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ATN Podcast 270: Crowning a new champion

In other Division III sports, we often get to see schools experience the national championship event for the first time, and often get to see them come away a winner. In football, however, we haven’t had too much of that. Mount Union, UW-Whitewater and Mary Hardin-Baylor have combined to win the previous 14 Stagg Bowls.

But on Friday night in Shenandoah, Texas, we got something new, something decidedly less purple, as North Central brought a new program to the Stagg Bowl, with new back stories and histories. And the Cardinals came away emphatically as champions, defeating UW-Whitewater 41-14.

In this podcast, Pat, Keith, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas wrap up the game and wrap up the season. You can hear the debate and how we arrived at giving our three year-end awards to members of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. Plus, you’ll hear the emotion in a proud dad’s voice, a son who wanted to get his dad to hold the trophy, and a most outstanding player who tried to give his trophy away.

Plus, who should be No. 2? UW-Whitewater? Mount Union? Wheaton? Pat and Keith and Frank and Greg discuss that and more in Podcast 270. It’s the final podcast of 2019.

This edition of the D3football.com Around the Nation podcast is sponsored by Gotta Have It: 3D Fan Foam Wall Signs for the D-III fan in your life.

Pat and Keith talk about it all in the latest 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.

Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device.

Full episode:

You can subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in Apple Podcasts, and many other places. 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

Here’s how to find us on some of the major podcasting apps:

Theme music: DJmentos. d3photography.com photos by Caleb Williams, Doug Sasse, Tom Nettleton, d3photography.com file.

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Quick Hits predicts the quarterfinals

Eight teams remain in the chase for the Walnut and Bronze and those eight teams are ranked 2-9 in our Top 25. Maybe the best quarterfinal round ever? Our panelists predict winners and bring back their takes this week for each of Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas (photo by Dan Harris, d3photography.com)

UW-Whitewater at Mary Hardin-Baylor

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Keith’s take: UMHB 21, UW-Whitewater 17. The offenses aren’t loaded with playmakers like classic Crusaders and Warhawks teams, but the defenses remain elite, so expect a low-scoring slugfest.
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Ryan’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 21, UW-Whitewater 17. This will be the hardest either of these teams have had to work all season to find the end zone. And that’s no surprise, since matchups between these two teams have been historically low-scoring affairs. UHMB, though, has been nearly flawless all season, and UW-W hasn’t quite shown this year that it can get off to the hot first-half start it needs to against top-tier teams.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, UW-Whitewater 16.  Picturing a low-scoring game, and it could be even lower-scoring than this. But expect the Cru to get the job done up front on both sides.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 30, UW-Whitewater 14. The Warhawks’ offense is not inspiring as much confidence in recent weeks as the Cru’s is. Home field advantage makes a big difference at the Cruthedral. Since surviving against Hardin-Simmons, UMHB has outscored opponents 285-37. The Warhawks’ offensive inconsistency ends Whitewater’s run in the quarterfinals.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 24, UW-Whitewater 21. The CRU seem unstoppable on defense — with statistics better than the Warhawks’ numbers in many categories. With a relatively inexperienced QB behind center for Whitewater, I give the slight nod to UMHB.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor 15, UW-Whitewater 8. This one shapes up as a defensive grinder with neither team willing to take big chances on offense. The Cru have an advantage athletically, and I think a big play from Jonel Reed on offense or Keith Gipson on special teams will be the difference.

Consensus: Mary Hardin-Baylor are our unanimous pick, mostly in a low-scoring, single score margin.

St. John’s at Wheaton

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Keith’s take: St. John’s 42, Wheaton 41. The Thunder bandwagon ran out of available seating once people realized that team beat the team that beat Mount Union by two touchdowns. And the Johnnies have been beatable at times over the past month. But I don’t think Jackson Erdmann and pals are going down without a fight. At the very least, it’s a shootout.
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Ryan’s take: Wheaton 38, St. John’s 28. If the “defense wins championships” statement is true, we should be seeing a lot more of Wheaton this December. When you’re undefeated and your narrowest margins are 14-point wins versus North Central and Illinois Wesleyan, there’s not really a chink in the armor that St. John’s can viably exploit on Saturday.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Wheaton 45, St. John’s 28.  It feels weird predicting Wheaton to score fewer points than Aurora did on SJU, but not weird to predict SJU will score points.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: St. John’s 35, Wheaton 31. On paper, Wheaton looks like the most complete team still standing. If anyone can crack this defense, it’s Jackson Erdmann and the Johnnies. The reigning Gagliardi Trophy winner is on a mission to finish his career with a championship. If any Wheaton team is going to get over the hump, it’s this one. But to do it, they’ll have to shut down Erdmann and that’s a big ask.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: St. John’s 37, Wheaton 31. Jackson Erdmann seems to be getting better in the playoffs, and that’s trouble for the Thunder. I think St. John’s is more equipped to win a shootout like this, so I’m going with the Johnnies.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Wheaton 35, St. John’s 33. Elite offenses can and do score against elite defenses and I think St. John’s will get their points against Wheaton. Wheaton’s less heralded offense has been balanced and prolific all season and will be good enough to get the Thunder through to the semis.

Consensus: Even split!  The panel agrees the winner will put up a lot of points.

Muhlenberg at Salisbury

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Keith’s take: Salisbury 28, Muhlenberg 27.  I have no earthly idea who to pick here, since both teams have been smashing everything in their path for weeks. I find it hard to believe the Sea Gulls get shut down, but the Mules haven’t given up a point since the regular season.
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Ryan’s take: Muhlenberg 34, Salisbury 21.  There’s little question that this is the Mules’ toughest test of the season, but even with Salisbury bringing more balance to its offense, it doesn’t seem likely to unhinge a clamp-down defense like Muhlenberg’s.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Salisbury 41, Muhlenberg 35.  Could be even higher-scoring, but hard to suggest Muhlenberg allows 0, 0, > 41 in three games.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Muhlenberg 24, Salisbury 18. The Mules defense hasn’t allowed a point this postseason. The Sea Gulls offense has scored nearly every time it’s touched the ball. Jack Lanham proved that the Sea Gulls can win a shootout, even if they have to pass. But it’s doubtful that he can outduel Michael Hnatkowsky. The Mules defense will be up to the challenge of slowing the triple option attack.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Muhlenberg 17, Salisbury 10. The key to beating Salisbury: take them out of their comfort zone. While Sea Gulls QB Lanham can pass, his passing success is helped by the defense being lured into a rush-mode with the triple option. Muhlenberg’s defense is equipped for this game and for taking Salisbury out of that zone, and will force the pass more in the second half — leading to turnovers and a lower score.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Salisbury 35, Muhlenberg 31. We’ve got an unstoppable force versus immovable object situation here. I see a lot of offense early from the Sea Gulls, the Mules settling in and adjusting, but running out of possessions to complete a comeback.

Consensus: Another evenly split panel predicting a close game covering all levels of scoring.

Delaware Valley at North Central

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Keith’s take: North Central 35, Delaware Valley 14.  The Aggies have been an elite defense all season, but they’ll need their best performance of the year by far. Against an offense that just gained 699 yards, DelVal folks can dream it, and maybe live it, but I hope they understand why we wouldn’t predict it.
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Ryan’s take: North Central 41, Delaware Valley 17.  After Wabash hung around in the Round 1 game against NCC longer than they should have, I started to question some things about the Cardinals. Last week dispelled that doubt (obviously!), and now I’m even starting to wonder about the possibility of an all-CCIW Stagg Bowl. DelVal’s run ends here.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: North Central 41, Delaware Valley 20.  On record on Pod 265 as to what it will take for Del Val to win this game.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: North Central 38, Delaware Valley 24. Lost in all the excitement of the Cardinals’ historic win in the second round is the fact that North Central allowed 52 points. Delaware Valley wins with defense, and forced six turnovers to pull away from Wesley. The Cardinals’ offense will likely suffer from a relative letdown after last week’s fireworks, but will still have enough in the tank to maintain momentum into the semifinals.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Delaware Valley 27, North Central 25. Last week’s shocking victory by North Central might have been as much a reminder that the Mount Union defense hadn’t been battle-tested much this season. DelVal’s defense has had some challenges — twice against Wesley, and against some offensively-adept teams in the MAC. Slight edge to DelVal in a letdown game for North Central.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: North Central 44, Delaware Valley 20. I’ll echo whatever my fellow panelists have said about the inevitable exhale from North Central this week. North Central’s offense coming back down to Earth is still good enough to hang 40 on just about anybody. I don’t think the Aggies can count on six turnovers this week and the tournament’s road warriors bow out in Naperville.

Consensus: 5-1 in favor of North Central, generally by multiple scores.

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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ATN Podcast 264: The one with the second-round shocker

Highlights, reaction and analysis from across all parts of the bracket are what you find in this edition of the D3football.com Around the Nation podcast. That includes North Central coach Jeff Thorne’s reaction to the Cardinals’ epic win at Mount Union, and it also includes Jeff’s father, John Thorne, who retired from the position after the 2014 season, with his postgame reaction.

Salisbury quarterback Jack Lanham talks about the team’s balance between running and throwing the ball, and Union’s Paul Chambers talks about defending the Sea Gulls’ brand of triple option. St. John’s Jackson Erdmann and coach Gary Fasching talk about what is next for the Johnnies and what they face at Wheaton, while Wheaton coach Mike Swider expresses his pleasure with the way his Thunder started the game against Central.

UMHB coach Pete Fredenburg talks about this week’s most notable personnel change of the tournament: moving Jefferson Fritz from safety to linebacker. Why did he do it and what did it accomplish? And Muhlenberg linebacker Mickey Kober talks about one of the secrets to how the Mules have pitched back-to-back shutouts to start the playoffs. Note: The Union player who speaks in this podcast is misidentified. He is George Reed.

And if that’s not enough, Pat has a story for everyone who wanted to kick Mount Union out of Division III for being too successful. Maybe also for MIAC presidents as well.

Plus, Pat and Keith rank the quarterfinal matchups. All that and more is covered in Podcast 264.

This edition of the D3football.com Around the Nation podcast is sponsored by Gotta Have It: 3D Fan Foam Wall Signs for the D-III fan in your life.

Pat and Keith talk about it all in the latest 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.

Hit play, or subscribe to get this podcast on your mobile device.

Full episode:

You can subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in Apple Podcasts, and many other places. 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

Here’s how to find us on some of the major podcasting apps:

Theme music: DJmentos. Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com; Dan Poel, Ohiosi.com; Salisbury athletics.