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ATN Podcast 289: Clarification, celebration and separation

We got a little clarification in some conferences. We had celebrations of some big wins. And we got separation — or at least, some key players did.

Week 6 of the 2021 Division III football season promised to be exciting, and frankly, it overdelivered. To the tune of Matt Clarke rolling up 318 receiving yards for William Paterson. Or already highly decorated return man A.J. Jackson returning two punts for touchdowns in the span of just a few minutes.

We’ll give you our take on the big games, like the one in Wisconsin, the one in New York, the one in Oregon, the one in Pittsburgh and the one in Texas. But we also have William Paterson coach Dustin Johnson on for a tight five minute interview. A 3-3 season might not seem like much to you, but for WPU, three wins is already more than they’ve had since 2014. We’ll hear a broadcast beg their team not to kick to Jackson, only to see them to do it again, the very next time.

Our surprising results come from Illinois and Massachusetts. Our off-the-beaten-path highlights come from Illinois and western New York. Our stats of the week, from Oregon and Ohio. Hear the broadcasters who are on the ball and those who are offbase.

Plus, what will it take to get a home game in the playoffs? Which two teams should play for the Old Musket Ball? That and much more in episode 289.

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.

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

Full episode:

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Theme music: DJmentos.
Photos: William Paterson athletics; Steve Frommell, d3photography.com

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Quick Hits Week 9: In a New York state of mind

It is a huge weekend in the East region with a pair of high profile clashes amongst conference unbeatens. Our panel tackles the Empire 8 and Liberty League showdowns as well as letting you know which teams will help and hurt their regional ranking profiles before the NCAA releases the first rankings for 2019 on Wednesday.

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: Brockport at No. 18 Cortland. Union-Ithaca works too, and there are 42,000+ folks who want the Cortaca rivals to remain atop the Empire 8 and Liberty League, respectively.
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Ryan’s take: No. 25 Union at No. 8 Ithaca. The Bombers’ dynamic pass game against a Dutchman D that hasn’t given up more than two touchdowns in any game this season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Johns Hopkins at No. 6 Muhlenberg. The Blue Jays are mere points away from this being a battle of unbeatens, and might be able to play spoiler.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Johns Hopkins at Muhlenberg. The rivalry is the ultimate test to see if Muhlenberg has really become the team to beat in the Centennial. The Mules have looked the part thus far.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 25 Union at No. 8 Ithaca. It’s win and you’re in — and has Pool C implications. I explain this on today’s ATN Friday Podcast.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 25 Union at No. 8 Ithaca. The first ticket to the 2019 playoffs is getting punched by one of these two teams Saturday at Butterfield.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 6 Muhlenberg. There are people around the Johns Hopkins program who think the Blue Jays are better this year than last, even though the results don’t show it. This would be the time to show it.
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Ryan’s take: No. 18 Cortland.  I feel like Brockport’s season-opening loss has left this 6-1 team flying under many people’s radars most of the season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Cortland. Probably someone needs to keep picking Cortland until they get upset, and I will take the short straw this time.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No 18. Cortland. Brockport’s defense is the real deal, pitching three shutouts since allowing 33 points in a season-opening loss at Hobart. The top rushing and third down defense is also the fourth-best pass efficiency and total defense in the nation.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 8 Ithaca (vs. No. 25 Union). In 2009, the last time Ithaca was No. 8 in the D3football.com poll, Union beat the Bombers. As long as the Dutchmen come in healthy and have great ball control, history will repeat itself, this time at Butterfield.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 18 Cortland. The Golden Eagles have been largely off the radar since their week 1 loss to Hobart. Eight weeks later, that Brockport defense is as smothering as ever and are poised to take control of the E8 race.

Which conference leader or co-leader picks up a loss?

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Keith’s take: Benedictine, vs. Aurora. There are lots of candidates, but I think the front-runners will pull a near clean sweep. The Fightin’ Beebes take control in the NACC in a shootout.
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Ryan’s take: Benedictine.  A de facto NACC title bout, co-leader Aurora has been more impressive throughout the season (though these last couple of weeks have been easier matchups).
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hanover. Mount St. Joseph will be out to obliterate people the rest of the way and Hanover stands in the Lions’ way this week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hanover. The Panthers go on the road to a Mount St. Joseph team playing with its season on the line. A Lions win would create a three-way tie atop the HCAC and keep MSJ’s postseason hopes alive.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Denison (vs. DePauw). DePauw’s defense should have enough in the engine to make this a close enough game to win over the Big Red.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Cortland qualifies, but I’ll give another here- Hanover. The Panthers are hot, but taking out Chaiten Tomlin in what is likely his last home game is a tall order.

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

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Keith’s take: McMurry at Hardin-Simmons.  I just want to see how the Cowboys bounce back from last week’s last-second loss. The War Hawks are 0-7 with two recent nailbiter losses of their own.
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Ryan’s take: Fitchburg State at Worcester State. Friday night, under the light, one of these teams will get their first conference win.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Central at Simpson. If Central can’t handle Simpson, they can’t hope to challenge Wartburg in Week 10.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Marietta at Baldwin Wallace. I’m still trying to figure out who, if anyone, can give Mount Union a decent challenge in the OAC. I’ve been bullish on the Yellow Jackets since Jim Hilvert took the reins. He has his team positioned for a second straight 7-1 start.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Endicott at Western New England. It’s a huge CCC game between the co-leaders, and both teams can put up a crapload of points (wait, can I say that in Quick Hits?!).
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 15 Chapman at Pomona-Pitzer.  The last significant hurdle between Chapman and a SCIAC championship, the Panthers will have to survive do-it-all QB Karter Odermann and the Sagehens under the lights.

Which team boosts its profile ahead of Wednesday’s first regional rankings?

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Keith’s take: UW-Platteville, at home facing a 5-2 UW-Oshkosh coming off a 31-3 loss to UW-La Crosse, should make a move in the West.
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Ryan’s take: Muhlenberg. While Hopkins isn’t the beast they were last year, they’re still an above-average team that make a Mules win meaningful.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Bridgewater. Just by playing Emory & Henry, the Eagles’ strength of schedule stands to improve from .478 to around .499.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Ithaca. The Bombers should be able to lock down the number one spot in the East with a win over fellow unbeaten Union.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 18 Cortland (vs. Brockport). Cortland’s SOS will take a nice jump, and that’s going to be needed to help the Red Dragons to overtake Salisbury, especially if Ithaca loses against Union.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 14 Wesley. The Wolverines won’t have too much trouble at TCNJ, but their already robust Pool C profile will be fortified with road wins by Delaware Valley and Endicott, who I expect will be regionally ranked on Wednesday.

Which team hurts its profile ahead of Wednesday’s first regional rankings?

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Keith’s take: Western New England. The Golden Bears are at home, 6-1 and regionally ranked higher than Endicott, but the Gulls can be part of the big shuffle in the East rankings coming this weekend.
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Ryan’s take: Bethel. Yeah, they beat Hamline (of course), but Hamline isn’t a win that resonates, piled on by expected losses this week by past Royals opponents St. Olaf, River Falls and Simpson. Bethel’s criteria stock drops.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Union. Because a loss is imminent and while their SOS will increase, that won’t offset the defeat.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Bridgewater. I think Emory and Henry can pull off the upset of the unbeaten Eagles.The Wasps have averaged 50 points per game during their current five-game winning streak. This would be a Top 25 upset in my poll.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 10 Salisbury. Their next three games will kill their Strength of Schedule. With currently six undefeated teams (vs. D3) in the East, their SOS & results vs. regionally ranked opponents need to prop them up — but their remaining schedule doesn’t help.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No 10. Salisbury. Our mock regional rankings had Salisbury grade out as the top team in the East. But Salisbury is about to get a triple whammy; CNU drops their SOS, East challenger Ithaca picks up a ranked win and their own SOS boost, and UW-Oshkosh loses touch with the West rankings. It’s a fickle game this.

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: All the marbles

This is it — the last regular-season weekend of the season. Maybe there’s snow on the ground where you are. Maybe you have a bitter rival coming to town and an epic tailgate with old friends — well, that’s what Quick Hits is like for us, too. 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 Greg Thomas, our bracketology guru. He’ll be joining us through the playoffs as well, when Quick Hits shifts to predicting the final score of each game.
Photo: File photo from 2017 Shoes game, by Mick Neal, RPI athletics

— Pat Coleman

What will be the Week 11 Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 25 Baldwin Wallace at No. 8 John Carroll/No. 9 St. Thomas at No. 22 Bethel. Both games match 8-1 teams; winners should be first at-large teams in field, losers’ seasons are over.
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Ryan’s take: Thomas More at No. 4 St. John’s. After the way their season began, the Saints should be stoked they’re still so relevant to the conversation.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 25 Baldwin Wallace at No. 8 John Carroll. Not only does it have all the playoff implications, but it’s a bona fide local rivalry as well.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 9 St. Thomas at No. 22 Bethel. A rivalry game with a playoff berth at stake. Nothing better in Week 11.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Salisbury at No. 6 Frostburg State. It’s the NJAC championship, and a Pool C bid could be taken from a bubble team if Salisbury wins. Hear more about it in today’s ATN Gameday Podcast.
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Greg’s take: St. Thomas at Bethel. There are many good games, but this is a Top 25 showdown and a de facto elimination game between two teams that have the chops to make deep tournament runs.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 6 Frostburg State. Not because the Bobcats are vulnerable so much as their Regents Cup opponent, 8-1 Salisbury, has had a great defense and running game all year.
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Ryan’s take: No. 11 Berry. The Vikings may be sailing high right now, but Trinity has already shown this year that they can hold their own against tough competition.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 24 Linfield. Wildcats’ scare last week might give Pacific something on tape to work with.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 14 RPI. The resurgence of the Dutchmen has revitalized the Shoes rivalry. The Engineers have already clinched the LL title. Union could pull off the upset.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 11 Berry. Berry has won the SAA already, so how the Vikings will approach the game at Trinity (Texas) will be interesting. Remember, Trinity challenged HSU earlier this season.
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Greg’s take: No. 14 RPI. This game is actually pretty even on paper and I believe QH is contractually obligated to have one panelist pick RPI to be upset.

Which rivalry game will have the closest score?

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Keith’s take: Dutchman Shoes. Almost all of them look like tight matchups. Union and RPI have already played one-point games; what’s one more?
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Ryan’s take: The Secretaries Cup. Coast Guard’s resurgence this year has added some new life to the annual game against Merchant Marine — and could shake up the NEWMAC significantly.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: The Game. It wouldn’t be a “Game” between Randolph-Macon and Hampden-Sydney if it didn’t have some grinding and a little bitterness to boot.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Monon Bell. The last two meetings were decided by a total of four points. DePauw will keep it close against No. 20 Wabash, trying to avoid its first losing season since 2013.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Dutchman Shoes. RPI has won more with great defense in close games this year. I think this game lines up the same way.
Guest
Greg’s take: Cortaca Jug. This game looks like a low scoring grinder to me with a single point keeping the winner’s tournament hopes alive into Selection Sunday.

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

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Keith’s take: Alvernia at UNE. Both first-year programs have a win, but the Wolves haven’t scored since a garbage-time TD Oct. 13, and the Nor’Easters have been outscored by 117 since their win a week earlier.
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Ryan’s take: N.C. Wesleyan at Maryville. Even with a loss, the Scots are in the playoffs, but if they do lose, it’s worth noting that Google Maps has them at 485 miles from Alliance, Ohio.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Maine Maritime at Catholic. Just to hope that the alma mater doesn’t finish 0-10 this year. Go Cards!
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Shenandoah at Washington & Lee. I doubt anyone else is interested to see if my alma mater can win at least six games for the fourth straight year, a feat not accomplished since back when Garret LeRose and I were playing for the Generals.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Coast Guard at Merchant Marine. More than 600 votes determined that I’d attend the Secretaries Cup Game between these two service academies. The Mariners even have a potential playoff bid still alive.
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Greg’s take: Berry at Trinity (Texas).Berry has already clinched and Trinity isn’t in the playoff picture but a Berry loss here could significantly impact the playoff fortunes of Centre, Hardin-Simmons, and Muhlenberg. All the pieces matter.

Which team plays its way in or out of a home playoff game?

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Keith’s take: North Central, in. Based on its result against Millikin, NCC has the widest range of outcomes; winnable home game in Round 1 or season over. I’ll guess the former.
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Ryan’s take: Baldwin Wallace, out. I’m guessing that the matchup with JCU is someone’s game of the week, and I think BW will be out and JCU a shoo-in for Pool C after Saturday.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: St. Thomas, in. Despite the fact that Bethel looked better against St. John’s, the Royals don’t have Jackson Erdmann at QB to test Tommie DBs.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 25 Baldwin Wallace. With a win over John Carroll, the Yellow Jackets would get in via Pool C and likely host a first round game. A loss to JCU not only means no home game, but likely no playoff appearance at all.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Frostburg State. If the Bobcats lose, they could still win a Pool C bid but drop below fourth in the East because of a lack of regionally ranked opponents in their profile.
Guest
Greg’s take: John Carroll. The Streaks are a lock for an at-large bid and a home game with a win against Baldwin Wallace. A loss, and the Streaks are most likely done for 2018.

Pick a random Week 11 game and give it a trophy name.

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Keith’s take: Tufts at Middlebury. Most of the season-ending games in the NESCAC are longstanding rivalries. This is what … the Tuftlebury Classic?
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Ryan’s take: Olivet at Albion. The Six-Letter Shuffle — or — The MIAA Founder’s Faceoff.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Alma at Finlandia, for the 445 Mile Marker Trophy. Finlandia is in the same state as almost everyone else in the MIAA, but it’s hideously far. Alma is its closest MIAA opponent, at 445 miles.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Pacific at No. 24 Linfield. The Mass Hysteria Bowl. Dogs and cats living together! No human sacrifice, please. (Yes, I know Boxer the mascot isn’t technically a dog.)
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Alvernia at University of New England, for The 2018 Debut Supremacy Cup.
Guest
Greg’s take: Benedictine vs. Concordia-Chicago, for the I-88 Trophy.The Chicagoland rivals square off for a trophy which doesn’t actually exist yet as it is perpetually under construction.

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.