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ATN Podcast 285: Game balls, off the beaten path, and more

We got our first look at the defending national champions this past week, and against a ranked team as well. What do the Cardinals look like? Greg Thomas has his take, and it’s bad news for the rest of Division III football. Plus, we got to see UW-Whitewater against a Top 10 team, and that was super enlightening as well!

Plus, Pat and Greg hand out their game balls, including one to a special teamer, and dig up the great off-the-beaten-path highlights, the weekend’s surprising results. Plus, we take a look at the games coming up in Week 3. All that and more in Podcast 285.

Pat Coleman and Greg Thomas talk about it all in the latest D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast. The D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast is a regular conversation covering the wide range of Division III football.

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Photo: Endicott athletics photo by Ryan Atkins

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Quick Hits Week 4: Cracking the win column

This week the panel looks at a top-12 clash in the OAC, some big games down south, and which teams are poised to get their first win of 2019.

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. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll.  On the pod I took SJF-Ithaca, but I think this is the right call.
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Ryan’s take: No 8 Bethel at Gustavus Adolphus.  The Gusties hung tough with St. John’s already, and Bethel will need to be ready for its first real test of the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Franklin & Marshall at No. 24 Susquehanna.  Also in contention for the longest game when listed on scoreboards.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll. After thrashing Baldwin Wallace last week, the Purple Raiders face their biggest test of the regular season. If the Blue Streaks can’t put up a fight, expect The Machine to pick up even more top votes in next week’s poll.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 2 Mount Union at No. 12 John Carroll. Mount was moved to the No. 1 slot on my ballot last week, and John Carroll did a huge leap on it. I’m curious to see how this plays out, even if it’s a close JCU loss.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: St. Norbert at Monmouth. It’s a rematch of last year’s MWC championship. And the one before that. And maybe a preview of this year’s MWC championship. These teams know each other well is what I’m saying.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 24 Susquehanna.  I hate when panelists do the none thing, and F&M is averaging 41 points a game.
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Ryan’s take: No. 13 Ithaca.  Oppenent St. John Fisher is already better than they were last year, and there’s a sense of returning to form. And the Bombers have crept up unusually high in the poll.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor.  I actually feel we are unlikely to have any upsets at all, but HPU is improving and UMHB has struggled.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 24 Susquehanna. If there’s any week to pick “None” this is it. But what’s the fun in that? I’ll take undefeated Franklin and Marshall to contribute to the Centennial Conference chaos.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 18 Johns Hopkins. I think the topsy-turvy season for Hopkins continues here against a Dickinson team that has been a little inconsistent, but that has the pieces needed to win at home.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 25 Hobart. It took a pretty furious rally for the Statesmen to survive winless Rowan last week. This week, Montclair State closes the deal.

Which 0-3 team cracks the win column this weekend?

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Keith’s take: Hiram. Of the 35 choices, I like Hiram, as its level of competition has been tougher so far than Kenyon, this week’s opponent.
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Ryan’s take: Bridgewater State.  The Bears line up against Fitchburg, which statistically has the worst defense in the conference.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Belhaven.  In the battle of 0-3 teams, taking the one that looked good last week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Belhaven. The Blazers put a scare into Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday. If they can get the offense on track, they should be able to defeat fellow winless ASC foe McMurry.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Belhaven. Their three losses have been by a combined 30 points, but they include a close 10-point loss to UMHB last week. Their experience should lead to a win.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Belhaven. It’s hard to see the Blazers’ 23-13 loss at UMHB last week and not think they’re close to a cracking the win column in 2019. Hosting McMurry is a great opportunity.

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

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Keith’s take: Southwestern at Texas Lutheran. I am very fascinated by Southwestern’s hot start, yet Texas Lutheran is no easy W.
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Ryan’s take: Southern Virginia at Bridgewater.  The Knights are 2-0 for the first time in … ever. Curious to see if lightning will strike a third time.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Defiance vs. Anderson.  I think Anderson is beyond the point where it can be Defiance’s only win, but watching to be sure.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Mount St. Joseph at Franklin. Listen to my preview on today’s podcast. The Grizzlies will try to extend their win streak over the Lions to 10 games. Mount St. Joe has the edge at quarterback. Will that be enough to shake up the HCAC standings?
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western New England at University of New England. For a second-year program like UNE, a huge upset like this would be a signature win. But UNE has a small chance here. WNE can’t look past this game.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Denison at Wabash. It’s Homecoming. It’s Senior Day. It’s a critical conference game for both teams. And it’s also the first of the last five games at the current iteration of Hollett Little Giant Stadium.

Pick a winner in a LL vs. E8 game.

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Keith’s take: Cortland. SUNY Buffalo State and SUNY Cortland are in different conferences, and tiers. The Dragons outscoring opponents 94-7, and will get top 25 consideration soon.
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Ryan’s take: St. Lawrence over Hartwick.  The Saints’ Tyler Grochot puts up good numbers even in losses — he’ll be hard for the Hawks to stop.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Alfred.  There are a bunch of games that seem like pretty easy picks in this group, so I’m sure we’ll have a bunch of upsets instead.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 13 Ithaca defeats St. John Fisher. A battle of unbeatens, a turning point for two resurgent programs trying to reclaim the top spot in the East Region. I think this is Ithaca’s year.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: St. Lawrence (vs. Hartwick). The Saints got their first win last week and have played stronger generally based on schedule comparisons and scores. Home cookin’ seals this deal for them.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Cortland over Buffalo State. In their first season out of the E8, the Bengals are on the verge of a four-game non-conference sweep courtesy their former conference rivals. The good news is that they’re still 0-0 in league play.

Which Week 3 upset victim gets back on course this week?

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Keith’s take: Ursinus.A surprise 44-38 loser to Juniata last week, Ursinus gets a chance to get right against 0-3 Moravian.
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Ryan’s take: Washington & Jefferson. The game won’t come down to the fourth quarter for the Presidents, like it has two of the past three weeks already.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Ohio Northern. I’m not confident in any of them, but will take ONU to beat Otterbein.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Washington & Jefferson. Most of last week’s upset victims have an unwelcome bye week. They would much rather be on the field with the opportunity to get back on the winning path. The Presidents face a hungry Grove City team, which just had its nine-game winning streak snapped by Case Western Reserve.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Washington & Jefferson (at Grove City). That said, I think Grove City plays them very close, unlike last year and unlike last week’s disappointing Case Western Reserve loss.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Ohio Northern. Back home and under the lights, the Polar Bears shake off last week’s shocker and get a win over winless Otterbein.

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: For the birds

Eagles, Cardinals — perhaps not more fierce than Bears or … more Bears, I suppose. But those are the focus this week in Week 8 of the 2018 Division III football season.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer and Frank Rossi. Our sixth spot each week goes to a guest prognosticator, and this week’s is Logan Hansen. You may remember him as the Wartburg alumnus who does a computer ranking of D-III teams, and he is on twitter at @LogHanRatings.

— Pat Coleman

Which game is the Week 8 game of the week?

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Keith’s take: UW-La Crosse at No. 12 UW-Oshkosh. This should be closer than the rankings suggest, and could upset the playoff apple cart.
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Ryan’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan at Washington U. The Bears’ win last week over Wheaton put them on everyone’s radars, and this is another tough test.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan at Washington U. I priced out flights to St. Louis for this one. Not in the budget.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: UW-La Crosse at No. 12 UW-Oshkosh. Plenty to choose from this week, but this is essentially a WIAC and playoff elimination game.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Hobart at No. 19 RPI. This could have Pool C implications if Hobart wins. RPI’s strength of schedule is excellent and will improve — a 1-loss RPI could win an at-large bid.
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Logan’s take: No. 17 IWU at Wash U. I’m not sure which result would throw the bigger wrench into the  tiebreakers, but Wash. U has shown they belong, and IWU has shown last season wasn’t a fluke.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 15 North Central. Carthage pushed UW-O, IWU and Millikin to the brink, so NCC best bring its A game.
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Ryan’s take: No. 12 UW-Oshkosh. Though Oshkosh is coming off a real quality win, UW-La Crosse has shown more than a few flashes of greatness this fall.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan. I look forward to learning if it really is as tough for teams to win in St. Louis as it is for Chicagoland teams in Bloomington.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 19 RPI. Hobart and the Engineers have both played their share of nailbiters this season. The Statesmen win another close one.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan. WashU at home, following a win vs. Wheaton … I’ll play the momentum as the Titans have looked mediocre in wins lately.
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Logan’s take: No. 17 Illinois Wesleyan. The model has Wash. U favored by a field goal, 28-25.

Whose unbeaten run comes to an end this week?

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Keith’s take: Marietta. The Grey Pioneers allow 31.8 points per game, which is way too loose to beat John Carroll.
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Ryan’s take: Marietta. I expect this one to be a popular pick, as the Pioneers are facing John Carroll this week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Kalamazoo. Kzoo’s 6-0 isn’t far from Alma’s 1-5, just a different schedule. Similar results vs. Adrian and Albion.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Marietta. The Pioneers travel to No. 10 John Carroll, and leave with their first loss of 2018. Also, RPI.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Western Connecticut. The Bridgewater State Bears have been stalking the frontrunners of the MASCAC — a win would give them a chance for the playoffs.
Guest
Logan’s take: Central. There’s a reason they haven’t cracked the Top 25 yet, because they haven’t beaten a proven team (except maybe DePauw). Wartburg by a TD according to the model.

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

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Keith’s take: FDU-Florham at Misericordia. The former could hit five wins for the first time since 2000; the latter had won five ever before this year & now five straight.
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Ryan’s take: Hanover at Manchester. I’ve enjoyed watching the Panthers’ resurgence this season. It’s reminiscent to how I remember them from the late ’90s.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Luther at Nebraska Wesleyan. It’s part of my 25-game tour of D3 from west to east from the podcast.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Central at Wartburg. The Dutch could also fall from the ranks of the unbeaten, and the ARC race could turn into a logjam at the top.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor at Belhaven. UMHB wins, but will the Cru finally resolve their QB contest?  Two (let alone, three)-QB systems aren’t optimal, and could be a problem in playoffs.
Guest
Logan’s take: Emory & Henry at Shenandoah. If I’m picking a random game to watch, it would be this — the model has the spread at -3 Shenandoah, with an O/U of 93.5. Gonna get pointsy.

Which team is probably safe to focus more on next week?

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Keith’s take: Muhlenberg. By the fourth quarter vs. McDaniel, the Mules will allow themselves to ponder Week 9 vs. Johns Hopkins.
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Ryan’s take: No. 16 Trine. Opponent Finlandia has a long way before it’ll be competitive at Trine’s level.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: St. Thomas. Carleton has improved this season but won’t be a match for the Tommies.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Endicott. No coach would approve of this question, but Paul McGonagle’s team faces winless Becker a week before taking on its top CCC competition, Western New England.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Trinity (Conn.). In a topsy-turvy NESCAC race, Bowdoin is winless.  Next up would be Middlebury, the team that shocked Williams last weekend.
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Logan’s take: Muhlenberg and Johns Hopkins. Both teams are greater than 97% favorites this week, and most computer models (not mine) think they’re both Top 10 teams.

Who has the edge this week: Cardinals or Eagles?

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Keith’s take: Eagles. It’s five against seven, and the Eagles have Brockport and UW-La Crosse on their side.
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Ryan’s take: Eagles. In terms of both quantity and quality (see my upset pick above).
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Eagles. But only because of the Golden Eagles of Brockport. Without them, the Cardinals would take it.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Eagles. Thanks to the Golden variety, ranked No. 3 and hosting Buffalo State.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Neither. Cardinals: North Central, St. John Fisher; Eagles: Brockport, Husson.
Guest
Logan’s take: Eagles. Brockport and Husson basically guaranteed to win. 2.1 expected wins for Cardinals, 2.8 for Eagles.

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.