Around the Nation Podcast: New faces the reason for excitement

You’ve been asking for this for years, haven’t you? John Carroll and UW-Oshkosh advanced to the national semifinals, meaning there will be at least one team in the Stagg Bowl for the first time. And Mount Union survived an offensive shootout at Alfred, meaning the defending champs are still alive, with a trip to face the No. 1 team in the offing. Pat and Keith talk through it all, plus preview the semifinal games, in this week’s Around the Nation Podcast.

This week’s podcast is sponsored by the City of Salem, hosts of Stagg Bowl XLIV. For more information about the Stagg Bowl or any national championship Salem hosts, visit

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

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Nico James, photo by Steve Frommell,
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Quick Hits on the quarterfinals

Is there enough offense in Anthony Moeglin’s right arm to overcome a stout Whitewater defense? Can Oshkosh manage to put enough points on the board to win at St. Thomas, or, for that matter, can St. Thomas manage to do enough to put away the Titans? Those are the games there’s the most dispute about this weekend, as our Quick Hits crew takes you through each of the four quarterfinals.

— Pat Coleman

Wheaton (Ill.) at Mary Hardin-Baylor

Keith’s take: UMHB 38, Wheaton 24. Two great D-lines cause havoc early, and the Thunder make it interesting before the Cru pull away.
Ryan’s take: UMHB 31, Wheaton 14. It’s very likely that UMHB is the best team in the country, and while Wheaton has been admirable, it’s hard to see them stop the Cru’s dual-threat offense or break through that hard-nosed defense.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: UMHB 38, Wheaton 14. Team speed and defensive pressure just too much for the Thunder to handle without a little lightning.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: UMHB 41, Wheaton 24. The Thunder are certainly peaking at the right time, but the Crusaders have too many weapons in all three phases. A big special teams play or turnover(s) will be too much for Wheaton to overcome.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: UMHB 31, Wheaton 21. Wheaton’s win vs. NCC was impressive, but the Cru’s win vs. Linfield showed the team’s level of consistency this season.
Josh’s take: UMHB 28, Wheaton 10. The Thunder’s defense was impressive last week vs. North Central. But this UMHB team is a different kind of beast.

Mount Union at Alfred

Keith’s take: Mount Union 35, Alfred 21. The Purple Raiders get the ground game going, and the purple Saxons run out of late-game heroics.
Ryan’s take: Mount Union 45, Alfred 17. Neither team has impressed this postseason, and Alfred, especially, has allowed an ugly amount of points the last two weeks against teams that are far less polished and prominent as The Machine.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Mount Union 38, Alfred 10.
This ends up being the textbook definition of handily. Mount names its score.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Mount Union 35, Alfred 23. I guess it’s time for me to stop doubting the Purple Raiders. The Saxons defense has been bending all postseason, and the offense will be facing its toughest test as well.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Mount Union 33, Alfred 20. Both teams have underwhelmed so far in the playoffs, but Mount Union still retains the edge in this one, having won in less-cardiac form.
Josh’s take: Mount Union 34, Alfred 14.
Mount Union’s playoff experience pays off in this matchup, and the Purple Raiders win comfortably.

UW-Oshkosh at St. Thomas

Keith’s take: St. Thomas 20, UW-Oshkosh 17. The winner of this game could well win the Stagg Bowl; Love the Titans but hard to see the Tommies’ D giving up many points.
Ryan’s take: UW-Oshkosh 20, St. Thomas 13. I picked the Titans to win this bracket before the playoffs started, and I still feel good about that. You can’t go into this not expecting it to be a defensive battle with two Top 5 scoring defenses.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: UW-Oshkosh 17, St. Thomas 13. Or 17-15 if UWO’s two-point conversion defense isn’t ready. Defense and special teams battle.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: St. Thomas 17, UW-Oshkosh 14. These two teams and programs have a lot of similarities. The team with home field advantage and playoff pedigree gets the slight edge.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: St. Thomas 27, UW-Oshkosh 17. The teams have won by a combined 178-36 score in their four games. Give the edge to the home team, when all else fails.
Josh’s take: St. Thomas 31, UW-Oshkosh 30.
This looks like a great game on paper, and on the field. St. Thomas has just enough, but it’s a game D-III fans talk about for several days after.

John Carroll at UW-Whitewater

Keith’s take: UW-Whitewater 21, John Carroll 13. What could be more exciting than 11 defensive linemen rotating in against perennially the best O-line in D-III? Lots of things, but, uh, this could be a classic game.
Ryan’s take: John Carroll 21, UW-Whitewater 17. I tossed and turned over this pick, but the recent tests that JCU has embraced and overcome gives them the edge after UW-W’s victories over teams with poor records or from weaker conferences.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: UW-Whitewater 26, John Carroll 13. JCU manages to slow the Whitewater offense, but the Warhawks do even more on defense and the UWW offense gets just enough done to win here.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: John Carroll 21, UW-Whitewater 20. JCU has come a long, long way since the season-opening loss at UW-Oshkosh. As long as Anthony Moeglin protects the ball on offense, the Blue Streaks defense will make enough plays in the red zone to deliver a statement win.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: UW-Whitewater 13, John Carroll 10. John Carroll’s defense was tremendous against Wesley, but their offense may not be able to score against the Warhawks. This may be the closest game of the four.
Josh’s take: UW-Whitewater 35, John Carroll 21. The Warhawks have endured injuries at several positions. But many of those players are coming back just in time to make a late-season push.

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


Quick Hits: Our second-round score picks

If the predictions hold, we are in for a great second round of games. The consensus of our group isn’t that any game will be out of hand. Both rematches should be closer than the first meeting, we think. A minority opinion, but still a present one, suggests the defending champion could lose this week, as well as the No. 1 team.

If any of this comes true, well, you saw it here first. And if something happens that isn’t represented here, then it’s a surprise.

You have predictions? Add them in the comments.

— Pat Coleman

Mary Hardin-Baylor bracket
Keith’s take:  UMHB 38, Linfield 31
Ryan’s take: UMHB 45, Linfield 33
Pat’s take: UMHB 34, Linfield 28
Adam’s take: UMHB 41, Linfield 38
Frank’s take: Linfield 31, UMHB 24
Josh’s take: UMHB 35, Linfield 27
Consensus: Definite hope for Linfield fans, even in the close margins on the other side.
Keith’s take: North Central 27, Wheaton 21
Ryan’s take: North Central 28, Wheaton 24
Pat’s take: North Central 31, Wheaton 27
Adam’s take: North Central 31, Wheaton 27
Frank’s take: North Central 30, Wheaton 27
Josh’s take: North Central 28, Wheaton 14
Consensus: Almost everyone thinks the rematch will be closer.
Alfred bracket
Keith’s take: Alfred 24, W. New England 17
Ryan’s take: Alfred 35, W. New England 21
Pat’s take: Alfred 29, W. New England 28
Adam’s take: Alfred 38, W. New England 21
Frank’s take: Alfred 34, W. New England 31
Josh’s take: Alfred 31, W. New England 28
Consensus: Bunch of close scores after Alfred’s first-round scare.
Keith’s take: Johns Hopkins 34, Mount Union 31
Ryan’s take: Mount Union 42, Johns Hopkins 17
Pat’s take: Mount Union 38, Johns Hopkins 35
Adam’s take: Johns Hopkins 40, Mount Union 38
Frank’s take: Mount Union 40, Johns Hopkins 24
Josh’s take: Mount Union 42, Johns Hopkins 28
Consensus: Not a straight sweep for Mount Union here.
St. Thomas bracket
Keith’s take:  St. Thomas 47, Coe 21
Ryan’s take: St. Thomas 35, Coe 14
Pat’s take: St. Thomas 31, Coe 20
Adam’s take: St. Thomas 42, Coe 20
Frank’s take: St. Thomas 40, Coe 20
Josh’s take: St. Thomas 38, Coe 17
Consensus: This is the only game that the group all feels will be more than one score.
Keith’s take: UW-Oshkosh 45, St. John’s 28
Ryan’s take: UW-Oshkosh 24, St. John’s 17
Pat’s take: UW-Oshkosh 30, St. John’s 21
Adam’s take: UW-Oshkosh 42, St. John’s 31
Frank’s take: UW-Oshkosh 24, St. John’s 14
Josh’s take: UW-Oshkosh 41, St. John’s 31
Consensus: Could be a low-scoring game. Could be a higher-scoring one.
UW-Whitewater bracket
Keith’s take: John Carroll 30, Wesley 20
Ryan’s take: John Carroll 33, Wesley 27
Pat’s take: Wesley 30, John Carroll 24
Adam’s take: John Carroll 35, Wesley 34
Frank’s take: Wesley 30, John Carroll 21
Josh’s take: Wesley 24, John Carroll 21
Consensus: Our most even split decision of the week, 3-3.
Keith’s take: UW-Whitewater 28, Wittenberg 13
Ryan’s take: UW-Whitewater 34, Wittenberg 17
Pat’s take: UW-Whitewater 31, Wittenberg 27
Adam’s take: UW-Whitewater 28, Wittenberg 27
Frank’s take: UW-Whitewater 34, Wittenberg 17
Josh’s take: UW-Whitewater 31, Wittenberg 21
Consensus: UW-Whitewater sweeps the table, but with one one-point margin and a four-point margin.