Quick Hits Week 7: Eyes on the rivalry and the streak

In addition to the big game between St. Thomas and St. John’s, there are lots of other key games, including one at the other end of the rankings. That’s where Earlham, which has lost 49 consecutive games, faces Anderson. A win will keep Earlham from grabbing a share of the record for the longest Division III football losing streak, ever.

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 James Baker, Frank Rossi’s co-host on In The Huddle. That’s the two of them staring at each other.

Photo: UW-Oshkosh Kyle Radavich stands in the pocket. (Photo by Daryl Tessmann,

Which game is the Week 7 game of the week?

Keith’s take: The Tommie-Johnnie game. Next question.
Ryan’s take: Tommie-Johnnie game. Ranked teams. Fierce rivalry. Smothering defenses. The recent loss of a legend. MIAC title hopes. Sentence fragments.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 3 St. Thomas at No. 8 St. John’s. The game of any week.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Tommie-Johnnie. A battle of top ten teams that means even more in light of the great John Gagliardi’s passing.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: St. Thomas at St. John’s. When John passed away last weekend, it made this game even more special. The emotion here will be intense, leading to a back-and-forth affair.
James Baker
James’ take: St. Thomas at St. John’s. With all due respect to No. 4 Brockport and Alfred, this is the easy pick, especially with the passing of legendary SJU coach John Gagliardi weighing heavily.

Which Top 25 team is most likely to get upset?

Keith’s take: No. 13 UW-Oshkosh. UW-Platteville, which is one six-minute stretch vs. Thomas More from being unbeaten, is likely the better team.
Ryan’s take: No. 13 UW-Oshkosh. If not for a loss to Thomas More early in the season, Platteville would be ranked and this would seem even less of an upset.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: No. 23 Muhlenberg. If Thomas More could do it to Platteville, it could do the same in this game.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. 13 UW-Oshkosh. The Titans still have not discovered an offensive identity, and UW-Platteville can remain squarely in the WIAC title mix.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. 13 UW-Oshkosh. I just don’t see where the Titans are going to find the points to beat UW-Platteville. The better offense will win a close one here.
James Baker
James’ take: No. 23 Muhlenberg. While I don’t want to root against the Mike Cragg coaching tree, Thomas More needs to win this game more than the Mules to stay in the hunt for a playoff bid.

Who bounces back from a noteworthy loss?

Keith’s take: No. 9 Hardin-Simmons. Shut out by UMHB, the Cowboys should go back to scoring 50-plus vs. Sul Ross State.
Ryan’s take: George Fox. Fell to ranked Whitworth last week and is now hunting for its first conference win (as is opponent Willamette).
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Chapman. The Panthers should find Occidental a different challenge than Redlands was.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Hardin-Simmons. The Cowboys should avenge last week’s rare shutout by bouncing back with a vengeance against winless Sul Ross State.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Ithaca. The Bombers have a tremendous defense that can tame Union’s offense enough to allow Ithaca to sneak out with a win in essentially an elimination game.
James Baker
James’ take: No. 7 Wesley.The Wolverines will take out their frustrations over losing by one point to Frostburg State with a methodical thumping of 1-4 Kean, who’s been outscored 117-25 this season.

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

Keith’s take: Montclair State at Salisbury. I might be overhyping this, but I’m curious if either 5-0 NJAC team can push Wesley or Frostburg State.
Ryan’s take: Simpson at Central. Not far from the beaten path since both are undefeated in conference play, but I’ve been itching to see someone really stand out in ARC action.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Hartwick at St. John Fisher. Sounds random, but tune into the podcast to find out why.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Averett at N.C. Wesleyan. The Cougars last shared a conference title in 2006. The Battling Bishops won the USA South in 2009 and shared the title in 2010.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Endicott at UNE. After their first program victory against Curry, the Nor’easters have a chance to create chaos in the CCC if they can play well again on their blue turf.
James Baker
James’ take: Ithaca vs. Union. In what amounts to a playoff-elimination game for both teams, Liberty League preseason favorite Ithaca needs to win out and RPI to lose to have any shot.

Six NACC teams are 1-4 overall. Which ones will move to 2-4?

Keith’s take: Lakeland and Benedictine.
Ryan’s take: Lakeland and Wisconsin Lutheran. The Muskies have faced some good nonconference teams, which helps in NACC play, and the Warriors is where my gut’s at.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Lakeland and Benedictine. Lakeland over Rockford, Benedictine over Wisconsin Lutheran.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: Lakeland. The Muskies have a recent winning pedigree, while the Regents have not posted a winning season since joining the NACC.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: Benedictine and Lakeland.
James Baker
James’ take: Benedictine and Rockford. 

Does Earlham get off the schneid this week?

Keith’s take: No. I said they would not in the podcast, so I’m obligated to stick with Anderson here.
Ryan’s take: No. The Quakers haven’t yet figured out how to keep a game close let alone win one.
Pat Coleman
Pat’s take: Reply hazy, try again. Seems unlikely, unfortunately. And Macalester fans seem to enjoy holding the record for longest losing streak, too.
Adam Turer
Adam’s take: No. The Quakers’ best chance will come on Nov. 3 against Defiance, after the record for futility has been broken.
Frank Rossi
Frank’s take: No. There really is a difference between being outscored 341-39 (Earlham) vs. 209-72 (Anderson).
James Baker
James’ take: Nope. Sorry, Quakers.

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.


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 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 Around the Nation Podcast. The Around the Nation Podcast is a regular conversation between Pat Coleman and Keith McMillan and guests covering the wide range of Division III football. 

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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 gets a buck or so in the process).

Triple Take: And here’s the kick!

St. John Fisher ended last season on a roll to the Elite 8. The Cardinals start with a Top 25 opponent in Thomas More.

Are you ready to take in more than 1,200 college football games this season? We sure are!

The Division III community is embarking on a fall during which 239 teams will take the field, most playing nine or 10 games in the regular season. D-III is the largest division in college, and will give you insight across the board into the good, the bad, and the potential breakouts.

That all started with Kickoff 2012, our preseason publication, which has a slew of feature stories as well as rankings and interviews with coaches from every team in the nation. (There’s still lots of valuable info there if you haven’t purchased yet.) also brings you regional and national columns throughout the season, and every Friday morning, you’ll be able to dive into the column you’re reading right now, called Triple Take.

In Triple Take, Executive Editor and Publisher Pat Coleman, Managing Editor and National Columnist Keith McMillan and Senior Editor and longtime Mid-Atlantic Columnist Ryan Tipps break down some of the week’s biggest games, sleeper teams and those who we’re keeping an especially close eye on. From now until the Stagg Bowl, we’ll take you well beyond the Top 25.

We open up Triple Take to comments in the section below, or feel free to take the conversation to Twitter using the hashtag #3take. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: Pat (@d3football), Keith (@D3Keith) and Ryan (@D3MidAtlantic).

Game of the week.
Ryan’s take: No. 20 Thomas More at No. 11 St. John Fisher.
Fisher blasted through the first two rounds of the 2011 playoffs, proving to the selection committee and the D-III community that 8-2 teams deserve at-large bids. Their Empire 8 conference is one of the absolute toughest in the land, and getting the ball rolling against the PAC’s standard-bearer will be an exciting test. Both teams return the bulk of their starters and match up amazingly well on the field. A win for momentum’s sake could be crucial, too, as each team faces its top conference opponent the first week of October.
Pat’s take: St. Norbert vs. John Carroll. It’s in Ireland, for goodness sakes. I’m not sure I need to write anything else.
Keith’s take: No. 20 Thomas More at No. 11 St. John Fisher. Usually we try not to duplicate picks, but this was my standout game before I saw Ryan’s, and I’m sticking with it. There’s some other intrigue, like Willamette at Hardin-Simmons and Monmouth at Coe, but this is the biggest toss-up involving at least one top 25 team. Luke Magness became Thomas More’s starting quarterback right at the end of the season last year; We’ll be watching to see how much better he is with an offseason to prepare for the job. Likewise, St. John Fisher’s Ryan Kramer was a running back-turned-QB in a pinch last season; He’s had a full go-round to train as a signal-caller.

Surprisingly close game.
Ryan’s take: Case Western Reserve at Marietta.
Case has ushered in some teams with top-notch records recently, not losing more than two games a season over the past five years. But the Spartans are rarely dynamic out of the gate. Chalk that up to reasons we may never know. But with some changes happening up front for Case, an OAC team (even a lower-tier one) isn’t how I’d prefer to start my season.
Pat’s take: No. 9 Delaware Valley at Rowan. The Profs look to be coming into this season undermanned when compared to their cross-river rivals. And even though Rowan is far removed from the program which beat Delaware Valley in back-to-back years for the East Region title in 2004 and 2005, there’s still a little pride in Glassboro. Enough to give them a fighting chance.
Keith’s take: Augustana at Dubuque. On the surface, it’s a 2-8 team vs. a playoff team. Beneath it, though, the Vikings have usually been good for about seven wins a season, and come from the always-tough CCIW. Last season, the Spartans won, 18-13, on the road. They’re a more confident team now, coming off an IIAC championship, but they’re also without Gagliardi Trophy winner Michael Zweifel, who accounted for an enormous amount of their offense last season. Even if Dubuque wins again, it’ll be by a not-pretty score like last season.

Most likely Top 25 team to get upset.
Ryan’s take: No. 8 St. Thomas.
Can a team really lose its best players at its three prime skill positions — the quarterback and All-Americans at running back and wide receiver — and still deserve a spot in the Top 10? Not unless your name is Mount Union or UW-Whitewater. The Tommies’ opening opponent, UW-Eau Claire, is a solid mid-pack WIAC team, which stands for a lot coming from that conference. St. Thomas might make the playoffs again (they might even go 10-0), but there’s a lot more trepidation about the team’s potency now than there was at this time in 2011.
Pat’s take: No. 20 Thomas More. St. John Fisher performed better in the playoffs last season without Ryan Kramer than it did with him. But it’s good to remember that Kramer was not expected to be the quarterback in 2011 when the season started, and worked out in the offseason and preseason as a running back before the presumed starter got hurt. With a full offseason to prepare, Kramer should be much more polished under center.
Keith’s take: No. 14 Kean. I don’t think any of the ranked teams are really likely to be upset; If I thought so, I wouldn’t have put these teams in the preseason top 25.  And I mean actual upsets (*glares at Pat*). Kean though, is replacing nearly its entire offense (four starters back; 13 overall) while its opponent, Albright, brings back the group almost intact (nine offensive starters, 16 overall). The game is under the lights in Union, N.J. though, which means this is about as weak an upset pick as I could possibly make. Other viable choices were No. 6 North Central, hosting UW-LaCrosse or No. 7 Salisbury, at Christopher Newport.

They’ll be on your radar.
Ryan’s take: No. 24. Birmingham-Southern.
Any team that has a rusher like Shawn Morris has one less position it needs to worry about come Saturday. As the No. 2 rusher in country last fall, Morris was instrumental in helping B-SC reach further for its gold ring than ever before. The Panthers have turned things around in recent years, and barring any major stumbles, they should be on everyone’s radar for the next several weeks, starting with their game against LaGrange.
Pat’s take: Buffalo State. The Empire 8 coaches’ poll snubbed the Bengals and despite my best efforts, I think Kickoff did too. I agree with what Ryan said above, about the Empire 8 being among the toughest conferences in Division III football, but Buffalo State will be able to hold its own. Whether that translates into a win against Cortland State remains to be seen but the Bengals should be on your radar, for sure.
Keith’s take: William Paterson and Wisconsin Lutheran.
Yeah I’m not sure I understood Pat’s obssession with Buffalo State during our Kickoff meetings, but then he could probably say the same about my Wisconsin Lutheran pick in the Beyond the Top 25 piece. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, buy Kickoff. … It won’t affect the Northern Athletics Conference race, but Wisconsin Lutheran’s opener at Ripon is a chance for them to take a step toward the postseason. Meanwhile, the real intrigue is in the NJAC, a race that could be up for grabs, especially if my upset pick is correct. That means William Paterson needs to start the season with an attention-grabbing victory against King’s. Other potential picks here included North Park at Hope and Illinois College, hosting Hanover.

Which 2011 playoff team is going to end up wishing it had a Week 1 bye?
Ryan’s take: Johns Hopkins.
The Blue Jays have said more than once in recent seasons that quarterback Hewitt Tomlin was the face of the franchise, the player on whom success and defeat often rested. Tomlin has graduated, and with him the more than 2,600 yards he threw for last year. That doesn’t leave a settling thought for a team that has to go up against Randolph-Macon, with its penchant for replacing top-notch running backs with even more top-notch backs. Macon is stingy with points, too. A team might be able to air the ball out and make some big plays to put up points, but most opponents won’t win the war in the trenches with Macon. JHU won’t have the leverage going into Saturday to outlift R-MC.
Pat’s take: St. Scholastica. It isn’t a rebuilding season for the Saints, to be sure, but they won’t be 10-0 dominant like they were last year. And you can consult the Kickoff rankings to see the difference between last year’s non-conference opener (Lawrence) and this year’s (Whitworth).
Keith’s take: Franklin. Look, we salute the Grizzlies for playing Mount Union. It’ll be a meeting of some of D-III’s best fans, at least in the pre-game tailgate. For years we’ve seen teams take this Week 1 game to get a taste of the Purple Raiders, and they end up with a mouthful. Franklin, which has designs on being a perennial contender, took a game with UW-Whitewater last season and lost 45-0. The playoff rematch was 41-14. I know Franklin doesn’t really wish it had a bye, because they’re playing these games to figure out what it takes to get to the purple powers’ level, but the final score may leave a bit to be desired. Mount Union has been vulnerable in recent seasons, but we’re talking December vulnerable, not beginning of September. Other candidates: Bendictine at No. 15 Wheaton, Monmouth at Coe.

Which conference will have the most impressive non-conference win?
Ryan’s take: The MIAA.
It’s not every day that a team from Michigan can get a leg up on the CCIW, but that’s exactly what could happen when Adrian hosts Carthage. The Bulldogs are a team on the rise, and they’re certainly hoping to bite into a piece of the playoff pie. Should they lose a conference game, wins against teams like Carthage could factor in nicely for at-large consideration.
Pat’s take: The MAC. There are a couple of possible matchups here that could give me that result, but the one I’m thinking of is Lebanon Valley at Montclair State. Montclair State just lost too much on offense and defense … and special teams … and while Lebanon Valley doesn’t exactly return intact either, it should have the upper hand.
Keith’s take: The ECFC.
A few teams scheduled aggressively, opening up opportunities for upsets. Gallaudet at Otterbein, Norwich against Western New England and Husson at Hartwick are the three games that would catch my attention, should the ECFC team prevail.

Which long losing streak is likely to end?
Ryan’s take: Greensboro, at Guilford.
If you’re going to end a losing streak, nothing’s sweeter than doing it against a cross-town rival. The Pride has a new coach, one who is familiar with the inner workings of the team. That means there’s new perspectives but without the learning curve. To most teams, Guilford wouldn’t be a chest-thumping win, but Greensboro has won just one game since September 2010. And last year’s matchup against Guilford was a lopsided affair. A win by Greensboro isn’t going to be a sign of a great resurgence afoot, but it will be a step in the right direction for a program looking to rebuild.
Pat’s take: Knox, vs. Eureka. The Prairie Fire have been put out 14 consecutive times, but it’s better to open against Eureka than against Wash U. Knox is playing at home and should have 18 starters back. Eureka has some pretty good talent as well, but if the win doesn’t come here for Knox, in the inaugural Lincoln Bowl, it will be more than a month before there’s another similar opportunity.
Keith’s take: Thiel, vs. Juniata.
The Tomcats won 11 games in 2005, but now are coming off consecutive 0-10 seasons and 22 consecutive losses. Juniata, meanwhile, is 6-54 since that 2005 season, so if there was ever an opportunity for Theil to break the streak, now is the time. Hamline (16 consecutive losses) at Minnesota-Morris is another candidate.