Week 1 was a big one

Ian Gaines, U. of Chicago
Ian Gaines scored three touchdowns on the ground as the University of Chicago opened the season with 259 yards rushing in a win against Beloit.
University of Chicago athletics photo 

Here is a quick look all around the Midwest going into Week 2, including a game that will catch the attention of Division III watchers nationally.

Looking to rebound
It took the final two minutes of its game against the Redlands to drop North Central from No. 4 to No. 15 in the Top 25 rankings. The Cardinals gave up two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown with 24 seconds left in the game, losing 35-29.

Players expressed disappointment with their defensive performance. The 35 points given up was the post for a North Central team since it beat Carthage 63-48 in 2009.

"They were just finding ways to pick us apart, and that's not acceptable for this defense," said Cardinals senior cornerback Stewart Charles on the North Central website. “We’re supposed to be able to compete through adversity. We expected to face adverse situations while we were here. There were some times when we showed some life, but it just didn't turn out our way."

North Central will try avoiding a repeat of 2009 when it lost its opener to Ohio Northern and missed the playoffs after posting an 8-2 record. The Cardinals will be looking for its first win when it returns home to face NAIA foe Bethel (Tenn.).

With North Central’s loss, the highest ranking Midwest team now goes to the Cardinals archrivals, No. 8 Wheaton. The Thunder opens their season Saturday at home against Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association member Albion.

Monmouth, Tanney lose opener
Monmouth preseason All-American quarterback Alex Tanney, who missed virtually all of last season with an injury, had a disappointing return to the field on Saturday, falling at home to No. 14-ranked Wartburg 35-28. The Fighting Scots fell behind early and then thunderstorms caused a 3-1/2 hour rain delay. Tanney went 24-for-39 for 277 yards. He had two touchdowns but the Wartburg defense caught up with him for four sacks. Scots wide receiver Mike Blodgett had a big game, with 10 catches for 102 yards.

Monmouth wasn’t the only top Midwest Conference team to lose to a nationally ranked team. St. Norbert, the conference favorite, dropped a 20-7 road decision last week to No. 4-ranked St. Thomas. Both teams begin conference play this Saturday, with Monmouth traveling to Grinnell and St. Norbert at home against Beloit.

Waiting to finish
Concordia (Ill.) has some unfinished business, literally. The same storm that stalled the Monmouth-Wartburg contest also played havoc with Concordia and Lake Forest. The game was stopped with 7:20 left to play in the second quarter with both teams already putting up 54 points on the board (Lake Forest was leading 28-26). If the two schools decided not to finish the game at a later day, it will go into the books as a no contest.

Big opener
Concordia’s next opponent, University of Chicago, had a big day last Saturday, whipping Beloit 44-25 at Stagg Field. The victory was the 13th opening win against five losses under coach Dick Maloney. It was the most points Chicago has put in on opening day since 2006. The Maroons may have found a mainstay at running back with Francis Adarkwa, who rushed for 128 yards on 22 carries.

Mr. Everything
If Benedictine will repeat as Northern Athletic Conference champions, they will likely do it on the back of running back John Borsellino. Last Saturday, the 5-8, 185-pound Borsellino did not disappoint in a 45-7 victory over Eureka. Borsellino rushed for 194 yards on 26 carries, including a 73-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He scored three touchdowns on the day. As if Borsellino weren’t doing enough for the Eagles, he also returned four punts for 27 yards and had one short kickoff return.

Game of the Week
It would be impossible not to go with defending national champion and No. 1-ranked UW-Whitewater at No. 21 Franklin. Whitewater makes the trip just south of Indianapolis riding a 31-game winning streak, including a 52-21 victory over the Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs last season. The Grizzlies trained 21-14 at halftime before the Warhawks scored three touchdowns in the third to pull away. Franklin hopes to use the momentum of an opening 49-32 victory over non-scholarship Football Championship Subdivision foe Valparaiso last week to compete against Whitewater. Franklin quarterback Jonny West threw for 448 yards in that game (32-51) and five touchdowns. He likely will have a hard time duplicating that against a traditionally stingy Whitewater defense. The good news for Franklin is that its offense seemed to click on all cylinders, with 669 yards in total offense. The bad news is that it gave up 463 yards in total offense, something it will have to improve on if they want to compete with the likes of UW-Whitewater. The Warhawks beat UW-La Crosse 26-7 last week. Levell Coppage rushed for 108 yards on 21 carries for the Warhawks.

Special note
I will be tweeting from the UW-Whitewater/Franklin game on Saturday. Follow me @clydehughes.