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Quick Hits Week 7: All eyes on Minnesota

This week our Quick Hits panel delivers takes on Johnnie-Tommie, of course, but also points out upsets brewing out east, undefeated runs coming to an end, and which teams are going to go home victorious for the first time this season.

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

— Greg Thomas
Photo by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com

Which game is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: Johnnie-Tommie. I might have gotten it wrong on the pod, but I’m right here. Given the rankings and the atmosphere, don’t think you can go anywhere else for GOTW.
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Ryan’s take: The Johnnie-Tommie Game. As Pat would say … next question.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: The Johnnie-Tommie game. Not to go MIAC two weeks in a row, but to be honest, you have to.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Johnnie-Tommie. This should be unanimous. Next question.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 4 St. John’s vs. No. 11 St. Thomas. It’s a survival game for St. Thomas and a major rivalry game — you can’t ask for much more than that.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Johnnie-Tommie, yes. But also Hobart @ Ithaca, Middlebury @ Wesleyan, Wartburg @ Simpson, Delaware Valley @ Wilkes, and Alfred @ Cortland make for a nice undercard.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 9 Ithaca. The Bombers (5-0) would probably have to play their worst game of the season to lose to visiting Hobart (4-1), but I don’t like to cop out and say none for this question.
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Ryan’s take: No. 19 UW-Platteville. Opponent UW-Stout has been playing better than their record would show, and Platteville is coming off a difficult loss last week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 12 Salisbury. Rowan has played well against a tough schedule and Salisbury can’t possibly execute as well as it did against Wesley.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 22 Cortland. The Red Dragons have looked impressive, but against inferior competition. The first real test of the season comes in Week 7 against 5-1 Alfred. The Saxons are 4-1, coming off a bye week, and are faced with a must-win.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 22 Cortland (vs. Alfred). Alfred had a bye week in Week 6, while Cortland struggled with Morrisville St. With 21 sacks in five games, the Saxons’ defense needs to reach Cortland QB Brett Segala to win this.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 16 Delaware Valley. If there is a serious challenger in the MAC to the Aggies, it’s got to be the undefeated, home standing Wilkes Colonels.

Pick a winner from a game between unbeaten conference opponents.

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Keith’s take: I think Del Val handles Wilkes, which is 5-0 against a schedule that’s 6-16 in its other games, and ranked 209th by one metric and 230th by another.
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Ryan’s take: No. 22 Cortland, over Alfred. The Red Dragons’ margins of victory have been impressive all year, though this week starts the first game in a very tough back half of the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: St. Norbert, vs. Beloit. This might be the biggest gimme on the board.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Monmouth. The Scots haven’t lost an MWC South contest since 2014. After laboring through an unexpected bye week due to Grinnell cancelling its season, the Scots will take out their frustration on Illinois College.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Anna Maria (vs. Dean). This ECFC game could go a long way in deciding the conference winner, since there are just five league games per member. Anna Maria “rings the bell” in Paxton, Mass.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 18 Wartburg. I’m higher on the Knights than the Top 25 is overall and I expect they’ll be able to weather the Storm on Saturday.

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

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Keith’s take: Morrisville State at Utica: The Mustangs nearly knocked off Alfred and Cortland the past two weeks. They are going to catch someone napping.
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Ryan’s take: The middle of the NCAC. With 4-1 OWU squaring off against 3-2 DePauw, and 4-1 Denison against 3-2 Wooster, we’ll get a whole new (clearer?) picture of the conference after this weekend.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: The panel is pretty solid. But I know that if I don’t punch in the score of the Central-Buena Vista game, nobody else will either.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Misericordia at FDU-Florham. For the second straight season, the Cougars have opened conference play with a win streak. Impressive after the program failed to string together consecutive wins through its first six years. I’ll be keeping an eye on Misericordia as long as the streak is alive.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Springfield at Merchant Marine. The Mariners can’t get caught looking ahead to a potential NEWMAC undefeated showdown in Week 8 at WPI. Springfield needs to win the game to survive in the NEWMAC race.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Washington U. @ No. 5 Wheaton. Wheaton has a game in hand against their chief CCIW rivals, but the Bears can formally insert themselves into the CCIW race by duplicating their 2018 upset of the Thunder.

Pick one of the remaining 23 undefeated teams to drop their first game.

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Keith’s take: St. Olaf‘s schedule (8-17, 204th, 215th) is not much better than Wilkes’. Bethel gets it done.
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Ryan’s take: Wilkes, to Delaware Valley.  Though having a loss to a nationally ranked team, the Aggies are still likely to come out on top in the MAC in Week 11.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Picked one above and will add Wilkes to the list.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: St. Olaf. I discussed this deja vu in today’s podcast. For the second straight season, the Oles opened 5-0. They will likely once again suffer their first loss at the hands of the Royals. Winning just one of their final five contests will give the Oles their best season since 2012.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 4 St. John’s St. John’s has been somewhat inconsistent on offense, while St. Thomas has been more consistent on both sides of the ball. We’ll see if Eau Claire was a fluke or not by the end of this game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: St. Olaf. I expect a solid rebound game from Jaran Roste and the Bethel Royals and a reminder about the pretty clear tiers that exist in the MIAC.

Pick one of the remaining 28 winless teams to pick up their first win.

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Keith’s take: Allegheny (0-5) has had a top-loaded schedule, and will get on the right track against 3-2 Kenyon.
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Ryan’s take: Buffalo State, over Rochester. In a game not as close as you’d think between two winless teams.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Buffalo State. At least we know there will be one.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Maryville. The only 2018 playoff participant still seeking its first victory of 2019, the Scots face an improved Methodist squad. Maryville’s offense finally got going in Week 6, putting up a season-high 35 points against Huntingdon. The defense will have its hands full once again against running back Vontre Howard and the Monarchs.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Gettysburg (at Juniata). Juniata has had an inconsistent path this season, making the Week 5 win before the bye potentially lead to a Week 7 loss, if the trend continues.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Allegheny. The Gators’ first half schedule was tough, but I’m not sure 0-5 is how most saw the Rich Nagy era starting. Kenyon has been a good first half story, but I think it is Allegheny’s turn to notch a win.

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 Week 5: Ringing in October

Our Quick Hits panel is back with (Little Brass) bells on to get you ready for the second month of the season. This week we’re looking at big games in the Liberty League and the MIAA, who is circling the wagons, and who might springboard into the Top 25 after this weekend. Oh, and there’s a big one in Chicagoland as well.

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

— Greg Thomas

Photo: Union athletics

Which game not involving a brass bell is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. There are a handful of WIAC & MIAC games that belong, and this one might effectively end someone’s playoff hopes. Already.
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Ryan’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. We’re all still trying to gauge the No. 2 and 3 spots in the WIAC. Both teams already have quality wins, and this will provide clarity.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. I haven’t investigated whether there is a bell involved in this game, to be honest. Hope it qualifies.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at No. 14 St. Thomas. Every game is now a must-win for the Tommies. The Cobbers fared equally well, if not better than, St. Thomas against WIAC competition. Interested to see how UST responds after last week’s setback.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 21 Hobart at Union. I explain the intriguing matchup in today’s ATN Podcast.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Hope at Trine. This game has decided the MIAA champion in each of the last two seasons and may be the de facto championship game again this year.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 14 St. Thomas. The loss last week was quirky and not too concerning. But Concordia-Moorhead might be really good.
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Ryan’s take: No. 24 Trine. The Thunder seem shaky at times considering how many points they’ve given up so far this season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 24 Trine. Probably others as well, but Trine seems like a team trading on 2018 success in the 2019 Top 25.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse. The narrow non-conference wins over quality opponents aren’t looking quite as impressive since those teams have both underwhelmed this year. Facing UW-Platteville on the road will give the Eagles a chance to prove themselves worthy of this high ranking.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse (at UW-Platteville). It seems like the roles are reversed this year for these teams, with Platteville having the chance to play spoiler instead of having to protect its ranking.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 15 Wesley. Yes, Rowan is winless, but the Profs have shown well against Linfield and Hobart. Reports out of Dover that E.J. Lee has been shut down for the year create more questions for a Wesley offense that hasn’t really taken off yet.

North Central’s top ranked offense or Wheaton’s top ranked defense?

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Keith’s take: Wheaton’s defense. I watched Wheaton shut down Illinois Wesleyan, so give me the Thunder.
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Ryan’s take: North Central’s offense. I’m normally all about D in these situations, but this year’s NCC offense under Rutter is too potent to slow down.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: North Central’s top-ranked offense. This game has been pretty high-scoring over the past few meetings and don’t expect a change now.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: North Central. As much as it pains me to ever choose offense, I can’t pick against two of the nation’s top offensive players in quarterback Broc Rutter and offensive lineman Sharmore Clark.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: North Central’s offense. Defense wins championships, but offense wins games like these.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: North Central’s offense. These teams have split the last 14 Little Brass Bell games and it feels like Broc Rutter has started all of them. I’m not betting against him in his last shot at rival Wheaton.

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

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Keith’s take: Albright at FDU-Florham. After three games against teams that are 8-1, the Lions get to face someone on their level and try to snap a 14-game losing streak.
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Ryan’s take: Willamette at Whitworth. I’m eager to see how the bye week treated the Pirates, after the Week 3 upset by Chapman.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Kenyon at Oberlin. But, you’ll have to listen to today’s podcast (No. 247) to find out why.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Carnegie Mellon at Grove City. The Tartans are on some Top 25 ballots already and can continue to climb if they knock off the Wolverines on the road. Grove City is trying to avoid a three-game losing skid on the heels of a nine-game winning streak.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Mass-Dartmouth at Framingham State. The Corsairs look to move to 5-0, but 1-2 Framingham State looks to remain undefeated in the conference and defend its MASCAC crown.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Eureka at Aurora. Look, I like points. Lots of points. These teams both score over 40 points per game and gain over 500 yards per game. If you like wide open offense, this game is for you.

Pick one of the seven six groups of Pioneers in action to get a win this week.

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Keith’s take: William Paterson. A lot of tough matchups for Pioneers this week, but this is both podcast appropriate, and vs. TCNJ, a safer bet.
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Ryan’s take: Marietta, though it won’t be as close as last-year’s one-point win was.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Marietta. Literally the only one I can get on board with here.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Marietta. Whatcha gonna do, brotherrrr, when Tanner Clark runs all over you? He’s sixth in D-III at 145.7 yards per game. ONU’s defense has underwhelmed so far.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: William Paterson (vs. TCNJ). Dustin Johnson has the Pioneers clicking right now, and TCNJ continues to struggle at 0-3.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: UW-Platteville. The Pioneers from Wisconsin have been impressive through the early part of the season while La Crosse has been forced to overtime twice already.

Which unbeaten, unranked team makes the strongest statement for Top 25 votes this weekend?

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Keith’s take: The Case Western Reserve/Westminster winner. If you’re making me pick, I’ll take the Titans, I suppose.
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Ryan’s take: Cortland. They don’t need much of a nudge to crack the Top 25, and taking down a 2-1 Utica team should get them there, especially if it’s as lopsided as their other games have been.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Cortland, vs. Utica. These Pioneers are off to a pretty good start and if Cortland handles Utica, it should open some eyes.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Union. A win over ranked Hobart would almost assuredly get the Dutchmen into the Top 25. At least if other voters share my belief that winning all your games this season is more representative than program pedigree or past seasons’ performance.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Union (vs. No. 21 Hobart). Because I’m a 1998 grad, and because I’m making my first appearance at Union in three years.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Carnegie Mellon. The Tartans only need to find themselves on a few more ballots to crack the Top 25 and an impressive win over Grove City may well collect the additional support they need. Also, Platteville (see above).

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 Week 3: Conference clashes and crossovers

This week our panel has their eyes on a pair of Top 25 games to start CCIW play, another key conference opener down south, and a crossover challenge as non-conference play across the country winds down.

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. 18 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 17 Wheaton: In a conference that could be a four-team race, there won’t be enough playoff spots for all the postseason-worthy teams, so wins Saturday are a must.
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Ryan’s take: No. 25 Susquehanna at No. 8 Muhlenberg. I’ve loved watching the rise in recent seasons of these Centennial teams, making this “academic conference” a frequent contender at higher levels.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 13 Berry at Trinity (Texas). Berry has had a good run, while Trinity is an up-and-comer which needs this win.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Alfred at No. 22 Ithaca. Lots of choices this week, but I think this one has the biggest season-defining stakes. Honorable mention to Baldwin Wallace at Mount Union..
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Stevenson at No. 21 Delaware Valley. With the balance of power in the MAC still likely residing with these two teams, they are both in desperate need of a bounce-back win after Week 2 losses.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 18 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 17 Wheaton. The CCIW is cutting right to the chase. The Titans are in familiar territory, facing a difficult bounce back game against the Thunder after a tough opening loss to UW-La Crosse.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 11 Linfield. I have the Wildcats ranked here as well, but the trip to Redlands will help determine whether that’s because of name recognition.
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Ryan’s take: No. 13 Berry (at Trinity). Trinity showed last week against Hardin-Simmons just how tough they are this year – more than able to hang with top-notch opponents.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: None. Despite all of the comparing of scores from the first two weeks, No. 4 St. John’s should be safe from Gustavus.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 13 Berry. I almost got the Trinity upset pick right last week, might as well roll the dice with the Tigers one more time.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 12 Washington & Jefferson (at Carnegie Mellon). The Tartans have looked decent in their two road wins, making this a good challenge for the Presidents. It should be close enough for a potential upset.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 5 North Central. The Bears have a pretty good QB of their own in Johnny Davidson and maybe there’s a little extra juice at Francis Field as the Larry Kindbom farewell tour officially kicks off.

Which conference opener will have the most impact in November?

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Keith’s take: No. 13 Berry at Trinity. The SAA could long be looking back at this result while waiting for the Week 11 Centre-Berry clash.
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Ryan’s take: No. 18 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 17 Wheaton. Certainly GOTW worth, too, games like this become vital in the CCIW as more teams (think: Wash U) vie for the upper tier.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Illinois Wesleyan at No. 17 Wheaton. The only game close to this is the other CCIW game, as the winnowing starts early.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 5 North Central at No. 24 Wash U. How will the Bears respond in their first game since head coach Larry Kindbom publicly announced his retirement? A home game against the top team in the CCIW will have emotions running high.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 13 Berry at Trinity. The SAA race, in my estimation, is going to be headlined by these two teams — I’m not sold on Centre yet, so this is the de facto too-early championship game for me.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 13 Berry at Trinity. I think the winner of this game goes on to win the SAA and if it that team happens to be Trinity, we could wind up with three tournament teams in Texas which might force some creativity into this year’s bracket.

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

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Keith’s take: Augsburg at Concordia-Moorhead: Curious to see, after two close losses to ranked teams, what the Cobbers look like against mere mortals.
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Ryan’s take: Averett at Ferrum. Despite being 1-1, Averett has impressed this season. And Ferrum has a lot of muscle to flex behind senior running back Brian Mann.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Aurora at Hope. ut more people should be following this one, because it should be an entertaining game.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Occidental at Willamette. Two of the nation’s longest losing streaks. Occidental’s 2019 opener. This will be cathartic for whoever emerges victorious.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Rowan at Hobart. 0-2 Rowan. 2-0 Hobart. Doesn’t sound great, but Rowan played Linfield tough, and Hobart looked mortal against Morrisville St. in Week 2. Should be a tough game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 11 Linfield at Redlands. I’ll be on site for this game between the name brand in D3 west coast football and a Redlands squad that is off to a red hot start. These two may well be playing for home field in a Round 1 rematch.

Will Thiel end its losing streak against Geneva?

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Keith’s take: No.
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Ryan’s take: Nope. The Tomcats still have a ways to go before they’re checking off the win column.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. Something something last Coke fan standing.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. Speaking of long losing streaks, Thiel went from having the fourth-longest losing streak in D-III at the end of 2018 to quickly finding itself at the bottom of the barrel. The streak continues for at least another week or two.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. But that Coke commercial…
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Yes! This season has been extinguishing long losing streaks on the regular, so why not make it three weeks in a row? The Tomcats might not get a better shot this season than they have this week against Geneva.

Who wins the MIAA-NACC Challenge?

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Keith’s take: The MIAA.
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Ryan’s take: The MIAA. The NACC looks a little better on paper, but the Michigan-based conference has been better tested so far this season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: MIAA. They lost just one game the last time MIAA hosted this challenge. They’ll lose more than one this time.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: MIAA. This one is nearly a toss-up. Aurora gives the NACC hope, against Hope. I’ll call a 5-3 win for the favored conference, with Adrian’s win over Wisconsin Lutheran sealing the deal.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: MIAA. They go 5-3 with the following winners in the eight games: Trine, Eureka, Aurora, Kalamazoo, Concordia-Chicago, Alma, Olivet, and Adrian.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: NACC. 5-3 with Aurora, Lakeland, Concordia-Chicago, Rockford, and Benedictine winning.

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.