November 26, 2010

Second round has big showdowns

Josh Ostrue, Colin Tobin
Josh Ostrue leads the way for Colin Tobin, who rushed for 154 yards for St. Thomas in the first-round win against Benedictine.
Photo by Scott Pierson, d3photography.com

By Brian Hunsicker
for D3sports.com

If D3football.com’s rankings are to be believed, a quarter of Saturday’s matchups shouldn’t happen until December. But rankings are no factor when the selection committee pieces together its bracket; thus, a pair of No. 1 seeds face unusually difficult tests this weekend.

St. Thomas and North Central, both top seeds in their respective corners of the Division III football bracket, face teams that, like themselves, are also ranked in the top 10 in D3football.com’s latest poll. The Tommies, ranked fourth, host eighth-ranked Linfield; the No. 5 Cardinals entertain Ohio Northern, ranked seventh.

“It’s been my experience in this profession not to be surprised by anything,” St. Thomas coach Glenn Caruso said this week. “You have two unbelievable teams meeting in the second round. And for one of those teams, their journey is going to end on Saturday.”

Of this weekend’s eight games, only one other features two teams ranked in the top 10: No. 10 Thomas More at No. 6 Mary Hardin-Baylor.

The mantra for teams at this time of year is that every opponent is tough; but for the Tommies and Cardinals, these challenges are a bit tougher than would normally be expected. Caruso raved about several aspects of the Wildcats’ team. North Central coach John Thorne had high praise for the Polar Bears’ ability to limit turnovers and, defensively, stiffen in the red zone.

Indeed, the battle of turnovers could go a long way in determining who wins the Cardinals-Polar Bears game.

“They run the ball well, and their quarterback [senior Kyle Simmons] has grown into their new offense, and he takes care of the ball,” Thorne said. And not only do Simmons and the ONU offense take care of the ball, the Polar Bears’ defense is adept at creating turnovers – their +1.73 turnover margin ranks fourth in Division III. North Central isn’t far behind, ranking 18th nationally in that same category.

Matt Wenger
Matt Wenger was one of several key North Central players who got their own bye week, sitting out the regular-season finale against North Park.
North Central (Ill.) athletics photo by Steve Woltmann

And, to Thorne’s other point, ONU was also the most effective running team in the OAC – 26th nationally – at 215.6 yards per game. If any team is up to stopping them, North Central and its 3rd-ranked run defense would be a prime candidate. In their first-round win, the Cardinals limited St. Norbert to 2.6 yards per rush, just above their season average of 1.8 yards per rush.

While the numbers and the homefield advantage seem to favor North Central, the Cardinals have had their own set of challenges this week. Players took their final exams for the fall semester Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; Thanksgiving further complicated preparations.

In some ways, the Cardinals’ preparations have gone as good as could have been expected. To make a deeper run into the postseason, Thorne and his coaches mapped out ways to ensure the Cardinals would be healthy when playoff time arrived. North Central’s increased depth allowed them greater rotation throughout the season, and Thorne was more liberal about playing time for reserves. Even during close games, it wasn’t unusual to see the team’s standout players on the sideline.

“No one had amazing stats,” Thorne said, “but we all decided to what was best for the team and not worry about individual stats.”

While ONU faces a five-or-so hour drive to Naperville, Ill., the travel arrangements will be much more complicated for Linfield. The Wildcats have the longest trip of the weekend, traveling two time zones east to the Twin Cities. Caruso identified it as one of the Tommies’ biggest advantages.

“It’s not just the familiar surroundings, it’s the homefield crowd and that your preparation can use the entire week and [the players] can sleep in their own beds,” Caruso said.

Homefield advantage aside, the Tommies will still have to cope with Linfield’s prolific offense; the matchup with St. Thomas’ defense will be one of the most anticipated aspects of the game. Linfield’s scoring offense and total offense rank 12th or better nationally; conversely, the Tommies’ total defense and scoring defense have similarly lofty ranks (sixth in scoring, 14th in total defense).

Caruso was particularly concerned about Wildcats quarterback Aaron Boehme, a senior, calling him “one of the finest quarterbacks in the country.” A dual threat, Boehme is the Wildcats’ second-leading rusher who has completed 60 percent of his passes with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions; he’s 15th in the country in total offense.

Boehme brings an accomplished, talented squad to St. Thomas, just as Simmons will do for his Polar Bear teammates against North Central. Both are matchups that – at least according to one set of rankings – should’ve happened in a week or two. But in 2010, that’s just the way the bracket breaks.

comments powered by Disqus
Oct. 18: All times Eastern
Final
MIT 52, at Nichols 20
Box Score Recap
Final
at Colby 47, Hamilton 14
Box Score Recap Recap
Final - OT
Western Connecticut 20, at Fitchburg State 14
Box Score
Final
at Maine Maritime 13, Coast Guard 7
Box Score Photos
Final
at Salve Regina 49, Curry 6
Box Score Photos
Final
Westfield State 32, at Massachusetts Maritime 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Juniata 38, Ursinus 10
Box Score
Final
Trinity (Conn.) 17, at Bowdoin 10
Box Score Photos
Final
at Husson 12, Gallaudet 6
Box Score Recap
Final
at Middlebury 35, Bates 6
Box Score
Final
at Mount Ida 26, Castleton State 21
Box Score Recap
Final
Kean 30, at William Paterson 24
Box Score Recap
Final
at Cortland State 35, Southern Virginia 0
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Franklin and Marshall 31, McDaniel 7
Box Score
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 23, at DePauw 16
Box Score
Final
Susquehanna 24, at Moravian 21
Box Score Photos
Final
Washington and Jefferson 34, at Bethany 3
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Shenandoah 24, at Catholic 14
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Concordia (Wis.) 49, at Trine 46
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hampden-Sydney 49, Emory and Henry 27
Box Score
Final
at Washington and Lee 28, Randolph-Macon 25
Box Score
Final
at Carnegie Mellon 21, Grove City 10
Box Score Photos
Final
at Guilford 35, Bridgewater (Va.) 28
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at Widener 59, Wilkes 12
Box Score
Final
Methodist 73, at LaGrange 28
Box Score
Final
Maryville (Tenn.) 39, at Greensboro 14
Box Score Photos
Final
Brockport State 45, at Alfred 42
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
Huntingdon 35, at Ferrum 16
Box Score
Final - 2OT
at Frostburg State 38, Ithaca 37
Box Score Recap
Final
Waynesburg 26, at Westminster (Pa.) 21
Box Score
Final
at Muhlenberg 47, Gettysburg 6
Box Score Recap
Final
Wabash 52, at Kenyon 10
Box Score Recap
Final
at Salisbury 59, Hartwick 49
Box Score Photos
Final
at Bridgewater State 24, Plymouth State 0
Box Score Recap
Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Utica 7
Box Score Recap
Final
King's 45, at FDU-Florham 17
Final
at Rochester 34, RPI 20
Box Score Recap
Final
at Berry 46, Hendrix 24
Box Score Recap
Cancelled
Maranatha Baptist at Washington U.
Final
at Northwestern (Minn.) 35, Greenville 28
Box Score Recap
Final - OT
Amherst 33, at Wesleyan 30
Box Score
Final
at Tufts 27, Williams 20
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Case Western Reserve 33, Geneva 19
Box Score Photos
Final
Franklin 38, at Mount St. Joseph 28
Box Score
Final
at Thomas More 49, St. Vincent 7
Box Score Recap
Final
Baldwin Wallace 56, at Wilmington 17
Box Score Photos
Final
at Mount Union 58, Heidelberg 17
Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Final
Rose-Hulman 28, at Defiance 12
Box Score
Final
at John Carroll 80, Marietta 0
Box Score Recap
Final
at Anderson 37, Hanover 35
Box Score
Final
Bluffton 24, at Earlham 22
Box Score Recap
Final
Otterbein 32, at Muskingum 20
Box Score
Final
at Springfield 48, Merchant Marine 21
Box Score
Final
Ohio Northern 38, at Capital 31
Box Score
Final - OT
at Hope 42, Olivet 35
Box Score Recap Recap Photos Photos
Final
at Kalamazoo 45, Alma 24
Box Score Recap
Final
at Rowan 31, Morrisville State 0
Box Score Recap
Final
Oberlin 37, at Allegheny 9
Box Score Recap
Final
Lakeland 34, at Rockford 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at Bethel 52, Chicago 21
Box Score Photos
Final
Wisconsin Lutheran 59, at Concordia-Chicago 15
Box Score
Final
Centre 31, at Sewanee 3
Box Score
Final
St. John's 29, at Gustavus Adolphus 19
Box Score Photos
Final
St. Olaf 17, at Carleton 13
Box Score Photos
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 41, at Augsburg 21
Box Score
Final
Monmouth 31, at Lake Forest 7
Box Score
Final
Birmingham-Southern 16, at Millsaps 14
Box Score Photos
Final
Coe 35, at Simpson 21
Box Score Recap
Final
at Buena Vista 48, Luther 41
Box Score
Final
Macalester 28, at Beloit 21
Box Score
Final
at St. Norbert 13, Ripon 10
Box Score Recap
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Louisiana College 24
Box Score Recap
Final
Augustana 7, at Illinois Wesleyan 2
Box Score Recap
Final
at Central 41, Loras 14
Box Score Recap
Final
MacMurray 58, at Eureka 27
Box Score
Final
at UW-La Crosse 21, UW-Stout 7
Box Score Recap
Final
Illinois College 35, at Grinnell 10
Box Score
Final
at Iowa Wesleyan 37, Westminster (Mo.) 21
Box Score
Final
Benedictine 26, at Aurora 0
Box Score Recap
Final
St. Thomas 62, at Hamline 24
Box Score Recap
Final
Norwich 37, at Becker 20
Box Score Recap
Final
at Worcester State 50, Mass-Dartmouth 43
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 19, Sul Ross State 12
Box Score Photos Photos
Final
at Wartburg 42, Dubuque 9
Box Score
Final
at UW-Oshkosh 37, UW-River Falls 7
Box Score
Final
Delaware Valley 35, at Stevenson 13
Box Score Recap
Final
SUNY-Maritime 40, at Anna Maria 12
Box Score Recap
Final
Wittenberg 42, at Wooster 7
Box Score Recap
Final
Wesley 70, at Menlo 2
Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Final
St. Scholastica 49, at Martin Luther 14
Box Score
Final
Austin 27, at Southwestern Assemblies 20
Box Score Photos
Final
UW-Whitewater 52, at UW-Eau Claire 3
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 53, Carthage 23
Box Score Recap
Final
at UW-Platteville 31, UW-Stevens Point 13
Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Final
at Elmhurst 28, North Park 0
Final
at Cornell 49, Knox 29
Box Score
Final
at Montclair State 28, TCNJ 7
Box Score Recap
Final
Western New England 36, at Union 14
Box Score Recap
Final
at Carroll 76, Lawrence 7
Box Score
Final
at Pacific 31, Pacific Lutheran 28
Box Score Recap
Final
at Cal Lutheran 41, Pomona-Pitzer 17
Box Score Photos
Final
at Willamette 45, Lewis and Clark 7
Box Score Recap
Final
Puget Sound 33, at George Fox 14
Box Score Photos
Final
at Linfield 65, Whitworth 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at Adrian 47, Albion 26
Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
Christopher Newport 38, at Averett 7
Box Score
Final
at Alfred State 10, Erie CC 3
Box Score Photos
Final
at Crown 30, Minnesota-Morris 27
Box Score
Final
at Trinity (Texas) 22, Southwestern 19
Box Score
Final
Howard Payne 54, at East Texas Baptist 53
Box Score
Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 28, at Millikin 3
Box Score
Final
at Whittier 36, La Verne 17
Box Score Photos Photos
Final
at Redlands 31, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at Chapman 59, Occidental 21
Box Score Photos
Oct. 24: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Johns Hopkins
Oct. 25: All times Eastern
8:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Wheaton (Ill.)
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Case Western Reserve at Washington and Jefferson
Preview Live Stats Video Audio
1:30 PM
Grove City at Thomas More
Live Stats Audio Audio
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Mount Union
Preview Live Stats Audio Tickets
1:30 PM
Capital at John Carroll
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Wesley at Virginia-Lynchburg
Audio
1:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Shenandoah
Preview Live Stats Video Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Wabash
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
St. John Fisher at Alfred State
Live Stats Video Audio
1:00 PM
Kenyon at Wittenberg
Live Stats Video
1:00 PM
Misericordia at Delaware Valley
Live Stats Audio
3:00 PM
UW-Platteville at UW-Stout
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
2:10 PM
St. Thomas at Bethel
Live Stats Video Audio
12:00 PM
Hobart at RPI
Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
UW-Oshkosh at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Luther at Wartburg
Live Stats Video Audio
2:00 PM
Mary Hardin-Baylor at Texas Lutheran
Live Stats Video
2:00 PM
Hamline at Concordia-Moorhead
Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at UW-Stevens Point
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Carleton at St. John's
Live Stats Video Audio Audio
4:00 PM
Linfield at Lewis and Clark
Live Stats Video Audio
4:00 PM
Willamette at Pacific Lutheran
Live Stats Audio
Oct. 24: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Johns Hopkins
Oct. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 28, at Millikin 3
Box Score
Final
Wesley 70, at Menlo 2
Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Final
Wittenberg 42, at Wooster 7
Box Score Recap
Final
Delaware Valley 35, at Stevenson 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at Mount Union 58, Heidelberg 17
Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Final
at Thomas More 49, St. Vincent 7
Box Score Recap
Final
at John Carroll 80, Marietta 0
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hampden-Sydney 49, Emory and Henry 27
Box Score
Final
Wabash 52, at Kenyon 10
Box Score Recap
Final
St. John Fisher 42, at Utica 7
Box Score Recap
Final
Washington and Jefferson 34, at Bethany 3
Box Score Recap Recap
Final
at North Central (Ill.) 53, Carthage 23
Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Whitewater 52, at UW-Eau Claire 3
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Platteville 31, UW-Stevens Point 13
Box Score Recap Photos Photos
Final
at Wartburg 42, Dubuque 9
Box Score
Final
St. Thomas 62, at Hamline 24
Box Score Recap
Final
at Bethel 52, Chicago 21
Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 45, Louisiana College 24
Box Score Recap
Final
Concordia-Moorhead 41, at Augsburg 21
Box Score
Final
St. John's 29, at Gustavus Adolphus 19
Box Score Photos
Final
at Linfield 65, Whitworth 13
Box Score Recap
Final
at Pacific 31, Pacific Lutheran 28
Box Score Recap

What We're Reading