September 29, 2013

Snap judgments: Look away from the Top 25 scores

Cornell has been much more competitive in its return to the Midwest Conference.
Cornell athletics photo 

At first glance -- like say, the scores page, with the Top 25 scores the initial finals that catch the eye -- Week 4 was every bit as stinky as we expected it to be.

Mount Union and Franklin scored in the 80s. Linfield probably had more trouble flying into Cleveland than it did with Case Western Reserve's offense, allowing 89 yards in a 45-0 win. And those weren't even the most stifling defensive numbers for a top 25 team. Wabash allowed just 55 yards in a 65-0 win at Allegheny.

UW-Whitewater won 65-0 as well, Wittenberg 59-0 and Wesley outscored Birmingham-Southern 37-0 ... in the first quarter. UW-Oshkosh won 56-3, Bethel won 58-12, Heidelberg 66-12. Whichever way you looked, it was mostly ugly.

But beneath the surface, as you might expect when there are 96 games on the weekend docket, some memorable contests took place. Lycoming and Widener added another chapter to their rivalry, WPI made it three out of the past four for the Transit Trophy, Rowan scored early and ... never again in a 7-0 win against Montclair State. And there wasn't even an East Coast monsoon to blame.

Alfred trailed at Brockport State 28-0 at the half, matched the Golden Eagles' 28 in the second half and won in overtime. And that wasn't even the best rally of the day.

Worcester State trailed Mass. Maritime 41-14 after a 100-yard interception return late in the second quarter, scored six straight touchdowns to go ahead 58-41, then fell behind 63-58 with 1:10 left. Worcester State, which beat WPI on a TD pass in the final minute in Week 2, scored as time ran out to win 64-63. And that might not have been the best score-as-time-ran-out.

Rochester went all #burntheboats on us, giving up the go-ahead touchdown with 49 seconds left, scoring as time ran out AND going for two AND converting it to win 36-35.

All that is to say it wasn't such a bad week after all.

Here are five more things that came to mind as the scores rolled in on Saturday:

• I think Ohio Wesleyan is really going to regret the loss to Denison (which was also one of the week's great games, in that it went back and forth a few times late in the fourth quarter and overtime). With games at both Wabash and Wittenberg ahead, it's going to be quite a task to repeat as a 9-1 team or win the NCAC's automatic berth.

• How the mighty have fallen. Maine Maritime, an eight-win team in 2010, is 0-3 with an average of more than 55 points per game allowed. And they may not have even played the two or three best teams on their schedule yet.

• On a day of such great rallies, Cornell coming from down 20-3 to score a 23-20 win over Monmouth in the MWC might get lost. But it wasn't too long ago when Cornell was the IIAC co-doormat, and Monmouth was the MWC power. The Rams, along with Lake Forest, St. Norbert and favorite Illinois College, are unbeaten in MWC play.

• Most surprising 0-4 team? Maybe Allegheny, with just 14 points scored and 148 allowed. It's been a while since the Gators were truly mighty, but they've certainly fallen.

• Three cheers for the noobs! Alfred State and Iowa Wesleyan scored their first wins as members of D-III, and Hendrix did it again, beating fellow first-year program Southwestern. But perhaps the most impressive thing was Berry scoring some points that counted, and making a game of it for a while against Rhodes.

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Ryan Tipps

Ryan is D3football.com's Senior Editor and begins as National Columnist in fall 2014. He was the Around the Mid-Atlantic Columnist from 2007 to 2011; has worked on all but one of the preseason Kickoff publications; has done game-day writing and photography and the pregame broadcast at the championship Stagg Bowl in Salem for almost a decade; and has taken photos at the Final Four for D3hoops.com. He's also on the selection staff for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award.

2001-2013 columnist: Keith McMillan.

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