2010 NCAA Playoffs: North Central Bracket

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North Central (Ill.) Cardinals
Seed: No. 1, North Central bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 5, Week 11 2010
Location: Naperville, IL
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 2167
Stadium: Bendetti-Wehrli Stadium (5500)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: CCIW
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: John Thorne (Illinois Wesleyan '69)
Career record: 77-21 (.786)
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: 3-4
Record in NCAA playoffs: 3-4 (2005-08)
NCAA D-III championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, CCIW champ
You'll know they're playing well if: Either Jordan Tassio or Nick Kukuc can put together 80-90 yards on the ground and Matt Wenger doesn't have to make every stop.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They can't get loose for big gains in the passing game and the other team rushes for triple digits.
This season's turning point: After going three-and-out three times in a row and watching UW-Eau Claire trim a 10-0 third-quarter lead to 10-3, the Cardinals put together two 60-plus-yard scoring drives to take a 20-3 lead and held on four plays from the 6 to force a Blugolds field goal after a North Central fumble.
Rushing/receiving yards per game: 222.6/198.8
Rushing/receiving yards allowed: 52.6/166.5
How far can they go? The home field suggests they can get past UW-Whitewater (if they get past the second round). Don't let the seedings fool you here.


UW-Whitewater Warhawks
Seed: No. 2, North Central bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 1, Week 11 2010
Location: Whitewater, WI
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 8857
Stadium: Perkins Stadium (13500)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: WIAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Lance Leipold (UW-Whitewater '87)
Career record: 52-3 (.945)
Base offense: Multiple pro
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 23-6 (1988, 1990, 1997, 2005-09)
NCAA D-III championships: 2007, 2009
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, WIAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: No matter who gets the ball in the backfield, they're finding plenty of running room and the secondary is limiting the opposing passing game.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The kicking game has come on after a slow start, while the secondary has yet to really receive a playoff-level test and that could start early in the bracket.
This season's turning point: Matt Blanchard answering the offense's biggest question by completing 76 percent of his passes in each of the first two games.
Rushing/receiving yards per game: 297.0/215.0
Rushing/receiving yards allowed: 47.5/160.4
How far can they go? All the way.


DePauw Tigers
Seed: No. 3, North Central bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 21, Week 10 2010
Location: Greencastle, IN
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 2237
Stadium: Blackstock Stadium (4000)
Playing surface: Grass
Conference: SCAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Robby Long (Illinois '02)
Career record: 16-4 (.800)
Base offense: Pro multiple
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 0-1 (2009)
NCAA D-III championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, SCAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: Quarterback Michael Engle is hitting several different receivers multiple times. While All-America Alex Koors (and his 1,080 yards this season) is the obvious downfield favorite, the Tigers are at their best when players like Brayden Dahlstrom, Nathan Evans and Colin Doran are getting at least three catches, keeping the opposing defensive backs guessing and the linebackers on their heels.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: DePauw isn’t able to put some distance between them and their opponent before the half. The second quarters of Tigers games have been the best for both the offense (121 points scored) and defense (39 points given up) all season. The games in which they haven’t been able to stretch out their lead early have wound up being nail-biters -- something that often doesn’t turn out as favorably in the elite postseason as it does in conference play.
This season's turning point: May still be ahead of them, at least they should hope. DePauw coasted through what was arguably a down year for the SCAC. Two of their toughest games, in fact, came against nonconference opponents Adrian and Wabash, the latter of which crushed the Tigers 47-0 this past weekend. DPU’s turning point is one of two things: the demoralizing Monon Bell shutout or how well they bounce back come Saturday and respond to the lessons from that game.
Rushing/receiving yards per game: 99.7/286.5
Rushing/receiving yards allowed: 129.1/186.3
How far can they go? Not very. Maybe not even out of the state of Indiana.


Ohio Northern Polar Bears
Seed: No. 4, North Central bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 7, Week 11 2010
Location: Ada, OH
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 2545
Stadium: Dial-Roberson Stadium (3500)
Playing surface: Grass
Conference: OAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Dean Paul (Mount Union '90)
Career record: 51-19 (.779), 91-31 overall
Base offense: Multiple spread
Base defense: Multiple 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 3-2 (1999-2000)
NCAA D-III championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool C
You'll know they're playing well if: Kyle Simmons is able to get out and run from his quarterback position and, when forced to punt, Ohio Northern uses it to win the field position battle.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The defense can't get off the field on third downs and gives up long, methodical drives, while the offense can't give the defense a rest.
This season's turning point: Bouncing back from the scoreless blip against Mount Union to score 35 or more in every other game.
Rushing/receiving yards per game: 211.6/183.7
Rushing/receiving yards allowed: 138.9/165.4
How far can they go? Not at all inconceivable for Ohio Northern to get to Naperville and do what it did last September.


Wittenberg Tigers
Seed: No. 5, North Central bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 9, Week 11 2010
Location: Springfield, OH
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 1842
Stadium: Edwards/Maurer Field (5000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: NCAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Joe Fincham (Ohio U. '88)
Career record: 136-30 (.819)
Base offense: Pro set
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 19-11 (1973, 1975, 1978-79, 1988, 1995, 1998-2002, 2006)
NCAA D-III championships: 1973, 1975
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, NCAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: The dual running backs combine for more than 100 yards and opponent has to resort to the short passing game to replace the shut-down run.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They're playing on the road, where their margin of victory was just five points, one of them in overtime.
This season's turning point: The season seemed to turn many times, with each survival of a tough road game against an opponent that should have been overmatched on paper.
Rushing/receiving yards per game: 164.2/305.1
Rushing/receiving yards allowed: 78.0/133.9
How far can they go? Last year Wittenberg started the playoffs with Mount St. Joseph and Trine. This year, the OAC runner-up. There's no quarterfinal run this time around.


Trine Thunder
Seed: No. 6, North Central bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 12, Week 11 2010
Location: Angola, IN
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 1300
Stadium: Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium (5000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: MIAA
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Matt Land (Ball State)
Career record: 38-15 (.717)
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: 3-4
Record in NCAA playoffs: 1-2 (2008-09)
NCAA D-III championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, MIAA champ
You'll know they're playing well if: They spread the ball around and quarterback Eric Watt doesn't have to finish the game.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They can't move the chains and the opponent dominates time of possession.
This season's turning point: Trine blocked an Adrian extra-point attempt late in the third quarter to keep its lead at 17-13 and scored a touchdown on its very next possession to keep the Bulldogs at arm's length in the Thunder's only real test of the season.
Rushing/receiving yards per game: 268.1/247.3
Rushing/receiving yards allowed: 103.1/164.0
How far can they go? One win is possible, but not two. Trine will find UW-Whitewater is not like UW-River Falls, if it gets the chance.


Franklin Grizzlies
Seed: No. 7, North Central bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 24, Week 11 2010
Location: Franklin, IN
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 1018
Stadium: Faught Stadium (2500)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: HCAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Mike Leonard (Hanover '84)
Career record: 57-27 (.679)
Base offense: Run and shoot
Base defense: 3-4
Record in NCAA playoffs: 2-2 (2007-08)
NCAA D-III championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, HCAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: They force the other team to make bad decisions in the passing game and avoide special teams letdowns.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They settle for field goals instead of touchdowns and get into a shootout.
This season's turning point: Blowing the doors off eight consecutive opponents after losing to Carthage 30-27 in the opening week of the season.
Rushing/receiving yards per game: 169.4/316.1
Rushing/receiving yards allowed: 59.8/168.4
How far can they go? Not very. Beating Carthage would have helped avoid this first-round matchup.


St. Norbert Green Knights
Seed: No. 8, North Central bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 24, Week 11 2007
Location: De Pere, WI
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 2019
Stadium: Donald J. Schneider Stadium (2500)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: MWC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Jim Purtill (Miami, Ohio '78)
Career record: 107-20 (.843)
Base offense: Multiple pro
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 1-8 (1989, 1999, 2000-01, 2003-04, 2006-07)
NCAA D-III championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, MWC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: The starting offensive line plays as many snaps as possible and gets just enough rushing yards to keep the opposing defenses honest.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: Rob Berger doesn't have time to throw and the defensive line gets worn down by the opposing offense.
This season's turning point: A 30-0 run to close the game in a 37-13 win against Ripon that put the Green Knights back in the driver's seat in the conference race.
Rushing/receiving yards per game: 216.0/223.2
Rushing/receiving yards allowed: 134.58/176.8
How far can they go? Well, it's not a bad drive down to Naperville and back, at least.


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