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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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Around the Nation Podcast 208: Going for 2

We love a gutsy call. Sure, our job isn’t being put on the line when a coach makes the decision to go for two at the end of a key game, but this is Division III — the coach’s job isn’t really on the line on one play call. We love a little gamble, especially when it pays off. Whether you call a Philly Special (or something that looks similar but fools the broadcaster) or something else, rolling the dice and getting it makes for a great highlight. So, for Marietta and Simpson, which chose to go for two, or Wittenberg, which had no choice, it was a big Week 5, and Pat and Keith honor that by going for two with the D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast.

Plus, the Little Brass Bell went back home with the team it came with, nobody was trapping Mary Hardin-Baylor or Hardin-Simmons, UW-Whitewater wore UW-La Crosse out and just maybe The Streak is in play this year. Teams mentioned: Denison, Wittenberg, Simpson, Wartburg, Marietta, Ohio Northern, Wheaton, North Central, Hardin-Simmons, Mary Hardin-Baylor, UW-La Crosse, UW-Whitewater, Linfield, Whitworth, Muhlenberg, Franklin & Marshall, St. Thomas, Concordia-Moorhead, Case Western Reserve, Illinois Wesleyan, Susquehanna, Dickinson, Greenville, Westminster (Mo.), Dubuque, Loras, Wisconsin Lutheran, Rockford, Methodist, Huntingdon, Wesley, Southern Virginia, Martin Luther, St. Scholastica, Brockport, St. John Fisher, Worcester State, Fitchburg State, Louisiana College, Sul Ross State, Millsaps, Husson, SUNY-Maritime, FDU-Florham, Misericordia, Dean, Finlandia, Olivet, Moravian, Gettysburg.

That and more on the 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: 
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You can subscribe to the Around the Nation Podcast in iTunes. 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

Photo: Video frame grab of Simpson’s two-point conversion to win the game. Note that this frame isn’t intended to try to show whether he got a foot down inbounds, but to show that the line judge is in a better position to make the call than any of us are.

Purchase Football For a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL from Amazon (and D3football.com gets a buck or so in the process).

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Quick Hits: Bringing your ‘A’ game

It’s too early for this group to be peaking and on the way down, so we’ve exhorted our panel to continue to bring their best here in Week 8. Our guest this week is Derek Jones, who has called Rowan games on WGLS for more than a decade and not long ago became the station’s general manager.

— Pat Coleman

This week, which game?

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Keith’s take: No. 11 Hardin-Simmons at No. 3 UMHB. Could make a case for games that will eliminate teams from playoff race, but I’d rather see if UMHB is No. 1-worthy.
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Ryan’s take: No. 11 Hardin-Simmons at No. 3 UMHB. This is my favorite conference rivalry in the nation — and that’s been the case for more than a decade.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 7 UW-Platteville at No. 5 UW-Oshkosh. I’m just going to play the full Midwesterner card here, plus note that the loser is in a world of hurt for playoffs.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: I want to see what No. 8 Linfield does in its second big test of the season. The Wildcats can prove something with a convincing win at 5-1 Whitworth.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 25 Delaware Valley at No. 15 Stevenson. The Mustangs are one of three undefeated East teams left but DelVal is on a roll. Loser might be eliminated from playoffs.
Guest
Derek’s take: Rowan vs. Wesley. It’s a must win for Wesley with Salisbury looming in a few weeks. The door on the postseason may close if they can’t win. If Rowan prevails, it puts them a step closer to an NJAC title.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 16 St. Lawrence. This may be a reach, but all but one Merchant Marine game has been decided by 4 or fewer, and the Saints only give up 7 a game. In NYC rain, could get interesting.
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Ryan’s take: No. 21 Rowan. Can we assume that Wesley has found it’s groove by now?
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 2 UW-Whitewater. Going up to the top for this one, at home to UW-Stevens Point. UWW has given up a ton of yards in recent weeks and needs to get healthy on defense. Soon.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 21 Rowan, by Wesley. Despite two losses, the Wolverines are very much alive. To keep intact Wesley’s goal of extending its playoff streak to 12 years, this is a must-win.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 St. Lawrence, at Merchant Marine. I picked it on “In the HuddLLe,” so I’ll stay with it here. With rain in the forecast, the triple-option will lead the Mariners to a major upset.
Guest
Guest’s take: No. 15 Stevenson. They’ve had a terrible time with Delaware Valley no matter where the game is. The Aggies responded well after the loss to Albright and need this one to keep their postseason hopes afloat.

Which game between ranked teams will be the closest?

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Keith’s take: No. 25 Delaware Valley at No. 15 Stevenson. The Mustangs probably pull it out, but they have to work for it.
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Ryan’s take: No. 7 UW-Platteville at No. 5 UW-Oshkosh. Fully expect this to be a one-score game.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 25 Delaware Valley at No. 15 Stevenson. That should be a barn-burner, perhaps the best atmosphere for a game this week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 7 UW-Platteville at No. 5 UW-Oshkosh. Point differential against UWW and UWSP: Titans plus-7, Pioneers plus-10. Both teams narrowly lost to the Warhawks and defeated the Pointers.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 7 UW-Platteville at No. 5 UW-Oshkosh. They played UW-Whitewater virtually evenly in narrow losses. It’s doubtful either pulls away here.
Guest
Guest’s take: No. 11 Hardin-Simmons at No. 3 Mary Hardin-Baylor. Both teams know how to score but the defenses will come to play.

Which team brings its ‘A’ game this weekend?

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Keith’s take: Alma and their odd helmets continue the turnaround under Greg Pscodna vs. Albion, which is stunningly 0-6 after a nine-win season.
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Ryan’s take: Adrian, over Kalamazoo. To stay in the hunt, the Bulldogs need to take care of business.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Adrian, vs. Kalamazoo. The Bulldogs have to be smarting from their unexpected loss to Hope last week and will be bringing their ‘A’ game.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Albright. After starting 0-2, the Lions can force a four-way tie atop the MAC if they can defeat Wilkes and No. 25 Delaware Valley knocks off No. 15 Stevenson.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Albright, at Wilkes. The Lions will make it five straight wins after an 0-2 start, giving them slight hope in the MAC race.
Guest
Guest’s take: Averett, my father’s alma mater. They’ve scored 117 points in their last two games and play at Maryville on Saturday in a USAC battle.

There are 25 winless teams remaining. Pick one to win this week.

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Keith’s take: Morrisville State. The Mustangs are gaining 400 yards a game, about 40% of it on the ground, but are giving up 39 points.
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Ryan’s take: Morrisville State. Playing the E8 wild card here.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Loras, at Simpson. The Duhawks have a disappointing record but have only been blown out once.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Dickinson finds just enough offense to snap a nine-game losing streak. The Red Devils win on the road at McDaniel.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Finlandia, vs. Maranatha Baptist. Time to give our independent teams some love. Finlandia beat them twice last year, so here’s to a three-peat.
Guest
Guest’s take: TCNJ. They allowed 116 points vs. Salisbury, Wesley, and Frostburg State. Granted, it’s at Montclair State but the low-scoring Red Hawks will feel like a vacation in comparison.

Rowan, Salisbury, Frostburg and CNU each enter the weekend with one loss. Which team(s) stay that way?

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Keith’s take: The Maryland two. Rowan won’t score enough to beat Wesley, and I have to pick the Bobcats, even if out of totally transparent allegiance to the sleepers piece I wrote for Kickoff.
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Ryan’s take: Salisbury and CNU. Both are ready to shake off their losses to Rowan.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Salisbury and Frostburg. I like home field for Frostburg after a long drive for CNU, but that’s about the only factor I could use.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: The NJAC tie is down to three teams–Wesley, Salisbury, CNU–after this week.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Salisbury and Frostburg. Rowan will struggle vs. Wesley. Frostburg will handle a struggling CNU offense. I can’t see Kean beating Salisbury, especially in rain.
Guest
Guest’s take: Rowan, Salisbury, and Frostburg. It will not be easy for Rowan or Frostburg but their defenses could carry them through tough opponents. If so, that sets up quite the battle next week when Rowan travels to Frostburg State.

We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Around the Nation podcast on Mondays, where Pat and Keith review the picks that were prescient, and those that were terribly off base.