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Quick Hits Week 4: Cracking the win column

This week the panel looks at a top-12 clash in the OAC, some big games down south, and which teams are poised to get their first win of 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. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll.  On the pod I took SJF-Ithaca, but I think this is the right call.
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Ryan’s take: No 8 Bethel at Gustavus Adolphus.  The Gusties hung tough with St. John’s already, and Bethel will need to be ready for its first real test of the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Franklin & Marshall at No. 24 Susquehanna.  Also in contention for the longest game when listed on scoreboards.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll. After thrashing Baldwin Wallace last week, the Purple Raiders face their biggest test of the regular season. If the Blue Streaks can’t put up a fight, expect The Machine to pick up even more top votes in next week’s poll.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll. Mount was moved to the No. 1 slot on my ballot last week, and John Carroll did a huge leap on it. I’m curious to see how this plays out, even if it’s a close JCU loss.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: St. Norbert at Monmouth. It’s a rematch of last year’s MWC championship. And the one before that. And maybe a preview of this year’s MWC championship. These teams know each other well is what I’m saying.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 24 Susquehanna.  I hate when panelists do the none thing, and F&M is averaging 41 points a game.
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Ryan’s take: No. 13 Ithaca.  Oppenent St. John Fisher is already better than they were last year, and there’s a sense of returning to form. And the Bombers have crept up unusually high in the poll.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor.  I actually feel we are unlikely to have any upsets at all, but HPU is improving and UMHB has struggled.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 24 Susquehanna. If there’s any week to pick “None” this is it. But what’s the fun in that? I’ll take undefeated Franklin and Marshall to contribute to the Centennial Conference chaos.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 18 Johns Hopkins. I think the topsy-turvy season for Hopkins continues here against a Dickinson team that has been a little inconsistent, but that has the pieces needed to win at home.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 25 Hobart. It took a pretty furious rally for the Statesmen to survive winless Rowan last week. This week, Montclair State closes the deal.

Which 0-3 team cracks the win column this weekend?

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Keith’s take: Hiram. Of the 35 choices, I like Hiram, as its level of competition has been tougher so far than Kenyon, this week’s opponent.
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Ryan’s take: Bridgewater State.  The Bears line up against Fitchburg, which statistically has the worst defense in the conference.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Belhaven.  In the battle of 0-3 teams, taking the one that looked good last week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Belhaven. The Blazers put a scare into Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday. If they can get the offense on track, they should be able to defeat fellow winless ASC foe McMurry.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Belhaven. Their three losses have been by a combined 30 points, but they include a close 10-point loss to UMHB last week. Their experience should lead to a win.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Belhaven. It’s hard to see the Blazers’ 23-13 loss at UMHB last week and not think they’re close to a cracking the win column in 2019. Hosting McMurry is a great opportunity.

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

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Keith’s take: Southwestern at Texas Lutheran. I am very fascinated by Southwestern’s hot start, yet Texas Lutheran is no easy W.
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Ryan’s take: Southern Virginia at Bridgewater.  The Knights are 2-0 for the first time in … ever. Curious to see if lightning will strike a third time.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Defiance vs. Anderson.  I think Anderson is beyond the point where it can be Defiance’s only win, but watching to be sure.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Mount St. Joseph at Franklin. Listen to my preview on today’s podcast. The Grizzlies will try to extend their win streak over the Lions to 10 games. Mount St. Joe has the edge at quarterback. Will that be enough to shake up the HCAC standings?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western New England at University of New England. For a second-year program like UNE, a huge upset like this would be a signature win. But UNE has a small chance here. WNE can’t look past this game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Denison at Wabash. It’s Homecoming. It’s Senior Day. It’s a critical conference game for both teams. And it’s also the first of the last five games at the current iteration of Hollett Little Giant Stadium.

Pick a winner in a LL vs. E8 game.

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Keith’s take: Cortland. SUNY Buffalo State and SUNY Cortland are in different conferences, and tiers. The Dragons outscoring opponents 94-7, and will get top 25 consideration soon.
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Ryan’s take: St. Lawrence over Hartwick.  The Saints’ Tyler Grochot puts up good numbers even in losses — he’ll be hard for the Hawks to stop.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Alfred.  There are a bunch of games that seem like pretty easy picks in this group, so I’m sure we’ll have a bunch of upsets instead.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 13 Ithaca defeats St. John Fisher. A battle of unbeatens, a turning point for two resurgent programs trying to reclaim the top spot in the East Region. I think this is Ithaca’s year.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: St. Lawrence (vs. Hartwick). The Saints got their first win last week and have played stronger generally based on schedule comparisons and scores. Home cookin’ seals this deal for them.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Cortland over Buffalo State. In their first season out of the E8, the Bengals are on the verge of a four-game non-conference sweep courtesy their former conference rivals. The good news is that they’re still 0-0 in league play.

Which Week 3 upset victim gets back on course this week?

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Keith’s take: Ursinus.A surprise 44-38 loser to Juniata last week, Ursinus gets a chance to get right against 0-3 Moravian.
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Ryan’s take: Washington & Jefferson. The game won’t come down to the fourth quarter for the Presidents, like it has two of the past three weeks already.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Ohio Northern. I’m not confident in any of them, but will take ONU to beat Otterbein.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Washington & Jefferson. Most of last week’s upset victims have an unwelcome bye week. They would much rather be on the field with the opportunity to get back on the winning path. The Presidents face a hungry Grove City team, which just had its nine-game winning streak snapped by Case Western Reserve.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Washington & Jefferson (at Grove City). That said, I think Grove City plays them very close, unlike last year and unlike last week’s disappointing Case Western Reserve loss.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Ohio Northern. Back home and under the lights, the Polar Bears shake off last week’s shocker and get a win over winless Otterbein.

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: Reaching the midway point

It’s hump week in Division III football: five weeks down, and five weeks remaining after this one. Does it feel like a Wednesday to you? If so, it can only be the best Wednesday ever! Here’s our crew’s predictions for Week 6.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer and Frank Rossi. Our sixth spot goes to a guest each week, and this week’s is Paul Schreel. Paul is an Ohio Northern grad and former Division III broadcaster now coaching high school football in Arizona.

— Pat Coleman

Which game is the Week 6 game of the week?

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Keith’s take: No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor. Red-hot teams could serve notice and crack top 5 or flip No. 1 votes.
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Ryan’s take: No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor. This is my most-anticipated conference title bout every year, and neither team has disappointed this year.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 5 Frostburg State at No. 6 Wesley. The first big battle in the NJAC, which might only have one big battle.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 5 Frostburg State at No. 6 Wesley. A rivalry, in its final year, likely with the conference title at stake. Last year’s OT thriller will be topped.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 5 Frostburg State at No. 6 Wesley. It’s the lowest combined ranking in an East Region matchup I can remember, and the stakes are major with just five Pool C bids available this year.  I expect a low-scoring affair.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor. With the No. 1 and No. 6 total offenses in Division III facing off, the first defense to force a punt could decide the game.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 9 St. John’s. There’s a Johnnies fan at work and he’s worried about quarterback Jaran Roste and the Royals.
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Ryan’s take: No. 9 St. John’s. Bethel is having a resurgence this year and could catch the Johnnies looking ahead to the biggin on Oct. 13.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 22 Whitworth. All the Top 25-on-Top 25 games mean qualifying upset opportunities are few. This pick relies on some overconfidence.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 24 Muhlenberg. The Centennial cannibalization continues as the Mules join Ursinus in the “previously unbeaten” ranks.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 20 RPI. It wouldn’t be an upset on my ballot, because I’ve had Ithaca higher all season. Ithaca’s body of work thus far has been better. Home field helps Bombers win a close game.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: No. 22 Whitworth. A week after a tough win over Linfield, the Pirates will have their hands full traveling to George Fox.

Outside of the ‘big six,’ which Top 25 game will be the most interesting?

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Keith’s take: Carthage at Illinois Wesleyan. Remember, Red Men gave UW-Oshkosh a run for its money.
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Ryan’s take: No. 22 Whitworth at George Fox. Coming off last week’s win, I’m curious if Whitworth is that good or Linfield was that bad. This’ll help me sort that out.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Chapman at Redlands. The last game of the night should be a good one, and the SCIAC automatic bid will likely go to the winner.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 22 Whitworth at George Fox. The Bruins could make it two in a row over the Pirates and the NWC could enter Week 3 of conference play wide open.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Willamette at No. 25 Linfield. Linfield should win big, but their performance so far places a lot in doubt. If Willamette keeps it close, I’d consider dropping Linfield out of my ballot entirely.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: No. 24 Muhlenberg at UrsinusThe Centennial Conference has four legitimate challengers for a title this year. The loser of this game is out of that conversation, though.

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

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Keith’s take: Alvernia at Misericordia. New and new-ish program have combined for four wins so far this season.
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Ryan’s take: Johns Hopkins at Franklin & Marshall. Two teams with a blemish and outside the T25, but I’m not ready to cast either to the curb just yet.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Whittier at Occidental. Oxy did the right thing and gave Whittier The Shoes after Oxy failed to make the 2017 game. Could Whittier snap its 33-game skid and win them outright?
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Manchester at Mount St. Joseph. I’ll be there to see how these prolific offenses stack up against quality competition, which is not always on the opposite sideline in the HCAC.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Norwich at Merchant Marine. I’ll be attending this game, as it’s a nearby matchup between two military service academies. If it’s anything like Norwich/Coast Guard two weeks ago, it will be a classic.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: Chapman at Redlands. It looks like the winner will be in the driver’s seat for a SCIAC title and the automatic playoff berth.

It’s hump week in D-III: Who serves notice that they’re going to turn things around?

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Keith’s take: Linfield. The 1-2 Wildcats chase a record 63rd consecutive winning season by winning at Willamette.
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Ryan’s take: Southwestern. After a solid ASC debut in 2017, my expectations were a lot higher for the Pirates, and the next couple of games are winnable ones.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Aurora. An 0-4 start, albeit against a slate of decent teams, is unexpected and the Spartans should bounce back.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Albright (vs. Wilkes). The Lions have played a brutal schedule and have taken a beating. They could start a run to finish over .500 in their final five games.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Buffalo State. With Alfred coming off a close game vs. Morrisville St., Buffalo State with their first win last week might have enough momentum to upset the Saxons in Buffalo.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: Cal Lutheran. The offense looked good last week against an overmatched Occidental but they will prove it wasn’t a fluke and go on a run in SCIAC play.

Pick an unranked unbeaten team which will lose (to an unranked team) this week?

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Keith’s take: Albion. At Hope, which knocks off one of the three 4-0 MIAA teams.
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Ryan’s take: Union. Granted, they’re not playing the Hobart of old, but this will still be a tough road for the Dutchmen.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Albion. The Britons have done well this season and that includes a win vs. Franklin but Hope comes in well-tested in the first five weeks.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Albion. Hope held a fourth quarter lead over Trine. The Flying Dutchmen regain momentum with a win over the unbeaten Britons.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Amherst. Middlebury has bounced back from its opening loss, playing winning football as consistently as Amherst. The Panthers shock the Mammoths in Vermont.
Paul Schreel
Paul’s take: Salisbury. Christopher Newport hosts the Sea Gulls and could hand them their first loss of 2018.

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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Around the Nation Podcast 209: A big six for Week 6

There are six huge games between ranked teams (or ranked teams and unbeaten teams) this week, and this is a week Pat will be on the road, as he is heading out to Los Angeles to see a pair of games involving evenly matched teams at each end of the SCIAC.

Big games abound: No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor; No. 5 Frostburg State at No. 6 Wesley; No. 10 UW-Oshkosh at No. 8 UW-Whitewater; No. 9 St. John’s at Bethel; No. 20 RPI at No. 23 Ithaca; and No. 19 Case Western Reserve at No. 12 Washington & Jefferson. We’ll preview each of those.

Plus, our guest this Friday is Marietta coach Andy Waddle. His team is one of the surprising 4-0 teams through five weeks, and he talks about what goes into the decision to go for a two-point conversion at the end of the game, even when it bucks the conventional wisdom. He talks about where his current running back, Tanner Clark, stacks up with some of his program greats, and we put him on the spot about the purple power that Marietta faces at the end of each season.

Pat and Keith also give us a quick overview of a half-dozen more games, and then they put each other on the spot. And this week, nobody has to rhyme their answers.

That and more on the D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast. The D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast is a regular conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan and guests covering the wide range of Division III football. 

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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

Theme music: DJmentos.

Photo: Zai Zai Smith, running back for Hardin-Simmons. (Hardin-Simmons athletics photo)