TAG | Shenandoah
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.
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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
Got a sense of the Division III landscape yet? Hopefully, now that we’re going into Week 5, the picture is getting a little clearer.
While we all see a lot, we don’t yet see it all. Folks might be unsure of whether Mount Union can again run the table in the OAC or whether Linfield’s debut loss was a fluke. We might also be wondering about the teams at the other end of the spectrum: Has the luster faded from Christopher Newport, or can Lebanon Valley salvage its season? We are armed with so many answers, but there are still many questions out there to target.
D3football.com Executive Editor Pat Coleman, Managing Editor Keith McMillan and Senior Editor Ryan Tipps have some things to say about the weekend ahead and which teams have something unique to watch out for.
Game of the Week.
Ryan’s take: No. 15 Willamette at No. 16 Linfield. The Wildcats began the year at No. 4 before falling unexpectedly in their opener to Cal Lutheran. Willamette, likewise, is a one-loss team that joins Linfield as the favorites in the NWC. This could turn ugly if Aaron Boehme is able to throw the ball with impunity against a Bearcats team that isn’t great against the pass. Willamette is keen on forcing turnovers, and giving their “fly” offense a short field will be important to ultimately taking control of the conference.
Pat’s take: No. 4 St. Thomas at No. 19 St. John’s. I am sure it’s alright if I pick the game I’m going to be at, considering that it’s likely that 15,000 people will be there with me. St. Thomas has lost 12 of these games in a row (also known as, hasn’t beaten St. John’s in the D3football.com era), and although there have been a few close ones in that stretch, I’m not sure last year should be one of them. St. Thomas was out of the game when two fourth-quarter special teams mistakes by St. John’s got them back in. The 15-for-31 passing sounds better than it is — even completed passes were off-target and left receivers in no position to do anything after the catch. Good news for St. Thomas is the alternating quarterbacks thing is done, but the bad news is Ben Wartman has been banged up and hasn’t played an entire game this year. Last year some of the Tommies looked a little rattled by the massive crowd in Collegeville. Perhaps the experience of three playoff games, two on the road, will give St. Thomas some perspective to draw on. Looking at a defensive battle.
Keith’s take: No. 8 Ohio Northern at No. 2 Mount Union . According to the order set in my look at 12 of this weekend’s top clashes in Around the Nation, I should choose No. 18 UW-Eau Claire at UW-Stevens Point here (only because Tipps already took the No. 1 game). And clearly the Blugolds and Pointers have the most at stake. But for sheer talent on the field, and gravity of a potential upset, Alliance may be Saturday’s epicenter.
Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: Elmhurst at North Park. Define “surprisingly close” however you’d like, but the two-win Vikings won’t play into the CCIW whipping-boy role against Elmhurst. Not only is North Park winning some this year, but they’re just flat out playing better football. Undefeated Elmhurst is having a stellar year as well, but it’s easy to believe it could be caught looking ahead a little to the Wheaton game on Oct. 9.
Pat’s take: Carthage at No. 10 North Central (Ill.). I’ll stay in the CCIW here. Carthage has played really well on offense of late. North Central will provide a stiffer test on defense than Franklin, Lakeland and Concordia (Wis.) have so far, but Carthage has a good amount of offense to bring to the table.
Keith’s take: John Carroll at Otterbein. The Blue Streaks opened their season with losses to Case Western Reserve and Mount Union, making them look worse than they are. (they give up 433 yards a game, for instance). Otterbein, which beat Heidelberg by a point in its last game. began the season ranked.
Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: No. 18 UW-Eau Claire. Is this the easy pick as most any game between WIAC teams could go either way on any given Saturday? Perhaps. Aside from a Week 1 loss against Willamette, UW-Stevens Point has been charging ahead with a run-by-committee approach to offense. Eau Claire has clearly battle-tested itself against some great nonconference teams, but the “W” in Wisconsin will be fueled by how peppy the Blugolds feel after last week’s loss to North Central.
Pat’s take: No. 17 Montclair State. But wow, was I tempted to take a rare opportunity to put Mount Union in this space. When does one really have the chance to do that? I think, however, that Montclair State has drifted a little high in the rankings. Kean at home under the lights, looking to make up for its season-opening loss to Cortland State, has plenty of motivation, even if there’s no bad blood anymore.
Keith’s take: No. 23 Cal Lutheran. There are at least four top 25 teams who will lose clashes against other ranked opponents, and a couple more facing teams that are or should be receiving votes. The Kingsmen have a dangerous Redlands team to worry about, one led by sixth-year quarterback Dan Selway, who has not been sacked and hasn’t had his best game. The Bulldogs defense has given up 17 points in two games against decent opponents (East Texas Baptist, Whitworth).
They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: FDU-Florham. The Devils aren’t a team that I notice a lot on an annual basis, but here they are, 3-0, already with as many wins as they’ve had in any season since 2005. A big test will come this weekend when they open conference play against Widener. Florham is the only undefeated team in the MAC. It’ll be interesting if they can stay that way.
Pat’s take: Birmingham-Southern. The Panthers aren’t yet eligible for the SCAC title or a playoff bid (or the D3football.com Top 25) but they are 3-0 heading into a home game against Trinity (Texas).
Keith’s take: Ripon. The Red Hawks’ triple-option has hummed to the tune of 322 yards per game in a 4-0 start, while Saturday’s opponent, Knox, isn’t in the nation’s top 200 in any offensive or defensive category. Ripon shouldn’t lose, but part of being a conference leader is putting away the teams you should beat.
Which conference race will get the most clarity after Saturday?
Ryan’s take: The ODAC’s. Emory and Henry hosts Randolph-Macon, and both enter 4-0. On paper, few teams come across as more evenly matched. Offensively and defensively, E&H and R-MC are among the top three statistically in the conference. And they have similar lopsided scores against a common opponent. As I pointed to in this week’s Around the Mid-Atlantic, the ODAC is living under the perception of parity. With two undefeated teams squaring off, we’ll see how that perception plays out.
Pat’s take: The OAC. Well, I mean, it’s certainly possible Mount Union doesn’t win the league outright. It’s happened in current players’ lifetimes. But even if it doesn’t happen, we’ll know the road map a lot better after the Mount Union-Ohio Northern game.
Keith’s take: The NEFC. The CCIW and ODAC pictures will clear up a bit, but both sides of the NEFC have surprise leaders in big clashes this weekend. In Kickoff ’10, I thought Endicott might usurp Curry in the Boyd, and they each head into their meeting this week at 3-1. The Colonels might not yet be ready to end their run of dominance; they’ve allowed just seven points against D-III teams, while the Gulls have played three close games. On the Bogan side, favored Maine Maritime is rushing for a national-best 488 yards per game but gave up 46 points last week in a surprising loss to Fitchburg State, after winning their first two by shutout. The Mariners try to bounce back against Worcester State, a bit of a surprise at 3-1. Framingham State is also unexpectedly 3-1, and faces 2-2 Mass. Maritime.
Which team with a conference loss can help itself the most?
Ryan’s take: Norwich. The Cadets dealt the Empire 8 its first loss of the season in nonconference play and then fell in the ECFC opener by one point to Mount Ida. Too many drives died before they even got started. This weekend at Becker starts a stretch of four games against teams that are currently a combined 1-13 against Division III opponents. Using this time to shore up their game and eliminate mistakes will open up opportunities before they line up against SUNY-Maritime.
Pat’s take: Hardin-Simmons. The Cowboys can’t let down against an East Texas Baptist team that has already taken down UW-La Crosse and came out and surprised McMurry last week. Yes, last week’s loss to Mary Hardin-Baylor probably puts the Cowboys out of the ASC race, but there’s still a lot of season left and Hardin-Simmons needs to win the final six games.
Keith’s take: Lewis & Clark. The Pioneers aren’t ready to contend, but hosting Pacific, in its first year back on the field, is an opportunity to pick up a second win this early for the first time since 2003. As the program begins a rise, it can’t really afford to fall to the Boxers.
What team really needs a morale win this weekend?
Ryan’s take: Both Christopher Newport and Shenandoah. And these teams happen to play each other on Saturday. The Captains are off to the worst start in the young history of their program. And for a team that has spent a lot of its seasons in the playoffs, 2010 has to be hard to digest. But the win they need isn’t necessarily the win they’ll get. Even in CNU’s best years, Shenandoah has historically played this game tough. The Hornets were thought to be entering a season of improvement over last year, when they lost six games by a field goal or less. However, SU, as well as CNU, are winless this season, and both are coming off a bye week to get their act together.
Pat’s take: Hamline. I’m not going to say our expectations for Hamline were high this year but we did picture a .500 season. Instead, the Pipers are 0-3 and after getting trashed at home by Carleton last week, a team that had lost to Crown, a loss to Macalester has to be considered a distinct possibility.
Keith’s take: Occidental. Interim coach Eric Bergstrom has the Tigers off to a 1-1 start, but coach Dale Widolff is suspended until Oct. 10 and the team hasn’t played since Sept. 11. In the Myron Claxton’s Shoes Game vs. Whittier, Occidental could very much use a victory to rally around. Limiting the Poets’ run game (269.5 yards per in a 1-1 start) is a key.
Birmingham-Southern · Cal Lutheran · Carthage · Christopher Newport · Elmhurst · FDU-Florham · Hamline · Hardin-Simmons · John Carroll · Lebanon Valley · Lewis and Clark · Linfield · Montclair State · Mount Union · NEFC · North Central (Ill.) · North Park · Norwich · OAC · Occidental · ODAC · Ohio Northern · Otterbein · Ripon · Shenandoah · St. John's · St. Thomas · UW-Eau Claire · Willamette
It’s true — Shenandoah’s move to the ODAC for 2012-13 doesn’t immediately put the USA South’s automatic bid to the football playoffs in jeopardy. However, there are surely more moves to come.
Even with no more changes, the USAC will have seven football-playing members in 2012, the minimum required to maintain an automatic bid, because Maryville is an associate member of the league. However, the departure of Shenandoah from the league means there are just six teams remaining in the other men’s sports in the conference: Averett, Christopher Newport, Ferrum, Greensboro, Methodist and North Carolina Wesleyan. After a two-year waiting period, the conference would lose its automatic bid in baseball, men’s basketball and other sports in 2014-15, unless additions are made.
Now, I went into this in more detail on the D3hoops.com Daily Dose, but I’ll whittle it down to bullet points for the football-focused discussion.
- The USA South needs more men’s members.
- The nearest available schools are from the Great South, which does not sponsor football.
- Adding those schools greatly reshapes the footprint of the conference.
- That would make Christopher Newport an extreme geographic outlier in the northeast corner of the league.
- CNU could then decide to leave for reasons of travel costs, same as Shenandoah did.
- Therefore, change might be even more urgent.
Here’s a couple of things that could happen. The USA South could choose to bring in Huntingdon and LaGrange as associate members in football as well, bringing the league to nine schools, although the conference really needs at least one full member with men. (The league has three women’s-only schools.) Piedmont is the closest school of the Great South to USAC country, but doesn’t have football. Huntingdon is a few hours further away. A full USAC-GSAC merger is possible but fairly large for women’s sports and perhaps unwieldy for men’s sports, although a divisional setup is possible as two other non-football schools in Georgia work their way into the GSAC.
Bottom line: Huntingdon and LaGrange could still be out in the cold. But if Christopher Newport leaves for all sports and finds football affiliate membership somewhere besides the USA South, the conference will need them.
Keith McMillan talks at length about some of the trips he has taken since starting the Around the Nation column back in 2001. Some of those trips he and I have taken together, sometimes he’s been on his own, but the goal, at least unofficially, is to see every Division III team play someday, and see a game in every home stadium.
Now, to be honest, that isn’t very realistic. The fact remains that it’s very difficult to see more than one game in a weekend, which limits the number of teams either of us can see in a season. And I recently moved away from the east coast, where I had a much better chance of knocking teams off the list. But I’ll continue to give it a try.
I’m only counting the teams I’ve seen play (must have seen at least half of a game to qualify) and stadiums I’ve been in for a D-III game. I’ve also visited a bunch of campuses and walked through, or around a bunch of stadiums: Aurora, Beloit, Concordia (Ill.), Delaware Valley, Hamline, Huntingdon, Illinois Wesleyan, LaGrange, Lake Forest, Lebanon Valley, Lewis and Clark, Millsaps, Mississippi College, North Park, Northwestern, Oberlin, St. Thomas, Susquehanna, Trinity (Conn.), Wittenberg, Wooster, WPI. But I’ve seen 108 teams play, by my count, and seen games in 61 stadiums.
This doesn’t count Swarthmore, which I saw play back in the ’90s. Unfortunately, it seems that was a one-time occurrence.
Some of the places I’ve seen games have changed quite a bit. I mean, I was at St. John Fisher in 1994 but I know the stadium isn’t a bit like that was. I saw FDU-Madis… excuse me, FDU-Florham in a different era. Soon my view on RPI will be outdated. But they all count. And maybe I’ll get back there again.
Here’s who I’ve seen play, starting in 1991: Albright, Alfred, Augsburg, Augustana, Aurora, Benedictine, Bethel, Blackburn, Bridgewater (Va.), Brockport State, Cal Lutheran, Capital, Carleton, Carnegie Mellon, Catholic, Central, Chicago, Christopher Newport, Coast Guard, Coe, Cortland State, Crown, Curry, Delaware Valley, Dickinson, East Texas Baptist, Elmhurst, Emory & Henry, FDU-Florham, Franklin & Marshall, Frostburg State, Gallaudet, Gettysburg, Greensboro, Grove City, Guilford, Gustavus Adolphus, Hampden-Sydney, Hanover, Hardin-Simmons, Hobart, Howard Payne, Huntingdon, Ithaca, John Carroll, Johns Hopkins, Kean, King’s, Linfield, Louisiana College, Lycoming, Macalester, Maranatha Baptist, Mary Hardin-Baylor, McDaniel, McMurry, Merchant Marine, Methodist, Millsaps, Mississippi College, Minnesota-Morris, Montclair State, Mount Union, Muhlenberg, North Carolina Wesleyan, New Jersey, Newport News, Nichols, North Central, Northwestern (Minn.), Pacific Lutheran, Principia, Randolph-Macon, Rockford, Rowan, RPI, Salisbury, Shenandoah, Springfield, St. John Fisher, St. Olaf, St. John’s, St. Scholastica, St. Thomas, Susquehanna, Thiel, Thomas More, Trinity (Conn.), Trinity (Texas), Union, Ursinus, UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Stout, UW-Whitewater, Washington and Jefferson, Washington and Lee, Washington U., Waynesburg, Wesley, Western Connecticut, Wheaton, Widener, Wilkes, William Paterson, Williams, Wittenberg, Worcester State.
Key gets: I went out of my way to see Cal Lutheran when they came to Muhlenberg in 2002. Saw a bunch of teams last year at the UMAC’s Dome Day. Picked off both Macalester and St. Scholastica just this past weekend. Saw both Susquehanna and Grove City play at Dickinson, in 1999 and 2000, and never since. Traveled with Catholic when I was a student to a game at the University of Chicago.
And the schools at which I’ve seen games: Albright, Augsburg, Benedictine, Bridgewater (Va.), Capital, Carnegie Mellon, Catholic, Central, Chicago, Coast Guard, Cortland State, Dickinson, Elmhurst, FDU-Florham, Franklin & Marshall, Frostburg State, Gallaudet, Gettysburg, Hampden-Sydney, Hardin-Simmons, Johns Hopkins, Kean, King’s, Linfield, Lycoming, Macalester, Mary Hardin-Baylor, McDaniel, McMurry, Merchant Marine, Montclair State, Mount Union, Muhlenberg, New Jersey, North Central, Randolph-Macon, Rowan, RPI, Salisbury, Shenandoah, Springfield, St. John Fisher, St. Olaf, St. John’s, Thiel, Trinity (Texas), Union, Ursinus, UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, UW-Whitewater, Washington and Jefferson, Washington U., Wesley, Western Connecticut, Wheaton, Widener, Wilkes, William Paterson, Williams, Worcester State.
New this year: East Texas Baptist, Macalester, St. Scholastica, Wartburg,
There are certainly some holes in this list. Never seen Wabash (or DePauw, take it easy, people!). I’ve never been to a SCIAC school or seen anyone from the Midwest Conference. Didn’t take nearly enough advantage of my year in Connecticut. But I’ll get the list down, slowly but surely.
Not sure if Keith will chime in with his list, but anyone else is welcome, of course.
Albright · Alfred · Augsburg · Augustana · Aurora · Benedictine · Bethel · Blackburn · Bridgewater (Va.) · Brockport State · Cal Lutheran · Capital · Carleton · Carnegie Mellon · Catholic · Central · Chicago · Christopher Newport · Coast Guard · Coe · Cortland State · Crown · Curry · d3nation · Delaware Valley · Dickinson · East Texas Baptist · Elmhurst · Emory & Henry · FDU-Florham · Franklin & Marshall · Frostburg State · Gallaudet · Gettysburg · Greensboro · Grove City · Guilford · Gustavus Adolphus · Hampden-Sydney · Hanover · Hardin-Simmons · Hobart · Howard Payne · Huntingdon · Ithaca · John Carroll · Johns Hopkins · Kean · King's · Linfield · Louisiana College · Lycoming · Macalester · Maranatha Baptist · Mary Hardin-Baylor · McDaniel · McMurry · Merchant Marine · Methodist · Millsaps · Minnesota-Morris · Mississippi College · Montclair State · Mount Union · Muhlenberg · New Jersey · Newport News · Nichols · North Carolina Wesleyan · North Central · Northwestern (Minn.) · Pacific Lutheran · Principia · Randolph-Macon · Rockford · Rowan · RPI · Salisbury · Shenandoah · Springfield · St. John Fisher · St. John's · St. Olaf · St. Scholastica · St. Thomas · Susquehanna · Thiel · Thomas More · Trinity (Conn.) · Trinity (Texas) · Union · Ursinus · UW-Eau Claire · UW-La Crosse · UW-Stout · UW-Whitewater · Washington and Jefferson · Washington and Lee · Washington U. · Waynesburg · Wesley · Western Connecticut · Wheaton · Widener · Wilkes · William Paterson · Williams · Wittenberg · Worcester State