2012 playoffs: St. Thomas bracket

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St. Thomas Tommies
Seed: No. 1 seed, St. Thomas bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 4, Week 11 2012
Location: St. Paul, MN
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 5780
Stadium: O'Shaughnessy Stadium (6000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: MIAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 8
Head coach: Glenn Caruso (Ithaca '96)
Career record: 53-7 (.883); 59-19 overall
Base offense: Multiple one-back
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 7-4 (1990, 2009-11)
NCAA D-III championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, MIAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: The defense gets off the field quickly, provides the offense with short fields, or both.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They're forced to lean on their young running backs.
This season's turning point: New starting quarterback Matt O'Connell survived his trial by fire in the season opener, helping lead the Tommies to two TDs in the final four minutes of the game to beat UW-Eau Claire 27-24.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 250.1/226.9
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 72.2/197.0
How far can they go? They have the defense to get them to Salem if the offense can hold up its end of the bargain.


Hobart Statesmen
Seed: Likely No. 2, St. Thomas bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 7, Week 11 2012
Location: Geneva, NY
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 2050
Stadium: Boswell Field (4500)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: LL
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 22
Head coach: Michael Cragg (Slippery Rock '83)
Career record: 126-53 (.721)
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: Multiple
Record in NCAA playoffs: 4-8 (2000, 2002, 2004-08, 2011)
NCAA D-III championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, LL champ
You'll know they're playing well if: They are getting good play from the lines. The Statesmen are fourth in the nation in sacks, with 38 in 10 games, and third in the nation in sacks allowed, with just four.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They are turning the ball over. Hobart has only 16 all season, but they've come in bunches (three fumbles at Utica, three interceptions by Merchant Marine), and the Statesmen don't generate turnovers to cancel them out. They are one of four playoff teams with a negative turnover margin. Also if they are giving up rushing yards; they held seven of 10 opponents to 85 yards or less.
This season's turning point: An 11-play drive to end the third quarter to hold off a furiously rallying Union in the Statesmen's closest game of the year paved the way for the 10-0 finish.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 237.5/197.7
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 84.3/145.5
How far can they go? To St. Thomas for the national quarterfinals.


Coe Kohawks
Seed: Likely No. 3, St. Thomas bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 10, Week 11 2012
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 1249
Stadium: Clark (1200)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: IIAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 48
Head coach: Steve Staker (Upper Iowa '68)
Career record: 39-14 (.736)
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 2-7 (1985, 1991, 1993, 2002, 2005, 2009-10)
NCAA D-III 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: Brendan Leiran has more than 100 yards. After sitting out the first two games with injuries, he has rushed for 100 or more in six of eight games. 
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They are losing the turnover battle. Coe entered last week's game against Central No. 1 in the country in turnover margin. The two games where Coe has lost the turnover battle (Dubuque & Central) were Coe's closest two games.
This season's turning point: Scoring a touchdown and hitting the two-point conversion with 48 seconds left at Dubuque, then going on to win in the second overtime.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 212.0/248.3
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 84.7/213.4
How far can they go? To the second round, perhaps.


Heidelberg Student Princes
Seed: Likely No. 4, St. Thomas bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 12, Week 11 2012
Location: Tiffin, OH
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 1204
Stadium: Frost-Kalnow Stadium (7,500)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: OAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 36
Head coach: Mike Hallett (Mount Union '94)
Career record: 34-26 (.567)
Base offense: Multiple Pro-I
Base defense: 3-4
Record in NCAA playoffs: None
NCAA D-III 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: The defensive line finds its way into the backfield. The defense prides itself on playing with a sort of "controlled rage," and if the line can break through and get pressure on the quarterback, good things can also happen for the linebackers and secondary. This year, the team is fifth in the nation in sacks and 13th in tackles for loss.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The quarterback can't connect with his receivers on short pass plays. The Student Princes use a hurry-up offense, which relies on out-routes and curls to give the running backs a break and to move the chains.
This season's turning point: The loss at Mount Union. While beating Otterbein and Baldwin Wallace were the two key wins that propelled Heidelberg into the postseason, it was the UMU game, which was 12-7 at the half, that showed that the Student Princes are more contender than pretender on the national stage.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 238.3/236.2
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 122.5/199.0
How far can they go? With the schedule they've had this year, the regional finals are definitely within reach.


Elmhurst Bluejays
Seed: Likely No. 5, St. Thomas bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 17, Week 11 2012
Location: Elmhurst, IL
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 2748
Stadium: Langhorst Field (2500)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: CCIW
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 55
Head coach: Tim Lester (Western Michigan '00)
Career record: 32-18 (.640)
Base offense: Pistol
Base defense: 3-4
Record in NCAA playoffs: First appearance
NCAA D-III 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: The defense is getting turnovers, having led the CCIW in at plus-17. The defense gives up a lot of yards but they get stops/turnovers at key times to stop momentum. On offense, if they are throwing the ball less than 20 times. That means they are getting meaningful yards on the ground on first and second down.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They are playing from behind. They led at the half in eight of their 10 games this season and their run oriented offense is deadly late in a close game. Offensively, if they are in second- and third-and-long.
This season's turning point: Stopping Wheaton twice in the fourth quarter, including on a fourth-and-1 from inside the 5-yard line, to win 35-30.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 252.7/169.5
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 202.1/177.4
How far can they go? To the twin cities for Round 2.


Wittenberg Tigers
Seed: Likely No. 6, St. Thomas bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 24, Week 11 2012
Location: Springfield, OH
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 1842
Stadium: Edwards/Maurer Field (5,000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: NCAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 33
Head coach: Joe Fincham (Ohio U. '88)
Career record: 153-34 (.818)
Base offense: Pro set
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 19-12 (1973, 1975, 1978-79, 1988, 1995, 1998-2002, 2006, 2009-10)
NCAA D-III championships: 1973, 1975
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, NCAC champs
You'll know they're playing well if: Wittenberg is piling up the yards on offense. Four hundred-yard outings were fairly common for the Tigers this year, but their huge games saw them racking up at least 500 yards with a balance of running and passing efforts. Quarterback Reed Florence has at least three targets he feels comfortable throwing to often.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They're trailing during the middle quarters. Against teams like Wabash or Wooster, the Tigers fell behind and struggled to find their stride, instead relying on big plays to keep them competitive. While big plays should be a part of Witt's game plan, the team will be in trouble if the scoreboard forces the team into such play-calling.
This season's turning point: The October loss to Wabash. The defeat did more than just show Wittenberg that they needed to be flawless down the stretch to get into the playoffs; that game also marked the first 100-yard rushing effort by freshman Jimmy Dehnke, who would go on to repeat the feat three more times this season. The Tigers would have been lost this season without the reliability of Dehnke.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 196.2/250.5
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 106.3/191.3
How far can they go? The right bounces will get them through Round 1.


Washington and Lee Generals
Seed: Likely No. 7 seed, St. Thomas bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: Never ranked
Location: Lexington, VA
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 1,749
Stadium: Wilson Field (4,000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: ODAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 62
Head coach: Scott Abel (Longwood '92)
Career record: 8-2
Base offense: Multiple spread option
Base defense: Multiple 3-4
Record in NCAA playoffs: 0-2 (2006, 2010)
NCAA D-III championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Poll A, ODAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: They hit their magic number of 400. Since 2010, W&L is undefeated in games in which it has amassed at least 400 yards of rushing offense. And the team has scored an average of almost 50 points in those outings. Led by senior Luke Heinsohn, who is complemented by Brett Murray and Sasha Vandalov, the Generals' offense is a clear threat to anyone it lines up against.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: They can't control the opposing team’s passing game. The General have been scored upon in a big way by teams that can rack up 300 or 400 yards through the air.
This season's turning point: The 45-42 quintuple overtime shootout against Hampden-Sydney early this month. The game was widely seen as the most anticipated in determining the likely conference title winner, and W&L had to come out swinging in the second half to overcome an 11-point deficit. It highlighted the Generals' determination and their ability to claw their way back into the mix without the need for a fast-moving, dynamic passing game.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 381.3/69.3
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 156.3/210.1
How far can they go? Teams not used to W&L's option offense could be surprised and handed upset losses. But the Generals' opponents have seen a lot through the season. If the chips fall right, a Round 1 win is possible, but Round 2 is where the ride ends.


St. Norbert Green Knights
Seed: Likely No. 8, St. Thomas bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 24, Week 11 2007
Location: De Pere, WI
Enrollment (full-time undergrads): 2019
Stadium: Donald J. Schneider Stadium (2500)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: MWC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 61
Head coach: Jim Purtill (Miami, Ohio '78)
Career record: 122-26 (.824); 122-35-1 overall
Base offense: Pro I
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 1-9 (1989, 1999, 2000-01, 2003-04, 2006-07, 2010)
NCAA D-III championships: None
D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news
How they got here: Pool A, MWC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: If the offense is churning out first downs and not giving the defense short fields to defend.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: If the running game is not effective in controlling the clock.
This season's turning point: Surviving a late rally by Cornell in a 20-16 road win onOct. 6, a win that started St. Norbert's five-game winning streak.
Rushing/passing yards per game: 143.3/176.8
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 105.0/191.3
How far can they go? This is another one-and-out situation for the Green Knights.


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