MIAC Football Preview - 2012 Week 9

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The MIAC football season is nearing the end and several key questions still remain. Can someone knock off St. Thomas, or will the Tommies capture their third-straight MIAC title? Will the league get more than one team into the Division III Playoffs after only sending UST a year ago? How will the muddled middle of the standings shake out? Which up-and-coming team can pull of a big upset or generate momentum heading into the offseason?

A year ago, Augsburg proved the toughest test for St. Thomas en route to a 10-0 regular season, as the Tommies needed some fourth-quarter heroics to pull out a tight road win on the Auggies' home field. Saturday, Augsburg will take its explosive offense across town to face UST in a highly-anticipated rematch. For third-ranked St. Thomas, Saturday's game is one of many late-season hurdles between the Tommies and another title. For Augsburg, it serves as a great measuring stick, as it has played step-for-step with the league's other elite teams and another convincing performance against UST will definitely prove the Auggies are establishing themselves in the upper echelon of the league.

Though much attention will rightly focus on two of the MIAC's brightest young quarterbacks - St. Thomas' Matt O'Connell and Augsburg's Ayrton Scott are both among the league's top six in both passing and rushing - this game could likely come down to which defense makes the most key stops. The two teams lead the league in points per game (39.4 for St. Thomas, 37.0 for Augsburg) and are also 1-2 in total offense, so whichever defense can slow the other team's momentum more often - or generate some timely turnovers - could be the real key to victory in what could be a shootout in St. Paul.

The Tommie-Auggie showdown highlights a full slate of four MIAC games, with St. Olaf enjoying its bye week. Now ranked No. 19, Concordia looks to continue its great season when it hosts Carleton Saturday, while the Knights nearly pulled off an upset against the Oles Saturday and will continue trying to play spoiler. Saint John's and Gustavus meet in a good matchup of teams both looking for their second MIAC win of the season, and the Collegeville crowd will be a factor as SJU tries to generate some momentum to close the season.

Meanwhile, Bethel hosts Hamline in Arden Hills a week after the Pipers put a first-half scare into St. Thomas, and while both teams have a reputation of running the ball, it was the Royals passing game that did the heavy lifting a week ago. QB Erik Peterson was a remarkable 27-of-29 for 315 yards and three scores, so it will be interesting to see if Bethel airs it out again this weekend.

The rest of the MIAC Football Week 9 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.

| Scoreboard & Statistics | Standings | Composite Schedule |

(RV) AUGSBURG (5-2, 4-2) AT NO. 3 ST. THOMAS (7-0, 5-0) - St. Paul, Minn. - 1:10 p.m.
On the web: UST Radio: WCCO 830 AM (Listen Live) | Web cast | Live Stats | AUG Audio Web cast |

CARLETON (3-4, 1-4) AT NO. 19 CONCORDIA (6-1, 4-1) - Moorhead, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: Concordia Live Broadcasts/Stats/Blogs | Carleton Radio: KQCL 95.9 FM |

HAMLINE (1-6, 0-6) AT NO. 14 BETHEL (6-1, 4-1) - Arden Hills, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: Bethel Live Broadcast/Stats |

GUSTAVUS (2-5, 1-4) AT SAINT JOHN'S (3-4, 1-4) - Collegeville, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: SJU Radio: WBHR 660 AM (St. Cloud); KOWZ 1170 AM (Owatonna); WLOL 1330 AM (Twin Cities) | Audio Web cast | Live stats | Gustavus Radio: KNUJ 860 AM (New Ulm); KRDS 95.5 FM (New Prague) |

IDLE: ST. OLAF (6-2, 4-2)

Now the MIAC has three teams among the top 19 in the nation in the AFCA Division III Coaches' Poll. St. Thomas held strong at No. 3, while Bethel moved up a pair of spots from No. 17 to No. 15, and Concordia also jumped two places to No. 19 this week. Augsburg remained in the "Others receiving votes" section with 14 points in this week's poll.

The MIAC also put three teams into the Top 25 in the D3football.com Top 25 after just missing in recent weeks. St. Thomas is still No. 4 in that poll, while Bethel slid up a spot to No. 14. Meanwhile, Concordia had been knocking on the door of the rankings for weeks, and jumped from unranked to No. 22 with its win over Augsburg Saturday to give the MIAC a trio of ranked teams in both polls.

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

Bethel QB Erik Peterson was named MIAC Offensive Player-of-the-Week after his historic passing day, as he completed a school record 93.1 percent of his passes (27-of-29) for 315 yards and three TDs in a win over Gustavus. Hamline LB Patrick Page earned the defensive award for his incredible stat line of 17 tackles, two INTs, three TFLs and a forced fumble against No. 3-ranked St. Thomas. Special Teams honors went to St. Olaf's Lucas Wainman, who was 3-for-3 on PATs, 2-for-2 on field goals and used his punts and kickoffs to pin rival Carleton inside the 32-yard-line on each kick. Also, Augsburg QB Ayrton Scott was named to the D3football.com Team-of-the-Week for his 500-yard performance and breaking the Auggie single-season rushing record Saturday.

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

Though Gustavus didn't come out on top, its offensive line and ground game had a great day against a formidable foe Saturday. The Gusties racked up 184 yards on the ground on 39 carries - a solid 4.7 average - against Bethel's vaunted defense in a 41-21 loss. The Gustavus starters along the line were center David Gschneidener, guards Marcus Kelly and Lyle Opdahl and tackles Wyatt Adams and Brian Grundmeyer.

Though Carleton came up a little short in Saturday's rivalry game against St. Olaf, 27-20, the Knights defense had some serious bright spots in the win. The defensive line did a good job against the run, holding the Oles under 100 yards (92) and allowing just 3.0 yards per carry. The pressure up front also helped Carleton rack up three sacks and six tackles-for-a-loss against its rival. The Knights' starters along the defensive line were tackles Andrew Wolter and Caleb Hyde and ends Jonathan Rowe and Keenan Hartert.

- The MIAC has three teams ranked 19th or higher in the AFCA Top 25 this week, proving the conference's strength in 2012. St. Thomas is No. 3, Bethel is No. 15 and Concordia is No. 19.

1,034 - Rushing yards this season by Auggie freshman QB Ayrton Scott, which the most in a single season in school history after just seven games.

93.1 - Bethel QB Erik Peterson's completion percentage in Saturday's win, which is a new Royal single-game record. Peterson was 27-of-29 for 315 yards and three TDs.

9 - Receiving TDs by St. Olaf's Stephen Asp, the most in the league and more than one per game.

5 - Hamline LB Patrick Page ranks in the top five in the MIAC in three key defensive categories, total tackles (73), tackles-for-a-loss (7.5) and interceptions (three).

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