Quick Hits returns for the 2018 season! If you’re new to Division III football or D3football.com, this is our weekly predictions page. We assemble a crew of a half-dozen Division III football writers and observers and give you the best take on what the best games are, which ranked team is most likely to get upset, and a variety of other categories. Six six-packs of opinions ought to cover you!
Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer and Frank Rossi. Our sixth spot goes to a guest each week, and this week’s is former Thomas More quarterback Kevin Niehus.
— Pat Coleman (Westminster, Pa., athletics photo by Jason Kapusta)
What’s this week’s Game of the Week?
Keith’s take: No. 17 Delaware Valley at No. 9 Wesley. There are lots of tempting matchups, but Del Val at Wesley is the only clash of Top 25 teams, and it should be highly emotional.
Ryan’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. More than a Top 25 matchup, it’s a look at the new man at the Wolverines’ helm.
Pat’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. I’ll be more clever later in the rundown and later in the season, but this one is obvious.
Adam’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. Getting back on the field should be cathartic for the Wolverines.
Frank’s take: Hobart at No. 6 Brockport. A lot of changes for Hobart, a team that has been uncharacteristically quiet. Brockport’s young O-Line could mean a close important matchup.
Kevin’s take: Delaware Valley at Wesley. An emotional first game in Dover between two playoff-level programs.
Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?
Keith’s take: No. 8 Frostburg State, by Stevenson. Couldn’t talk myself into Westminster, UW-Stout, ETBU or Hobart.
Ryan’s take: No. 15 Washington and Jefferson. St. John Fisher is poised to sneak up on some folks after a dismal 2017.
Pat’s take: No. 14 Wittenberg, by Westminster (Pa.). Wittenberg wants this credit for playing this opponent; I’m not penciling in a W.
Adam’s take: No. 19 Johns Hopkins. Randolph-Macon returns a ton of starters. Plus, I had a dream this week that R-MC won this game.
Frank’s take: No. 15 Washington and Jefferson. Fisher wants to rebound, and what better way than at home against a W&J team that might underestimate them.
Kevin’s take: None. The closest game will be W&J at St. John Fisher.
Which game are you watching that nobody else on this panel is following?
Keith’s take: Adrian at Ohio Northern. The Emmanuel Stewart feature in Kickoff ’18 has me eyeing this game with interest.
Ryan’s take: Emory & Henry at Ferrum. My wife’s alma mater gets new life as an ODAC member, plus this is a big rivalry game.
Pat’s take: Anderson at North Park. In this case, literally, as the last game of four I’ll see this week.
Adam’s take: George Fox at Redlands. Because I’ll be driving back from the beach all day and won’t be able to watch anything earlier.
Frank’s take: Western New England at Springfield. The Pynchon SAW game between two 2017 conference champs with some major losses to graduation will prove to be an interesting opener.
Kevin’s take: George Fox at Redlands. In a game between teams forecasted to each win 7 games it’s a matchup of defense (George Fox) vs efficient QB and Redlands offense.
Which new program has the better debut?
Keith’s take: Alvernia, with a home opener, against a program that’s won seven games the past four seasons.
Ryan’s take: Alvernia. Opponent Gallaudet has yet to break out of a five-year slump.
Pat’s take: Alvernia. Not enough to win but enough to get a little confidence early on.
Adam’s take: Alvernia. The Golden Wolves have a home game, plus two more days of preparation than University of New England.
Frank’s take: Alvernia. The Golden Wolves are hosting a team that struggled in 2017, setting them up for a chance for a big crowd and a potential win.
Kevin’s take: Alvernia. With nine QBs and 13 RBs among their numbers, the Golden Wolves will be athletic.
Who has a long, disappointing trip home?
Keith’s take: La Verne could be competitive at Whitworth, but it’s a trek back to SoCal from Spokane.
Ryan’s take: Denison. Opponent Southwestern is going to be particularly tough this season.
Pat’s take: Husson. It’s a long trip from Husson to anywhere, including back to Maine after a loss at Union.
Adam’s take: Denison. Southwestern returns the favor to the Big Red in year two of this rare Ohio-Texas matchup.
Frank’s take: Husson. With graduation of John Smith, the ultimate difference maker last year, Husson may see their regular season winning streak snapped.
Kevin’s take: Sounds like John Carroll could be a candidate based upon the Case Western Reserve scrimmage.
Whose head coaching debut are you most interested in?
Keith’s take: WNE’s Jason LeBeau gets a challenge from a rival coming off a 10-win season in his head-coaching debut.
Ryan’s take: Trevor Stellman at Thomas More. Will be interested from Week 1 through their final days in D-III.
Pat’s take: Defiance’s Manny Matsakis. Having only just met his team when camp started, this is a challenge.
Adam’s take: Garrett LeRose. My former teammate is now the head coach of our alma mater (W&L). I’m proud and excited to see what he accomplishes.
Frank’s take: Chad Martinovich at University of Rochester. He left academic-minded MIT for academic-minded U of R. Can he turn them around like MIT, starting with a tough Case?
Kevin’s take: Trevor Stellman, Thomas More. Are the Saints good enough to play spoiler on their way to Pool B during their D3 curtain call?
We invite you to add your predictions in the comments below. Download the Monday Around the Nation podcast to wrap up the week that was, and the Friday Around the Nation podcast, where Pat and Keith review the Quick Hits that were prescient, and the Quick Misses that were terribly off base.
It was another really interesting week in Division III football, with four teams dropping out of the Top 25, two of them plummeting. Similarly, in a handful of conferences, the first-place team and the highest-ranked team in our poll changed over based on Saturday’s results. Pat and Keith break down where things changed in the Empire 8, the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the North Coast Athletic Conference based on Saturday’s games, plus talk to two coaches whose teams have made big turnarounds and much more.
The Around the Nation Podcast is a weekly conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan covering the wide range of Division III football. It drops on Monday morning weekly throughout the season.
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Last week was such a great one in Division III that it might be hard to follow, but we will do our best, since there are quite a few great games and some really intriguing ones on tap. Our guest prognosticator this week is Mary Hardin-Baylor fan Chad Hammonds, someone who follows UMHB very closely and knows that in order to be a fan of a top team, you need to know a little bit about the rest of the country, since you could be playing them in Week 12, 13, 14, etc. (Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com)
— Pat Coleman
Which game is your game that’s a must-watch this week?
Keith’s take: No. 11 Wheaton at No. 6 North Central. Loser could make the playoffs, but within 500 miles of WIAC, MIAC and OAC, you want as high a seed as possible.
Ryan’s take: No. 3 UMHB at No. 16 ETBU. One of these sets of initials will earn an exclamation point on the season.
Pat’s take: No. 11 Wheaton at No. 6 North Central. You can almost never go wrong with this game — it’s a rivalry that has blown up in the past decade.
Adam’s take: No. 11 Wheaton at No. 6 North Central. We’ll finally find out what kind of team the Thunder is.
Frank’s take: No. 3 UMHB at No. 16 ETBU. ETBU needs to prove itself as better than the team that lost by 47 last year. Their playoff lives depend on it.
Chad’s take: No. 3 UMHB at No. 16 ETBU. Scotty Walden has the Tigers flying high. Can the Tigers take their outright conference hopes a step further, or will the Cru continue their dominance?
Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?
Keith’s take: No. 13 St. John Fisher or No. 23 Alfred. The two best teams in the Empire 8 face Utica and Cortland, respectively, and neither has been defensively smothering.
Ryan’s take: No. 22 Hendrix. I’m not sure I’d put money on this happening, but Berry is as tough as they come in the SAA.
Pat’s take: No. 21 Dubuque. A little far for me to drive this weekend but I will be paying attention to their game vs. Coe.
Adam’s take: No. 21 Dubuque. Can Coe make it two wins in a row over ranked conference opponents?
Frank’s take: No. 13 St. John Fisher. Fisher’s defense has begun to struggle. This game will be a track meet on enemy turf — and Utica likes the spoiler role.
Chad’s take: No. 22 Hendrix. This game has playoff ramifications. Can the anchor of the DLine for Berry stop the dual threat of Winn and Millsap?
Predict the winner in a game between unbeaten conference opponents.
Keith’s take: Mary Hardin-Baylor beats East Texas Baptist. I wouldn’t be surprised if the teams combine for 80 or 90 points.
Ryan’s take: Wittenberg over Denison. Next.
Pat’s take: UW-Whitewater over UW-La Crosse. It’s been a great start to the season for La Crosse, but they’re not ready to pick off the Warhawks.
Adam’s take: No. 15 Wittenberg stays unbeaten by handing fellow NCAC unbeaten Denison its first loss of the season.
Frank’s take: No. 6 North Central. I grabbed a coin. I flipped it. North Central was heads. Heads it was. This is a tremendous game with so much on the line.
Chad’s take: Besides the Cru, I have to go North Central over Wheaton. The home night game in Naperville and the 28th defense will prove too much for the Thunder.
The Centennial Conference is back after its midseason break. Pick an upset.
Keith’s take: I’ll take 0-5 Ursinus to win at Juniata. The Bears held one-touchdown leads with 7 and 4 minutes left in its past two games.
Ryan’s take: Susquehanna over Moravian. Even 1-1 the last two games, the River Hawks have shown they’re trending upward.
Pat’s take: Ursinus over Juniata. It does seem like Ursinus is playing better the past two weeks and if forced to pick an upset, this is the one.
Adam’s take: Ursinus finally gets in the win column by knocking off Juniata.
Frank’s take: McDaniel (at Franklin & Marshall). McDaniel can put up points, making me believe they’re not a one-hit wonder. With a rested defense, F&M might struggle.
Chad’s take: Susquehanna over Moravian. The River Hawks were left with a sour taste in their mouth after that close loss two weeks ago. They’ll look to bounce back here.
Who bounces back from a noteworthy loss?
Keith’s take: UW-Oshkosh has to bounce back. UW-Stevens Point is 4-1 and trailed UW-Platteville by only four in the second half last week.
Ryan’s take: Trinity (Texas). Southwestern won’t get a repeat of a conference win, at least not this week.
Pat’s take: DePauw. Allegheny is improved but is still a cure for what ails you in the NCAC. Just need to show up to play after losing to Witt last week.
Adam’s take: Concordia-Moorhead, which suffered a whirlwind of emotions. They have to move forward against a surprisingly 4-1 Hamline team.
Frank’s take: 25 Salisbury (at William Paterson). The NJAC woke up once Paterson beat Montclair. Salisbury knows another loss spells playoff doom. This won’t even be close.
Chad’s take: Oshkosh looks to prove that they deserve a second shot at UWW in the playoffs, and to do that, they must bounce back at Stevens Point.
Which of the 3 winless SCIAC teams finally gets a W?
Keith’s take: Whittier can hardly score, and Occidental allows more than 30 per game. So that leaves La Verne, which looked bad in its past two but hung with Whitworth in Week 2.
Ryan’s take: Occidental. Despite being winless, they’ve at least been putting points on the board.
Pat’s take: Occidental. Once upon a time, picking Whittier over Pomona-Pitzer would have been a no-brainer, but Oxy-ULV is the only viable option here.
Adam’s take: If Occidental’s defense can step up, the Tigers have enough offense to get a win and keep defending conference champion La Verne winless through five games.
Frank’s take: Occidental (at La Verne). So, I grabbed that coin again… And then, I looked at offensive output for both teams (since they’ve both faced routs) and gave the advantage to Oxy.
Chad’s take: Occidental. The Tigers will go into La Verne and pick up the much needed win.
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.