November 3, 2013

Snap judgments: The aftermath

Joe Worth stepped up and had a big game at receiver for UW-Whitewater after Jake Kumerow went out with a first-quarter injury.
Photo by Daryl Tessmann, d3photography.com 

With the No. 1-, No. 2- and No. 4-ranked teams all playing other ranked teams, and No. 6 facing No. 8, you'd expect a lot of shuffling in the top 25.

Yet as I write this early on Sunday, well before the new poll is released, I don't think we'll see any movement at the top.

Why would we? The top team, Mount Union, took control early and held off ninth-ranked Heidelberg, on the road, 44-34. The 16 voters putting them first on ballots through Week 8 will keep them No. 1. 

No. 2 Linfield won at No. 25 Willamette, 56-15. No. 4 North Central beat No. 13 Illinois Wesleyan, 46-17, and No. 6 UW-Whitewater beat No. 8 UW-Platteville, 35-16.

How can you move votes away from any of those teams, on weeks when they beat other ranked teams by three scores or more?

One way highly ranked teams get leapfrogged is on weeks when they play weak opponents as the teams near them in the rankings play strong ones. So -- probably not intentionally -- to make sure voters didn't overlook them, No. 3 UMHB beat Howard Payne, 80-0, and No. 5 Bethel beat Hamline, 55-6.

The nine voters who don't have Mount Union ranked first could flip their votes to the Purple Raiders, now that they have two wins over ranked teams (Frankin, Heidelberg). But if that was a voter's criteria, Bethel and Linfield have met it at times this season too.

In any case, the big movement will be lower in the poll, where losers of the four top 25 clashes fall, what happens with two-loss St. Thomas, as the 18th-ranked Tommies won by three at well-regarded Augsburg, and No. 22 St. John's, which lost to Gustavus Adolphus in double overtime.

Five more quick reactions to Week 9's results:

• The ODAC leader at the beginning of the day, Guilford, lost 52-0 at home against Hampden-Sydney. So clearly the Tigers, now 4-1, 6-2 to the Quakers' 4-1, 5-3 are the ODAC's best team now, right? Except the Tigers lost just last week to Shenanadoah (2-3, 3-5), which lost this week, 42-7, to Randolph-Macon (4-1, 6-2). Except that the Yellow Jackets were coming off a loss to the Quakers. So yeah ... I know we keep harping on it, how coaches love to say "this is a conference in which any team can beat you in any given week," but in the ODAC it actually happens.

• More proof that there's no blueprint for victory: Greensboro scored 50 and Dubuque 46 and managed to lose. Wash. U. scored 9 and Rowan 10 and managed to win.

• Wesleyan's 16-14 victory over Williams means it plays rival Trinity next week with an undefeated season and the NESCAC title on that line. But already earned the Cardinals the Little Three title -- the unofficial competition between Amherst, Williams and Wesleyan. The last time they'd done it -- three-way ties not included -- was 1970.

• Rowan is back atop the NJAC less than a month after a 20-point loss at Morrisville State seemed to knock the Profs out of the title picture. Since the loss, the Profs have regrouped to beat Wesley, win at William Paterson, and hung on against Cortland State, protecting a 10-9 lead the entire second half. They have Kean and TCNJ left, but they could be a dangerous road team in Round 1 of the playoffs. 

• The MAC got a shocker when King's -- now 5-2, 5-3 -- stunned Lycoming and Lebanon Valley came from behind to beat Delaware Valley. That leaves the conference with the Flying Dutchmen (6-1, 7-1) out in front and five 5-3 teams and two 4-4 teams right behind. In other words, everything from second to eighth place in the 10-team conference in up for grabs in Weeks 10 and 11.

Much more to come on Monday's podcast, and later in the week.

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