September 18, 2013

Poll positions: There's some movement coming

More news about: Linfield | Mary Hardin-Baylor | St. Thomas
Another good week by Linfield and the spread of No. 1 votes could change again, although it's more likely the UMHB-Wesley game will have an impact.
Linfield athletics photo 

After a Week 2 where not much changed in the top 25, we're looking forward at a Week 3 where there's almost guaranteed to be some movement.

No. 5 Wesley travels to No. 4 Mary Hardin-Baylor in the game of the week, and a thorough victory by the Cru might shift some No. 1 votes their way. The 25 voters are currently split four ways among their No. 1 votes -- more than I can ever remember, which makes sense since the poll began in 2003 and has mostly been running during the era of Mount Union and UW-Whitewater dominance.

Eleven votes are going toward those Purple Raiders, with the rest going deeper purple: Seven for No. 2 St. Thomas, six for No. 3 Linfield and one for the Cru. It appears one voter switched from UST to UMU after Week 2, after the split was 13-7-5 Mount Union-St. Thomas-Linfield in the preseason. 

The third-ranked Wildcats host fellow West Coast power Cal Lutheran, ranked No. 22, Saturday as well, so that should influence both the top and the bottom of the poll. No. 15 UW-Whitewater vs. also-receiving-12-votes Buffalo State could cause some movement as well, since someone has to lose and some of those votes are likely to go somewhere else.

A closer look at the points reveals there isn't a lot of bunching in the rankings except at the top, which is opposite of what we're normally used to as well.

Kickoff subscribers got a 1 to 244 ranking, and poking around those might be even more fun. Nobody likes it when everything is just as we expect, and No. 243 Hendrix winning its opener (granted, against No. 239 Westminster, Mo.) nearly beat No. 34 Birmingham Southern as well.

Some of the big upsets to date have involved No. 112 Texas Lutheran winning at No. 60 Trinity (Texas), No. 58 Christopher Newport beating No. 16 Salisbury and No. 137 Stevenson beating No. 52 Albright. 

The Lions, which opened up with a win over preseason No. 50 Kean, dropped 56 places in the Compughter Ratings, which I honestly had never seen before today. But as with all ratings, rankings and polls, any information taken with a grain of salt can reveal some interesting insight.

The up/down movers and shakers are the most interesting part of Compughter to me. Nobody fell further than Albright, though Mount Ida, Simpson and Rhodes each tumbled at least 50 spots as well, but Luther shot up 79 spots -- to 133.

Compughter goes to 235 -- appearing to rule out the NESCAC, although perhaps that's a function of them not having played any games yet. Computer ratings can rank everyone every week, which is perhaps more relevant to the masses given the number of decent teams in D-III and scarcity of elite ones.

As long as we're looking at different ratings for fun and only for fun, there was no need for me to speculate about the top 25 movement in the first few paragraphs. Atomic Football has already predicted the rest of September, so we know Buffalo State has just a 16.9 percent chance of beating visiting UW-Whitewater, and is going to lose 29-16 (which seems reasonable, actually).

Spoiler alert. UMHB wins 34-21, but Wesley bounces back the following week with a 39-21 win at Birmingham-Southern, which has only an 11.2 percent chance of winning that game at home. Linfield beats CLU 45-23, so why don't you go ahead and take your significant other out this Saturday instead.

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Keith McMillan

Keith McMilllan, who has been a columnist for D3football.com since 2000, has provided color commentary on D3football.com's national broadcasts of the Stagg Bowls. He played at Randolph-Macon in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference for four years and covered it for two more.

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