2011 playoffs: Mount Union bracket

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Mount Union Purple Raiders
Seed: No. 1, Mount Union bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 2, Week 11 2011
Location: Alliance, OH
Enrollment: 2115
Stadium: Mount Union Stadium (5450)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: OAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Larry Kehres (Mount Union '71)
Career record: 313-23-3 (.928)
Base offense: Multiple
Base defense: 4-2-5
Record in NCAA playoffs: 69-12 (1985-86, 1990, 1992-present)
Championships: 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, OAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: Everything they throw out there gains yards and the defense can focus on the passing game because the opponent has given up any hope of catching up via the ground game.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The losses of a starting quarterback (Neal Seaman), wide receiver (Jasper Collins) and cornerback (Chaz Jordan) begin to hurt them. But that won't be in November.
This season's turning point: The 10-play drive for the game-winning touchdown at home against Baldwin-Wallace. Before Matt Piloto (OK, mostly Jeremy Murray and Chris Denton) got Mount Union down the field, the already-vulnerable Purple Raiders were looking downright mortal.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 267.6/221.1
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 66.2/106.5
How far can they go? We have never said anything less than "all the way" for the Purple Raiders. But there might be a quarterfinal challenge and a semifinal challenge, which would be a departure from recent years.
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Wabash Little Giants
Seed: Likely No. 2, Mount Union bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 9, Week 11 2011
Location: Crawfordsville, IN
Enrollment: 883
Stadium: Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium (5000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: NCAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Erik Raeburn (Mount Union '91)
Career record: 37-6 (.840), 94-32 overall
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 8-6 (1977, 2002, 2005, 2007-09)
Championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, NCAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: The offense is delivering balance between the run and pass. The Little Giants’ attack is markedly different than it was just five years ago: quarterback Chase Belton can throw, scramble and simply plow ahead for hard yardage, while Jonathan Horn and Wes Chamblee (an All-American as a punt returner who has brought three punts back for touchdowns this year) give Belton solid targets downfield.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The linebacker corps and secondary aren’t getting a jump on the offense and are playing too cautiously to be aggressive. Wabash – which has 14 picks this season and typically holds its opponents to just a couple of yards after a catch – boasts some highly physical defensive backs. And fifth-year senior CJ Gum is an All-America linebacker who anchors the defense and swarms to the ball on every play.
This season's turning point: The win against Wittenberg to win the NCAC. It was clear from the start of the season that Wabash was building to this point, which came in Week 10. It was one of only two wins against above-.500 teams, but it was a convincing and definitive one for the Little Giants.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 169.5/183.9
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 64.2/180.8
How far can they go? Expect a competitive home-game showdown against North Central in Round 2.
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North Central (Ill.) Cardinals
Seed: Likely No. 3, Mount Union bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 6, Week 11 2011
Location: Naperville, IL
Enrollment: 2167
Stadium: Bendetti-Wehrli Stadium (5500)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: CCIW
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: John Thorne (Illinois Wesleyan '69)
Career record: 87-23 (.791)
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: 3-4
Record in NCAA playoffs: 5-6 (2005-08, 2010)
Championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, CCIW champ
You'll know they're playing well if: The defense is laying the wood to opposing ballcarriers and it doesn't matter who handles the snap because they're probably keeping it or handing it off anyway.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They're anywhere close to 50-50 run-pass on offense and they settle for field goals instead of touchdowns.
This season's turning point: Wiping the SoCal dust from their feet after the season-opening loss at Redlands.
Rushing/receiving yards per game: 222.6/198.8
Rushing/receiving yards allowed: 52.6/166.5
How far can they go? A North Central on all cylinders against a banged-up Mount Union sounds intriguing, but odds are Alliance is as far as they can get.
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Centre Colonels
Seed: Likely No. 4, Mount Union bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 25, Week 11 2011
Location: Danville, KY
Enrollment: 1193
Stadium: Farris (2500)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: SCAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 40
Head coach: Andy Frye (Muskingum '81)
Career record: 87-52 (.626)
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: First appearance
Championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool C
You'll know they're playing well if: Tyler Osterman has time to find his receivers open downfield rather than dumping off on underneath routes. The run-to-pass ratio is high and both sides of the ball are disciplined.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The running game is under five yards per carry and the defense is stopping the run but not the pass.
This season's turning point: Way back in Week 3, when Centre rallied from two touchdowns down to beat Washington and Lee 42-35.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 189.4/172.9
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 132.3/188.9
How far can they go? Alliance is the limit.
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Dubuque Spartans
Seed: Likely No. 5, Mount Union bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 22, Week 11 2011
Location: Dubuque, IA
Enrollment: 1279
Stadium: Chalmers Field (5000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: IIAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Stan Zweifel (UW-River Falls '74)
Career record: 18-12 (.600), 41-27-2 overall
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 0-2 (1979-80)
Championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, IIAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: Wyatt Hanus has enough time to check all of his options in the passing game. In addition to Michael Zweifel, Demacus Fleming and tight end Miles Hookstead are legitimate receiving threats, plus Justin Spaulding is a 1,200-yard rusher.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: Zweifel has to play a lot of snaps on defense. Dubuque has allowed 40-plus points twice this season and seems particularly vulnerable to a strong running attack.
This season's turning point: It could perhaps be a defensive play. Linebacker Dustin Sorrentino brought down Coe quarterback Brad Boyle on a third-and-2 in Dubuque territory with 1:36 left in the game and the Spartans holding a seven-point lead. Coe turned it over on downs on the next play and Dubuque kneeled out the IIAC championship.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 177.8/330.1
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 146.2/207.4
How far can they go? As far as the offense will carry them. How many slugfests can they win?
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Illinois College Blueboys
Seed: Likely No. 6, Mount Union bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: Never ranked
Location: Jacksonville, IL
Enrollment: 864
Stadium: England Stadium (1200)
Playing surface: Grass
Conference: MWC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Garrett Campbell (Cal State Fullerton '98)
Career record: 23-17 (.575)
Base offense: Spread coast
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: First appearance
Championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool C
You'll know they're playing well if: They turn turnovers into quick points and generally put together quick drives.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They don't get pressure on the opposing quarterback and they can pass at will, plus they can't mount a ground attack on offense.
This season's turning point: Just getting selected for the playoffs.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 197.5/301.6
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 156.9/254.8
How far can they go? This is a one-and-out situation.
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Hampden-Sydney Tigers
Seed: Likely No. 7, Mount Union bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 25, Week 10 2011
Location: Hampden-Sydney, VA
Enrollment: 1120
Stadium: Everett Stadium (1850)
Playing surface: Grass
Conference: ODAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Marty Favret (Catholic '84)
Career record: 82-30 (.732)
Base offense: Very multiple
Base defense: 3-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 0-4 (1977, 2007, 2009-10)
Championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, ODAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: Quarterback Travis Lane is hitting wideouts Kyle Vance and Sean Cavanagh each at least six or seven or eight times a game. Coupled with the dual-threat potential of running back Kirk Rohle and a solid push from the front five, the Tigers are shining most when the offense is clicking.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The defense is giving up the end zone. H-SC’s offense has comfortably hung nearly 30 points or more in every game this season, but the nail-biters come when the defense breaks down and opponents become able to score at will. In the last four games, opponents have averaged 42 points.
This season's turning point: The conference clincher against Washington and Lee. The Generals were the spoiler for the Tigers’ conference hopes last season, so much was anticipated this season as well. A bigger turning point will come if Hampden-Sydney can get over the Round 1 hump – a milestone that’s eluded them in their three playoff visits in the past four seasons.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 140.5/334.0
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 130.8/273.9
How far can they go? A favorable matchup makes a trip to Mount Union at least possible.
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Benedictine Eagles
Seed: No. 8, St. Thomas bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: Never ranked
Location: Lisle, IL
Enrollment: 2520
Stadium: The Sports Complex (3031)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: NATHC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff:
Head coach: Jon Cooper (North Park '72)
Career record: 37-34 (.521)
Base offense: Pro style
Base defense: 4-3, Cover 2
Record in NCAA playoffs: 0-1 (2010)
Championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, NATHC
You'll know they're playing well if: John Borsellino gets 25 or more carries. He has averaged 30 carries in Benedictine wins, 16 in losses. That opens up the deep ball for Chris Schultz (6-2) and Brandin Austin (6-3) in the passing game.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They face a team with a top-notch running game. Even if you throw out the 377 yards triple-option North Park rolled up on the Eagles, there was still the 278 yards Kalamazoo ran for and another 198 by Wisconsin Lutheran.
This season's turning point: The turning point is a negative one. Benedictine comes in after struggling to beat winless Rockford and losing to Wisconsin Lutheran.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 203.7/185.9
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 162.4/167.7
How far can they go? Farther than they should have had to. Whitewater was a much more sound first-round destination. Instead, it's four times as far to Mount Union with the same result for all involved.
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