MIAC Football Preview - 2012 Week 10

MIAC Football Preview - 2012 Week 10

11/1/2012 - http://miac-online.org/news/2012/11/1/FOOTBALL_1101125613.aspx


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The MIAC football season enters its second-to-last weekend with a pair of huge games featuring the league's top four teams headlining the Week 10 schedule. Much will be determined Saturday, including clarity at the top of the standings, and a better idea of the MIAC championship picture.

The biggest game of the weekend - and perhaps the season - will take place in Moorhead, Minn., as No. 3 St. Thomas takes its perfect record (8-0, 6-0) on the road to face an outstanding Concordia team, ranked No. 16 in the nation and with just a single, one-point loss keeping it from being unbeaten as well. A Tommie win means at least a share of a third-straight MIAC championship and the league's automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Division III Playoffs, while a Concordia upset could create a three-way tie for the title.

If the Cobbers, Tommies and Royals all end up 9-1 overall and 7-1 in league play, all would be 1-1 against the tied teams, and the automatic bid would likely be decided by the MIAC's third tiebreaker criteria, which is margin of victory against tied teams. Since St. Thomas beat Bethel 37-0 and the Royals handed Concordia a 15-14 loss, the
Cobbers will need to beat UST by 19 points to even things out with the Tommies.

Statistically, St. Thomas and Concordia have a lot in common. Both defenses are good, allowing less than three touchdowns (14.4 for St. Thomas, 20.2 ppg for Concordia) and 316 total yards per game (262.6 for UST, 315.2 for CC). The two are dead even in offensive scoring, with UST averaging 38.2 points per game and Concordia right behind at 38.1, with both averaging more than 425 yards per game of total offense. It will be an unusual clash of strength vs. strength on both sides of the ball in a fascinating head-to-head, high-stakes matchup.

Individually, Concordia's Griffin Neal is coming off his best game at quarterback after accounting for five total touchdowns a week ago. The Cobbers will also turn to bruising runner Brett Baune, who ranks in the top two in the conference in rushing yards (874) and touchdowns (nine). St. Thomas QB Matt O'Connell, who has also emerged as one of the league's top dual threats, didn't play last week and his availability could be a big key. The Tommies have gotten great production in the run game recently, with Jack Kaiser running for 110 yards a week ago, and Brenton Braddock also coming on strong.

The MIAC's other marquee matchup features the 12th-ranked Bethel team (7-1, 5-1) heading to St. Olaf (6-2, 4-2) in a rematch of one of last season's classic games. The Oles drove down for a last-minute, game-winning touchdown, and this year both teams are fighting for position among the top of the MIAC standings yet again. Bethel RB Brandon Marquardt is coming off a huge game after scoring three TDs and racking up 189 total yards last week, while St. Olaf continues to ride the strong arm ofDan Dobson, who leads the MIAC with 1,958 passing yards and a 68.3 completion percentage, as well as 19 TDs against just four picks.

Gustavus and Carleton will square off on the Knights home field in a meeting of two teams tied at 1-5 in the conference standings. Saint John's looks for its third-straight win and a chance to clinch another .500 season when it travels to St. Paul to face Hamline, and Augsburg will put the MIAC's stellar nonconference record on the line this weekend when it steps outside the conference to take on Macalester, as both teams enter with identical 5-3 overall records.

The rest of the MIAC Football Week 10 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 |

NO. 3 ST. THOMAS (8-0, 6-0) AT NO. 16 CONCORDIA (7-1, 5-1) - Moorhead, Minn. - 1:10 p.m.
On the web: Concordia Live Stats/Broadcast | St. Thomas Radio: WCCO 830 AM (Listen Live) | Web cast |

NO. 12 BETHEL (7-1, 5-1) AT ST. OLAF (6-2, 4-2) - Northfield, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: St. Olaf Radio: KDHL 920 AM | Web cast | Live stats |

GUSTAVUS (2-6, 1-5) AT CARLETON (3-5, 1-5) - Northfield, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: Carleton Radio: KQCL 95.9 FM | Web cast | Live stats | Radio: KNUJ 860 AM (New Ulm); KRDS 95.5 FM (New Prague) |

SAINT JOHN'S (4-4, 2-4) AT HAMLINE (1-7, 0-7) - St. Paul, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: Hamline Web cast | Live stats | Radio: WBHR 660 AM (St. Cloud); KOWZ 1170 AM (Owatonna); WLOL 1330 AM (Twin Cities) | Audio Web cast |

AUGSBURG (5-3, 4-3) AT MACALESTER (5-3) - St. Paul, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: Augsburg Audio Web cast | Macalester Webcast/Live Stats |

The MIAC's three ranked teams continue to rise, heightening the stakes and the suspense as the end of the season draws near. St. Thomas remains the third-ranked team in the nation in the AFCA Division III Coaches' Poll, with Bethel jumping two spots to No. 13 and Concordia leaping three places to No. 16, giving the MIAC a highly-ranked trio atop its standings.

The same three teams appear in the Top 17 of the D3football.com Top 25. The Tommies are currently ranked fourth in the nation, Bethel moved up two places in that poll as well to reach No. 12, and Concordia made a big jump this week - up five spots from No. 22 to No. 17.

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

Concordia QB Griffin Neal accounted for nearly 300 yards and five total TDs in the Cobbers' win Saturday to earn MIAC Football Offensive Player-of-the-Week honors. Defensive honors went to Saint John's Maze Thompson, who made 12 tackles, a sack, three TFLs and blocked a punt in the Johnnies' big win Saturday. The weekly special teams honor went to Bethel's Landen Strilzuk for his 70-yard punt return for a touchdown in the Royal's victory on Saturday.

| MIAC Football Athletes-of-the-Week |

A week after doing most of its damage through the air, Bethel got back to what it does best - move the ball on the ground - with its line paving the way for a big day against Hamline. The Royals ran for 262 yards in the win on 36 carries - an outstanding 7.3 yards per carry average - with Brandon Marquardt leading the way with 142 yards and two scores. The Bethel starters up front were: center Josh Wolfe, guards Nathan Smith and Jared Penz and tackles Bubba Friedlund and Jeff Schmidt.

Though Carleton's fourth-quarter rally came up short in a 27-20 loss to rival St. Olaf Saturday, the Knights did a good job against the Olaf running game, holding their rivals to under 100 yards and just 3.0 yards per carry. St. Olaf managed just 92 yards on 31 carries against Carleton, and the Knights accounted for three sacks and six tackles-for-a-loss. Carleton's starters along the line were: defensive tackles Andrew Wolter and Caleb Hyde and defensive ends Keenan Hartert and Jonathan Rowe.

- Consecutive regular season games won by St. Thomas. The third-ranked Tommies put that record on the line this weekend with a tough road test at No. 16-ranked Concordia.

5x5 - Five teams in the MIAC have at least five wins through nine weeks, with one more - Saint John's - at 4-4 heading into the final two weeks of the season. It's entirely possible that six teams - or two-thirds of the conference - could all finish above .500 with six wins each.

42.2 - Yards per punt average for Hamline's John Broback, which leads the conference. His 40 punts and 1,687 yards also rank first in the MIAC.

11 - Total touchdowns for St. Olaf running back Michael Thai - who leads the league in scoring with 66 points, and 8.2 points per game.

1 - MIAC rank of Saint John's defensive back Bobby Fischer in both interceptions and pass breakups. Fischer is tied for the league lead with four picks, and his eight breakups are the most in the conference.