December 19, 2002

Stagg Bowl XXX predictions

Once again, we've asked broadcasters and writers from across the country to weigh in on the Stagg Bowl.

Pat Coleman, D3football.com Editor & Publisher
Mount Union 42, Trinity 24

I want it on the record right now that I've picked the winners right each of the last three years. Twice I have been way off on the margin of victory. Last year I was almost close, 15 points instead of three, so I'll take that. If Trinity were facing a normal team I might be tempted to pick them based on the fact that the opponent might take them too lightly based on the fact that the best quarterback in the nation is not suiting up. But Mount Union is too good to be snookered in. Sure, this is like Tom Brady starting the Super Bowl instead of Drew Bledsoe, but that worked out pretty well for New England. Unfortunately, Dan DesPlaines doesn't exactly have the regular-season reps under his belt that Brady did.

Mark Lewandowski, KKJM-FM (covering St. John's)
Mount Union 56, Trinity 14

I have not seen Mount Union, only the scores, but I think they are playing as well as they have all season heading into the Stagg Bowl. I also think Trinity is playing as well as they can offensively, but that could all change with the off the field incident involving Roy Hampton.

If he played, and performed the way he did in the first half of the St. John's semifinal, the game had a slim chance to be close, but if he were to play the way he did in the second half, it will be a 21 to 28 point affair favoring the Raiders. The other two gentlemen, Bryan Backes and Tom Linneman, who broadcast the St. John's games with me, see rout in bold letters, and now given the circumstances, I have to agree. I think the "Black Flag Defense" will raise the white one before it's all over...and Mount Union will win another title.

Gordon Mann, D3football.com Broadcaster
Mount Union 38, Trinity 17

The mark of a great team is that it stops very good teams from doing what they do best. The Purple Raiders are doing that on both sides of the ball right now. Offensively, Mount Union has moved the ball on the ground and through the air extremely well during the playoffs. Pugh is running hard behind a very strong offensive line. Adamson can throw the ball downfield so defenses can't cheat in on the run. People who've followed Mount Union through the 90s tell me that the offense looks as good now as it ever has — judging by the way they moved the ball at will on a very good JCU defense, I believe it.

Defensively, the Purple Raiders are well balanced. Their line is strong and quick enough to disturb offenses without deploying the linebackers or secondary in blitzes. The secondary is solid but will have to avoid giving up the big play. I mean no disrespect to a good Trinity team. The Tigers have had a harder road to the Stagg than Mount Union, so I don't expect them to get rolled early. Trinity hangs with the Purple Raiders through the first half but trails by at least two scores by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.

Keith McMillan, D3football.com
Mount Union 34, Trinity 31

Hmm. Now that I'm pegged as a supposed Mount Union hater, it wouldn't look good if I picked Trinity. Except I really think they can win. Earlier this year I promised in writing to not go against Mount Union until they lose. However, the past two Stagg Bowls have been three-point Purple Raider wins. Very close games. Hmm. Well, you can't go wrong with the safe pick. If there's one thing that's consistent, it's Mount Union having the most points at the end of the Stagg Bowl. So that's my scientific score-picking formula right there. What? It adds up to 34-31.

Ric Brienza, Mtunionfootball.com Editor & Publisher
Mount Union 56, Trinity 31

I recall four times in the past decade I've thought Mount Union would dominate its opponent in a big game. The first came in the 1993 Stagg Bowl against Rowan. I didn't make that mistake again vs. the Profs but neither of the next two championship games were as close as the first. The second was the 1999 triple overtime thriller vs. John Carroll. Boy was I wrong that day. The other two have been each of the last two championship games.

Sure there have been many times I have been correct in predicting big game decisions but you'd think I'd learn my lesson with this pattern in the last couple Stagg Bowls. Well, I haven't. It's too bad we've had the story surrounding the Trinity quarterback this week, and as I write this the University is still dragging its feet on what to do with him. I've gone on record as saying I think he should play.

The reason I bring this up is because I think whether he is in uniform or not on Saturday, this has been a distraction to the team. There's no way it can't be. He's too important a piece in their puzzle. I'm impressed with Trinity and the path they took to reach the Stagg Bowl. There is no question they have a very good offense. But they have given up more than 30 points in three of their playoff games. That tells me they will have to outscore Mount Union to win this game and that is a heavy task.

The Purple Raiders are playing well in every phase of the game. This is a team that has had to fight through adversity this season that prior teams haven't had to deal with. Head Coach Larry Kehres has said many times that each of his teams are different and have their own identity. And this one sure does.

If this team plays like they have thus far in the playoffs, making three very good teams look not so good, they will go down as one of the best teams Mount Union has ever fielded.

Can it be a close game? Sure it can, and maybe it will. These are both very good teams. But my best guess tells me Mount Union 56, Trinity 31.

Mark Simon, D3football.com Columnist
Mount Union 35, Trinity 21

The head coach of the multi-champion men's basketball program at UW-Platteville told me a story of how his father held up a sign that read "Bring on Duke" after one of his team's NCAA title wins. We'll challenge some folks from Alliance to bring one that says "Bring on the Buckeyes" or even "Bring on Miami (of Ohio)!"

This came won't be as close as the score indicates. Put four scores on the board for Dan Pugh and give the Purple Raiders another championship.

Pat Cummings, D3football.com broadcaster
Trinity 29, Mount Union 28

My only luck in this selection process came last year when I predicted the exact final score, 30-27, but had Bridgewater on top of Mount Union. I also put the cart before the horse.

The Koy Detmer Story. Donovan McNabb accounts for more the 70% of the offense for the Philadelphia Eagles and is out for a Monday night game in San Francisco. Call on Koy to come in and clean up shop against a solid NFL team, in front of a national audience, even though he hasn't taken a snap all season long. What does he do? Takes it right to the heart of a team resting on its laurels because they don't have to face Donovan McNabb, but Koy, that's KOY DETMER...and the Eagles take full advantage, walloping the 49ers.

Now: The Dan DesPlaines Story. Trinity University suspends its All-American quarterback, the one with the best QB rating in the country. Roy Hampton, who would have been the main threat against Mount Union, made a terrible mistake, again, and has to sit out. If I was a Mount Union player, especially one who has already won a championship, I think this is great, a clear shot to win it all, again! Not so fast...The Eagles haven't lost a game since McNabb went down, and some would say that the rest of the squad has played even stronger, rallying around their no-name QBs.

The Tigers will do just that. The Dan Desplaines Story is one you could only conjure up in a childhood dream. Dan has to step up, and even more so, the entire Trinity Tigers lineup. A 14-0 record against a brutal schedule the past few weeks shows me that this team can win, they can get up for the big game, they can do it on the road or at home, regardless of the fans, regardless of everything. The only item we have yet to see is whether or not they can do it without Roy Hampton. If Trinity wants to prove that its 14 wins this year have been a team effort, all requiring a excruciating performance each and every week, then they can win this game. This game just happens to be the most important football game of their life, Stagg Bowl XXX.

I only came to this decision when Hampton was actually suspended. I knew as soon as I read the headline that DesPlaines was in the driver's seat to start, this gave Trinity a greater chance to win, and I think they can.

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Dec. 20: All times Eastern
Final
at UW-Whitewater 52, Mount Union 14
@ Salem Stadium; Salem, Va.
Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Dec. 14: All times Eastern
Final
UW-Whitewater 16, at Mary Hardin-Baylor 15
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Mount Union 41, North Central (Ill.) 40
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
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