Around the Region

10 games to watch for 2016

Tight end Drew Neuville is one of the top offensive players returning for Bethel.
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Sept. 3 – Bethel at Dubuque. After finishing .500 last season, Bethel appears ready to climb back up the MIAC standings. But before the Royals even get to conference play, they will be tested by reigning IIAC champs Dubuque. This game should serve as a great measuring stick to see how strong Bethel and the MIAC will be this season and if Dubuque is poised to defend its league title. Both teams are receiving votes in the preseason Top 25. A convincing win, for either team, could launch them into the rankings and into the nation’s focus.

Sept. 3 – John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh. The first big non-conference game of the year pits No. 6 UW-Oshkosh against No. 18 John Carroll. The Titans are coming off a WIAC championship and a trip to the national quarterfinals while John Carroll is looking to rebound after missing out on a third consecutive trip to the postseason. The Blue Streaks will have their hands full with junior quarterback Brett Kasper, the reigning WIAC player of the year, and a veteran Titans defense. The game will serve as a good test for UW-Oshkosh, which will face the Nos. 3 and 12 ranked teams while traversing its challenging conference schedule.

Sept. 17 – Linfield at Mary Hardin-Baylor. A top-five matchup in September? What’s not to love? Division III fans all across the country will be paying attention when All-American QB Sam Riddle and the second-ranked Wildcats head to Belton to take on the No. 5 Crusaders in a rematch of a 2015 national quarterfinal. Linfield won that meeting, 38-35, and MHB defensive starts Teidrick Smith and Baylor Mullins will be tasked with slowing down Riddle, running back Spencer Payne and Co. Even though this game will be played in Week 3, it will be discussed all season – especially as the playoffs approach.

Sept. 24 – St. Thomas at St. John’s. Death, taxes and big attendance marks at the Johnnie-Tommie game. The best rivalry in Division III football caps off what should be an exciting September of Division III football. Last year, 17,327 people – the highest attendance ever recorded at a D-III game – packed Clemens Stadium to watch St. Thomas beat St. John’s, 35-14. The 2015 attendance bettered the turnout for the two teams’ 2010 matchup at St. John’s when 16,421 came to SJU’s campus. The MIAC rivals now hold five of the top 11 recorded attendance figures on record. Expect another big crowd as...

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Columnist

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Josh Smith has covered Division III sports for more than five years. He writes for multiple publications, including D3football.com beginning in 2012. He has won multiple awards for reporting and photography and lives in southern Wisconsin near UW-Whitewater, where he graduated with a degree in print journalism.

2011-12 columns: Jason Galleske
2010: Tim Walsh
2003-09: Adam Johnson
1999-2000: Don Stoner 

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