Ranking the conferences, top to bottom

As the season winds down for some, and as we gear up for that second season known as the playoffs, Around the Nation has a few post-Halloween treats for you. 

This week I finally tackled a project I've wanted to take on for a while. Who doesn't wonder where their conference stacks up against the others around the country? In order to give us a guideline for things like speculating on playoff opponents, I've ranked the 27 Division III conferences from strongest to weakest. I consulted with a couple other Division III experts, then compared factors including depth/number of strong teams, historic playoff performance and this season's out-of-conference results. The rankings are based on games played to date and could change as soon as Saturday. 

The finished product, I'm sure, will either spark a lot of message board discussion or feedback. Some might even say such rankings go against the mission of Division III athletics. But, taken for what they're worth, they should also give fans across the nation an idea of how strong football in each area is.

1. Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC): More than just six-time national champion Mount Union. The conference boasts NFL players London Fletcher (Buffalo Bills, John Carroll) and Jamal Robertson (San Francisco 49ers, Ohio Northern). Ohio Northern also won three playoff games in 1999 and 2000 and was eliminated by Mount Union both times. John Carroll should make the playoffs this year and Baldwin-Wallace hasn't had a losing season in 35 years. Marietta, Otterbein and Wilmington, the three teams at the bottom of the OAC standings, each won its out-of-conference game this season.

2. Wisconsin (WIAC): Despite poor playoff performance in the past few years, this is the only conference in Division III where all eight teams are legitimate contenders when the season starts. Shoot, five teams were 3-1 in conference play and alive for the title in late October. The conference's five active NFL players — Detroit's Clint Kriewaldt (Stevens Point) and Bill Schroeder (La Crosse), Kansas City's Mike Maslowski (La Crosse), the Jets' Matt Turk (Whitewater) and Tennessee's Tony Beckham (Stout) — hail from four of its member schools.

3. Northwest (NWC): The six-team conference has sent four of its members (Linfield, Pacific Lutheran, Willamette and Whitworth) to the playoffs in the three years Division III has used the 28-team playoff system, including the 1999 national champion (Pacific Lutheran).

4. College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW): This conference has four playoff-worthy teams at its top: Augustana, Wheaton, Illinois Wesleyan and Milikin. The teams schedule aggressively, playing the best from the WIAC, IIAC, MIAA, UAA and Heartland. CCIW teams have also beaten teams from the SCAC and IBC in compiling a 15-8 out-of-conference record this year, including an 11-3 record among the top five teams.

5. New Jersey (NJAC): Top dog Rowan is a title contender every season, and Montclair State, Cortland State and The College of New Jersey can hang with them most years. Strength will improve when Western Connecticut joins from the Freedom in 2004. Rowan and Cortland have combined to go 7-0 out-of-conference this year, including a win against D-II Millersville, but William Paterson and New Jersey City have combined to go 1-14 overall. 

6. Minnesota (MIAC): St. John's has made four straight trips to the NCAA playoffs; Bethel also went last season. St. Thomas, St. Olaf and Gustavus Adolphus will post winning seasons most years, and Concordia-Moorhead is one of this year's most pleasant surprises. Loss of Macalester to an independent schedule may have improved MIAC's overall strength, but its teams went 1-5 against WIAC and the Tommies lost to St. Norbert of the Midwest. Still, matching the nine-team MIAC's best against eight or nine from most other conferences might net five or six wins.

7. Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC): Six of its 11 teams have made 18 NCAA playoff appearances since 1987, the last time no MAC team went. King's, which restarted its program in 1993, might become the seventh team to go in that span. Lycoming has been eight times, including to the 1997 Stagg Bowl, and Widener (five appearances) made the semifinals in 2000 and quarterfinals in 2001. The MAC also has 15 playoff wins since 1994. However, conference is just 3-4 in out-of-conference play this season.

8. American Southwest (ASC): Young ten-team conference is top-heavy, with three playoff-worthy teams in perennial champion Hardin-Simmons, plus Mary Hardin-Baylor and Howard Payne, both of whom defeated the Cowboys this season. Top three account for wins in conference's 4-6 out-of-conference mark. Eight ASC teams hail from Texas, where football is king.

9. Old Dominion (ODAC): League's profile has risen as Bridgewater has grown into national powerhouse. The Eagles nearly knocked off Mount Union in last year's Stagg Bowl, and are unbeaten this year despite losing its key players. Five of the seven ODAC teams have had an eight-win season or better since 1997, and Hampden-Sydney (6-2) could become the sixth to do it with wins in its final two games this year. ODAC traditionally fares well against opponents from Centennial, Dixie and SCAC, and conference is 17-9 against non-ODAC teams this season. 

10. Iowa (IIAC): Central is a longtime midwestern power which schedules another in Augustana. The Dutch have eliminated WIAC, Northwest and Midwest teams in the past three postseasons, but trail division rivals Coe and Wartburg this season. Simpson is historically tough, Cornell won seven games last season and Buena Vista won 21 games from 1998-2000, proving the ten-team IIAC has depth.

11. Southern Collegiate (SCAC): Trinity has been the seven-team conference's playoff representative for years, even though DePauw, Sewanee, Centre and Millsaps have been competitive. The SCAC is 17-8 against non-conference competition, and seven of those wins have come from Centre and Rhodes, 1-9 in SCAC games this season.

12. North Coast (NCAC): Wittenberg had dominated in- and out-of-conference opponents alike for the past five years or so, before Wabash knocked them off 46-43 this season. The Tigers never got past Mount Union in the playoffs, and the NCAC hasn't been tough beyond Wittenberg in some seasons. Oberlin's 44-game losing streak was the longest in all of the NCAA before it beat NCAC mate Kenyon in October 2001. The Yeomen have since defeated conference rivals Hiram and Denison as well.

13. Centennial (CC): McDaniel (formerly Western Maryland) is a conference powerhouse and frequent playoff representative. League doesn't have much depth beyond Muhlenberg, though it once did. CC teams are 15-9 out-of-conference this season, against members of nine different conferences. The CC's seven teams are 3-1 against the MAC, but just 1-3 against the ODAC. Conference may get two teams into the playoffs this season. After the Centennial, there's a serious dropoff in conference strength.

14. Upstate Collegiate (UCAA): Combined with another five-team upstate New York conference for this season, it would be a top 10 conference. UCAA is tied with Empire 8 in head-to-head matchups 5-5 this season, with two to go. But UCAA gets the nod because its top team, Hobart, beat the Empire 8's best, Ithaca, 17-6. Third-place RPI also edged Hartwick 39-38, so it's still kind of a toss-up. Conference teams are 11-11 in out-of-conference play this year and 1-4 since the playoffs expanded (the win being Hobart's over Bridgewater State in 2000).

15. Empire 8 (E8): Will get a boost when Springfield joins, but for now, best case against UCAA is Hartwick's 42-0 thrashing of Union in a battle of current second-place teams. Ithaca won two playoff games last season with a backup quarterback and without two starting cornerbacks before running into Rowan. E8 teams are 11-12 in out-of-conference play this season, but those games include Ithaca's win over Springfield, the Freedom's top team and Hartwick's win over King's, the MAC leader. Utica, 1-15 in two years of football, has been shutout five times this season but got its first win by beating Mount Ida on Oct. 12.

16. Freedom (FFC): Springfield logged a couple of playoff wins in 2000 and Western Connecticut won in last year's postseason. The Pride sealed the automatic qualifier early this year, but it'll be the second-to-last. Springfield and Norwich are leaving to join the Empire 8; WPI, Coast Guard and Kings Point to the UCAA; and Western Connecticut to the NJAC starting with the 2004 season. FFC is just 10-12 out-of-conference this season, including Ithaca rolling Springfield and Muhlenberg crushing Kings Point. The playoff wins put this conference a few spots higher than it should be.

17. Midwest (MWC): It's mostly been St. Norbert's show in this conference, and the Green Knights have had three consecutive seasons end with first-round exits. St. Norbert appeared to take a big step forward by beating St. Thomas in its opener. Ripon has been a solid challenger in the 10-team conference and Lake Forest is 8-1 and in the hunt this season. MWC teams are 5-5 in out-of-conference play this year.

18. Michigan (MIAA): Six-team conference, oldest in NCAA history, added a seventh this season and will receive an automatic qualifier in 2003. MIAA had no playoff representative in 2001. Teams were bounced in the first round (Hope 20-3 in 2000, Alma 42-19 in 1999). Albion won the national title in 1994, but since then conference is 0-4 in playoffs. Conference is 17-12 in out-of-conference play this year, but two of top teams suffered 44-7 and 35-6 out-of-conference losses.

19. Heartland (HCAC): Defending co-champions (Defiance and Anderson) are 7-10 this year and a team that lost 16 in a row before this season (Mt. St. Joseph) can still win this year's title. But Hanover proved its worthiness by beating Washington & Jefferson last weekend, and Anderson logged a big win in its opener against Capital, an top-half OAC team. Conference is 12-14 in non-HCAC games.

20. Presidents' (PAC): Essentially a one-trick pony with Washington & Jefferson headed for its 16th PAC title in 17 seasons. Six-team conference is just 10-12 out of conference, but conference members play opponents from Ohio, Indiana, upstate New York, Virginia and Maryland, including Hanover, McDaniel, Union and Brockport State. R.J. Bowers, NCAA all-time leading rusher with 7,353 yards, hailed from PAC's Grove City.

21. Illini-Badger (IBC): Conference teams are 6-15 out-of-conference, and that's with top two MacMurray and Concordia-Wisconsin going 4-1. The 8-0 Highlanders or 8-1 Falcons may get the conference its first win under the 28-team format this season, but they might also be the only two teams among the eight to post winning records this season.

22. Atlantic Central (ACFC): Members of four-team conference post an outstanding 17-6 out-of-conference mark, but conference lacks depth with only three full-fledged members of Division III. Wesley made the playoffs in 2000, before four of seven conference teams left to join Dixie. ACFC hasn't forgotten, apparently: ACFC teams are 9-0 against Dixie teams this season. All four teams are .500 or above eight game into the season, and Salisbury has a chance to make some noise in the playoffs. We'd also like to see the ACFC adopt some of the east's independents or Freedom Conference leftovers and form a larger conference with an automatic qualifier.

23. New England (NEFC): Thirteen teams are split into two divisions, and it's the only Division III conference with a title game. That game decides the automatic qualifier, and this year's (Mass-Dartmouth or Westfield State) could earn the conference's first-ever playoff victory. Since 1973, when Division III first hosted a football championship, a NEFC team first made the playoffs when the field expanded to 28 in 1999. Teams' out-of-conference games usually consist of NEFC opponents from the other division. We're entering a class of conferences that carry the "academics first" flag high for Division III. There's a testament to that, called "Why we play Division III athletics," on the Bridgewater State Web site.

24. New England Small College (NESCAC): The NESCAC and its presidents, who say they "remain committed to keeping a proper perspective on the role of sport in higher education" allow its football teams to play only the other eight members of the conference in a short season. No playoff participation is permitted in football, though the conference's teams in sports such as tennis, women's lacrosse, women's rowing, cross country and track won national championships last year. But, this is small-college football at its finest. The conference boasts seven rivalries of 100 meetings or more, two three-team title chases (the CBB between Bates, Bowdoin and Colby and the Little Three between Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams) and The Old Rocking Chair game between Hamilton and Middlebury.

25. Southern California (SCIAC): Conference's most recent playoff representative was LaVerne in 1994, but Claremont-Mudd-Scripps has an opportunity to rewrite history this season. SCIAC teams are 11-10 in non-conference games this season, but have not fared well against the best (Muhlenberg, Linfield, Willamette) from other Division III conferences. Some teams have put up big numbers and Danny Ragsdale won the 1999 Gagliardi Trophy.

26. University (UAA): Washington U. has been traditionally tough, but all four teams are middle-of-the-road this year. Case Western is putting up big offensive numbers, and Carnegie Mellon has had good years. League looks like an NFL Division with four teams located in big cities (St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Chicago). Amos Alonzo Stagg, namesake of the Division III championship game and godfather of modern football, started the program at Chicago and coached there for 41 years, until 1932.

27. Dixie (DIAC): Dixie teams are a dreadful 3-20 in out-of-conference games this season, and one of those wins came at the expense of Gallaudet, the Washington, D.C., university for the hearing impaired which has not defeated a Division III opponent since 1991. Conference leader Ferrum, who plays Salisbury this weekend and may get the DIAC AQ, is 0-3 out-of-conference. But most of the Dixie's teams are growing programs (Greensboro's first season was 1997, Averett and Shenandoah were 2000, Christopher Newport's was 2001) with good facilities, coaching and support. That means this conference should be on the rise in years to come. 

TV winners
Aside from ESPN2's broadcast of the Stagg Bowl each year, it's rare for Division III athletes and fans to find the games we love on television. NESCAC games are often televised on NESN and the ODAC got three of its games and six of its teams on a Roanoke television station this season. The MIAC magazine show premiered on Fox Sports Net in October, and several others schools have their games aired on tape delay in their local market.

With the founders of ESPN Classic set to launch an all-college-sports network in 2003 (for more info, e-mail fans@cstv.com), there is some hope. We may see Division III sports on the network at some point, although it seems right now that the network will just focus on Division I-A, I-AA football and Division I sports that don't get much TV coverage.

A few weeks back, I asked you all what you thought of the prospect of a Division III television network. Would you watch it? Could it survive? Would it ruin the spirit of Division III? Here's what you had to say:

"In today's society sports seem to be a positive outlet that help people get away from negativty. The less diluted the sporting event, the more passionate sports fans in America will become. Big college sports has so many issues with being authentic, starting with the polls, and it seems to have integrity problems with every other aspect as well. Division III sports are a much more pure, undiluted form of athletics that I believe people can relate to and in time will attract a market similar to what minor league baseball receives. I would really like to see a channel for D-III sports."
— Adrian Rollins 

"I think that there would be definite interest in a D-III TV station. If D-III had its own TV station, maybe it could be done like FoxSports is now. Every region gets its own mini-station that could highlight regional matchups, and then a corresponding national sports network. That way, everyone could see some of the marquee matchups."
— Mike Tomcsi, California

"Hell yes I would watch a D-III TV Channel. I have the sports package on DirecTV and what does it get me? 35 channels of Fox SportsNet that all show the same show. I see all of the smack that gets talked on Post Patterns and that is all I really have to see how good most of these teams are. For most of the fans we hear how great a game at St. John's is, but never will get to see what the hype is about. The best week of the season is the last week because I can watch the game on ESPN and see at least one team not from Ohio. I could only imagine what it would be like to have all of the playoff games televised..."
— Ben Lewis

"Bring it on! I'd be interested in football and basketball featuring D-III teams from all over the country, especially the OAC."
- Jim Chester, 55, South Carolina

"If a cable company offered D-III football or D-III sports, yes I'd watch it. I hope it comes about sometime. Perhaps ESPN can offer it as a special channel." 
— Wellington Watts, Virginia

"Keith, I would watch all the D-III football made possible by Cable TV. In addition, I would watch other D-III sports as well — especially basketball, volleyball, baseball and hockey."
— Mark Hudson, CNU

"I would love to watch D-III sports. If the game of the week were aired each week, it would be great. Realistically, though, I don't know if it would survive. People would get confused between the University of Wisconsin (Madison) they see in Big 10 play and the WIAC teams; the same holds true for every conference."
— Matthew Vanderloop, Wisconsin

"Yes, I would definitely watch D-III football games on TV if available. I have DirecTV so I can watch NFL Sunday Ticket. I would be willing to pay for a package similar to ESPN's GamePlan for Division I, if D-III were to offer such a package. But even one channel, devoted to D-III would interest me. Now for the other sports, I doubt I'd watch very much. Maybe some basketball, maybe my daughter would be into volleyball, but I wouldn't commit to watching many sports other than football."
— Ron Shifler

"Every December I look forward to the D-III Football championship game on ESPN2 (if it is Rowan then I am in Salem watching my alma mater). But I am a D-III junkie and I am an advocate for D-III sports, and the colleges in general. As a high school counselor in the south it is difficult to convince students that they can receive a quality education at a D-III institution and witness some of the best, and most competitive, sports in the U.S. One of the reasons for this, with the exception of a comment or two (Linda Cohn from ESPN graduated from a D-III college and Mike Tirico from ESPN went to Syracuse but is well aware of D-III), is the lack of any television exposure that D-III receives and I, for one, would definitely watch the channel and support it any way I can. Whether it is baseball in Marietta, football and basketball in Salem, soccer in Glassboro, I will watch D-III sports." 
— Patrick Cox

"I believe that me and 4 million other fans of D-III football would be tuning in to watch D-III football. Since there are at least 4 million people who take the time to go to this Web site, there would be more than half that watching D-III football. I am surprised that there isn't one already. If I were you, I would just televise football games to see if it brings in productive results, which I am positive will happen. Your audience will include D-III players, coaches (college, pros), alumni, prospective high school students, parents, family... the list goes on. It will also provide D-III football with more popularity. I insist that you have a D-III football channel; it would not only survive but prosper."
— Matt C., Springfield College

"Although I'd love to see Division III football on cable, it would be rare that I would watch any other sport. As it stands today, I primarily watch football and volleyball at the Division I level, adding basketball and hockey during their respective NCAA tourneys."
— Barney Kaufman

"A Division III television channel is something I would watch. As an avid Rowan fan (Glassboro State '69,'75) and a pioneer of their football program, I would love the opportunity to follow them on TV. Last evening my wife and I traveled to TCNJ and witnessed a magnificent game! I wished I could have watched a re-broadcast." 
— John Mazzei, New Jersey

"Televising the 'better teams' in D-III would be just as entertaining, maybe even more so, than televising I-A and I-AA games, especially in the local markets. What fan of a local or nearby D-III team wouldn't want to see the team play on TV? Needless to say, it would be a heck of a lot more entertaining than most of the garbage that's being shown now."
— Paul [last name withheld]

"I would definitely support the football — any School. But ... On the other sports it would have to be showing a team in the same conference/proximity to my alma mater, W&J, for me to be interested … I'd probably watch Philly-area D-III teams, too — because I grew up/now live there. The internet radio thing is great. I listen to the W&J games all the time. I only got to read about them before. Now with a high-speed cable modem I could even get a video feed if they started doing them (then we don't need the TV)."
— Jim Dornberger 

Question & Answer
Most weeks I get e-mailed 5-10 questions about random teams around the country, varying from 'what are their playoff chances' to 'when am I gonna see some pub on my squad?' So I offered to do it publicly this week, and I got just one, and I'm not even sure if it was because I asked. In any case, here's the question and answer:

Q: "Keith - I have been arguing with the Ithaca fans on the independent post patterns all week. I believe Hobart's team is a legitimately good football team capable of running the table and being successful in the playoffs.
But, my opinion has been met with claims that Hobart plays a soft schedule and that leaves them unprepared when they face the likes of the Bombers and such. The Ithaca supporters have gone as far as to predict a blowout this weekend in favor of Ithaca. Coach Cragg and his staff have busted their rear-ends to build that program up. What must the Statesmen have to do to get some respect around here? Please give me your take on this subject."
— Jim Martineck

A: Jim, it looks like your boys took care of this before I could. The best way to handle anything is on the field, and Hobart's 17-6 win over Ithaca on Saturday. Holding the Bombers to one score and keeping the ball for 37 minutes is impressive. On the larger scale, can Hobart win out and win in the playoffs? Closing out with wins over St. John Fisher and RPI won't be easy, but if they do they're a lock to make the playoffs. The playoffs, in Division III, are all about matchups, though you'll eventually have to go through two or three top-flight teams to win it all (which is what makes Division III great). Looking at Pat's most recent projection, the list of possible first-round opponents (Salisbury, Springfield, Westfield State and Muhlenberg) would seem to favor the Statesmen, but they'll have to face the music if they face Rowan.

Your feedback
Readers, you've been a great part of Around the Nation this year. Let's not stop now! I want your input on three more things: 

1. Briefly, tell me about the best rivalries in Division III. Next week, we'll feature our favorites and print what you have to say. Don't forget to include your name, age, home state, and favorite team when you write in, using our feedback form.

2. This is your last chance to point out to me good players playing for bad teams. I want to hear about the top players succeeding below the radar, so we can shout them out next week.

3. I'm looking for four knowledgeable fans, preferably fans of teams who will not make the playoffs, to join the D3football.com staff and our guest experts in handicapping the playoff field this year. The Around the Nation prior to the first week of the playoffs will feature these picks. For an example of what I'm looking for, see last year's column: 

Use the feedback form to contact me.

Games to Watch
No. 2 Bridgewater (Va.) at Randolph-Macon: Though no one's come close to last year's Stagg Bowl runners-up, the 6-2 Yellow Jackets are the last challenger between the Eagles and the ODAC crown. A Yellow Jacket win would make its 108th meeting Hampden-Sydney (also 6-2) very relevant, and could send Bridgewater to pool C. Though R-MC, whose eight games have each been decided by eight points or less, the Eagles are expected to roll through Ashland.

Sewanee at No. 3 Trinity (Texas): These are two of three SCAC teams with Tigers as their mascot, and Sewanee played Hampden-Sydney, also the Tigers. Sewanee, a.k.a. The University of the South, has pretty much made a habit of winning one week, losing the next, and guess what? It's their week to lose. At least they can take solace in the fact that they have what may be the sweetest promotional poster in Division III, a movie-style play off 'Band of Brothers.'

Whitworth at No. 7 Linfield: The Wildcats host the team they believe knocked them out of last year's playoff picture in another 'if you can't get up for this game…" contest. Linfield won 23-16 last season, but Whitworth went to the playoffs. We covered Linfield in last week's Around the Nation. The Scott Biglin-led, comeback-happy Pirates have this year's playoff hopes on life support and need a win. 

No. 8 Hanover at Mt. St. Joseph: One wouldn't think it'll be much of a game, given that Hanover is playoff-bound and the Lions came into the season on a 16-game losing streak. A Lion win would give them a share of their first-ever Heartland crown. Hanover is coming off big wins over Anderson and Washington & Jefferson.

Lake Forest at No. 11 St. Norbert: This is the one they've all been waiting for in the Midwest Conference, David vs. Goliath. Aside from the Foresters' 35-30 loss at Knox, neither of these teams has been beaten. This game used to be played in late October, and it's St. Norbert's second consecutive home game in the series. The Green Knights rolled up more than 700 yards of offense last year and have won 15 in a row over the Foresters, who can get into the playoffs with a win. If St. Norbert wants to prove it is ready to advance in the postseason, they have to take care of business at home.

No. 14 UW-Stout at UW-Whitewater: Stout is in the WIAC driver's seat, at 4-1 and having beaten Eau Claire already, but they finish with Whitewater and La Crosse. Given the way they've beaten solid opponents, their overtime loss at Platteville seems kind of flukish, but then again, Whitewater's four losses have come to Mount Union, St. John's, Eau Claire and Stevens Point, so who knows what to make of it?

No. 15 UW-Eau Claire at UW-La Crosse: It looks like Eau Claire and Stout are finally separating themselves from the WIAC pack, which of course means keep a close eye on what La Crosse does this weekend. Both teams are 4-1 in the conference and in the hunt for a playoff bid. The Eagles' losses have come to I-AA Drake, Illinois Wesleyan and UW-Whitewater. The Blugolds have won five in a row since a 39-14 loss to UW-Stout.

No. 17 Salisbury at Ferrum: The ACFC's top team takes on the Dixie's leader in a showdown that the Sea Gulls need much more than the Panthers, who can clinch a playoff berth by beating Christopher Newport next week. Salisbury (8-0) beat Wesley by three in their toughest game to date. They close with 5-3 Frostburg, and they need wins to stay in the Pool B picture.

No. 20 MacMurray at Concordia (Wis.): Another winner-take-all game, this one for the IBC crown and AQ. Following the Highlanders' 19-18 win over Aurora, this is the title game. Falcons have allowed one touchdown in the past five weeks. MacMurray's 15-game IBC win streak also on the line.

Alma at Adrian: The 26th-ranked Scots can seal the MIAA title with their ninth straight win. It'll quite likely earn them a playoff berth too. Adrian, fresh off a 31-21 win over Albion, can get in on the MIAA title with a win and a season-finale victory at Kalamazoo.

Williams at Amherst: The longest rivalry in Division III again has the NESCAC title on the line in that conference's final week. The Lord Jeffs and Ephs began playing each other in 1881, this being the 117th meeting.

Knox at Monmouth: Not far behind, the fourth-longest rivalry in Division III at 113 games has the oldest symbol of any rivalry in the division: The Bronze Turkey.

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Pomona-Pitzer: One of the stranger rivalries you'll find. When do you ever get five different schools playing at once? CMS is actually Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College and Scripps College, three of the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges. Pomona College and Pitzer College are the other two. Students can take classes at any of the other schools, which also share some facilities and services. How they decide who plays for which team is beyond me. One difference: CMS is a member of the SCIAC, P-P is independent, but is going back to SCIAC play next year.

Also keep an eye on: Gustavus Adolphus at St. Olaf, St. Thomas at Concordia-Moorhead, Trinty (Conn.) at Wesleyan, Westfield State at Curry, Carnegie Mellon at Washington U., Hobart at St. John Fisher, Moravian at Susquehanna, TCNJ at Brockport State, Union at Muhlenberg, Widener at Juniata, Cornell at Central, Simpson at Wartburg, PLU at Menlo.

Adam Turer

Adam Turer graduated in 2006 from Washington and Lee University, where he was a two-year starter at free safety. He lives in Cincinnati and covers area high school sports in addition to his full-time job as an attorney. Adam has contributed to D3football.com since 2007 and is in his second season writing Around the Nation after spending four seasons writing Around the Mid-Atlantic.

2014-2015 columnist: Ryan Tipps.
2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

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Several teams remained undefeated by following a familiar formula: get the ball in your best...
September 14, 2017
Back from hiatus
Three former All-Region players spent 2016 on the sidelines. One was actually on the sidelines after...
September 10, 2017
How to pull off an upset
It takes aggression. Fourth downs, fake punts, and two-point conversions all factored into the...
September 7, 2017
Digging in for Duke
Muhlenberg head coach Mike Donnelly has been forced to the sidelines this year as he fights acute...
September 3, 2017
Remembering how to win again
Week One did not disappoint. Snap Judgments returns, getting you caught up on the Top 25 upsets,...
August 31, 2017
This season signifies one last shot at Salem
If you've never been to Salem for the Stagg Bowl, 2017 will be your last chance, at least for a...
December 20, 2016
Year in review: The year everything changed
We had a brand-new Division III national champion for the first time since 2007. Mount Union lost a...
November 17, 2016
Playoff picks, surprises, disappointments
Around the Nation has assembled a team of prognosticators for an annual look at who might surprise...
November 13, 2016
Snap Judgments: Hellos and goodbyes
Today is going to be bittersweet for many. We take a look at the teams that announced their arrival...
November 10, 2016
Out of the darkness, light
Sometimes, things don’t go your way. Sometimes, your highest expectations are crushed by...
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