January 9, 2008

Year in Review: Standout players, teams

What better way to ring in 2008 than to look at the 2007 football season in another light? Given some time to reflect, now that the Stagg Bowl, as well as the holidays, are history, Around the Nation looks at the individuals and teams that stood out.

As mentioned in Part 1, we covered 238 schools, more than 1,100 games, nearly 6,000 starters and perhaps 18,000 rostered players in 2007, so there are many more accomplishments and superlatives than Around the Nation could ever hope to acknowledge. Our Year in Review is made up of things D3football.com staff and readers noticed on the 16-week journey from kickoff (and Kickoff) in August through the Stagg Bowl. 

This installment is the second of three.

Dec. 25, 2007: Great games, plays and statistics
Today: Great players, coaches and teams
Mid-January: Our awards, In Retrospect (revisiting preseason predictions), The Year in Photos and Miscellaneous

Please remember to check back for Part 3, and take in Part 1 if you missed it, as Around the Nation looks back at a truly enthralling season of Division III football. 

The memorable players and coaches

We named our All-Region teams and All-American teams in December, which means we've already chosen our offensive and defensive players of the year and our coach of the year, in the North, South, East and West, and nationally. The Gagliardi Trophy and Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year committees (of which D3football.com staff are a part) have spoken.

So who influenced 2007 beyond the major award winners?

Remember the players who didn’t take home the Gagliardi Trophy 
If Justin Beaver weren't a no-brainer for the Gagliardi Trophy before the Stagg Bowl, he sure validated the committee’s selection with his 249-yard effort for UW-Whitewater in the championship game. Beaver was a winner before the game kicked off, and those who were in Salem were privileged to learn his back story, meet members of his family and enjoy all he had overcome, both on and off the field.

Mount Union’s Derek Blanchard was in Salem as well, and although he felt the agony of defeat for just the third time in his record-setting career, he very well would have been a deserving winner. What more could an offensive lineman do for his team?

Blanchard started a Mount Union-record 58 consecutive games, believed to be a Division III mark, and possibly an all-divisions record. Mount Union had a first-round bye and lost in the semifinals in 2004, when they were 12-1, and went to the Stagg Bowl the next three seasons. Blanchard started all 15 games in each of those seasons.

Purple Raiders coach Larry Kehres said the 6-2, 298-pound left guard was undoubtedly the best player on his offense, which also boasted a 2,200-yard running back and a quarterback who accounted for more than 4,000 yards of offense. 

“It’s unusual that we would plan our offense around an offensive lineman but we do,” Kehres told D3football.com's Clyde Hughes during the playoffs. “We use certain formations and certain runs based on his ability to block his spot where he’s aligned and his ability to move and block. There’s no doubt that if you study our offense, we do things because of Derek Blanchard.”

Nate Kmic has 417 career rushing yards in Salem.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, D3sports.com

If Beaver hadn't been such an obvious pick for the Gagliardi, we wonder if voters would have given an offensive lineman Division III's most prestigious award. The honor, given since 1993, has been bestowed upon seven quarterbacks, four running backs, three receivers and one safety, Wesley's Rocky Myers in 2004.

 With a shot at becoming Division III’s all-time leading rusher if he stays healthy, we’ve come to a stunning conclusion: Kmic might never win a Gagliardi Trophy.

Through three seasons, including a 2,365-yard sophomore year, Kmic has rushed for 5,284 yards. Though almost all of his offensive help, including most of his line, graduates, the 5-9, 196-pound back has a shot at R.J. Bowers' Division III rushing record. It would take another 2,000-yard season -- 2,070 to be exact -- to pass Bowers, but with 1,220 yards he'll pass Beaver for second in Division III history.

Even if Kmic achieves both of those goals, he might have a hard time becoming the Gagliardi nominee from his own team, much less beating out players from the 237 other Division III teams. One of the three returning starters (four in the semifinal and Stagg Bowl, since Luke Summers replaced senior lineman Tim Reash) is quarterback Greg Micheli, who completed well over 70% of his passes this season, with 34 TDs and six interceptions. He's also a talented runner, a double-major in mathematics and physics -- reportedly with a top-notch GPA -- and could very possibly be Mount Union's Gagliardi nominee next season.

Top Career Rushers, NCAA, all divisions
1. Danny Woodhead, Division II Chadron State, 2004-07, 7,962 yards
2. R.J. Bowers, Division III Grove City, 1997-2000, 7,363
3. Germaine Race, Division II Pittsburg State, 2003-06, 6,985
4. Brian Shay, Division II Emporia State, 1995-98, 6,958
5. Josh Ranek, Division II South Dakota State, 1997-2001, 6,794
6. Ian Smart, Division II C.W. Post, 1999-2002, 6,647
7. Justin Beaver, Division III UW-Whitewater, 2004-07, 6,584
8. Adrian Peterson, Division I-AA (FCS) Georgia Southern, 1998-2001, 6,559
9. Charles Roberts, Division I-AA (FCS) Sacramento State, 1997-2000, 6,553
10. Kavin Gailliard, Division II American International, 1996-99, 6,523
11. Ron Dayne, Division I-A (FBS) Wisconsin, 1996-99, 6,397

Kmic averages 6.97 yards per carry, so he'll need about 296 touches to pass Bowers. Both Race and Smart averaged more than 7 yards per carry in their careers, so if Kmic passes Bowers in fewer than 273 carries, he'll have the best yards per carry among the top 11, solidifying him as the greatest rusher in NCAA history.

Remember the survivors 
In several ways, 2007 was the year of the survivor in the Division III ranks. Justin Beaver’s story was told along the Road to Salem, and whether it was breaking his collarbone as a junior, enduring two Stagg Bowl losses and a coaching changeover or the loss of his father back in high school, Beaver came to define champion by the way he overcame obstacles.

He wasn't the only one. Bethel freshman Logan Flannery rushed for more than 1,200 yards this season while recovering from Burkitt's Lymphoma, a rare cancer of the lymph nodes. Adam Johnson wrote about him in Week 11.

Mike Flynt, the 59-year-old linebacker who suited up this season for Sul Ross State, was a survivor. He regretted not finishing his career, and after a career as a strength coach, set out to prove he could make the team. He didn't get much playing time, but he also never quit. He seemed to play for the same reasons other Division III athletes do, for the love of a challenge, the love of competition and the love of the game. Although at times D3football.com felt the attention heaped upon him made him a sideshow, and perhaps caused those outside the division to question the quality of football in Division III, the 59-year-old’s participation for Sul Ross State this season ultimately became one of this season's memorable stories.

Danny Jones accomplished what he came to UW-Whitewater to do.
Photo by Ryan Coleman, D3sports.com

Remember this year's happiest ending
Following coaching turnover at California Lutheran, where he'd been a three-year starter who passed for more than 6,000 yards, Danny Jones sought out a place he could challenge for a championship his senior year. Moving from the sunny Pacific Coast to chilly Wisconsin was a calculated risk, and from the start, new UW-Whitewater coach Lance Leipold made Jones earn the job. Eventually he became the starter, led an epic comeback against UW-La Crosse and helped the Warhawks get back to the postseason. His mobility brought an added dimension to an offense led by a new coordinator, and his skills on the move were evident when he sealed a 16-7 semifinal win against Mary Hardin-Baylor with a late 62-yard run, sending the Warhawks back to the Stagg Bowl. His game in Salem wasn't the greatest, but the ending to his story was. He showed a quarterback needed to be more than just a passer, and his growth from new transfer to championship-game leader followed the Warhawks' growth curve after a turbulent offseason.

Remember the Division III players who might represent us in pro football 
More than one Division III player could get drafted by an NFL team, marking consecutive years for that accomplishment. Whitworth's Michael Allan and UW-Whitewater's Derek Stanley were each seventh round picks last season, and both stuck. This time around, Wheaton defensive end Andrew Studebaker projects as an NFL outside linebacker, and despite missing parts of his senior year due to injury, he is still ranked 31st among 228 outside linebackers on NFLDraftScout.com, a reputable service used by USA Today. The service gave the 6-3, 245-pounder a draftable grade, and projected him in the sixth round, although those assessments are admittedly fluid.

Mount Union's Pierre Garcon has track star speed at 4.46 in the 40 and currently ranks 35th of 332 wide receivers on NFLDraftScout. The 6-0, 205-pound wide receiver/kick returner recently received an invite to the NFL Combine, where he could improve upon his seventh-round projection.

Other Division III prospects likely to garner free agent interest include Wesley DE Bryan Robinson, UW-Whitewater LB A.J. Raebel, G Brady Ramseier and QB Danny Jones, Trinity (Texas) QB Blake Barmore, Mary Hardin-Baylor LB Jerrell Freeman and Mississippi College WR Jake Allen.

ESPN.com and Scouts, Inc. only bother with biographies for three Division III players: Garcon, Studebaker and Allen.

NFLDraftScout.com's mixed board of small-school prospects from all divisions but I-A lists Garcon 18th, Studebaker 40th and Robinson 99th.

Notably absent from both scouting services' lists is Beaver.

Remember John Being John
Liberty Mutual extended its coach of the year award honor to all divisions this season, and D3football.com staff participated on the panel that voted for the Division II and III coaches of the year. Fans also influenced the choice of five finalists with an online vote, but after all was said and done, the selection of St. John's head coach John Gagliardi was a bit puzzling. 

John, as he is known to acquaintances, is certainly deserving of the accolades heaped upon him for his career achievements and innovations in coaching. He turned 81 on Nov. 1, and he's still a delight to be around, as Pat Coleman and I were reminded when we visited with him in late October. But this season didn't appear to be a particularly extraordinary one for the Johnnies. From afar, it seemed like John was mostly doing what John does. St. John's won its first nine games but lost to Bethel in Week 11 and was eliminated 37-7 by Central in the second round of the playoffs. The Johnnies were also the only team among the five nominated to have a significant public disciplinary incident this season, which was listed in the recommended criteria for voters. 

You can't go wrong giving Gagliardi a coaching award, but for Around the Nation's money, we'd have gone with New Jersey's Eric Hamilton, whose Lions improved by five wins over last season and lost at Mount Union in the second round of the playoffs, or Case Western Reserve's Greg Debeljak, whose Spartans improved by six wins and were eliminated by Wabash in the second round.

Remember the outstanding leaders
Among coaches, UW-Whitewater's Lance Leipold took home D3football.com's top honors. Even though he presided over a loaded team, it was no easy road to the championship. This time last year, the Warhawk community was up in arms over the selection of Leipold, an alum who was picked for the job from Division II Nebraska-Omaha, over Stan Zweifel, the longtime offensive coordinator who'd developed a fiercely loyal following. Leipold, hired in January, worked alongside Zwiefel for months before the coordinator left for UW-River Falls and then a job as a school administrator. Lakeland head coach Jim Zebrowski came on board to be offensive coordinator in June.

Leipold had to earn the players' trust, as well as win over some in the Whitewater community, although he always had the backing of the coach he replaced (and played for) in Bob Berezowitz and the athletic director, Paul Plinske. Leipold meshed the old with the new, bringing together established players and coaches, like defensive coordinator Brian Borland, with Zebrowski and Jones, the transfer quarterback. An early-season loss to Division II St. Cloud State was a setback, but from the rally against UW-La Crosse on to Salem, the Warhawks gradually developed into champions. That it wasn't easy had to be gratifying.

The players “believed in themselves." Leipold said after the Stagg Bowl. "They had a lot of confidence. As I’ve said all along, it was kind of a blending more than anything else. They had to get used to a new coach and a new offensive coordinator. A couple different things did change on how we do things, but you have the work ethic and the desire, and, of course, the athleticism was there all along.”

Thanks for the memories
Frank Girardi hung up the whistle after 36 seasons at Lycoming, where he took the Warriors to the playoffs 11 times, most recently 2003. Girardi was 257-97-4, second only to Gagliardi in wins among active Division III coaches. His teams twice played in the Stagg Bowl, losing to Allegheny 21-14 in overtime in 1990 and to Mount Union 61-12 in 1997.

Chris Creighton left Wabash for Division I-AA non-scholarship Drake after seven seasons and a 63-15 record, including five Monon Bell wins and three playoff appearances.

Jim Collins built Capital into a powerhouse after 11 seasons, perhaps none more gratifying than this year, where he rallied a depleted team into the playoffs at 8-2, where it lost to the eventual national champion. That was a theme for the Crusaders, as a conference opponent of Division III dynasty Mount Union. In his new job at Saginaw Valley State, he'll be a conference foe to Grand Valley State, which is to Division II what the Purple Raiders are to us.

Wayne Perry retired after 26 seasons at the helm of Hanover, where he compiled a 174-89-2 record. He'll remain at the school, coaching golf and leading the department's fundraising programs, but is out of football after eight conference titles and nine playoff appearances in Division III and the NAIA.

The memorable teams
These might be the greatest honors, since football is pretty much the ultimate team game. No back can truly excel without a great line, and a great offense wins few games without a great defense. Football finds a role for fat guys and thin guys, fast and slow, tough guys and pretty boys. There are even roles for the young (players) and old (coaches, who are so crucial to success). When we celebrate the memorable teams, we celebrate what those individuals have sacrificed to bring everything together.

Remember the notable steps forward 
To figure out who was moving and shaking, Around the Nation charted the increase and decrease in wins from last season for the 234 of the 238 teams that played last season. This generally showed who was on the right track, but charting wins only can be deceiving, since teams didn't always play the same number of games they did in 2006. Here are the biggest movers among the 238:

 Ten teams had three more wins in '07 than in '06: Bethel (12-2 in 2007/9-2 in 2006), Concordia-Moorhead (7-3/4-6), Ferrum (5-5/2-7), Luther (5-5/2-8), Mississippi College (8-2/5-5). N.C. Wesleyan (9-3/6-4), Pacific Lutheran (7-2/4-5), Salisbury (9-2/6-5), Wabash (11-2/8-2), Westminster, Pa. (5-5/2-8).

 Ten had four more wins: Augsburg (5-5/1-9), Hartwick (8-3/4-6), Hampden-Sydney (8-3/4-6), Heidelberg (4-6/0-10), Illinois Wesleyan (7-3/3-7), Martin Luther (6-3/2-8), Redlands (8-2/4-5), Tri-State (6-4, 2-8), Westfield State (5-4/1-8), William Paterson (5-5/1-9).

 Three had five more wins: Albright (7-4/2-8), New Jersey (9-3/4-6), Plymouth State (9-1/4-5).

 Four had six more wins: Case Western Reserve (11-1/5-5), Muhlenberg (11-1/5-5), Randolph-Macon (8-2/2-8), UW-Eau Claire (9-3/3-7).

Remember the notable steps backward 
In the 32-team playoff field, half were repeat performers from last season, while 16 teams made the championship bracket in 2007 that missed it in 2006.

In place of Hope, Wheaton, Wittenberg, Wilkes, Washington & Lee, Rowan, Union, Springfield, Dickinson, Millsaps, Carnegie Mellon, Christopher Newport, Hardin-Simmons, UW-La Crosse, Whitworth and Occidental were Olivet, Franklin, Wabash, Widener, Hampden-Sydney, New Jersey, RPI, Hartwick, Muhlenberg, Trinity (Texas), Case Western Reserve, N.C. Wesleyan, Salisbury, UW-Eau Claire, Ithaca and Redlands.

Those who fell, regardless of postseason status:
 12 had three fewer wins: Albion (2-8 in 2007/5-5 in 2006), Capital (8-3/11-2), Concordia, Wis. (7-4/10-1), Delaware Valley (5-5/8-3), Endicott (3-6/6-4), MacMurray (0-10/3-7), Marietta (3-7/6-4), McDaniel (1-9/4-6), Minnesota-Morris (4-5/7-3), Puget Sound (4-5/7-3), Whitworth (8-2/11-1) and UW-Platteville (2-8/5-5).

 Seven had four fewer wins: Carnegie Mellon (7-4/11-1), Howard Payne (1-9/5-5), Maranatha Baptist (2-7/6-3), St. Thomas (2-8/6-4), Texas Lutheran (2-8/6-4), Wooster (4-6/8-2) and UW-La Crosse (9-2/5-4).

 Two had five fewer wins: King's (1-9/6-5) and Rowan (4-6/9-3).

 One had six fewer wins: Springfield (4-6/10-2).

 Two had seven fewer wins: Wilkes (4-6/11-1) and Averett (0-10/7-3).

Running, lapse
BridgewaterFootball.com's Matt Barnhart helped Around the Nation notice the below trend among teams who had dominated their conferences of late. Trinity (Texas) may have been headed down the same path before its play against Millsaps boosted the Tigers' run to a 14th SCAC championship in 15 years.

2007: 6-3, 4-2 in the Northwest Conference 
2000 to 2006: 33-2 in-conference (5 titles)

Bridgewater (Va.)
2007: 7-3, 3-3 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference
2000 to 2006: 39-3 in-conference (5 titles)

2007: 4-6, 2-5 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference
2000 to 2006: 36-6 in-conference (5 titles)

Notable steps in quicksand
Fifty-three teams won the same number of games in 2007 as they did in 2006. Among them were North Central, which notched its third consecutive nine-win season and conference foe Elmhurst, which was 6-4 and 3-4 in the CCIW for the third consecutive year. UW-Whitewater's 14-1 record looked better this time around, with the loss in their second game and not their 15th. Coast Guard has spent two seasons in the NEFC and has eight wins to show for each year. Cornell again won its first two games then went 0-8 in the IIAC and LaGrange again went 0-10 (more on both of them later). In the Midwest Conference, St. Norbert again won 10 games, Monmouth and Ripon seven each, Lake Forest five and Beloit one, as little changed.

Also on the chart, 40 teams won one fewer game than last season while 41 won one more. Twenty-five won two fewer while 22 won two more.

Five observations about teams' performances this season
1. At 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the MIAA, Tri-State matched its total for MIAA victories over their three seasons in existence. The school, which is switching its name to Trine, went 4-17 from 2004-06.
2. Millsaps actually improved by a win (8-2 to 7-4) but missed the playoffs. The Majors were two heartbreaking collapses from being 10-0. Dickinson also improved by one win over last season but missed the playoffs behind unbeaten Muhlenberg in the Centennial.
3. By beating Empire 8 champion Hartwick in the first round, Curry earned the NEFC's first playoff victory. With the Illini-Badger (0-8 in NCAAs) disbanding, the MIAA, which produced a national champion in 1994, albeit in a different Division III landscape, is the only conference without a playoff victory in the automatic bid era (since 1999).
4. SUNY-Maritime and Cornell each began with two-game win streaks, then lost eight in a row.
5. Montclair State probably had the best season of any team that both missed the playoffs and final Top 25. The Red Hawks won at Wesley, Wilkes and Rowan, while also defeating Springfield, Albright and Kean. Cortland State drilled Montclair 43-13 Oct. 20 in a game that had NJAC title implications at the time.

Welcome wagon 
St. Vincent fielded its first football team since 1962. Birmingham-Southern shifted its athletic program from Division I to III, and fielded its first football team since 1939. Gallaudet had been competing as a club team for five years, last played a varsity game in 2002 and last won one in 1991.

Those three teams combined for three wins, as Gallaudet beat St. Vincent and SUNY-Maritime, a second-year program, while B-SC beat Sewanee, which finished 1-8.

Geneva, the fourth new team that helped swell the Division III ranks to 238 teams (including the isolated 10-team NESCAC and Newport News Apprentice, not an official Division III member but a school which competes in the Division III ACFC), came over from the NAIA and won eight games. The Golden Tornadoes, a perennial playoff contender in their old classification, joined the PAC and beat everyone the conference had except powerhouse and automatic bid winner Washington & Jefferson. Geneva's only other loss came against Salisbury, an at-large playoff team from the ACFC.

Remember how hard wins are to come by
Seven teams lost all of their games this year, the exact same number that went undefeated in the regular season. Winless years come in many shapes and sizes, such as growing pains for new programs (LaGrange, St. Vincent) and attempts to keep a program from disbanding (Lewis and Clark). Sometimes they're completely out of the blue, such as at Averett, which went 7-3 in 2006. Twenty senior starters graduated and the Cougars began the season by allowing 52 points in the first quarter at Mount Union. But like MacMurray and Muskingum, which also had down years, Averett won its last game in 2006, so there's little danger of holding the nation's longest losing streak anytime soon. That, um, honor goes to Lewis and Clark and Hiram, which assumed the, um, top spot after Heidelberg broke a 36-game losing streak in Week 1.

The longest current losing streaks in Division III: 
Hiram (27 consecutive losses, last win vs. Earlham, 7-2, Oct. 1, 2005; 0-10 in 2007)
Lewis and Clark (27 consecutive losses, last win vs. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, 27-11, Oct. 9, 2004; 0-9 in 2007)
LaGrange (20 consecutive losses, no wins in program history; 0-10 in 2007)
Averett (10 consecutive losses, last win vs. Maryville 58-44, Nov. 11, 2006; 0-10 in 2007)
MacMurray (10 consecutive losses, last win at Blackburn, 34-6, Nov. 11, 2006; 0-10 in 2007)
Muskingum (10 consecutive losses, last win vs. Heidelberg, 28-12, Nov. 11, 2006; 0-10 in 2007)
St. Vincent (10 consecutive losses, no wins in program history; 0-10 in 2007)

Remember how hard conference wins are to come by
Thirteen unlucky teams lost all of their conference contests, including 11 who lost six or more. But while schools from here to Kalamazoo -- literally -- were struggling, nothing comes even close to one Chicago team's plight. It may not be up there with death and taxes, but North Park losing CCIW games has become something conference teams have grown to expect. Although the Vikings haven't had a winless season in the stretch, all of the Vikings' wins since Y2K have come against non-conference competition.

The longest current conference losing streaks in Division III: 
North Park (54 consecutive CCIW losses, last win vs. Elmhurst, 31-21, Oct. 7, 2000)
Hiram (21 consecutive NCAC losses, last win vs. Earlham, 7-2, Oct. 1, 2005)
Lewis and Clark (21 consecutive NWC losses, last win vs. Puget Sound, 25-23, Sept. 27, 2003)
Cornell (20 consecutive IIAC losses, last win vs. Dubuque, 25-21, Oct. 15, 2005)
Norwich (14 consecutive E8 losses, last win vs. Hartwick, 36-26, Oct. 29, 2005)
Sewanee (13 consecutive SCAC losses, last win at Rhodes, 25-22, Nov. 12, 2005)
Kalamazoo (10 consecutive MIAA losses, last win vs. Wisconsin Lutheran, 31-19, Oct. 21, 2006)

Remember how hard winning streaks are to come by
Stringing together more than a season's worth of victories is virtually impossible in Division III, because unbeaten teams tend to make the playoffs and all but one loses its final game. In breaking a 37-game Mount Union win streak in the Stagg Bowl, UW-Whitewater now holds the mark for consecutive wins with 13.

Remember how hard regular-season winning streaks are to maintain
Even if playoff losses are disregarded, winning streaks don't last. Ask Occidental, which won 32 consecutive SCIAC games before losing to Cal Lutheran Oct. 27. Two games later, the Tigers lost again in SCIAC play, at Whittier.

The longest current regular-season winning streaks in Division III: 
Curry (29 consecutive wins, including two NEFC title games, last loss at Maine Maritime, 28-21, Sept. 17, 2005; 5-0 in 2007)
Central (27 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Coe, 17-14, Sept. 17, 2005; 6-0 in 2007)
St. Norbert (27 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Monmouth, 28 -20, Sept. 17, 2005; 6-0 in 2007)
Mount Union (23 consecutive wins, last loss vs. Ohio Northern, 21-14, Oct. 22, 2005; 5-0 in 2007)

Remember how hard conference winning streaks are to maintain
As anyone who's played the same team over and over again knows, beating a hated rival packs a little extra oomph. Here's our 'hats off' to teams who have consistently done beaten the rivals who are most familiar with their schemes and get most jacked up to play them.

Curry (25 consecutive NEFC Boyd wins, not including Bogan Division or title games, last loss at Mass-Dartmouth, 18-13, Sept. 25, 2004)
St. Norbert (24 consecutive MWC wins, last loss vs. Monmouth, 28-20, Sept. 17, 2005)
Central (23 consecutive IIAC wins, last loss vs. Coe, 17-14, Sept. 17, 2005)
UW-Whitewater (21 consecutive WIAC wins, last loss vs. UW-La Crosse, 35-10, Nov. 13, 2004)
Mary Hardin-Baylor (21 consecutive ASC wins, last loss at Howard Payne, 24-20, Oct. 8, 2005)
Mount Union (21 consecutive OAC wins, last loss vs. Ohio Northern, 21-14, Oct. 22, 2005)
Washington & Jefferson (18 consecutive PAC wins, last loss vs. Thiel, 38-35 in OT, Oct. 1, 2005)
Bethel (14 consecutive MIAC wins, last loss at Carleton, 17-14, Sept. 23, 2006)
Whitworth (13 consecutive NWC wins, last loss vs. Willamette, 40-34 in OT, Nov. 5, 2005)
Franklin (11 consecutive HCAC wins, last loss vs. Mount St. Joseph, 21-14, Oct. 14, 2006)
N.C. Wesleyan (11 consecutive USAC wins, last loss vs. Averett, 24-20, Oct. 14, 2006)
Wabash (10 consecutive NCAC wins, last loss at Wittenberg, 19-17, Oct. 14, 2006)

Coming in Part 3: Our awards, In Retrospect (revisiting preseason predictions) and Miscellaneous Memorables.

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Ryan Tipps

Ryan is D3football.com'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 D3hoops.com. He's also on the selection staff for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award.

2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

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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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