Keith McMillan and I and a guest each week run down the games to watch in several categories â€” some standard, some off the wall. But this is just the start of the conversation, as we open up the Daily Dose for your thoughts and comments.
Continue along with us here on the blog and on the message boards on game day (we’ll be in Chicagoland), especially if you can’t make it to a game yourself, and then we’ll be back Monday with our weekly podcast, wrapping up the previous weekend’s action.
Kevin LaForest, a former Brockport State broadcaster and occasional postseason live score tracker for us here at D3football.com, known as pg04 on the message boards, is our special guest analyst for this week.
Game of the Week
Keith’s take: Franklin at Mt. St. Joseph. We’ve never seen the Heartland earn two playoff bids, even after Franklin lost 21-14 to automatic qualifier and finished 9-1 last season. So if tradition holds, only one of these teams will make the field of 32, via the AQ. It’s basically a single-elimination playoff game, especially for the Grizzlies, who lost 35-33 at Wabash earlier this year. It could be more of the same from the Lions, a three-time reigning conference champ, or a historic day for the Grizzlies, who haven’t won a conference title since 1981 and have never made the playoffs.
Kevin’s take: No. 11 Ohio Northern at No. 7 Capital. This match-up is the only between two top 25 teams this week, and will probably decide which team gets what could be considered the automatic Pool C bid for the OAC runner-up. The Polar bears were crushed at home last weekend by Mount Union but can make that disappear with a victory this weekend. ONU quarterback Jeff Pankratz will need a better performance after going 13-for-31 for 133 yards last week, while the running game will attempt to get back on the plus side. The crusaders are coming in on an exact opposite feeling after crushing the Blue Streaks of John Carroll 37-13 last week. Their defense was monstrous getting nine sacks and by holding the Blue Streaks to negative yards rushing. The team (if either) that gets out to a quick start will have a great opportunity to win the game.
Pat’s take: Wittenberg at No. 14 Wabash. Wittenberg seems to desperately want to be a factor again in the North Region and has pounded Earlham and Wooster (combined 2-8) to the tune of 131-7. A 13-0 loss to Capital in Week 1 raised eyebrows at the time but seems more reasonable now given what Capital has done since. The Tigers haven’t won a postseason game since 2002, and that was against the Heartland Conference, 1-8 in the playoffs in the automatic bid era. Wabash settled on Matt Hudson at quarterback last week, though he threw for just 129 yards on 23 attempts at Allegheny. Should be a bitter battle.
Keith’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at St. Olaf; Hardin-Simmons at East Texas Baptist. The Oles have to get over the hangover from losing a one-point game at conference power St. John’s. If the Oles don’t make it happen right away, the Cobbers could lure them into a shootout: They’ve scored 34 or more in five of six games in their 4-2 season so far. Meanwhile, Hardin-Simmons must get past the idea of being out of the playoff picture and likely the ASC race for the first time in a decade. ETBU is in first place at 4-0, 4-2, but the 2-1, 2-3 Cowboys have the superior talent and should eke one out after they get on board with the idea of playing out the rest of the season as hard as possible. Teams that have taken beatings at their hands for years will be looking for payback if they don’t.
Kevin’s take: No. 3 UW-Whitewater vs. UW-Oshkosh. Well we all know how wild the wild, wild WIAC can be. It appears that any team in the top 4 of the conference has a legitimate shot of making a real run. Whitewater’s lone loss came to an out of division opponent, while Oshkosh lost, but only by 1, to UW-Eau Claire. Justin Beaver of the Warhawks, one of the best in Division III at the running back position, will certainly make it difficult at home. It’s also UW-W’s homecoming game. All this aside, Oshkosh has a fairly potent back of their own. Andy Moriarty has rushed for 10 touchdowns and 721 yards in 5 games this season and could give the Warhawks fits. In the end, though, Whitewater will probably extend their 17 game WIAC winning streak.
Pat’s take: Concordia (Wis.) at Concordia (Ill.). The homestanding Cougars already have more wins than in any season since D3football.com’s inception in 1999. While beating the Falcons is a long shot, this should be a tighter ballgame.
Most likely top 25 team to get upset
Keith’s take: No. 6 Central. Not that losing to visiting Coe would be a major stunner in Iowa. What’s stunning is how the banged-up Dutch keep getting it done. They were outgained for the fourth time this season last week but beat Simpson by a touchdown. Their scores aren’t of the typical dominant top 10 variety, but that’s Central’s m.o.; they aren’t simply playing down to the level of their competition. We wouldn’t have to worry about that with the Kohawks anyway, since they’re among the IIAC’s more talented teams, especially defensively, where they hadn’t allowed more than 10 points in a game until a 28-21 OT loss vs. Dubuque last week.
Kevin’s take: No. 5 Wheaton. Pat picked them last week, and I’m going to pick them again this week. They kind of feel like Wisconsin did last week in the No. 5 position of the Football Bowl Subdivision (or I-A to normal people). Wheaton was able to squeak by the challenge of North Central last week after being down 17-0 at the half. Though they do have being at home on their side, Augustana challenged Illinois Wesleyan to a 22-19 loss on the road. If Augustana can keep it close and withstand the first half homecoming charge, I believe they’ll have a good shot at pulling the upset and making a mess of the CCIW. Also, not many other Top 25 teams are actually playing unranked teams that threaten them in the manner that I feel Augustana does to the Thunder.
Pat’s take: No. 22 UW-Stevens Point. Maybe taking a WIAC team to pull an upset is like picking the low-hanging fruit, but those three NAIA opponents the Pointers started the season with are a combined 3-16, and one of those wins came when two of the opponents faced off. UW-Stout is â€œjustâ€ 2-3, but the Blue Devils’ game at Whitworth was a bigger challenge than anything UW-Stevens Point has seen to date.
They’ll be on your radar
Keith’s take: Illinois Wesleyan. Pat and I will be in CCIW country this weekend and will see four of the conference’s top teams. The Titans aren’t among them, but they are among the conference leaders at 3-2, 2-0 (the non-conference losses were to Coe and MSJ). With wins over Augustana and Carthage already, and Wheaton — the only other team unbeaten in CCIW play — not on the schedule until Nov. 10, the Titans, 3-7 the past three seasons, could make an interesting run, starting Saturday against Millikin.
Kevin’s take: Rowan. Ah-ha. Finally time to mention an eastern team. Perennial eastern powerhouse Rowan is smarting after a disappointing 10-7 conference loss in which their opponent, The College of New Jersey, didn’t score an offensive touchdown. This week, they take on the Buffalo State Bengals in an important NJAC tilt. Rowan is currently 3-2 (1-1 in NJAC) with close losses to Christopher Newport and the previously mentioned TCNJ Lions. However, their wins over Western Connecticut, Wilkes, and Widener have been fairly impressive. The Profs must get back on the winning track if they want any chance at winning the conference and getting into the playoffs to once again become “beasts of the east.” As it is right now, they are essentially 2 games behind TCNJ due to last week’s loss. The question is: Will they fold up, or will the young team show some heart and play out the rest of the season hard?
Pat’s take: Case Western Reserve. At 5-0 but untested, the Spartans have a shot at leaving Carnegie Mellon on the ropes for even an ECAC postseason game. After winning their first 11 games last year, the Tartans are currently 2-3. For Case, this is one of only two chances to impress the playoff committee all season. (They host Wash U in Week 10.) Case’s opponents so far: Oberlin, Denison, Kenyon, Wooster and Gallaudet.
Which conference race will clear up the most?
Keith’s take: The ODAC, but only because it eventually has to. All seven conference teams have at least two more overall wins than losses, and six go head-to-head Saturday, led by Randolph-Macon (2-0, 5-1) hosting Emory and Henry (1-0, 4-1). It’s just like old times for the Yellow Jackets and Wasps, who used to battle for the conference title yearly in the 90s. It’s also the middle of a four-game homestretch for R-MC. One of those two teams will be the last undefeated in ODAC play after Saturday, while four teams who might have more talent than either of them will battle to keep pace. Washington and Lee, 1-1, 3-1 and the defending conference champ, heads to 2-1, 4-2 Hampden-Sydney, while Guilford and Bridgewater meet in Virginia with identical 0-1, 4-1 records.
Kevin’s take: The NCAC. The conference championship is for all intents and purposes up for grabs as Wabash (5-0) and Wittenberg (4-1) go at it Little Giant Stadium in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Both teams are undefeated in the conference and while Oberlin is also undefeated, they will probably not end up being a serious threat. None of the one-loss teams seem poised to make a run either. Should be a pretty fun game between the two teams.
Pat’s take: The CCIW. With four of the top five teams in the league standings facing each other (Augustana at Wheaton, North Central at Elmhurst), some things should begin to take shape. At the very least, Keith and I will get a clearer picture since we’ll be at both games. Surprising Illinois Wesleyan faces Millikin, which has its win against North Park but not much else.
Which non-Division III team is most likely to win this weekend, Trinity Bible at Principia, Faulkner at Huntingdon, or Southern Virginia at Frostburg State?
Keith’s take: I don’t particularly like any of the non-D3s’ chances this week, especially given that Trinity Bible beat Principia twice last year in overtime. The 0-6 Panthers’ misfortune against its most beatable opponent can’t continue … can it?
Kevin’s take: Southern Virginia. Isn’t Trinity Bible the team that lost by 105 points? Otherwise, I think both Faulkner and Southern Virginia will win. However, Southern Virginia is the team that is most likely to win as Frostburg State has not be able to do anything on offense, and has not been able to stop anyone on defense. The Bobcats’ troubles don’t end this week.
Pat’s take: I can’t take Southern Oregon over struggling Linfield, so I’m going with Southern Virginia as well.