October 18, 2012

MIAC Football Preview - 2012 Week 8

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- And then there was one.

The MIAC is left with one unbeaten team atop the standings - No. 3-ranked St. Thomas - after the Tommies took down then-No. 7-ranked Bethel Saturday in St. Paul by the surprising score of 34-0. UST is well-positioned now to make a run at both its third-straight MIAC championship and an unprecedented third-straight 10-0 regular season.

However, the Tommies' road to another title won't be without serious speed bumps the rest of the way, as two of UST's top contenders will square off in Saturday's most-intriguing MIAC matchup, highlighting four exciting games on the Week 8 MIAC schedule. No. 21-ranked Concordia will head to Minneapolis to face (RV) Augsburg in a showdown of teams whose lone defeats both came via one-point losses to Bethel. The symmetry sets up a can't-miss affair in the Twin Cities.

On display will be two of the top offenses, and the top two rushing attacks in the conference. Concordia leads the MIAC with 286.2 rushing yards per game, and Augsburg is right behind with 268.2 yards per game. The Auggies' average of 38.0 points per game leads the league, while the Cobbers rank third at 36.0 ppg, and the two are also in the top three in total offense, with Augsburg second (469.8 ypg) and Concordia third (411.8).

However, the two teams get their yards and points in different ways. Augsburg is led by dynamic dual-threat QB Ayrton Scott, who leads the MIAC in rushing yards per game (149.7) and touchdown passes (17). Meanwhile, Concordia leans on its offensive line and bruising runner Brett Baune, who ranks second with 123.5 rushing yards per game. Defensively, the Cobbers' outstanding tandem of Peter Hvidston and Matt Moenkedick will try to stifle the Auggies' attack, while Bryce Vee leads the Augsburg defense in its tough, physical test.

Another of Saturday's intriguing matchups is the battle for Northfield supremacy between cross-town rivals St. Olaf and Carleton, held at the Knights field at 1 p.m. The Oles are coming off a narrow loss to Augsburg, and will look to bounce back behind star QB Dan Dobson, who leads the MIAC in completion percentage (68.2), passing yards (1,634), passing TDs (17) and TD-interception ratio (4.25-to-1). St. Olaf WR Stephen Asp and RB Michael Thai are tied for the MIAC lead with nine TDs apiece. Meanwhile, Carleton's secondary should be a formidable, strength-vs.-strength matchup for Dobson's aerial attack. The Knights have had the last two MIAC Defensive Players-of-the-Week in conference tackles leader Mike Elder (77 total tackles) and fellow defensive back Paul Hoffer (three INT, four breakups, 38 tackles).

Bethel - now ranked 15th - will try to bounce back from its loss to UST in a trip to St. Peter to face Gustavus at 1 p.m. The Royals' defensive ranks took a hit in the loss, though they're still tied for first allowing just 15.3 points per game. However, Bethel is ranked eighth in the league in rushing (117.0 yards per game) so look for QB Erik Peterson and running back Brandon Marquardt to get the ground game back on track against the Gusties, while Seth Mathis (67 tackles) and Brett Skoog (7.5 TFL) continue to lead the stout Royal defense. Gustavus presents two significant threats on the ground in RB Jeff Dubose (90.4 rushing ypg) and QB Muresuk Mena (80.2 rushing ypg), with Anthony Boyce and his 45 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles-for-a-loss leading the Gustie defenders.

The Tommies will head across town to try and take another step towards the MIAC title Saturday when they face Hamline at 1:10 p.m. LB Mike Valesano (30 tackles, 4.5 TFL) and DE Ayo Idowu (7.0 TFL) have been tremendous leading the dominant Tommie defense, and Matt O'Connell continues to direct and efficient offense, leading the MIAC in passing yards per game (241.5) while ranking seventh in rushing (71.8 ypg). Hamline will try to keep it on the ground with talented freshman RB Austin Duncan (83.7 rushing yards per game) and hope to control the clock in its upset bid, while John-Michael Vandenberg (58 tackles) and Patrick Page (56) heading up the Piper defense. Hamline punter John Broback will be an asset in the field-position battle, leading the MIAC with a 42.9 average.

The rest of the MIAC Football Week 8 Preview contains the complete schedule and links to follow along with this weekend's action, as well as a look at the MIAC in the various national polls, the Athlete-of-the-Week award winners, the top performances in the trenches and some of the top numbers from around the league.


MIAC FOOTBALL WEEK 8 - SCHEDULE AND LINKS
| Scoreboard & Statistics | Standings | Composite Schedule |

NO. 21 CONCORDIA (5-1, 3-1) AT (RV) AUGSBURG (5-1, 4-1) - Minneapolis, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: Augsburg Web cast | Live stats |

ST. OLAF (5-2, 3-2) AT CARLETON (3-3, 1-3) - Northfield, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: Carleton Web cast | Live stats | Carleton Radio: KQCL 95.9 FM | St. Olaf Radio: KDHL 920 AM |

NO. 15 BETHEL (5-1, 3-1) AT GUSTAVUS (2-4, 1-3) - St. Peter, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: Gustavus Web cast | Live stats | Gustavus Radio: KNUJ 860 AM (New Ulm); KRDS 95.5 FM (New Prague) |

NO. 3 ST. THOMAS (6-0, 4-0) AT HAMLINE (1-5, 0-5) - St. Paul, Minn. - 1:10 p.m.
On the web: Hamline Web cast | Live stats | Radio: WCCO 830 AM (Listen Live) |


IDLE: SAINT JOHN'S (3-4, 1-4)


MIAC IN THE POLLS
The Tommies used their win over a fellow top-10 foe to retain their spot as the third-ranked team in the latest AFCA Division III Coaches' Poll. Bethel's loss to St. Thomas sent the Royals from No. 7 down to No. 17, and Concordia used its win over Hamline to jump four spots. The Cobbers now sit at No. 21. The MIAC nearly got a fourth team into the Top 25, as Augsburg received 40 points, and is the sixth team featured in the "Others receiving votes" category.

In the D3football.com Top 25, St. Thomas used its big win over Bethel to retain its top-five ranking, holding strong at No. 4. The Royals slid six spots - from No. 9 to No. 15 - following its first loss of the season, and a pair of MIAC teams appeared in the "Others receiving votes section. Concordia inched closer to the Top 25 as the third team outside the rankings with 37 points, and Augsburg also received one vote.

| AFCA Division III Coaches' Poll | D3Football.com Top 25 |


ATHLETES-OF-THE-WEEK
The MIAC Football Offensive Player-of-the-Week was claimed by an Augsburg player for the third week in a row and fourth time in five weeks as running back Jerise Washington ran for a school record 245 yards and four TDs in a big win over St. Olaf. Defensive honors went to a Carleton player for the second-straight week as Mike Elder racked up 18 total tackles - 11 solo - in a loss to Saint John's. Concordia's Seth Lage received the Special Teams award after taking a kick back 84 yards for a score and returning three punts into Hamline territory to set up three more Cobber touchdowns in his team's win on Saturday. Elder was also named to the D3football.com Team-of-the-Week for his performance Saturday.

| MIAC Football Athletes-of-the-Week | D3football.com Team-of-the-Week |


IN THE TRENCHES
It was a record-setting day on the ground for Augsburg, with the line doing a tremendous job of opening holes all day. RB Jerise Washington set or tied Auggie records with 245 yards on the ground and four rushing TDs, and Augsburg ran for a total of 387 yards (8.4 yards per carry) and six touchdowns in the 45-37 win over St. Olaf. The Auggies allowed just three negative plays - one sack and two TFLs - for a total of three yards. The Augsburg starters along the line were center Chad Thompson, guards Jake Gagne and Zach Swingen and tackles Eric Dooley and Brian Rud.

In a showdown of Top 10 teams, the St. Thomas defensive line certainly asserted itself against Bethel Saturday, as the Tommies shutout the Royals en route to a big win. UST allowed just 160 yards of offense, including a paltry 31 yards on the ground, as Bethel averaged just 1.8 yards per carry. St. Thomas generated a sack, four tackles-for-a-loss and three turnovers as well to remain undefeated. The Tommies' starters up front were defensive tackle Riley Dombek and ends Ayo Idowu and Derek Vonnahme.


BY THE NUMBERS
0
- Points allowed by No. 3 St. Thomas in its 37-0 win over then-No. 7-ranked Bethel Saturday in a matchup of the MIAC's two remaining unbeaten teams.

245 - Rushing yards by Augsburg's Jerise Washington in Saturday's win over St. Olaf - a new Auggie single-game record. He also equaled another school record with four rushing TDs.

1 - St. Olaf QB Dan Dobson's rank in the MIAC in completion percentage (68.2), passing yards (1,634), passing TDs (17) and TD-interception ratio (4.25-to-1).

100 - Percent of PATs made by Saint John's Jimmie Mattson (31-for-31) and Concordia's Benjamin Wagner (30-for-30).

2 - Carleton players leading MIAC defensive statistic categories. Mike Elder has a MIAC-leading 77 total tackles, and teammate Caleb Hyde leads the league with 8.5 tackles-for-a-loss.

| MIAC Football Home Page |

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