Panthers have the No. 1 passing attack in the country (390 yards/game) behind quarterback Graham Craig. Their fellow deep South independent-turned-USAC-member Huntingdon brings the No. 13 pass attack and No. 6 overall offense — they have a 313-yard rush game and a 462-yard passing game this season — to Callaway Stadium, where there should be fireworks Saturday.

Which team would you have liked to see play this Saturday?
Ryan’s take: Merchant Marine.

Pat’s take: Merchant Marine. (But also Swarthmore. Can I still be upset about that? More below.)
Keith’s take: Merchant Marine. Although two days to get the team reassembled and ready to play is probably a lot to ask.

Pat: Earlier this week I stumbled upon the interesting story of mid-1980s Swarthmore football. The school eventually dropped football after the 2000 season, but back in the mid-1980s, the school forced out extremely successful coach Tom Lapinski after a four-year stretch in which Swarthmore went 30-6. The below video aired on CBS during the middle of that great run by the Garnet.

Triple Take: Coming into focus

Nate Oropollo
Aaron Terrell-Byrd is the new face at running back for St. Thomas, which has had significant changes on offense from 2011.
By Ryan Coleman,

Teams — their strengths and weaknesses — are coming into shape after two weeks of play. And for many of them, they’re still in the walkup to the start of conference play, where the path to the playoffs is largely traveled.

Perhaps most captivating nationally are the battles between Top 25 teams, but that is not the end-all of Division III. Not by a long shot. And there are still dozens of teams with a shot of playing their way into the rankings and into the postseason.

Often going beyond the Top 25 are Pat Coleman, Keith McMillan and Ryan Tipps in this week’s Triple Take (look for hashtag #3take on Twitter). As always, we’re happy to hear your comments.

Game of the week.
Ryan’s take: No. 5 Linfield at No. 10 Cal Lutheran.
I see these two teams in very different lights: the visiting squad is one that I’ve had a lot of enthusiasm about entering this year and that should have a huge target on its back; the other is one that needs to prove itself as a national competitor without the benefit Jake Laudenslayer taking snaps. We’ll get a better handle on that after Saturday, and these two teams should have fresh memories and be primed to duke it out. In 2011, these teams played two very competitive games — one in the regular season and one in the postseason — with the Wildcats emerging on top both times. Lining up together, they rarely disappoint.
Pat’s take: The Tommie-Johnnie game. What it’s doing on Week 3, however, is beyond me. I know some conferences feel the need to shuffle their schedules evenly over time but there are other conferences who do that and still make sure the rivalry games get played at the end. With No. 6 St. Thomas having beaten St. John’s by a hideous score last year, expect the Johnnies to come out extra motivated, in front of a home crowd that’s likely to be at least 15,000. And how often can you say that? Both teams had to rally to beat UW-Eau Claire, both had an easier game as well. St. Thomas has had quarterbacks fold in this game before but the new Tommie quarterback, Matt O’Connell, faced some pressure in Week 1, so the only thing new will be the crowd.
Keith’s take: No. 4 Mary Hardin-Baylor at No. 3 Wesley. Oh, cool, I get the slam dunk. And honestly, there isn’t a whole lot that needs to be said here. The two South Region powers have played six times in seven seasons, with Wesley winning four. In the UMHB game notes, Coach Pete Fredenburg makes reference to the whole country watching, and in this case, it’s not an exaggeration. Respect for these guys scheduling this game early. A well-played loss won’t hurt in the top 25, and it will have a limited impact on playoff chances.  What would be interesting is if these teams play again in the playoffs, but with experience against each other. UMHB outgained Kean 517-180, with 313 yards rushing, 165 from Darius Wilson. Wesley has been statistically underwhelming, but has given up only 21 points in road wins. This game is as big as they get in the regular season, and might be decided along the lines, by players we’ve heretofore never heard of.

Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: Sewanee at Maryville.
There are only three Division III football teams in Tennessee, and two of them are lining up Saturday. Why are Sewanee and Maryville not meeting every single year? This situation is primed for a rivalry, but these two teams haven’t played each other in seven years. Sewanee is playing better ball that Maryville right now, but the Scots will be fighting for some in-state pride.
Pat’s take: No. 11 Trinity (Texas) at Sul Ross State. This is a new opponent for Trinity and a bit of a trip as well. Sul Ross has been competitive with Division II programs each of the first two weeks and transfer quarterback A.J. Springer has the offensive clicking. (And Ryan, I’d say it’s for the same reason Sewanee and its SAA mates broke away from the SCAC — wanting to play so-called “like-minded institutions.” Sewanee surely sees itself as not in the same class as Maryville academically.)
Keith’s take: TCNJ at Brockport State. Behind Joseph Scibilia, the Golden Eagles are 2-0, passing for 317 yards per game, and allowing only 28.5 rushing yards per game. They’re attracting top 25 attention. But TCNJ, at 1-1, has gained 521 yards per game, just a shade better than Brockport’s 518, and there could be a bunch of points put on the board. Justin Doniloski has 244 rushing yards in two games, so the matchup against the Golden Eagles’ run defense bears watching.

Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: No. 23 Centre.
The jury is still out on whether this Centre team is as good as last season’s. If it is, the Colonels will beat Washington and Lee. But W&L is 1-1 and has played opponents that are better than those that Centre has lined up against. That’ll be the biggest advantage the Generals have over the Kentucky competition.
Pat’s take: No. 25 Redlands. Each team has one game under its belt. Pacific Lutheran was tied with Cal Lutheran at half before falling last week, and I like the Lutes’ chances.
Keith’s take: No. 14 Hobart. The Statesmen have given up just 230 yards and seven points in two wins, but Utica’s hung 40 and 45 points on its two opponents. The Pioneers, led by Andrew Benkwitt, are ready for a breakthrough win, but they can’t expect to keep gaining yards at a 500 per game clip. Playing at home should help, and I wouldn’t expect Hobart to make it easy. If it happens, it could be a low-scoring affair where turnovers play a part. No. 13 North Central at UW-Stout was also an option here.

They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: Gettysburg.
Statistically, the Bullets are first in the country in rushing offense and are eighth in total defense. Gaining yards and putting up points is nothing new for Gettysburg, but this is an enviable place defensively for Gettysburg to be in as it wends its way toward some of the tougher teams on the Centennial schedule. There are a handful of conference opponents that will bring a pretty good arsenal to the table.
Pat’s take: John Carroll. It’s been a little while since they’ve played, but they open their North American and Ohio Athletic Conference schedule with a home game against No. 15 Baldwin Wallace. We’ll see how good their transfer quarterback is.
Keith’s take: William Paterson. Kickoff ’12 hipped us to the possibility that it could finally be these Pioneers’ turn atop the NJAC. Running back Dawys German is supposed to be a star, but the 9-3 Week 1 win against King’s was underwhelming. The defense impressed, but so did Rowan in the Week 1 upset of Delaware Valley. But with the Profs humbled at D-II Merrimack last week, they won’t be going easy on William Paterson, so this is a big prove-it game for the Pioneers. Or else we just go back to thinking they’re a mid-pack also-ran.

Which 0-2 team will earn its first win?
Ryan’s take: No. 20 Franklin.
While I understand that the Grizzlies have taken on Mount Union and Division I-FCS Butler to start the season, they’ve been blown out in both of those matchups. This team — deservedly or not — has some great cred nationally to still be in the Top 20. This week’s opponent, Manchester, which has also begun its season 0-2, will not pose a problem for Franklin, which truly is more potent than its record indicates. Expect to stop paying attention to this game by halftime.
Pat’s take: Hardin-Simmons. I don’t need to know much about Texas College, which is 0-3 against an interesting spread of opponents, to take the D-III team here.
Keith’s take: Delaware Valley. Stevenson’s coming close, with a 10-point loss followed by an OT loss. The Aggies have a chance to salvage their high expectations for the season, but it has to start right away, and they need to generate some offense. Stevenson has allowed 419 yards per game, while Del Val has gained 382. The Aggies’ problem hasn’t been turnovers — they have four, but an even margin. They just haven’t finished drives. They have 10 punts, four turnovers and four touchdowns. The Aggies need to take advantage of Stevenson’s defense early and regain their confidence.

Which saint sparks your interest?
Ryan’s take: St. Vincent.
Over the years, the Bearcats have climbed up from the conference depths, going 1-29 in its first three seasons. But last year brought forth a much more refreshing 6-5 outing, including a visit to an ECAC bowl game. But so far, St. Vincent hasn’t turned a corner in 2012, dropping its first two games. This week, the Bearcats face Waynesburg, the PAC’s only 2-0 team. Is Waynesburg for real? Is St. Vincent really lacking? Clarity is right around the bend.
Pat’s take: St. Olaf, which gets its first real challenge of the season after pulling out a close game on a short trip to Luther and winning handily on a long trip to DePauw. Concordia-Moorhead coming to town is by far the most impressive opponent so far.
Keith’s take: St. John Fisher. It’s the final Courage Bowl with Rochester. Having attended one of the cooler young rivalries in D-III, mixing charity and on-field competitiveness, I’ll be sad to see it go. Rochester, which has lost all seven Courage Bowls, is ending the series, which moves back to campus, at Fisher, after two years downtown.

If you’re picking a winning team based on faith, which would it be?
Ryan’s take: Albright, affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
The Lions have come out of the gate with two wins, including one that knocked Kean off its preseason perch. But Albright needed overtime to beat conference-mate Stevenson, and the slate only gets harder, starting with this Saturday against Wilkes. Remember this matchup last year? Sixty-five points for the winning Albright, 575 passing yards, school records broken. There’s little doubt there’ll be some excitement going into this year’s game.
Pat’s take: Salve Regina, which is a Catholic school. The Seahawks face Fitchburg State. When I was working at my alma mater, Catholic U., the head coach wanted to put together a “conference” like the ECAC in style, with all of the Catholic schools playing Division III football. It was a great idea but I wasn’t going to run it. However, picture a postseason bowl game featuring the top team from eastern Catholic schools against the top available western Catholic school. Because so many Catholic schools made the playoffs last year (St. Thomas, St. John Fisher, Thomas More, Benedictine) you might end up with Salve Regina or St. Vincent against St. John’s or St. Norbert. Just food for thought.
Keith’s take: East Texas Baptist. Willamette gained 727 yards in its opener, and has had two weeks to prepare. And they’re at home. But the choices among the Baptists were limited, so I’ll have to lean on ETBU’s experience in the opener against Wesley for my pick.

Triple Take: Some we haven’t seen yet

Jared Morris
In Jared Morris’ first game as a defensive back, he picked off four passes.
Wesley athletics photo

Who would have thought that we’d see the record books being rewritten right out of the gate? But that’s why the game is played, isn’t it, to see the greatness of individual players and of teams emerge? Some rise up and conquer their opponents against the odds, and sometimes it’s not just the record books that are rewritten — but our perspectives as well.

Pat Coleman, Keith McMillan and Ryan Tipps lay out their evolving perspectives, building off the week gone by and forecasting the Saturday ahead. We don’t live in a bubble, so please comment below or light it up on Twitter using the hashtag #3take.

Lots of teams that took Week 1 off are joining the fray this weekend:

Game of the week.
Ryan’s take: No. 3 Wesley at No. 6 Salisbury.
Two of the top teams in the country, led by two of the highest-outputting quarterbacks at this level, and playing in the storied Route 13 Rivalry. This is the kind of matchup worth salivating over.
Pat’s take: Christopher Newport at Hampden-Sydney. It’s high time these two teams played each other. They have scrimmaged each other fairly frequently, but have not met in a regular season or postseason game. But with a combined record of 139-53 over the past decade, these two Virginia schools should be on the field together, and it should be an entertaining game.
Keith’s take: No. 14 Redlands at No. 13 North Central. When the Bulldogs beat the Cardinals in California, it echoed throughout the top 25 for much of last season. This year, North Central is hosting, coming off a Week 1 loss to a WIAC team and looking to return the favor. North Central, long considered one of the D-III programs most likely to break through to Salem in place of the purple powers, is now fighting to avoid an 0-2 start. Meanwhile, it’s the opener for Redlands and quarterback Chad Hurst, and an opportunity to score another one for the SCIAC while national observers are paying attention. 

Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: Washington U. at Rhodes.
I typed and deleted this answer probably six times before settling on this game. Because, when it comes down to it, almost every game at this point in the season has a surprise element of some sort that affects the outcome, even if it’s just how a new player is going to perform under center or how well an offensive line will mesh. Me, I can see Washington being pretty beat up after taking on the defending national champs. That opens a door, even if just a crack, for Rhodes to be competitive.
Pat’s take: Eureka at St. Scholastica. The teams couldn’t have been further apart in their first-week opponents. There are a couple of other UMAC teams stepping up to play strong non-conference opponents (Northwestern playing St. John’s, MacMurray playing Wartburg) but Eureka beating Knox and St. Scholastica losing to Whitworth doesn’t show the relative strength of the teams. But Eureka, our pick to finish tied for sixth in the league, and St. Scholastica our pick to win it, should play an entertaining and relatively high scoring game. The question is whether the front six can get enough pressure on Eureka quarterback Sam Durley to force him to get rid of the ball. Otherwise he will pick apart just about any secondary in the UMAC.
Keith’s take: Montclair State at Salve Regina. The teams met last season, and the Seahawks were game but not able to win in New Jersey, losing 18-7. This time around, the game is in Rhode Island, the Red Hawks are fielding a much younger lineup and coming off a Week 1 loss. Salve, on the other hand, beat Union despite just 246 yards of total offense. That might not be enough to beat Montclair State, but Salve should against give them a scare, at least.

Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: No. 15 Bethel.
Bethel travels to Wartburg, but don’t think for a moment that the Knights’ 73-0 stomping of a lower-tier UMAC team did them many favors in terms of preparation. Complacency can’t set in. The Royals are a whole different beast. Wartburg at least has a game under its belt, which Bethel can’t claim.
Pat’s take: No. 21 UW-Platteville. Dubuque still has enough offensive talent to cause trouble. They won’t be intimidated by a WIAC team, especially not the ones across the river. I look at Dubuque and picture them thinking Platteville has the notoriety and the ranking Dubuque earned with its play last season.
Keith’s take: No. 9 St. John Fisher. Boy, one week we love you and the next … well, it’s not really that the Cardinals are ripe for upset. It’s that there’s playing at Washington & Jefferson, often the equal to fellow PAC power Thomas More. The Saints pushed the Cardinals into overtime in Week 1.

They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: No. 5 Linfield.
In Kickoff, I made an unusual prediction about the Wildcats, but to have a good run this fall, they need to make sure that they shore up their fresh-faced secondary. Hardin-Simmons has the ability to spread the ball around and get some yards, but turnovers for the Cowboys were a killer in Week 1. If Linfield can replicate that kind of containment of the HSU passing game, then the future in McMinnville will look even brighter.
Pat’s take: Huntingdon. If the experienced front four can bottle up or at least slow down Birmingham-Southern running back Shawn Morris, it will give the Hawks a little room to work with. Only the winner is likely to stay in contention for a playoff bid, and even then they really have to beat Wesley.
Keith’s take: Buffalo State and Brockport State. Okay, you got our attention in Week 1. The Bengals put up 49 points and 706 yards on Cortland State. The Golden Eagles limited Lycoming to 31 yards rushing, three third-down conversions and just 23:17 of possession and 60 snaps. Something’s got to give in this week’s clash of the SUNYs, and we’ll be watching the game at Brockport to see what.

Which team will bounce back from a Week 1 loss?
Ryan’s take: Christopher Newport.
Don’t be fooled by the Captains’ 40-16 loss last week. With 3:30 left in the third quarter, the score was 20-16, and CNU was notably keeping pace with the sixth-best team in the nation. CNU showed it had offense thanks to a strong passing attack, but the defense was simply worn down in the trenches. Hampden-Sydney doesn’t play such a hard-nosed style — they’re more of a finesse team. CNU should be ready to handle that well.
Pat’s take: No. 16 Franklin. Butler is beatable, even though it’s apparently “Band Day” at the D-I non-scholarship school. Butler’s better than Valparaiso is, a team which Franklin beat last year, but even being competitive is better than last week’s loss to Mount Union.
Keith’s take: Adrian, St. Norbert and Monmouth. This was covered in my Around the Nation column this week, so I have three teams at the ready. Defiance, Knox and Beloit are this week’s opponents for the Bulldogs, Green Knights and Scots, and if they all don’t win by double digits, I’d be stunned. 

Opener you’re most curious about.
Ryan’s take: DePauw.
I’m not sure that lining up against St. Olaf is going to tell me much about how well the Tigers will play against their new North Coast conference mates. DePauw’s lone year as an independent in 2011 told us a lot about the considerable rebuilding the team was going through (first losing season since 1995). The Oles are good at breaking through the bricks and mortar of a team, but DePauw can’t let Saturday’s likely setback cripple the next nine weeks.
Pat’s take: Bethel. I know the passing game has not been a big part of the Royals’ offense so I’m more interested in new quarterback’s Erik Peterson’s running ability. They’ll get a big test right out of the gate. Normally I would give Wartburg a bit of a bonus for having played a game already but MacMurray didn’t put up much of a fight and the starters were out early.
Keith’s take: Cal Lutheran. There are six teams who have yet to open up in the top 25, including Wabash, Redlands, Bethel, Baldwin Wallace and Mary-Hardin Baylor. I’m intrigued by all of them, but none more than the Kingsmen, who were a hair away from winning a playoff opener at Linfield last year, and earning the SCIAC unprecedented respect. I wanted to ride that wave and rank them higher, but with only 13 starters back, including six on offense and five on defense, I was wary. Seeing how the Kingsmen play in the opener against Pacific Lutheran will help define how voters feel about them, not to mention how they feel about themselves. Plus we’re all curious to see 6-4 star wide receiver Eric Rogers back in action.

Which long road trip will turn out the best?
Ryan’s take: Washington and Lee at Sewanee.
In Week 1, the Generals fell to Franklin and Marshall, in a matchup that’s opened the season for several years now. But even in those years in which W&L has lost, the Generals have shown themselves adept at bouncing back, righting their ship ahead of conference play. Making this all the more exciting is Sewanee, coming off its best season in nearly a decade and starting 2012 with a win. This should be a good matchup, with W&L ultimately landing its first win of the season.
Pat’s take: St. Olaf at DePauw. I think DePauw has more work to do before it can begin to bounce back from last year. The long trip is not all that unusual for the Oles, who played at Pacific Lutheran in 2009, so the only issue is that St. Olaf needs to play better than it did at Luther last week.
Keith’s take: Rowan at Merrimack. It’s basically NWC-SCIAC challenge week out West, but the matchups are surprisingly even. There are a ton of short non-conference trips this week, like Methodist to Guilford and Case Western Reserve to Hiram, leaving me to take a out-of-division game here. But if the Profs, like the Rowan teams of old, beats a team from a scholarship division, it sends a message to the NJAC that perhaps the program is back. Nevermind that Merrimack, from the D-II Northeast-10, is probably recruiting players who compare to those recruited into the NJAC, with Rowan’s public-school tuition and dearth of in-state competition for players. This is a winnable game for Rowan, riding high after the Week 1 upset. Merrimack, which lost, 45-18, to New Haven in its opener could be demoralized by an early Profs score or two.