After a Saturday where the phone rang furiously with updates from La Crosse, Wis. during then-No. 3 UW-Whitewater’s come-from-behind victory against then-No. 6 UW-La Crosse, I arrived home to find a smoldering wreckage of a top 25.
Herbstreit reiterated as much to University of
Dayton’s Flyer News.
“I’m not a fan of (playoffs) — at all. I think having a Plus-1 model at the end of the year is probably the right way to go. I just think the BCS and the impact it has on the regular season has been tremendous. It really makes every game every single week matter. I enjoy that aspect of it.”
I realize folks out there don’t really care how we do it, but Good Lord – we have a playoff system, and we are in the middle of another butt-kicking regular season.
Knee-deep in Saturday’s Division III craziness, I didn’t realize until Sunday night that I-A had a weekend like ours. Top 25 teams bit the dust from New Jersey and West Virginia to Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and Oregon, while others hung on by a thread.
Our system doesn’t allow for much more than a loss or two from elite teams, and yet when it’s all over, we get five more weeks to watch them sort it out and leave no doubts. And then – gasp! – most everyone still manages to graduate.
Far be it from us to detract from people’s enjoyment of their San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia and Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowls. We’re going to kick back and enjoy the rest of our thing.
That was my third thought, how soon we get to witness top teams clashing again. Here’s a brief look at what’s in store for Week 6 (Gordon Mann tackles the games of the week in-depth later in the column):
No. 1 Mount Union at No. 9 Ohio Northern: Polar Bears last to beat Purple Raiders, two seasons ago on the road.
No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor at No. 21 Hardin-Simmons: Part of me thinks the Crusaders are Stagg Bowl-bound, but another thinks the Cowboys will surprise here, given their two-loss, backs-against-the-playoff-wall situation. Wait, our system allows for both!
No. 18 St. Olaf at No. 4 St. John’s: The Johnnies look vulnerable this season, but the Oles haven’t kept it close in the two meetings since knocking off St. John’s in ’04.
No. 5 Wheaton at North Central: The Cardinals were ranked up until last week and enter the battle for the Little Brass Bell with a need to win a game that will likely be pivotal in deciding the CCIW’s playoff representative. Elmhurst and Augustana also play each other Saturday.
No. 24 John Carroll at No. 8 Capital: The Blue Streaks and Crusaders are two more of the unprecedented five OAC teams to be ranked this week. Both have been defensively rugged, with Capital posting three shutouts and John Carroll having given up all but six of its points in splitting vs. ONU and No. 17 Baldwin-Wallace.
Hartwick at No. 20 Alfred: Although I wouldn’t normally expect this to be a game, the Hawks have home wins already against two Empire 8 giants in Ithaca and St. John Fisher.
No. 25 Redlands at Occidental: Probably the de facto SCIAC championship game. Another meeting of teams who have been superb so far defensively.
Pacific Lutheran at Whitworth: Suddenly a game that could have Northwest Conference title implications, although Linfield and Willamette appear to be in the mix too. Because of its earlier loss to Redlands, Whitworth needs a win to keep Pool B playoff hopes afloat.
Coe at Dubuque: Two of the four expected contenders in Iowa – we mean football here, not politics – will help continue to sort things out.
Becker at Gallaudet: Four points from victory last time they played, it’s time for the Hawks to break through for the first win in program history.
And there are games in the NJAC, MAC, ODAC and elsewhere that will help sort out cloudy conference pictures and allow teams to build playoff résumés.
I’ll be in Abilene, Texas for McMurry/East Texas Baptist and then UMHB/HSU myself, but wherever you are Saturday, enjoy what a great regular season this is shaping up to be.
There’s a time and a use for coachspeak. A couple
teams this past week could’ve used the ol’ “Play
hard for all 60 minutes” speech. But sometimes it’s
refreshing to hear a coach shoot from the hip.
Even after his team got beat 28-0 in a relatively drama-free game at Wesley, Huntingdon’s Mike Turk was kind enough to stick around and talk to Pat Coleman and I for nearly 30 minutes while his kids showered and loaded the bus which would take them to a chartered flight from Delaware back to Alabama.
Because of their take-on-all-comers schedule as an independent, seeing Huntingdon provides us an invaluable tool in gauging conferences strength. The Hawks have played teams from the ASC, USAC, MIAA, WIAC and ACFC and have remaining games against teams from the ODAC, a different classification (NAIA) and an independent from the football league it joins next season, the SLIAC.
Turk pulled no punches in helping us get a feel for the difference in team strength.
“The last four teams we played have combined for one loss coming into the day. Oshkosh, good god. I’ll be honest with you – they are the most disciplined machine. It’s incredible to watch. I made this statement during that game: ‘you know what, it’s not hard to figure out why Whitewater can beat Wesley like they do every year, because they have kids that can run with Wesley’s speed, and they have big kids that can match up physically, but they are so finely tuned it’s unreal.’ ”
And yet Turk had a ton of respect for Wesley. Having coached at Division I Troy before Huntingdon, Turk said players like Wesley WR Michael Clarke, WR Larry Beavers, DE Bryan Robinson and TE Jon Lanouette would have been scholarship players had they grown up in the South.
“Troy would love to have guys like that,” he said.
Turk, whose team opened up with McMurry and studied a tape of Hardin-Simmons/McMurry to prepare, said this about the 21st-ranked Cowboys: “They looked like LSU. Good God, they were pretty. (At Troy) we used to go down and play McNeese State and I said, “they’re either McNeese or LSU but they’re not Hardin-Simmons.”
Although he praised his team’s scrappiness, the size disadvantage against Wesley was apparent to the naked eye.
“We have to upgrade our size and our speed and everything. We’re not even near being on these guys’ level,” Turk said, referring to Wesley. “We matched up well with North Carolina Wesleyan when we played them a few years ago, but we saw them on tape and they’d whip our butt right now.
“We’re working hard recruiting, but we have a long way to go yet. There’s so much competition.”
Pat Coleman wrote about Huntingdon’s battle against that competition for CSTV this week:
We know it’s all about the players and the games. But after the candid postgame conversations with Turk and Wesley coach Mike Drass that basically made our trip to Delaware worthwhile, we admit it’s sometimes about the coaches too.
Gordon Mann’s take on Week 6’s contests of
Before the playoffs begin each year, we publish capsules that include the season’s turning point. The turning point can be a signature win in a smooth march to the playoffs or the moment a team transitioned from pretty good to playoff participant. For a lot of highly ranked teams, that turning point will be Week 6.
There are so many big games this week, we can’t do justice to all of them. No. 5 Wheaton will tangle with North Central for the Little Brass Bell trophy and an important conference win. Hartwick will try to answer questions about its ability to play on the road against an Alfred team that finds itself as the Empire 8’s new front-runner. And the NJAC has three interesting matchups including Cortland State at Kean on the D3Cast/D3football.com East Region Game of the Week.
With so many big games to pick from, here are five that should go a long way toward defining November’s playoff field.
No. 1 Mount Union (4-0, 3-0) at No. 9 Ohio Northern (4-0, 3-0): Ohio Northern’s victory against Mount Union in 2005 is the exception to the Purple Raiders’ rule. Mount Union always beats its ranked OAC opponents … except for that game against ONU. Mount Union is unbeatable in the regular season … except for that game against ONU. For the Polar Bears to score another upset, they’ll have to find a way to stop Mount Union from scoring so much (64.2 ppg). Maybe that means stopping running back Nate Kmic (one touchdown every 3.5 carries) or quarterback Greg Micheli (10 touchdowns to zero interceptions). Actually I’m not sure how you slow down Mount Union’s offense because no one this season has come close to doing so. But linebacker Lenny Trusnik (32 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and his Polar Bear teammates will try.
No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor (4-0, 3-0) at No. 21 Hardin-Simmons (2-2, 2-0): Usually this ASC showdown is a toss-up coming in. But the teams’ performances to date make the Crusaders the clear favorites this year, even on the road. Mary Hardin-Baylor has rolled over opponents by Mount Union-like scores while Hardin-Simmons has two losses and two victories by one score. The Cowboys’ hopes rest on the right arm of Justin Feaster who comes off a huge game against Mississippi College (495 yards, five touchdowns). But to beat the Crusaders, the Hardin-Simmons’ defense (43.8 points per game against) will have to play much better against Mary Hardin-Baylor’s offense (53.8 points per game). Keith McMillan will be down in Abilene, Texas, for the action.
No. 18 St. Olaf (5-0, 3-0) at No. 4 St. John’s (5-0, 3-0): Last week’s wins were a contrast in styles for the Johnnies and the Oles. St. John’s scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to squeak by Carleton 10-7. St. Olaf scored at least ten points in every quarter to route of Gustavus Adolphus 59-19. This shapes up as a great battle between the Johnnies’ stingy defense (17 turnovers forced) and the Oles’ high-octane offense (573.8 total yards per game).
No. 24 John Carroll (3-1, 2-1) at No. 8 Capital (4-0, 3-0): These two could be a lot closer than their rankings suggest depending on who steps on the field for Capital. Wide receiver Derick Alexander, a 2006 All-American, is done for the season. Will quarterback Marty Assmann play after leaving last week’s Marietta game with an injury? How about leading receiver Evan Blake, who has 21 catches for 445 receiving yards but left last week’s game with an injury? Granted, Capital’s offense hasn’t had to score much with the defense blanking three of four opponents. But Mark Petruziello (five touchdown passes, four rushing touchdowns) and the John Carroll offense figure to put up more of a fight.
No. 25 Redlands (3-0, 0-0) at Occidental (3-0, 1-0): It’s only fitting that such a full slate of big games won’t wrap up until late at night. Redlands kicks off its conference schedule against defending champion Occidental at 10 p.m. ET. It’s too early to tell whether other teams will challenge for the SCIAC title, but a win should vault the victor higher in the Top 25. Most voters probably don’t have both the Bulldogs and the Tigers on their ballot so a win for one could steal most votes from the other.
Also keep an eye on: No. 5 Wheaton at North Central; No. 6 UW-La Crosse at UW-Eau Claire; No. 16 Wabash at Allegheny; New Jersey at No. 19 Rowan; Hartwick at No. 20 Alfred; Buffalo State at No. 22 Montclair State; St. Norbert at Monmouth; Cortland State at Kean; Hampden-Sydney at Emory & Henry; Elmhurst at Augustana; Dubuque at Coe
Check Friday morning’s Daily Dose for Pat, Keith and a guest’s primer on Week 6 games.
Quick reactions to results through Week 5 and expected Week 6 happenings:
1. Mark it down. In the Year-in-Review in January, Coast Guard 3, Mass. Maritime 0 will win the Least Bang For The Buck category. The academy’s Bears won a 3-0 game last year at Maine Maritime, and at least that game was played in the rain. I’m pretty sure it was clear in Massachusetts on Saturday. Kicker David Lieberman scored the only points of the game on a 20-yard field goal with 4:21 left.
2. From the Ouch Dept.: The MIAA’s Olivet got its first win of the season against Wisconsin Lutheran. The Comets scored touchdowns on their first eight possessions and rolled up a 55-2 lead by halftime.
3. After Randolph-Macon’s 42-17 upset of defending ODAC champ Washington & Lee and Hampden-Sydney’s 38-31 win against Bridgewater, the conference picture looks as muddled as ever. Could all seven teams really contend? At the moment, there are five conference teams at 4-1 overall, with Emory & Henry 3-1 and W&L 2-1.
4. Speaking of kooky conference races, the NJAC has four teams at 3-1 overall and four more at 2-2. With conference play just underway, only Cortland State as more than one NJAC under its belt. But like the ODAC, just about every team’s given reason to believe it will tough to deal with, making the business of predicting a favorite rather impossible.
5. You gotta watch those night kickoffs. Illinois Wesleyan and Augustana kicked off at 6 p.m., and partly because of that, the Titans’ 22-19 upset of the Vikings went largely unnoticed. (It was also partly because it was such a wild weekend across the board). IWU came back from down 13-0 and 16-7, and used a 98-yard drive to take the lead. Nick Nikolich led the Titans with 17 tackles.
6. Anybody notice SUNY-Morrisville (Morrisville State on these pages) notching a 39-38 win against SUNY-Maritime? Both of those programs began Division III participation last season, and Morrisville got its win in a 1-8 year against Maritime, 20-6. In this year’s game, the Privateers had a chance to tie late in the fourth quarter, but bounced a PAT off the upright.
7. Since losing to Williams 41-16 in its second game last season, Trinity (Conn.) had been virtually unscored upon. The Bantams posted five shutouts in six games, giving up a field goal to Middlebury, to close last season and then started this year with a 20-0 win at Colby. So that’s seven games without giving up a touchdown before Williams scored five in Saturday’s 46-40 triple-overtime game. Trinity’s Joe Clark caught four TDs in the winning effort, spawning what we can only hope is a spoof Heisman Trophy campaign.
8. The NCAC is the opposite of those crazy races mentioned earlier. With five 1-3 teams and two more at 0-4, we can pretty much guess it’ll come down to 4-0 Wabash or 3-1 Wittenberg or Allegheny for the title and playoff bid. And yeah, you guessed it, there’s a big game this week when the 16th-ranked Little Giants go to Allegheny.
9. How about Carnegie Mellon with the worst record and playoff chances in the UAA? The Tartans, 11-1 last season, are 2-2 so far while conference mates Case Western Reserve (5-0), Washington U. (4-1) and Chicago (3-1) are all in the Pool B playoff hunt, at least technically. After a one-point loss to Hobart in which CMU passed for a two-point conversion at the end and failed, and then a three-point loss to Allegheny, the Tartans are staring at four consecutive games against teams with one loss or fewer. They travel to surprising Randolph-Macon (4-1) this week and then play the three UAA games.
10. It’s looking like a long year for MacMurray. Its losses have come by scores of 50-0, 47-0, 65-0 and 41-8, which means they are sitting on one touchdown four games into the year. The good news? With the best two IBFC opponents already out of the way, and with Blackburn to end the season, there will be opportunities for the Highlanders to win.
With the top 25 damage, there were opportunities for teams to move into the rankings, but some of those teams squandered chances. Oshkosh, Mississippi College, Augustana and Dubuque were all on the watch list last week and lost. Redlands was less-than-overwhelming in a 12-0 win against Chapman and Coe did not play. In the end, only Wabash and Dickinson moved onto my ballot, very tentatively ahead of Baldwin-Wallace and Bridgewater, who lost.
Teams just outside my top 25, in no particular order: Millsaps, Coe, RPI, UW-Stevens Point, Elmhurst, Pacific Lutheran. There are also the aforementioned teams that lost, plus others like Moravian, which voters still need to watch, and the perennial powers in weak conferences, like St. Norbert and Curry. Then there are the surprise teams you have to start considering – or at least examining – when they get to 4-1 or better: Case Western, Waynesburg, Adrian (all unbeaten), Wash. U., Rose-Hulman, Randolph-Macon, Catholic, WPI, Husson and Albright (3-1). I might not end up ever voting for one of those teams, but halfway through the year, we do have to begin to consider.
Taking a look at those unfamiliar names on schedules, and following Division III teams in interdivisional play:
Division III split last week’s games (Frostburg State lost at Duquesne while D3 newcomer Geneva scored one for us against LaSalle) and plays none this week.
vs. Division I, FCS (1-1 in Week 5, 4-7 in 2007)
vs. Division II (No games in Week 5, 3-10 in 2007)
vs. NAIA (No games in Week 5, 15-5 in 2007)
For a running list of the season’s interdivisional scores and accompanying discussion, visit our Post Patterns threads D3 vs. D-IAA, D2 and D3 vs. NAIA.
Not a whole lot changed last week, so Eureka gets to hog the spotlight among the five types of streaks Around the Nation tracks:
Mount Union wins big again. Ho-hum. Some people think the Purple Raiders are the Evil Empire, but most of us know they’re that much better than the rest of us, and they’re rarely arrogant about it. Right on.
With 27 undefeated teams, not including the four 2-0 records in the late-starting NESCAC, we should soon have some streaks long enough (10 games+) to add to this list. It may vanish entirely if Mount Union can’t survive Ohio Northern this week.
The longest current winning streak in Division III:
Mount Union (27 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Ohio Northern, 21-14, Oct. 22, 2005; 1-0 in 2007)
Eureka held the ball last week for 38:35, running 96 plays, including 64 rushes. The Red Devils survived 147 yards in penalties by going 6-for-6 on fourth down, and they scored in the fourth quarter to beat Concordia (Ill.) 28-21. It was Eureka’s first win after 20 consecutive losses, dating to a 32-13 win vs. the same Concordia on Sept. 24, 2005.
LaGrange gave Louisiana College a game before falling 30-17, but is still searching for the first win in program history. So is Becker, which lost by four last time out. But by not playing last week while Hiram and Lewis and Clark lost, there’s now a three-way tie up top. Or should we say ‘at the bottom?’
Longest current losing streaks:
Becker (21 consecutive losses, no wins in program history; 0-4 in 2007)
Hiram (21 consecutive losses, last win vs. Earlham, 7-2, Oct. 1, 2005; 0-4 in 2007)
Lewis and Clark (21 consecutive losses, last win vs. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 27-11, Oct. 9, 2004; 0-3 in 2007)
LaGrange (15 consecutive losses, no wins in program history; 0-4 in 2007)
All five teams on the list extended their streaks, though the leader, Occidental, did it by just one point.
Longest current regular-season winning streaks:
Occidental (29 consecutive wins, last loss at Chapman, 31-28, Sept. 11, 2004; 3-0 in 2007)
Curry (24 consecutive wins, including two NEFC title games, last loss at Maine Maritime, 28-21, Sept. 17, 2005; 5-0 in 2007)
Central (22 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Coe, 17-14, Sept. 17, 2005; 5-0 in 2007)
St. Norbert (22 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Monmouth, 28-20, Sept. 17, 2005; 5-0 in 2007)
Mount Union (17 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Ohio Northern, 21-14, Oct. 22, 2005; 4-0 in 2007)
Wilkes needed overtime and UW-Whitewater needed a rally and late touchdown, but all 11 teams on this list extended their streaks. Washington & Jefferson’s welcomed new Division III member to the PAC with an 863-yard, 64-6 beating.
Longest current conference winning streaks:
Occidental (22 consecutive SCIAC wins, last loss vs. Redlands, 18-14, Oct. 11, 2003)
Curry (20 consecutive NEFC Boyd wins, not including Bogan Division or title games, last loss at Mass-Dartmouth, 18-13, Sept. 25, 2004)
St. Norbert (19 consecutive MWC wins, last loss vs. Monmouth, 28-20, Sept. 17, 2005)
Central (18 consecutive IIAC wins, last loss vs. Coe, 17-14, Sept. 17, 2005)
Wilkes (17 consecutive MAC wins, last loss at Delaware Valley, 17-14, Sept. 17, 2005)
UW-Whitewater (16 consecutive WIAC wins, last loss vs. UW-La Crosse, 35-10, Nov. 13, 2004)
Mary Hardin-Baylor (16 consecutive ASC wins, last loss at Howard Payne, 24-20, Oct. 8, 2005)
Mount Union (15 consecutive OAC wins, last loss vs. Ohio Northern, 21-14, Oct. 22, 2005)
Mount St. Joseph (14 consecutive HCAC wins, last loss vs. Hanover, 40-34, Oct.1, 2005, 1-0 HCAC in 2007)
Concordia, Wis. (12 consecutive IBFC wins, last loss vs. Lakeland, 17-14, Oct. 15, 2005)
Washington & Jefferson (12 consecutive PAC wins, last loss vs. Thiel, 38-35 in OT, Oct. 1, 2005)
Lewis and Clark’s 57-27 loss came against UAA member Chicago and Eureka got off the list after 14 IBFC losses in a row. North Park neared its 50th CCIW defeat in a row with a 61-34 loss against North Central.
Longest current conference losing streaks:
North Park (48 consecutive CCIW losses, last win vs. Elmhurst, 31-21, Oct. 7, 2000)
Heidelberg (36 consecutive OAC losses, last win vs. Marietta, 21-13, Oct. 4, 2003)
Lewis and Clark (15 consecutive NWC losses, last win vs. Puget Sound, 25-23, Sept. 27, 2003)
Hiram (15 consecutive NCAC losses, last win vs. Earlham, 7-2, Oct. 1, 2005)
Wisconsin Lutheran (14 consecutive MIAA losses, last win vs. Tri-State, 37-14, Oct. 1, 2005)
Cornell (14 consecutive IIAC losses, last win vs. Dubuque, 25-21, Oct. 15, 2005)
Tracked streaks must be a season (10 games) or longer. All research has been done and updated by hand, so e-mail Around the Nation or use our feedback form for corrections.
In addition to the Joe Clark for Heisman and Pat’s CSTV column on Huntingdon, here are some other things around the Web that might be of interest:
This week’s Around the Nation podcast is available on The Daily Dose.
If you haven’t seen our photo galleries, use the left-hand rail on the front page to check them out. Photographers across the country are doing a really nice job with games, and they aren’t all between top 25 teams. You can get a feel for what the game is like elsewhere across the nation, and if it’s your game they shot, reprints are available. I’ll write a little bit more about the galleries next week, but I wanted to point you all in their direction ASAP.
It might be old news to you, but I have CSTV at home and I’ve missed some of their Division III features. Lucky for us, they keep them on the Web, and you can even sort the videos by school, to see if they’ve touched on yours.
Two videos worth checking out are a couple of hosts’ attempt to cover a Division III receiver earlier in the year (too bad for them they picked Mount Union’s Brandon Boehm, catching passes from QB Greg Micheli.). But they couldn’t stop him with double coverage, and they’re good sports about it. Also, there’s a feature on Penn State receiver moving to Ursinus to be closer to his ill father, and the piece captures the essence of Division III well. (Go to http://www.cstv.com/video, then sort by Ursinus) Now all we have to do is get CSTV to air a few games!
Fox Sports North (DirecTV ch. 641) aired the UW-Whitewater/UW Eau-Claire game on Tuesday night. If you have the channel, it might be worth checking to see if the La Crosse/Whitewater classic is scheduled for next Tuesday. If not, we have clips on our blog, The Daily Dose.
The column was updated Thursday afternoon with First and Ten, My 26-35, Streak Watch, Who Are Those Guys?, Topics of the Week and Highly Recommended since it was initially posted on Thursday morning.
Around the Nation is largely interactive, and since its inception has made reader feedback a part of the column. We keep a running board on Post Patterns (under general football) to discuss issues raised in the column, and we'll share feedback and answer questions there, as well as in the column occasionally. Send all correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our feedback form.
Topics of the Week
We’d been discussing “running up the score” for a few days already before it became an even hotter topic when a columnist slammed Mount Union for its consistent winning ways. Join the discussion here.
It's almost that time to begin looking at the midseason review. Glance back at last season's Oct. 12 column and e-mail or post on the ATN thread your suggestions for different categories.
Around the Nation is always looking for video of anything Division III football-related. That means we'd like to get our hands on documentaries, local cable broadcasts and re-airs, links to archived broadcasts and coaches' tapes.
Anyone with access to footage, please send an e-mail to email@example.com. Arrangements can be made to keep coaches’ footage private or to pay fans for shipping and materials.
Keith McMillan is available on Thursdays and Fridays or by appointment to talk Division III football. For more information, e-mail Keith.
Around the Nation is looking for conference media guides this season, but will follow individual schools online or by request. Please use your individual login and D3football.com’s news release capabilities instead of Keith@D3football.com for general and game-related releases. That way, they get front-page play and still catch Around the Nation’s attention. Feel free to send personally addressed e-mail at any time.
To reach Around the Nation by mail, use D3football.com, 13055 Carolyn Forest Dr., Woodbridge, Va., 22192.