September 20, 2007

Wild weekend at the Catdome

When we first walked out onto the field itself, this was the scene. Nice surface, scoreboard, video board. Oh, and the mountains.
Photo by Pat Coleman,

McMINNVILLE, Ore. -- So this weekend’s trip to Linfield led me to the conclusion that having publisher Pat Coleman and I in the house is the Division III equivalent of bringing ESPN’s Game Day crew to town.

It works on a couple levels, because we’re low-budget (no set, no actual show) like Division III is, and yet our presence generated an almost uneasy level of excitement. We got our names on a store’s sign in downtown McMinnville, were welcomed on the scoreboard (something I only remember happening once before, at UW-Whitewater), got offers to be taken to dinner, breakfast and more dinner when we got back to the D.C. area, were invited to the tailgate, received a plate of brownies literally with our names on it, had our picture taken with the Linfield cheerleaders (a first), were given small gifts and even stayed one night with a host “family.” -- Wildcat11 of Northwest Conference Post Patterns fame, his wife (a former Linfield basketball player and coach) and their two dogs.

From the moment we touched down in Oregon to Sunday’s return flight, nearly everything about our visit was second-to-none. The hospitality and the game-day atmosphere was top notch, and those who followed Linfield to Hardin-Simmons last season made sure we knew Abilene, Texas, was the same way.

The whole thing, however, was a bit much. Not that I don’t love the attention, or the respect people show the sites whenever we travel. It’s something deep-rooted that all journalists struggle with. You never play favorites, you never take gifts, you pay for your own food and accommodations. You are there for the story and nothing but the story.

And yet there’s something so human about the Division III football experience. Regardless of socio-economic, racial or religious boundaries, or the cultural differences geography creates, I keep finding that we all have something in common. A love of sport for sport’s sake. A genuine friendliness. Something so storybookish one wouldn’t expect it to exist in 2007, but there it is on display, every Saturday. That is the story.

Besides, there’s no rule of journalism that says you can’t have a soul.But Pat and I still feel like we’re there to see the show, not be the show. There was plenty of show in then-No. 15 Linfield’s 52-42, 1,191-yard shootout with then-No. 19 Hardin-Simmons on Saturday. And it would have gone on whether or not we were there to witness it.

That’s why I can never shake the feeling that no matter what Game of the Week I’m at, there are a hundred-and-some I’m missing. To players, coaches, parents, alumni and fans, their game is the Game of the Week. A matchup of ranked teams on a beautiful Oregon day is nice, but do you think anyone at Anderson was checking the score while they watched their team lose a 26-23 overtime nailbiter to Earlham? Mount Ida and SUNY-Maritime weren’t sweating us while they had their own shootout going on, a 44-38 Mustangs win in overtime.

Just as ‘big game’ is in the eye of the beholder, so is ‘big time.’ We Division III types might be the ones who help you up after a tackle or hold hands in prayer at midfield after a game, but we’re still football players. We thrive on competition and live for Saturdays. I’ve seen some nice guys do some mean things to each other in between the white lines. We might not genuinely hate the other side (as Darrell Aune, a longtime Oregon State broadcaster now working for Linfield pointed out), but we need that other side, if only to push us to give our best.

They’re all big-time big games to someone. So it’s often hard to focus on just one. Next Saturday, when you catch a glimpse of the joy, or anguish, on the faces of players and fans as they experience football’s ups and downs, try to imagine that taking place simultaneously from coast to coast. Each final score is a joy or a disappointment that will be burned into the minds of players/coaches/parents for years to come.

Also, I realize that we travel vicariously for the vast majority of Division III fans out there, who either have their own teams to worry about most Saturdays or have lives where Saturdays require lawns mowed and gutters cleaned instead of games attended. I fully realize my descriptions and photos are all many of you will have when it comes to touring Division III’s football stadiums on game day (see Feedback below for more on stadiums).

Linfield is unique and yet still seems to represent everywhere-Division III-USA. Maxwell Field is a great mix of old and new, featuring an expansive concrete-and-wood covered grandstand as well as intros on the video board and FieldTurf on the football field and baseball infield.

Besides the game, the highlight of our visit was probably stopping by Saturday’s tailgate. We met all the Post Patterns fans and fanatics -- too many to shout out individually. Those who called each other by old football nicknames, or wore T-shirts from when Linfield was NAIA, brought home how much Wildcat camaraderie is very much everyone’s camaraderie. Almost as much as the game, the memories and the relationships are the Division III football experience.

And yet, it’s not all hunky-dory.

A couple of Linfield die-hards from the tailgate, guys who wouldn’t look out of place in a biker bar, spent much of the game on the Hardin-Simmons sideline giving the Cowboys hell. Hey, Division III football just seems storybookish sometimes. I witnessed that, and a Cowboys player vocally letting a Linfield end know how he’d just been dominated -- on a routine point-after block!

The coaches -- Hardin-Simmons’ Jimmie Keeling and Linfield’s Joe Smith -- repeated to me how much the other was a class act.

After the game, Smith also talked about the Linfield family -- as literal family and friends milled about in the background on the game field. It seemed anyone and everyone came down from the stands to bask in glory of victory. Not many places show this much love.

What stood out, however, were two fairly surreal examples of what a small world it can become with Division III football, as well as, keeping us all linked.

Chris Wyly, a middle-aged man in a green cap and leather vest, introduced himself as a Linfield graduate from way back (1974) who now spends his days in Mongolia. Before last season, he said it had been 20 years since he’d been back to campus. And if it wasn’t for him snapping digital photos of everything that moved, you’d have thought he hangs out with Linfield’s tailgaters every home game. “Mongolia, huh? Alright. Good stuff!” Linfield quarterback Trevor Scharer said when introduced to Wyly after the game.

Olinemom, a frequent poster from the Old Dominion Athletic Conference boards and supporter of Bridgewater (Va.), roughly a mere 2,500 miles away, was there visiting, and calling out updates from the Eagles’ game with Ferrum.

“21-0!” she’d yell to whoever was paying attention. “41-3” she said later, tailgating with Linfield’s finest while keeping home (and the Eagles’ famous Stone Station) close to her heart.

All I could think is “what the heck is she doing here?”

Her presence, and ours, was probably a symbol of an overriding theme. Wherever there’s a Division III game on Saturday is home. Linfield is wonderfully unique and overwhelmingly hospitable. And yet, it’s fair to say Pat and I would have received similar treatment a lot of places.

Photo by Ryan Carlson for

The more I travel, the more I find there’s a tie that binds the Division III fans of the world. There’s a pull, some kind of togtherness, a shared feeling that’s bigger than Pat and Keith, bigger than Actually, it’s hard to put into words.

Scheduling conflict

After Saturday’s defeat at Linfield, coupled with their season-opening 47-21 home loss to UW-La Crosse, it’s fair to ask: Did Hardin-Simmons schedule itself out of the playoffs?

There’s very little doubt in my mind that the team I saw Saturday, defensive warts and all, is better than probably 10 teams who will make the 32-team playoff field at the end of the season. They would probably kick the snot out of several teams who are going to win their conferences.

Yet, after their opening games, the only road to the postseason for Hardin-Simmons involves running the table in the American Southwest.

Normally, that’s not an impossible proposition. But conference foe Mary Hardin-Baylor is deep and experienced, and off to a start that justifies their No. 2 ranking and leads many to believe beating them will be a tough task, even though the Cowboys host Oct. 6.

So I asked Cowboys coach Jimmie Keeling what he felt he got out of scheduling La Crosse and Linfield.

“We like to play good people and we have,” Hardin-Simmons’ 17th-year head coach said. “We faced a second opponent that played well. We’re doing some things well, but not enough right now.”

It’s more than just the traditional ‘schedule tough to prepare for the conference slate’ philosophy.

“When you play somebody pretty good, they show you things that you have to work on,” Keeling said. “We’ll be all right.”

Although Linfield coach Joe Smith said “we pretty much have to schedule whoever will schedule us,” he did acknowledge how much “fun” it was to play a program of Hardin-Simmons’ caliber.

“That was one of the better games I’ve been involved in,” Smith said.

And isn’t that what it’s all about? Fun. Great games for the fans. Great challenges for the players?

It brings me back to a philosophy Christopher Newport coach Matt Kelchner often shares with Players want to play in big games. They want to be challenged. They aren’t going to get the TV exposure or the extensive media coverage, but they still enjoy a dim spotlight.

So why not schedule the best, especially when an automatic bid is available in conference play?

Kelchner is a man of his word. His first three opponents, Rowan, Mary Hardin-Baylor and Salisbury are all ranked in this week’s top 25. Kelchner’s Captains, 1-2, are not.

When the MAC melted to eight teams from 11 this offseason, the conference ditched its nine-game round-robin that occasionally left a team with all 10 other MAC teams on its schedule but only nine conference games that count, because of the odd number.

Instead, Wilkes, Delaware Valley and Widener were freed to schedule with the best of the NJAC, in Rowan and Montclair State, and ACFC top dog Wesley. USAC preseason favorite N.C. Wesleyan also joined the open-schedule mix, and mid-Atlantic clashes like Albright-Kean, William Paterson-Wilkes and Montclair State-Springfield have already influenced the top 25.

Aren’t we as fans all benefiting from aggressive scheduling? Would you prefer we go back to the days when powerhouses like Rowan and Lycoming sat a short bus ride apart and played nine games instead of figuring out how to schedule each other?

The automatic qualifier has been great for Division III football in that way.

So if Hardin-Simmons misses the postseason, they’ll only be able to blame something that happened on the field. With so few absolutes in life, let alone other divisions of college football, the fact that each team can trace its playoff bid or lack of one to something they did or didn’t do is nothing short of wonderful. Even Cortland State and Franklin, each left out at 9-1 last season, know they were each a touchdown short of their automatic bid.

When teams have a clear path to the playoffs, and therefore the championship, it takes the guesswork and subjectivity out of assembling the field. Which leaves the top 25 polls to simply try to determine who the 25 best teams in the nation are, and nothing more.

My 26-35

Speaking of the top 25 poll, that’s exactly what it’s meant to do.

Here’s where I share thoughts of a voter and a list of schools on the brink of the top 25.

I don’t have much to nitpick with regarding this week’s top 25 and thought I might again have little to say. Twenty-two of the 25 teams on my ballot show up in the poll’s top 25. (More typical at this point in the season is about 18-20). I moved Capital, the fourth OAC team, back into my top 25 after a convincing 40-0 blowout of Wilmington, and more importantly a second consecutive shutout.

Then, along came the implication that voters aren’t trying very hard or using their heads while voting, because 0-2 Hardin-Simmons is ranked 20th this week. Anyone who expects to be able to judge the strength of teams solely off won-loss records is missing the point big-time.

The fact the Cowboys are ranked is a source of pride for our poll, not embarrassment. In fact, the very reason even established its own poll is because we couldn’t trust any other poll or ranking to provide a reasonably accurate read on the strength of the teams. (For more on this topic, see this post on the Daily Dose, our blog.)

I have a 2½ year old who can organize 25 teams by who has the most wins. readers aren’t stupid, they don’t need us for that. Our voters’ expertise is important because we are either coaching in, working or attending games most Saturdays. We are paying attention to the subplots, not just the final scores. I personally take at least 30 minutes to craft and re-craft my ballot each week, because of the depth of understanding necessary to process Saturday’s outcomes.

Ranking Hardin-Simmons is not a case of a team living off name recognition. It has nothing to do with the expectations of success against higher-ranked teams. In the end, sometimes you have to ask yourself, do I really think Team X would beat Team Y at a neutral site?

Clearly, Hardin-Simmons has issues with tackling and covering people. Ninety-nine points allowed is bad. But there are 200-some-odd teams who would have similar or worse issues against No. 5 La Crosse and No. 13 Linfield. Who’s got the Eagles losing more than one game the rest of the way? Who’s got the Wildcats losing again at all? Flukes aside, not me. Now that they’ve settled on Justin Fester at quarterback, do you dare pencil the Cowboys in for fewer than seven wins?

Wins most definitely count for something. But we’re measuring strength here, as in the 25 best, not necessarily the 25 most successful. So who you play matters. It has to.

I learned more about Hardin-Simmons’ strength when it rallied from down 26-7 to take two third-quarter leads against Linfield than I would by watching it or some other top 25 team keep its record blemish-free by pummeling some overmatched opponent.

The fact that our voters go beneath the surface to come up with the most accurate ranking possible is why’s poll remains the most respected and significant, and I’m proud to be associated with it.

Personally, on this week’s ballot I slotted La Crosse seventh, Linfield 12th and Hardin-Simmons 17th.

The top teams outside my top 25 but on the brink of getting in with continued strong play are UW-Oshkosh, St. Olaf and Springfield.

I voted for Rowan and not Christopher Newport, and probably shouldn’t have based on the head-to-head result, even though the Profs just beat Wilkes and the Captains are 0-2 since that win. Maybe I should be voting for neither.

I may have also erred by throwing Guilford a bone at No. 25 and letting Springfield drop from the top 10 out entirely after losing to Montclair State. That’s too strong a penalty for a 33-30 defeat.

Wabash, Hobart, John Carroll, Mississippi College, Redlands and Mt. St. Joseph are among those on the radar now. Widener and N.C. Wesleyan are among those who will have a chance to play their way back into the poll down the line. Muhlenberg and Albright have become intriguing, while Ithaca, Cortland State, Christopher Newport and Carnegie Mellon fell off my ballot with their losses.

First and Ten

Quick reactions to results through Week 3 and expected Week 4 happenings:

1. With Montclair State and Wesley each undefeated so far despite two of the mid-Atlantic’s most difficult opening schedules, one is going to use the other to propel itself to a great regular season when they clash on Saturday.

2. Let’s welcome our academically elite friends to the party as NESCAC play gets underway Saturday. Unfortunately, none of this week’s games look too appealing, although you never can tell year-to-year in that conference. Williams will put its win streak (see Streak Watch, below) on the line next week at Trinity (Conn.) in possibly the biggest NESCAC game of the year, archrivalries excluded.

3. Toss out St. Thomas’ 0-3 start, and the MIAC is 16-4 with four unbeatens. St. John’s and St. Olaf are to be expected, but Gustavus Adolphus (32 points per game in wins vs. Willamette and St. Thomas) and Carleton (outscored Minnesota-Morris and Macalester 83-10) are off to unblemished starts as well.

4. Speaking of Morris, the Cougars’ 77-13 win Saturday could be the week’s ‘wow’ result, but it actually represented progress for Principia. The Panthers, ranked 238 of 238 this preseason in Kickoff ’07, had come off two losses in which it was outscored 108-3. One of the losses was 46-3 to No. 237 Crown, and the other came against No. 222 Macalester.

5. Hartwick’s 32-30 win against Ithaca was perhaps the program’s biggest since an 8-2 season in 2002, but it made even less sense given the Hawks were whomped 48-21 in Week 1 at Western New England. Unless you’re ready to say a NEFC team can hang with the top half of the Empire 8, these results pretty much kill the usefulness of comparing scores. Either that or Ithaca isn’t very good. Stay tuned.

6. Smothering defenses: Muhlenberg (has pitched shutouts against The College of New Jersey and Union), Occidental (has done the same at Lewis & Clark and Menlo) and Capital (has also done it, at Wittenberg and Wilmington).

7. Struggling offenses: Bluffton (9 points in home games vs. Centre and Adrian), MacMurray (8 points against Augustana and Rockford) and LaVerne (7 points vs. Puget Sound and Whitworth). But at least every team has scored so far this year.

8. Wilkes (0-3) might be the season’s early disappointment, but don’t write the Colonels off yet. Their losses include two 1-point games and a defeat by a touchdown. With perhaps the toughest MAC opposition, Delaware Valley and Widener, at the end of the schedule, the Colonels could build up enough confidence to win the conference despite the slow start. Of course, the first-round matchup for a three-loss playoff team is much less favorable than it is for a 10-0 team.

9. Everyone in the IBFC has a losing record except 1-1 Greenville. Everyone in the ODAC is off to a winning start except for 1-1 Emory & Henry.

10. If you believe teams can help themselves in losses, Luther might have done that in one-score road defeats against top 25s St. Olaf and Central. Wartburg looms next.

Travel log

When Around the Nation really gets around the nation, I’ll report back with random things about our trip that didn’t fit elsewhere:

Oregon initially appeared to be a lot of the things we’d stereotyped it to be. Light rail runs to the airport. There seemed to be a disproportion of “fresh” restaurants, “natural” stores and recycle bins. And, lest you think the state is overpopulated with earth-loving hippies (not that that’s the worst thing in the world), one of my first images from arriving at the airport was a Hummer with Oregon State Beavers flags in three of the windows and an Oregon flag on the passenger side front seat. Guess Mom couldn’t convince Dad and the kids to be Ducks. Or ride in a Prius.

If you can ignore the surface, the rest of Griswold Stadium at Lewis and Clark had potential.
Photo by Pat Coleman,

There’s usually a D3 Geek moment on our trips, and this weekend was no exception. With the plane landing on schedule Friday night and with the drive from Portland to McMinnville, home of Linfield, appearing to be under an hour, Pat and I, on a whim once we saw the highway sign, figured it might be harmless to pull off and visit Lewis & Clark.

We pulled on to campus and up to the football stadium, fully illuminated though we weren’t sure who, if anyone, had played there that night. The Pioneers have the old-school turf and a covered grandstand set in a half-bowl. All we saw on the field were a couple guys tossing a Frisbee. Pat and I briefly thought about challenging them to some 2-on-2 Ultimate Frisbee action, but this being literally their turf, and assuming what we assume about the Lewis & Clark culture, we figured we were running into a buzz saw and thought better of it.

We toured the game field, and the adjacent gym building, home to much of Lewis & Clark’s athletic history. So much that we learned the school used to be called Albany College. (Who knew?) We wandered into the gym (Pat’s a D3hoops guy too, remember) and I tried a few ball-fakes and Olajuwon fade away post moves on the Pioneers’ court (such a geek!). And then we went on our merry way, without running into a single person in the building or ever being accosted by security.

Oh, Knox kids wish the Monmouth campus were so open during Bronze Turkey week.

Wildcat11’s directions to his hometown of Lafayette, Ore., the last town along 99W before McMinnville, included a note describing how small his town was. In 45 seconds, he said, you could drive through it.

I made Pat count. We got to 46-one-thousand before we made our turn, one of the last in town.

Lafayette also featured an actual meat market. Apparently that’s not just a phrase.

I’m assuming the place we observed off of I-5 on the way to McMinnville is a classy establishment. A place named “Jiggles,” I mean, how could it not be?

They could be up for a truth-in-advertising award though.

The red barn that housed Calamity Jane’s along 99W looked like it featured a much different type of nightly entertainment. All I’m saying is don’t ask the DJ to play Funky Cold Medina.

Yes, there are some more football-related observations in this week’s column. One of the more interesting moments during Saturday’s second half came when Linfield’s PA announcer told of a penalty on Hardin-Baylor. Oops.

How’s that for game-day updates, one Linfield supporter joked.

Sorry, didn’t have much time or space for game rehash in the column, but just had to mention that Trevor Scharer passed for 511 yards and six touchdowns. Good lawdy Lord. There’s probably more of that to come this year too. The Wildcats don’t have much of a running game, but boy can they wing it.

Read more of Keith’s in-depth observations about Oregon on Around the Nation’s Post Patterns thread.

Games to Watch

Gordon Mann’s take on Week 4’s contests of national significance:

With conference play beginning in some places, it’s time to dust off a well-worn cliché -- “You can’t look beyond this week.” Truthfully, though, that’s exactly what the contenders need to do -- look beyond Saturday to their remaining challenges and realize they can’t afford to take a loss in Week 4. No team wants to be in the position of needing to run the table and get help to win the conference with seven weeks left. But some recent playoff participants will be in that position by Saturday night.

No. 6 St. John Fisher (3-0, 0-0) at Ithaca (2-1, 0-1): The Empire 8 race will be very competitive with four teams who have received Top 25 votes this year -- St. John Fisher, Ithaca, Springfield and Alfred. The Cardinals can effectively turn this into a three-team race with a win here. After Ithaca’s tough loss to Hartwick, this is a “must win” for the Bombers, lest they fall two games back in conference. To get a win, they will have to contain Cardinals running back Ryan Hanson. Hanson has rushed for 128.7 yards per game, 6.8 yards per carry and six touchdowns. Alfred and Springfield also meet this week. It’s also our D3Cast video East Region game of the week.

RPI (2-0, 0-0) at Hobart (1-1, 0-0): Staying in Upstate New York, this is a tale of two approaches to non-conference scheduling. Hobart faced 2006 playoff participants Dickinson and Carnegie Mellon in dramatic games and emerged with a split. RPI, uh, well, not so much. The Engineers beat Endicott (cumulative score 103-24 since 2004) and Utica (3-7 in 2006). You could argue that Hobart’s approach leaves the Statesmen battle-tested for the Liberty League season. But if quarterback Jimmy Robertson (576 yards, six touchdowns) and RPI win in Geneva, that shoots a big hole in that argument. Other contenders are struggling with their offense (Union) or defense (Rochester), so this game has even bigger title implications.

UW-Eau Claire (3-0, 0-0) at No. 3 UW-Whitewater (1-1, 0-0): It’s tough to make sense of games against non-Division III opponents. Should we be worried that the Warhawks lost to Division II St. Cloud State? Should we be impressed that the Blugolds beat Southwest Minnesota State and NAIA Black Hills State? Fortunately we’ll have answers soon enough when these two open the WIAC season against each other. We’ll also get a better read on how quarterback Danny Jones (183.5 yards per game, two touchdowns, one interception) is settling into the Whitewater offense. At least UW-Eau Claire has momentum entering a stretch where they’ll play at Whitewater, at UW-Oshkosh (3-0) and vs. No. 5 UW-La Crosse.

Muhlenberg (2-0, 0-0) at Gettysburg (2-1, 1-0): If you believe in the predictive powers of math, then Muhlenberg will shut out Gettysburg. Gettysburg scored 49 points the first week and just seven the next, followed by 41 points last week. Muhlenberg has two shutouts. Put the trends together and Muhlenberg doesn’t allow a point this week! On a more serious note, this pits a very good Muhlenberg run defense against a very good Gettysburg run offense. Muhlenberg held its first two opponents to minus-17 yards rushing, but the Bullets’ Tom Sturges averages 147.3 rushing yards per game.

No. 24 Montclair State (2-0) at No. 7 Wesley (3-0): The last pick isn’t a conference game, though it might as well be for Wesley. Since the Wolverines cannot win an automatic qualifying bid, every regional game is crucial to their playoff hopes. Montclair State, who broke into the Top 25 by beating triple-option Springfield, will see a more balanced attack in Wesley. The Red Hawks started off 2007 with two big wins so a good showing here should solidify their national standing entering NJAC play next week.

Also keep an eye on: John Carroll at No. 12 Ohio Northern; No. 18 Springfield at Alfred; Widener at No. 21 Rowan; Huntingdon at Adrian; UW-Platteville at Augustana; Chapman at Pacific Lutheran.

Check Friday morning’s Daily Dose for Pat, Keith and Gordon’s primer on Week 4 games.

Who are those guys?

Taking a look at those unfamiliar names on schedules, and following Division III teams in interdivisional play:

Division III did not have a good week overall in out-of-division games, but UW-La Crosse did defeat NAIA traditional power Azusa Pacific in overtime and second-ranked UW-Whitewater held up in a 10-point loss to St. Cloud State, a team from the North Central, a Division II power conference.

The most interesting matchup this week is Menlo hosting Division II Humboldt State, an independent off to an 0-3 start, including 59-0 and 44-0 defeats. Saturday might be time for the Lumberjacks to take out their frustrations on the Oaks (pun only slightly intended). Humboldt’s got a listed enrollment of 7,550. Menlo’s is 700. More than anything, that might speak to how hard it is for Northern California colleges to schedule games, even though the schools are more than 300 miles apart.

No ranked opponents at any level are in action in this week’s interdivision games.

vs. Division I, FCS (0-2 in Week 3, 1-6 in 2007)
The College of New Jersey at La Salle (Fri.)
Iona at Western Connecticut

vs. Division II (0-2 in Week 3, 3-9 in 2007)
Humboldt State at Menlo

vs. NAIA (3-2 in Week 3, 14-3 in 2007)
Waldorf at UW-Stevens Point
Howard Payne at Texas College
Southern Oregon at Willamette

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.

Streak watch

Mount Union keeps its ball rolling while Williams gets underway this week.

The longest current winning streaks in Division III:
Mount Union (25 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Ohio Northern, 21-14, Oct. 22, 2005; 1-0 in 2007)
Williams (14 consecutive wins, last loss at Trinity, Conn., 34-6, Oct. 1, 2005)

The five teams riding the nation’s longest losing streaks extended them last weekend with defeats.

Longest current losing streaks:
Lewis and Clark (20 consecutive losses, last win vs. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 27-11, Oct. 9, 2004; 0-1 in 2007)
Becker (20 consecutive losses, no wins in program history; 0-2 in 2007)
Eureka (19 consecutive losses, last win vs. Concordia, Ill., 32-13, Sept. 24, 2005; 0-1 in 2007)
Hiram (19 consecutive losses, last win vs. Earlham, 7-2, Oct. 1, 2005; 0-10 in 2006)
LaGrange (13 consecutive losses, no wins in program history; 0-2 in 2007)

UW-Whitewater’s regular-season win streak is halted at 21 with the loss to Division II St. Cloud State, and I’m not ready to start keeping a Division III-only regular-season win streak list. Carnegie Mellon’s failed two-point conversion against Hobart also stopped the Tartans’ streak at 12.

Longest current regular-season winning streaks:
Occidental (28 consecutive wins, last loss at Chapman, 31-28, Sept. 11, 2004; 2-0 in 2007)
Curry (22 consecutive wins, including two NEFC title games, last loss at Maine Maritime, 28-21, Sept. 17, 2005; 3-0 in 2007)
Central (20 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Coe, 17-14, Sept. 17, 2005; 3-0 in 2007)
St. Norbert (20 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Monmouth, 28-20, Sept. 17, 2005; 3-0 in 2007)
Mount Union (15 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Ohio Northern, 21-14, Oct. 22, 2005; 2-0 in 2007)
Wesley (15 consecutive wins, last loss at Brockport State, 47-0, Oct. 22, 2005; 3-0 in 2007)
Williams (14 consecutive wins, last loss at Trinity, Conn., 34-6, Oct. 1, 2005)

UW-Whitewater’s lost once, Concordia (Wis.) twice and Wilkes three times, but all have double-digit conference winning streaks which are intact.

Longest current conference winning streaks:
Occidental (21 consecutive SCIAC wins, last loss vs. Redlands, 18-14, Oct. 11, 2003)
Curry (18 consecutive NEFC Boyd wins, not including Bogan Division or title games, last loss at Mass-Dartmouth, 18-13, Sept. 25, 2004)
St. Norbert (17 consecutive MWC wins, last loss vs. Monmouth, 28-20, Sept. 17, 2005)
Wilkes (16 consecutive MAC wins, last loss at Delaware Valley, 17-14, Sept. 17, 2005)
Central (16 consecutive IIAC wins, last loss vs. Coe, 17-14, Sept. 17, 2005)
UW-Whitewater (14 consecutive WIAC wins, last loss vs. UW-La Crosse, 35-10, Nov. 13, 2004)
Williams (14 consecutive NESCAC wins, last loss at Trinity, Conn., 34-6, Oct. 1, 2005)
Mary Hardin-Baylor (14 consecutive ASC wins, last loss at Howard Payne, 24-20, Oct. 8, 2005)
Mount St. Joseph (13 consecutive HCAC wins, last loss vs. Hanover, 40-34, Oct.1, 2005, 1-0 HCAC in 2007)
Mount Union (13 consecutive OAC wins, last loss vs. Ohio Northern, 21-14, Oct. 22, 2005)
Concordia, Wis. (10 consecutive IBFC wins, last loss vs. Lakeland, 17-14, Oct. 15, 2005)

Heidelberg, Hiram and Cornell picked up conference losses, while North Park beat Eureka in a non-conference clash of teams on this list.

Longest current conference losing streaks:
North Park (47 consecutive CCIW losses, last win vs. Elmhurst, 31-21, Oct. 7, 2000)
Heidelberg (34 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 (14 consecutive NCAC losses, last win vs. Earlham, 7-2, Oct. 1, 2005)
Wisconsin Lutheran (13 consecutive MIAA losses, last win vs. Tri-State, 37-14, Oct. 1, 2005)
Eureka (13 consecutive IBFC losses, last win vs. Concordia, Ill., 32-13, Sept. 24, 2005)
Cornell (13 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 by hand, so e-mail Around the Nation or use our feedback form for corrections.

Highly recommended

Our third Around the Nation podcast is available on The Daily Dose.


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, or use our feedback form.

Topics of the Week
Share your opinions on whether Hardin-Simmons deserves to be in the top 25 or not here.

Also, I always wanted to start a Post Patterns thread for photos of Division III stadiums. It might take me 20 years to see them all on game day, or 20 months to crisscross the country photographing them empty. But, with a collective effort, we might be able to compile a photo-database for us all to enjoy.

I’d thought of coming up with a standard list of shots: Of the home side and press box, of the visitors side, an end-zone angle and something where you can see the markings on the field or turf. We’ve started collecting them at games our photographers work. And then I see already does practically the same thing. Here are two examples.

Anyway, if anyone’s interested, send feedback.

Call for video

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 Arrangements can be made to keep coaches’ footage private or to pay fans for shipping and materials.

For journalists and broadcasters

Keith McMillan and Pat Coleman are available on Thursdays and Fridays or by appointment to talk Division III football. For more information, e-mail Keith.

Attention SIDs

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’s news release capabilities instead of 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, 13055 Carolyn Forest Dr., Woodbridge, Va., 22192.

Thank you.

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Ryan Tipps

Ryan is's Senior Editor and begins as National Columnist in fall 2014. He was the Around the Mid-Atlantic Columnist from 2007 to 2011; has worked on all but one of the preseason Kickoff publications; has done game-day writing and photography and the pregame broadcast at the championship Stagg Bowl in Salem for almost a decade; and has taken photos at the Final Four for He's also on the selection staff for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award.

2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

Previous Columns

December 23, 2014
2014 year in review
There were many memorable moments from the 2014 season. We can't possibly cover them all, but we'll...
November 20, 2014
Playoff picks, surprises, disappointments
Around the Nation has assembled a team of prognosticators for an annual look at who might surprise...
November 13, 2014
Playing to perfection in the MAC
Delaware Valley and Widener have been building to this point all season. This weekend there are...
November 9, 2014
Snap judgments: Finding parity
Ryan Tipps thinks parity arises from other teams following the examples of top teams, finding the...
November 6, 2014
From slumping to surging
With two weeks of football left to play in the regular season, some names that may not be so...
November 2, 2014
Snap judgments: A week with plenty of surprises
By this point in the season, our expectations for each team are pretty solidly grounded. Upsets will...
October 29, 2014
The Empire 8: The conference where all 9 can beat you
So far, Brockport State has beaten Hartwick, who beat Alfred, who beat Buffalo State, who beat...
October 26, 2014
Snap judgments: An interesting week
It’s particularly exciting to see how conferences can still get shaken up this late in the...
October 23, 2014
Finding a freshman phenom
When a freshman steps on campus, he could be the next Nate Kmic, or he could be gone before the end...
October 19, 2014
Snap judgments: Finding clarity
We found out some things about how the NJAC race will play out, as well as the ODAC and HCAC. And...
October 16, 2014
Distance no deterrent to Mighty Mikey, Merchant Marine
The Mariners' football team 'adopted' a young cancer patient a few years ago, and although young...
October 12, 2014
Snap judgments: Putting the -ack in ODAC
You can tell when someone doesn't know Division III, because they pronounce the ODAC as O-D-A-C. But...
October 9, 2014
Re-ranking the conferences for 2014
Keith McMillan ranked conferences for years for This is Ryan Tipps' first crack at...
October 5, 2014
Snap judgments: Where's the dropoff in Division III?
Saturday's loss by St. John Fisher and losses earlier this season by Bethel and North Central serve...
October 2, 2014
It’s the size of the fight in the dog
This past week, Maranatha Baptist had to cancel a game because it didn't have enough players. And...
September 28, 2014
Snap judgments: Signature wins come in upsets
St. John's and UW-Stevens Point took center stage for their upset victories, but Christopher Newport...
September 25, 2014
The phrase that stays
From DePauw Never Quits to Wabash Always Fights to Every Man a Lute, some Division III schools...
September 21, 2014
Snap judgments: Taking a new look at the poll positioning
The perception seems to be that at about Week 3, most Top 25 voters do major teardowns and rebuildin...
September 17, 2014
Startups come back for seconds
The three teams that started up Division III football programs last season are now in the midst of...
September 14, 2014
Snap judgments: These underdogs brought some bite
There were some near-upsets on Saturday, but in the end, almost all of the higher-ranked teams came...
September 11, 2014
Monarch linebacker forced to follow his heart
Forced from the middle of the action to a supporting role on the sidelines, Methodist linebacker...
September 7, 2014
Snap judgments: Right/wrong foot
There are two ways to start the season -- with a win, or a loss. Now, not every win necessarily puts...
September 2, 2014
Division III football: A gentleman's game
Hampden-Sydney and Wabash, two all-male schools, are squaring off in football this weekend for the...
March 3, 2014
Analyzing the NJAC and E8's big moves
Wesley and its Capital Athletic Conference brethren join forces with five New Jersey schools to form...
November 24, 2013
Look who stole the show in Round 1
Many of those who shined in the first round of the 32-team playoffs weren't the nationally elite...
November 21, 2013
Playoff picks, surprises, disappointments
ATN assembles a team for an annual look at who might surprise and disappoint us in the 32-team...
November 16, 2013
On this day, they were all big games
Keith McMillan has instant reactions both inside and outside the playoff picture on the final day of...
November 13, 2013
A pre-regional rankings primer
Keith McMillan introduces the committee and their roles, analyzes Pools B and C and takes reader...
November 10, 2013
Snap judgments: Seen from the other side
Millsaps may well have a story for the ages out of Saturday's win vs. Centre, as will Cornell and...
November 7, 2013
Poll positions: What to make of regional rankings
If you haven't seen regional rankings before, or your team hasn't been a contender in recent years,...
November 3, 2013
Snap judgments: The aftermath
With so many games featuring two ranked teams, we should see a lot of movement in Sunday's Top 25...
October 24, 2013
Poll positions: Doing some number crunching
The Top 25 doesn't exist to steal anybody's joy. It is merely a prism through which to view...
October 20, 2013
Snap judgments: Cycling up
Maryville and TCNJ are atop their respective conferences, the John Carroll defense isn't the only...
October 13, 2013
Snap judgments: A blurry picture developing
Not literally -- we get great pictures from our associated photographers and SIDs, but that won't...
October 8, 2013
Poll positions: Streaking up the rankings
Keith McMillan looks at why one computer ranking is making the case for a blue team No. 1, and not a...
October 6, 2013
Snap judgments: Bounceback seasons
Olivet, St. Lawrence, North Park, Husson, Western Connecticut ... the list of improved teams this...
October 3, 2013
Re-ranking the conferences
With September's games, and the vast majority of non-conference play in the books, Around the Nation...
September 29, 2013
Snap judgments: Look away from the Top 25 scores
At first glance -- like say, the scores page, with the top 25 scores the initial finals that catch...
September 26, 2013
History lesson: Engineering rivalries
Week 4 is perhaps the most odd Saturday on the schedule. There aren't many great rivalries, but...
September 24, 2013
Poll positions: How the voters reacted
A kick going wide left produced a wide variety of reactions, but when Wesley got taken down a peg,...
September 22, 2013
Snap judgments: Week 3
The Tommie-Johnnie rivalry is back, UMHB's defensive line is pretty darn good, the MIAA has a better...
September 19, 2013
History lesson: Wesley vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor
Now that longtime rivals Wabash and DePauw are both in the North Coast, and Mount Union and...
September 18, 2013
Poll positions: There's some movement coming
The top of the poll didn't change much last week but Saturday's games could have a significant...
September 17, 2013
Off the beaten path
Just because a team isn't in the Top 25 running or mentioned in the podcast or doesn't have a Play...
September 11, 2013
Poll positions: Why teams shuffle
In Around the Nation, Keith McMillan discusses a nonstandard way of assembling the ballot after Week...
September 8, 2013
Snap judgments
Keith McMillan's Around the Nation column returns. You'll see ATN several times a week, including on...

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