ST. PAUL, Minn. --
After a wild week 10, much has been decided in the MIAC with one
week left to play. St. Thomas got a big win and a little help to
lock up its third-straight MIAC championship, and now it sets its
sights on a third-straight 10-0 regular season. Meanwhile, Bethel
and Concordia's postseason hopes both took a hit, and St. Olaf
joined the ranks of seven-win teams to set up an exciting week 11
with a lot still on the line in the standings, and in the
Third-ranked St. Thomas scored its most dramatic win in conference play Saturday, beating then-No. 16-ranked Concordia 21-7 in Moorhead to lock up at least a share of the MIAC title. Then, thanks to St. Olaf's 24-17 upset of then No. 12-ranked Bethel, the Tommies could call themselves outright champs and punch their ticket to the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
Now, last week's upset-minded Oles are what stands between St. Thomas and another undefeated regular season. Last year, the Tommies became the first MIAC team in history to go 10-0 in back-to-back years, so a win Saturday could add another significant chapter to UST's current legacy. QB Matt O'Connell led the way in the win with nearly 300 total yards and Brenton Braddock added 75 yards and a score on the ground, while Ayo Idowu led a strong defensive effort that held Concordia to single digits for the first time all year.
Saturday, the Tommies will face a confident team with an elite senior signal-caller that is fresh off a big upset win. Dan Dobson leads the MIAC as the only QB with more than 2,000 passing yards to this point, and he has an incredible 22 TD passes against just six interceptions. He'll have to make some big plays in the passing game and the Ole defense will need a similar effort to last week, when they limited the Royals to just 157 total yards.
Speaking of Bethel, the No. 22-ranked Royals will try to rebound Saturday against a Saint John's team that is hitting its stride late in the season for the second year in a row. A win assures the Royals a share of second place and a shot at an at-large bid, while a win for the Johnnies would help them finish on a four-game winning streak and .500 in conference play. Bethel's Seth Mathis is coming off his second Defensive Player-of-the-Week performance of the season, and SJU All-American defensive back Bobby Fischer will look to add to his league-leading six interceptions in his final game.
Concordia will also try to rebound with a road test against Gustavus, which is coming off a big MIAC win a week ago against Carleton. Both teams run the ball exceptionally well so the clock could certainly move in this one, as the Cobbers try to keep their stake in second place and a shot at the Playoffs alive. Meanwhile, in St. Peter, the Gusties hope to close with some serious momentum coming off one of their best performances of the season. Concordia running back Brett Baune needs two TDs to equal Cobber Head Coach Terry Horan and his school record of 33 career scores. Gustavus counters with RB Jeff Dubose, who ran for 143 yards and three scores last week.
Carleton and Augsburg take their season-ending game indoors, as the two will meet on the turf at the HHH Metrodome and Mall of America Field. Auggie freshman sensation Ayrton Scott needs just 28 passing yards to add a 2,000-yard passing season to his 1,000-yard rushing season, while the Knights will aim to bottle up the dynamic first-year player with a good defense led by Mike Elder and his 100 tackles.
The outstanding MIAC season - which began with two perfect (13-0) weeks against nonconference foes - ends this weekend with six of the league's nine teams guaranteed to finish .500 or better. If Augsburg can get a win against Carleton, the league would have more than half its teams - five - with at least seven wins, and a Saint John's upset of Bethel would mean six teams with at least six wins.
The final game on the MIAC Week 11 schedule is a nonconference rivalry between Hamline and Macalester. The MIAC enters the game with a near-perfect 16-1 record in out-of-league games this season, so a Piper win would lock up a 17-1 nonconference record for the league's nine teams. The Scots have lost to a pair of MIAC schools this season, Carleton and Augsburg, so Hamline is trying to make it a clean sweep. Saturday's game in St. Paul will also be the final coach of the John Pate era, as the school announced Thursday its head coach is moving on.
The rest of the MIAC Football Week 11 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 as the sun sets on another tremendous season of MIAC football.
FOOTBALL WEEK 11 - SCHEDULE AND LINKS
| Scoreboard & Statistics | Standings | Composite Schedule |
ST. OLAF (7-2, 5-2) AT NO. 3 ST. THOMAS (9-0, 7-0) - St. Paul, Minn. - 1:10 p.m.
On the web: UST Radio: WCCO 830 AM (Listen Live) | Web cast | Live Stats | Radio: KDHL 920 AM |
SAINT JOHN'S (5-4, 3-4) AT NO. 22 BETHEL (7-2, 5-2) - Arden Hills, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: BU Live Stats/Webcast | SJU Radio: WBHR 660 AM (St. Cloud); KOWZ 1170 AM (Owatonna); WLOL 1330 AM (Twin Cities) | Audio Web cast |
CONCORDIA (7-2, 5-2) AT GUSTAVUS (2-6, 1-5) - St. Peter, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: GAC Radio: KNUJ 860 AM (New Ulm); KRDS 95.5 FM (New Prague) | Web cast | Live stats |
CARLETON (3-6, 1-6) AT AUGSBURG (6-3, 4-3) - Minneapolis, Minn. (HHH Metrodome) - 1 p.m.
On the web: AUG Web cast | Live stats | CAR Radio: KQCL 95.9 FM |
MACALESTER (5-4) AT HAMLINE (1-8, 0-8) - St. Paul, Minn. - 1 p.m.
On the web: HU Web cast | Live stats |
IN THE POLLS
St. Thomas' big win helped it stay in the top three in this week's AFCA Coaches' Poll. The Tommies still sit at No. 3 behind No. 1 Mount Union and No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor. After losing to UST, Concordia dropped seven spots from No. 16 to No. 23, and Bethel fell from No. 13 to No. 25 after losing to St. Olaf.
St. Thomas held strong to its No. 4 spot this week in the D3football.com Top 25, while the other two MIAC teams remained in the top 25 despite slipping several spots. Bethel dropped 10 spots from No. 12 to No. 22, and Concordia was right behind the Royals, moving from No. 17 to No. 23.
| AFCA Division III Coaches' Poll | D3Football.com Top 25 |
St. Thomas quarterback Matt O'Connell claimed the MIAC Football Offensive Player-of-the-Week honors, after leading the Tommies to a MIAC title-clinching win over then-No. 16-ranked Concordia. The sophomore had nearly 300 total yards and two touchdowns in UST's 21-7 win. Bethel's Seth Mathis grabbed his second MIAC Defensive Player-of-the-Week award with 14 tackles, a pass breakup and an intercpetion he returned 56 yards for a score in the Royals' loss to St. Olaf Saturday. Saint John's kicker Jimmie Mattson also won his second MIAC special teams weekly honor of the season - and fifth of his career - as he nailed all seven PATs and both field goal attempts to help SJU beat Hamline Saturday. In addition, St. Thomas' Ayo Idowu was honored with a spot on the D3football.com Team-of-the-Week after his 10-tackle, three tackle-for-a-loss performance in the Tommies' win at Concordia.
| MIAC Football Athletes-of-the-Week | D3football.com Team-of-the-Week |
The Gustavus offensive lined helped pave the way for a 41-27 win over Carleton Saturday and nearly 200 yards on the ground in the process. The Gusties ran for 196 yards on 39 carries - a 5.0 average - in addition to 297 passing yards in the MIAC win. Gustavus also ran for four touchdowns, and controlled the clock with 33:18 time of possession. The Gusties' starters up front were center David Gschneidner, guards Marcus Kelly and Lyle Opdahl and tackles Brian Grundmeyer and Wyatt Adams.
Saturday, St. Olaf stunned then-No. 12-ranked Bethel with a 24-17 upset, with a lot of the credit going to the Oles' defensive effort against the Royals' running game. St. Olaf limited Bethel to just 38 rushing yards on 21 carries Saturday and just an average gain of 1.8 yards. The Oles managed four tackles-for-a-loss and two fumble recoveries to slow the ground-oriented Royals enough to pull off the win. St. Olaf's starters up front were nose tackle Kyle Foster, defensive tackles Dustin Heiser and ends Taylor Winbush and Lordson Jonassaint.
5 - The MIAC has a good shot to finish with five teams winning at least seven games in 2012. St. Thomas, Concordia, Bethel and St. Olaf are already there, with Augsburg sitting at six wins heading into Saturday. The MIAC is guaranteed to have two-thirds of its teams (6-of-9) finish .500 or better.
17-1, 16-2 - The MIAC's tremendous nonconference season will either finish with a near-perfect 17-1 record against out of conference opponents, or it will end up 16-2. Hamline hosts Macalester Saturday in the league's final nonconference game of 2012.
67.6 - Rushing yards per game allowed by St. Thomas - tops in the league, and the only MIAC team surrendering less than 100 yards per game on the ground.
2,185 - Passing yards by St. Olaf's Dan Dobson, who is the only MIAC QB above 2,000 yards this season after 10 weeks. However, with just 28 more passing yards, Augsburg QB Ayrton Scott will join the 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards club in 2012.
42-for-42 - Identical perfect PAT numbers for SJU kicker Jimmie Mattson, and Concordia kicker Benjamin Wagner.
2 - Players with 100 or more tackles this season. Hamline's Patrick Page leads the league with 111 stops, and Carleton's Mike Elder is second with an even 100.