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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 salemchampionships.com.

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.

Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device. 
Nico James, photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
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
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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

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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.
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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.
Guest
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

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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.
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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.
Guest
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

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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.
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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.
Guest
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

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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.
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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.
Guest
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.

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Around the Nation Podcast: Tense moments

Whether you were among the excited, with no rooting interest, or among the tense, with your season hanging in the balance, the 3 p.m. hour-plus in the Eastern Time Zone on Saturday was a great time to be a Division III football fan. Three games came down to the final play, and Pat and Keith talk about them all in detail, as well as the other 13 first-round 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 salemchampionships.com.

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.

Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device. 
Photo by Dan Poel, d3photography.com
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