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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 5: Ringing in October

Our Quick Hits panel is back with (Little Brass) bells on to get you ready for the second month of the season. This week we’re looking at big games in the Liberty League and the MIAA, who is circling the wagons, and who might springboard into the Top 25 after this weekend. Oh, and there’s a big one in Chicagoland as well.

Our regular crew is Keith McMillan, Ryan Tipps, Pat Coleman, Adam Turer, Frank Rossi and Greg Thomas.

— Greg Thomas

Photo: Union athletics

Which game not involving a brass bell is the Game of the Week?

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Keith’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. There are a handful of WIAC & MIAC games that belong, and this one might effectively end someone’s playoff hopes. Already.
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Ryan’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. We’re all still trying to gauge the No. 2 and 3 spots in the WIAC. Both teams already have quality wins, and this will provide clarity.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse at UW-Platteville. I haven’t investigated whether there is a bell involved in this game, to be honest. Hope it qualifies.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Concordia-Moorhead at No. 14 St. Thomas. Every game is now a must-win for the Tommies. The Cobbers fared equally well, if not better than, St. Thomas against WIAC competition. Interested to see how UST responds after last week’s setback.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 21 Hobart at Union. I explain the intriguing matchup in today’s ATN Podcast.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Hope at Trine. This game has decided the MIAA champion in each of the last two seasons and may be the de facto championship game again this year.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 14 St. Thomas. The loss last week was quirky and not too concerning. But Concordia-Moorhead might be really good.
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Ryan’s take: No. 24 Trine. The Thunder seem shaky at times considering how many points they’ve given up so far this season.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 24 Trine. Probably others as well, but Trine seems like a team trading on 2018 success in the 2019 Top 25.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse. The narrow non-conference wins over quality opponents aren’t looking quite as impressive since those teams have both underwhelmed this year. Facing UW-Platteville on the road will give the Eagles a chance to prove themselves worthy of this high ranking.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 16 UW-La Crosse (at UW-Platteville). It seems like the roles are reversed this year for these teams, with Platteville having the chance to play spoiler instead of having to protect its ranking.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: No. 15 Wesley. Yes, Rowan is winless, but the Profs have shown well against Linfield and Hobart. Reports out of Dover that E.J. Lee has been shut down for the year create more questions for a Wesley offense that hasn’t really taken off yet.

North Central’s top ranked offense or Wheaton’s top ranked defense?

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Keith’s take: Wheaton’s defense. I watched Wheaton shut down Illinois Wesleyan, so give me the Thunder.
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Ryan’s take: North Central’s offense. I’m normally all about D in these situations, but this year’s NCC offense under Rutter is too potent to slow down.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: North Central’s top-ranked offense. This game has been pretty high-scoring over the past few meetings and don’t expect a change now.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: North Central. As much as it pains me to ever choose offense, I can’t pick against two of the nation’s top offensive players in quarterback Broc Rutter and offensive lineman Sharmore Clark.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: North Central’s offense. Defense wins championships, but offense wins games like these.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: North Central’s offense. These teams have split the last 14 Little Brass Bell games and it feels like Broc Rutter has started all of them. I’m not betting against him in his last shot at rival Wheaton.

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

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Keith’s take: Albright at FDU-Florham. After three games against teams that are 8-1, the Lions get to face someone on their level and try to snap a 14-game losing streak.
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Ryan’s take: Willamette at Whitworth. I’m eager to see how the bye week treated the Pirates, after the Week 3 upset by Chapman.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Kenyon at Oberlin. But, you’ll have to listen to today’s podcast (No. 247) to find out why.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Carnegie Mellon at Grove City. The Tartans are on some Top 25 ballots already and can continue to climb if they knock off the Wolverines on the road. Grove City is trying to avoid a three-game losing skid on the heels of a nine-game winning streak.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Mass-Dartmouth at Framingham State. The Corsairs look to move to 5-0, but 1-2 Framingham State looks to remain undefeated in the conference and defend its MASCAC crown.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Eureka at Aurora. Look, I like points. Lots of points. These teams both score over 40 points per game and gain over 500 yards per game. If you like wide open offense, this game is for you.

Pick one of the seven six groups of Pioneers in action to get a win this week.

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Keith’s take: William Paterson. A lot of tough matchups for Pioneers this week, but this is both podcast appropriate, and vs. TCNJ, a safer bet.
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Ryan’s take: Marietta, though it won’t be as close as last-year’s one-point win was.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Marietta. Literally the only one I can get on board with here.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Marietta. Whatcha gonna do, brotherrrr, when Tanner Clark runs all over you? He’s sixth in D-III at 145.7 yards per game. ONU’s defense has underwhelmed so far.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: William Paterson (vs. TCNJ). Dustin Johnson has the Pioneers clicking right now, and TCNJ continues to struggle at 0-3.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: UW-Platteville. The Pioneers from Wisconsin have been impressive through the early part of the season while La Crosse has been forced to overtime twice already.

Which unbeaten, unranked team makes the strongest statement for Top 25 votes this weekend?

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Keith’s take: The Case Western Reserve/Westminster winner. If you’re making me pick, I’ll take the Titans, I suppose.
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Ryan’s take: Cortland. They don’t need much of a nudge to crack the Top 25, and taking down a 2-1 Utica team should get them there, especially if it’s as lopsided as their other games have been.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Cortland, vs. Utica. These Pioneers are off to a pretty good start and if Cortland handles Utica, it should open some eyes.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Union. A win over ranked Hobart would almost assuredly get the Dutchmen into the Top 25. At least if other voters share my belief that winning all your games this season is more representative than program pedigree or past seasons’ performance.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Union (vs. No. 21 Hobart). Because I’m a 1998 grad, and because I’m making my first appearance at Union in three years.
Greg Thomas
Greg’s take: Carnegie Mellon. The Tartans only need to find themselves on a few more ballots to crack the Top 25 and an impressive win over Grove City may well collect the additional support they need. Also, Platteville (see above).

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: What’s left to do? Lots.

Week 9 this year is too early for anyone to clinch a bid to the playoffs, but those days are coming, and a couple of the games that will be key in deciding automatic bids are being played this weekend.

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 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. .

— Pat Coleman

Which game is the Week 9 game of the week?

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Keith’s take: No. 15 Illinois Wesleyan at Millikin. Titans win sets up a huge showdown with NCC next week. A Big Blue win makes CCIW a five-way race to the finish.
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Ryan’s take: No. 18 Muhlenberg at No. 23 Johns Hopkins. Hard not to love this matchup, with the winner being in the driver’s seat for Centennial crownery.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 18 Muhlenberg at No. 23 Johns Hopkins. The Centennial’s game of the year most years.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Muhlenberg at Johns Hopkins. Despite losing their conference opener, the Blue Jays still control their destiny in the Centennial Conference. This is a must-win for the conference’s perennial champion.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 25 Salisbury at Rowan. It’s a game with Pool A & C implications for an undefeated team that’s entering the meat of its schedule (Salisbury). Look for a defensive battle.
Guest
Chad’s take: Muhlenberg at Johns Hopkins. An early-season hiccup by the Blue Jays was quickly erased. While the Mules average 459 yards a game, the Blue Jays defense will be up to the challenge.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

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Keith’s take: No. 13 Berry. Four of Vikings eight wins were within one score in the fourth. Birmingham Southern is 5-2.
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Ryan’s take: No. 25 Salisbury. It’s been talked about several times that the undefeated Gulls haven’t been tested much yet. But Rowan certainly has been and is all the better for it.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 25 Salisbury. This is the first big test for Salisbury, while Rowan is battle-tested.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 25 Salisbury. The NJAC gauntlet starts now for the unbeaten Gulls, who travel to Rowan, then host Wesley, then close at Frostburg. The Profs have momentum after knocking off the Wolverines last week.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 11 Wittenberg. “Wabash always fights [Wittenberg hard].” Except for Wabash’s 2015 big win, lately, this matchup is always close. It’s a must-win for Wabash.
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Chad’s take: No. 11 Wittenberg. I expect a close game throughout with the Little Giants making a big play late to upend Witt.

Which team hurts its regional ranking before it is even announced?

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Keith’s take: I haven’t been this deep in the weeds, but No. 25 Salisbury has a tough matchup at Rowan.
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Ryan’s take: Western New England. Not only is this a tough outing against Nichols, but it’s also a trap game for WNE with Endicott coming up next week.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 17 RPI. The Engineers will win, but their strength of schedule will take a hit this week vs. Rochester.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Baldwin Wallace. The second-best game of the week pits the 6-1 Yellow Jackets at 6-1 Marietta. The winner remains in Pool C contention.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 17 RPI. They currently possess the 24th best strength of schedule figure nationally, but facing 1-6 Rochester won’t help, especially if it’s a remotely close score.
Guest
Chad’s take: Millikin. Needing a big win, the 151st ranked defense can’t keep tabs with the 46th ranked offense. A win here would have propelled them to a nice ranking, but the Titans are too much.

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

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Keith’s take: Wartburg at Loras. The glut at the top of the ARC might remain; Knights are only top-half team to play opponent with winning record.
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Ryan’s take: Millsaps at Centre. Compared to Centre’s 6-1 record, Millsaps’ 4-3 is a bit misleading considering more than half of their games had margins of 7 points or less.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Eureka at Concordia (Wis.). More on that game in the podcast.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Averett at Maryville. The two conference unbeatens in the USA South meet with much on the line. The Scots’ 2013 appearance is the only playoff berth between these two programs.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: WPI at MIT. It’s a crucial Pool B game in the NEWMAC. An MIT loss could reopen a playoff path for Thomas More and throw the NEWMAC standings into chaos.
Guest
Chad’s take: Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern. HSU is playing for its playoff life as they take on a Pirate team who runs well and stops the run well. A traditional, smash-mouth game will not disappoint. HSU with the close win.

Kalamazoo, Misericordia or Eureka?

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Keith’s take: Misericordia. Concordia (Wis.), King’s and Olivet are tough opponents, but Misericordia loves company … or something.
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Ryan’s take: All three. Kzoo and Eureka have interesting/challenging games, so all three winning is far from a sure thing — and we continue to stay highly vested in their conference races.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Misericordia. Oh. Maybe people will be following Eureka.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Misericordia. A road trip to King’s won’t be easy, but it’s the most favorable matchup among three of the season’s most pleasant surprises.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Kalamazoo over struggling Olivet, Misericordia over inconsistent King’s, and Eureka over a very good Concordia (Wis.) team.
Guest
Chad’s take: Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo keeps its MIAA championship dreams alive and keeps an eye on Trine and that Nov. 10 game. .

Defiance, Earlham or William Paterson?

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Keith’s take: William Paterson. The Pioneers and their 1-6 opponent, TCNJ, are similarly challenged, scoring 40 and 62 points, respectively, this season.
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Ryan’s take: William Paterson. The Pioneers will pick up not just their first win of the season, but also their first win in more than two years.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Earlham. I’m going with the team on the bye because it’s a good time of the year for a small roster to get a break.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Earlham. If not now, against winless Defiance, when will the Quakers finally snap their streak? At least the Quakers can’t take an L this week, on their bye.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: I won’t be Defiant against Rose-Hulman, nobody is Quaking at the thought of idle Earlham, but Pioneers will shock TCNJ — even without covered wagons.
Guest
Chad’s take: William Paterson. The Pioneers get off the schneid against TCNJ.

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.