October 13, 2013

Snap judgments: A blurry picture developing

Dion Wiegand's big day, including a momentum-changing kickoff return, helped make the PAC picture a little more cloudy.
d3photography.com file photo by Eric Kelley

Usually by Week 6, the picture of a season begins to come into focus. This particular Week 6, however, seemed to blur the view in a handful of Eastern conferences. For those of us watching from afar, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

The upset of the day came in the NJAC, where Morrisville State -- the one-time junior college power that had won 10 games in seven seasons since joining Division III in 2006 -- beating Rowan by 20. Not only was it a shocker in terms of a name program falling to one that hasn't been known for success in D-III, but it was the margin.

The Mustangs' win cast the NJAC race in a new light, and given goings on around the rest of the East, their 3-2 record looks a lot different. A 28-23 win over St. Lawrence didn't catch many eyes back in Week 3, but it remains the 5-1 Saints' only loss. A 51-34 loss to Hartwick looks a little different too, with the Hawks at 4-1 with their only loss to St. John Fisher.

Cortland State, TCNJ -- which won for the second time in three games while scoring only seven points -- and Morrisville are now out in front in what could be a crazy race.

It wouldn't be the only one.

Washington & Jefferson's upset of Thomas More threw the PAC for a loop. There are now five teams with one PAC loss, and see if you can follow this string with me: Bethany lost to Geneva but beat W&J, who beat Thomas More, who beat Geneva, 61-0, last week, and Waynesburg, 49-28 a few weeks ago.

The string in the MAC is kooky too: Lebanon Valley just upset Lycoming, which had beaten Delaware Valley and Widener, who of course, knocked off Leb Val back in Week 2. So atop the MAC there's a four-way logjam going by losses, though it's not technically a tie. Delaware Valley hosting Lebanon Valley on Nov. 2 becomes a very big game ... if neither team loses before then.

Other races are tough to figure, but at least we expected some of these: The IIAC (Coe, Wartburg or Dubuque?), the ODAC (Hampden-Sydney, Randolph-Macon or Guilford) and the NESCAC (Amherst, Trinity and Wesleyan).

The SCIAC got weird too, after Redlands beat Cal Lutheran late on Saturday, 10-7. Chapman, LaVerne and Redlands has never before been the scene at the top of the conference halfway through the season.

Here are Saturday's snap judgments:

• St. John's picked the right head coach. The Johnnies are back, and are now 5-1 with a two-point win over Augsburg (though it was really more like a 9-point win with a late TD thrown in). It was the Johnnies' fourth win by a field goal or less, but the more impressive stat, as far as Fasching's coaching is concerned? One penalty for two yards on Saturday. 

• What goes around does indeed come around. Two weeks after falling a point short in a 127-point game, Mass. Maritime won by a point in a 107-point clash. Neither game has been in Buzzards Bay though, so the home fans' most recent memory is a 40-17 loss to Fitchburg State.

• Hendrix might be the most fun first-year team ever. They're 2-3 with 204 points scored and 201 allowed. That means they average 40 scored and given up -- and Saturday's loss to Wash U. was typical then. The Bears scored with 51 seconds left to win, 45-41.

Unbeaten team we talk the least about: Millsaps, which kicked the go-ahead field goal with 12 seconds left and managed to tackle Trinity on the ensuing kick this time. It's been six years since the Miracle in Mississippi, and the teams aren't even conference rivals anymore, but there's no way I wasn't reaching back for that reference.

Unbeaten team we talk the least about, Part II: Texas Lutheran. Technically, they already clinched the SCAC title. And with a lightning-canceled game against S.W.A.G., and a 4-0 record otherwise, they're a Pool B possibility. The Bulldogs can score, and most of the rest of the teams they play are good at giving up points. Games at Sul Ross State and Missisisippi College precede what could be a big home clash against Louisiana College, then they finish up with Hardin-Simmons and Howard Payne.

Unbeaten team we talk the least about, Part III: Wheaton. At least the Thunder are ranked, though it's off name recognition, not the impressiveness of anybody they've beaten. At 5-0, the Thunder are humming, but Elmhurst, Illnois Wesleyan and North Central over the next month will give us an idea of what to expect from Wheaton.

• St. Thomas lost to St. John's and may have lost its quarterback, Matt O'Connell on Saturday. Those might be the two worst Tommies losses imaginable.

• If you, like I, am in the ignore Wesley part of the schedule -- they crushed some team named Virginia of Lynchburg on Saturday. The Rowan loss made their remaining 

• Alfred State might have lost to Rochester Saturday, but at least they got to play Rochester.

comments powered by Disqus

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.

Previous Columns

September 17, 2014
Startups come back for seconds
The three teams that started up Division III football programs last season are now in the midst of...
September 14, 2014
Snap judgments: These underdogs brought some bite
There were some near-upsets on Saturday, but in the end, almost all of the higher-ranked teams came...
September 11, 2014
Monarch linebacker forced to follow his heart
Forced from the middle of the action to a supporting role on the sidelines, Methodist linebacker...
September 7, 2014
Snap judgments: Right/wrong foot
There are two ways to start the season -- with a win, or a loss. Now, not every win necessarily puts...
September 2, 2014
Division III football: A gentleman's game
Hampden-Sydney and Wabash, two all-male schools, are squaring off in football this weekend for the...
March 3, 2014
Analyzing the NJAC and E8's big moves
Wesley and its Capital Athletic Conference brethren join forces with five New Jersey schools to form...
November 24, 2013
Look who stole the show in Round 1
Many of those who shined in the first round of the 32-team playoffs weren't the nationally elite...
November 21, 2013
Playoff picks, surprises, disappointments
ATN assembles a team for an annual look at who might surprise and disappoint us in the 32-team...
November 16, 2013
On this day, they were all big games
Keith McMillan has instant reactions both inside and outside the playoff picture on the final day of...
November 13, 2013
A pre-regional rankings primer
Keith McMillan introduces the committee and their roles, analyzes Pools B and C and takes reader...
November 10, 2013
Snap judgments: Seen from the other side
Millsaps may well have a story for the ages out of Saturday's win vs. Centre, as will Cornell and...
November 7, 2013
Poll positions: What to make of regional rankings
If you haven't seen regional rankings before, or your team hasn't been a contender in recent years,...
November 3, 2013
Snap judgments: The aftermath
With so many games featuring two ranked teams, we should see a lot of movement in Sunday's Top 25...
October 24, 2013
Poll positions: Doing some number crunching
The Top 25 doesn't exist to steal anybody's joy. It is merely a prism through which to view...
October 20, 2013
Snap judgments: Cycling up
Maryville and TCNJ are atop their respective conferences, the John Carroll defense isn't the only...
October 13, 2013
Snap judgments: A blurry picture developing
Not literally -- we get great pictures from our associated photographers and SIDs, but that won't...
October 8, 2013
Poll positions: Streaking up the rankings
Keith McMillan looks at why one computer ranking is making the case for a blue team No. 1, and not a...
October 6, 2013
Snap judgments: Bounceback seasons
Olivet, St. Lawrence, North Park, Husson, Western Connecticut ... the list of improved teams this...
October 3, 2013
Re-ranking the conferences
With September's games, and the vast majority of non-conference play in the books, Around the Nation...
September 29, 2013
Snap judgments: Look away from the Top 25 scores
At first glance -- like say, the scores page, with the top 25 scores the initial finals that catch...
September 26, 2013
History lesson: Engineering rivalries
Week 4 is perhaps the most odd Saturday on the schedule. There aren't many great rivalries, but...
September 24, 2013
Poll positions: How the voters reacted
A kick going wide left produced a wide variety of reactions, but when Wesley got taken down a peg,...
September 22, 2013
Snap judgments: Week 3
The Tommie-Johnnie rivalry is back, UMHB's defensive line is pretty darn good, the MIAA has a better...
September 19, 2013
History lesson: Wesley vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor
Now that longtime rivals Wabash and DePauw are both in the North Coast, and Mount Union and...
September 18, 2013
Poll positions: There's some movement coming
The top of the poll didn't change much last week but Saturday's games could have a significant...
September 17, 2013
Off the beaten path
Just because a team isn't in the Top 25 running or mentioned in the podcast or doesn't have a Play...
September 11, 2013
Poll positions: Why teams shuffle
In Around the Nation, Keith McMillan discusses a nonstandard way of assembling the ballot after Week...
September 8, 2013
Snap judgments
Keith McMillan's Around the Nation column returns. You'll see ATN several times a week, including on...

Other Columnists