Around the Nation

Snap judgments: These underdogs brought some bite

Chapman quarterback Michael Lahey was sacked six times Saturday night vs. Linfield.
Photo by Dan Harris, d3photography.com

It was clear this weekend that the underdogs wanted to show that they were as much bite as they were bark against the Top 25. In at least seven matchups, the scores weren’t separated by much in the third or fourth quarters.

Only one Top 25 team was upended by a lower-ranked opponent (then-No. 7 Bethel by No. 15 Wartburg), though Linfield, UW-Platteville, Johns Hopkins, Illinois Wesleyan and Hampden-Sydney got some pretty big scares. But it was two of D-III elites, UW-Whitewater and North Central, that really showed football is an all-out four-quarter game. Their outings against Franklin and St. Norbert, respectively, were close at halftime, only to see the underdogs get shut out in the second half and the big dogs skate to super-sized victories.

The three newest members of Division III were exciting to watch on Saturday.

• Southwestern, which restarted its program last fall, took the ball away from Sul Ross’ offense seven times, three of those thanks to the interceptions and fumble recovery of cornerback Nik Kelly. It was the program’s first win since 1950. I can’t help but consider comparisons to teams like LaGrange and Huntingdon, both now in the USA South, that had a rocky season or two as recent startups but soon enjoyed the feeling of eight- or nine-win seasons soon thereafter.

• Berry nearly earned its first (varsity) win since beginning play in 2013, pushing LaGrange into overtime but then failing on a two-point conversion, ending the game at 28-27. Berry’s quarterback, Dale Jackson, had 272 yards but was out-gunned by LaGrange’s Graham Craig, who had 374 yards. Each passed for four touchdowns and two interceptions. Most impressive is how the Vikings harnessed its defensive pressure, surely helping to keep the game within reach. Berry had 12 tackles for loss, including sacking Craig six times.

• Hendrix, the most successful of the new teams to date, broke open its game with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a pick-six. The Warriors won three games last year and already have two victories this season. I’m not sure that they’ll make the leap to an eight-win season quite yet, but five or six certainly isn’t unreasonable to foresee.

Even in losses, MIAA teams have been largely overperforming this season. They’ve held their own against ranked teams and power-conference teams that they may not have been expected to stack up against so well. And, most notably, they’re winning the kinds of games they should be winning if they want to gain some recognition. Albion, in particular, has been “rewarded” for its tough scheduling with an 0-2 record, but to lose by 11 to a good WIAC team and by seven to a ranked team is nothing to feel disappointed about. It will pay off in the long run.

Some odds and ends:

• Hampden-Sydney did...

Read the rest of this column


Columnist

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.

Feedback

Previous Columns

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...

Archives

Other Columnists