December 13, 2001

Stagg Bowl XXIX predictions

More news about: Bridgewater (Va.) | Mount Union

Believe it or not, two years ago our panel of experts picked the result of Stagg Bowl XXVII correctly, with Pacific Lutheran carrying the day. And well, we did nail the Mount Union/St. John's game victor last year, but perhaps not the margin of victory. This year our experts try their hand at predicting the result of Stagg Bowl XXIX.

Pat Coleman, Editor and Publisher
Mount Union 42, Bridgewater 27

I'm tempted to go with the better story — with the "hometown" team completing its rise from obscurity with a national title. But deep down inside, I'm a realist, so while I'd like to pick the upset, I don't think I can.

Bridgewater needs some of that imported Virginia Tech special teams magic to win this game, and I'm not sure that the team that game up 32 points to Widener will give up less than 50 to Mount Union. But I am going with less than 50, so I suppose that's something.

Keith McMillan, Around the Nation
Bridgewater 29, Mount Union 28

Wow. This is tough, but being one of the few anywhere, including from both teams, to see both teams live and in person, I actually feel qualified to make this pick.

This reminds me of 1999, where we saw a team nobody believed in (Pacific Lutheran) against a team familiar with Salem (Rowan). Bridgewater has the same team of destiny feel that PLU did then.

Between the Eagles and Purple Raiders, neither team is flashy. Rather, both are crisp and effective at some of the game's finer points. Mount Union is strong, Bridgewater is fast. Both will run the ball.

I can see Mount Union taking an early lead, but Bridgewater refusing to go away. And then when things go right for Eagles, they will go waaaay right when the sold-out home-state crowd gets into the game. And just like they did against Trinity and Rowan, the Eagles will seal a victory in the final minute.

Mark Lewandowski, St. John's Broadcaster
Mount Union 45, Bridgewater 17

To beat, or even be able to stay with a team like Mount Union, you have to be dominant, and not just offensively, but defensively as well. Mount Union is perhaps the best coached team in the country, they know their strengths (Chuck Moore, offensive line, total defense) and make them work and then find your weakness and expose it.

Bridgewater is a great story, from 0-10 to the National Championship game, but it is not enough to stay with Mount Union, too much Chuck Moore too much tradition. I also think the quality of teams in the South does not match up with what Mount Union has already faced this year in the playoffs from the North and West.

D3football.com declares Luke Vilelle the Stagg Bowl predictions champ for 2001.

Luke Vilelle, Harrisonburg News-Record
Mount Union 35, Bridgewater 27

I see Bridgewater falling behind by two scores early in this one, with the hearts pumping a little too fast on the national stage. But Jason Lutz,
Davon Cruz and company will score some points, and they'll get back in it. This won't be a blowout. Somewhere along the line, BC will miss an extra point — that's just about a guarantee. BC has pretty impressive stats stopping the run, but not many opponents have tried very hard to establish a run game. One team that did, Johns Hopkins, rushed for 231 yards — primarily by taking advantage of overpursuit by the speedy Eagles. Washington & Lee also rushed for 200-plus against BC. I think Mount Union's Chuck Moore can do the same. It's tempting to think of BC as a team of destiny after the finish against Rowan, but I'm not sure that will be enough against MUC.

Mark Simon, D3football.com columnist
Mount Union 45, Bridgewater 21

Any "home field advantage" that Bridgewater have will be negated by the overpowering nature of Mount Union's team. Chuck Moore will rush for 150 yards and three second-half touchdowns. Championship experience will be a factor as this game as Bridgewater's dream of being a team of destiny, will come to an end in the second half, when Mount Union builds upon its seven-point halftime edge.

Pat Cummings, D3football.com broadcaster
Bridgewater 20, Mount Union 17

Can Mt. Union be beat? Yes, it has happened, just not since 1999. Let's not forget that Bridgewater is the only other undefeated team in the country. Both of these teams have shown a will to win this year, Bridgewater has had to fight for it, and I think that fighting ability will carry them on Saturday. We find ourselves with a Stagg Bowl matchup once again pitting a Mt. Union squad that cruised through the playoffs against a battle-tested opponent. Bridgewater has followed a course similar to St. John's of last season. We saw St. John's come to Salem with tough wins over UW-Stout, Pacific Lutheran, and Central in the first three rounds, not including a national semifinals rout of Hardin-Simmons. They go to Salem and hold Mt. Union to their lowest point output since an Oct. 15, 1994 loss to Baldwin-Wallace.

I see a similar scenario playing out this year, but with a different result. Why? Welcome to Jopson Field South — I mean, Salem Stadium. The best home field advantage in Stagg Bowl history. Thousands of BC fans will inspire their Eagles who will rise to the occasion, as they have done the past three weeks. The oft-forgotten defenses of these two teams will hold in another low-scoring championship.

Ric Brienza, mtunionfootball.com
Mount Union 54, Bridgewater 20

Both teams have very good offenses. The difference is the defense. I have not seen Bridgewater play, but doing the best job I can comparing them from teams they faced that Mount Union has recently played, I think Mount Union will have no problem with its running game, and it seems pass defense is also not a strong suit of the Eagles. I would be surprised if the Purple Raiders' defense is not the best Bridgewater has seen. Their combination of size and speed will make it difficult on Bridgewater's offense to have long sustained drives. The Eagles might have early offensive success, but it will not last more than a quarter and a half to two quarters. Mount Union will win its sixth title much easier than they did their fifth.

 

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