ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Last week, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) football championship picture gained a little clarity as two undefeated teams squared off. However, this season, there appears to be at least one title-altering game on the slate each week, as Week 5 is also highlighted by another matchup of unbeaten teams to headline Saturday's four-game schedule.
Last Saturday, an unbeaten nationally-ranked team fell for the second week in a row. This time, it was Then-No. 21 Saint John's falling to Concordia, 24-14 in Collegeville in a matchup of 3-0 teams. The 10-point margin was the closest game of the day as the other three, including Gustavus' 45-19 win over St. Olaf, resulted in routs.
In the other two games, the other two undefeated teams certainly looked the part, as fifth-ranked Bethel rolled to a 58-14 win at Carleton, and (RV) Augsburg cruised to a 55-20 win over Hamline. Now, the two will get to square off with a lot on the line. The Royals (3-0, 1-0 MIAC) host the Auggies (3-0, 2-0 MIAC) Saturday at 1 p.m. in a matchup of teams without a loss, and with MIAC championship and NCAA playoff aspirations.
A pair of high-powered offenses will be on display Saturday in Arden Hills as Bethel leads the MIAC in yards(506.7) and points (45.0) per game with Augsburg (493.7 yards, 41.7 points) close behind in second. The Royals certainly have the higher-profile defense, but the numbers are fairly close. Bethel is allowing 296.0 and 15.0 points per game, while the Auggies give up 351.0 yards and 17.7 points per game.
Both teams' quarterbacks are playing at an extremely high level.
Bethel's Erik Peterson lead the MIAC in
passing yards (262.3 per game) and completion percentage (72.4) and
has yet to throw an interception, while
Augsburg's Ayrton Scott is first in
touchdown passes (nine) and second in both passing (252.3) and
rushing yards (138) per game. Both feature playmaking running backs
in Brandon Marquardt (Bethel)
and Phil Putratz (Augsburg) and talented
wideouts in Joey Sonnenfeld (Augsburg)
and Mitch Hallstrom (Bethel).
Defensively, the Royals are led by star
linebacker Seth Mathis, who broke Bethel's
career tackles record a week ago, and the Auggies' star has
been Michael Juberian, whose 38 total tackles
and 12.7 tackles per game lead the MIAC.
With a week off to regroup after being upset by the Johnnies,
No. 6 St. Thomas (2-1, 0-1 MIAC) returns to action with a home game
against Carleton (2-1, 1-1 MIAC) at 1:10 p.m. in St. Paul. The
Knights face the challenge of facing a top-six ranked opponent for
the second week in a row, and will try to show improvement from
last week's loss to Bethel. Linebacker Mason
Schnarr continues to shine for Carleton with 11.3
tackles per game, two TFL and three pass breakups. The Tommies'
defense has been stout thus far in its three performances, but will
try to get quarterback Matt
O'Connell and the offense back on track in front of
St. Thomas' home crowd.
A pair of teams coming off a loss look to bounce back in
Northfield Saturday when the (RV) Johnnies (3-1, 1-1 MIAC) visit
the Oles (1-3, 0-2 MIAC) on St. Olaf's home field. The game
showcases some of the league's top talent at receiver.
SJU's Josh Bungum leads the MIAC with
101.8 receiving yards per game, while St. Olaf's duo
of Stephen Asp and Jacob
Schmeising has combined for 659 yards and seven
touchdowns through the first four games.
While the Ole-Johnnie showdown could be fought through the air,
the Gustavus (2-1, 1-1 MIAC) and Hamline (1-2, 0-2 MIAC) matchup
will likely be fought on the ground as two of the league's top
running backs square off. The Gusties will hope to continue the
momentum gained during their impressive win over the Oles, behind
star back Jeffrey Dubose, who leads the MIAC
in rushing touchdowns (seven) and is third in yards per game
(133.7). However, Hamline counters with Austin
Duncan - the league's leader in yards (529), yards
per game (176.3) and attempts (101).
After its big win, 4-0 start, and jump into the national rankings, No. 23 Concordia is idle this week. However, if Bethel can defeat Augsburg, the Royals will visit Moorhead the following week to set up yet another matchup of undefeated MIAC teams. With the Tommies already facing a defeat and so much talent at the top of the league, expect the race for the title to receive a new twist as the season winds on.
The MIAC thanks Supreme Images Photography for contributing graphics for the MIAC Football Preview throughout the season.
Sat. Oct. 5
CONCORDIA GOES BACK-TO-BACK FOR MIAC
The second week of the MIAC Play-of-the-Week featured eight clips
vying for the title of the conference's top highlight from Week 4.
The video clips and voting was again popular among MIAC fans with
640 total votes and 3,121 total YouTube views of the eight video
clips. Each clip received at least 233 views.
For the second-straight week, Concordia's Bradon Zylstra claimed the Play-of-the-Week honor, this time for his leaping touchdown catch in the Cobbers' win over Saint John's. Zyltra's highlight received 41 percent of the vote (264 votes) to edge Gustavus' Matt Boyce (31 percent, 199 votes) for the title.
MIAC MEDIA FOOTBALL COVERAGE
MIAC Weekly podcast Host Mike Gallagher talked MIAC football again this week in his conference roundup, and he was joined by Concordia Head Football Coach Terry Horan to talk about the Cobbers' 4-0 start, and jump into the Top 25 rankings.
MIAC IN THE POLLS
The MIAC continues to impress on the national stage, as the conference has five teams ranked in the top 31 in both the D3football.com and AFCA polls, with three in the top 25 of both. The conference has higher rankings from D3football.com with Bethel at No. 5, St. Thomas at No. 6 and Concordia at No. 23, with Augsburg appearing as the first team in the "Others receiving votes" section, and Saint John's just three spots behind the Auggies.
The save five appear in the AFCA rankings as well, also led by the Royals at No. 8. St. Thomas checks in at No. 13, the Cobbers are No. 23 in that poll as well. Saint John's is the third team in the "Others Receiving Votes" category, with Augsburg just three spots behind the Johnnies.
MIAC IN THE PRESS
Here's a look at the top MIAC football stories in the media over the past week.
9/29/2013 The MIAC 3: Recap, Auggies roll to big win over
Hamline - Bring Me The News
9/29/2013 College roundup - St. Cloud Times
9/29/2013 Concordia makes it back-to-back football wins against St. John's - Fargo Forum
9/29/2013 Gustavus rallies for 45-19 win against St. Olaf - Mankato Free Press
9/27/2013 The MIAC 3: Top games on the gridiron to watch for this weekend - Bring Me The News
9/27/2013 Area college football update - Star Tribune
Concordia knocked off No. 21 Saint John's on the road Saturday,
and Cobber quarterback Griffin
Neal received his second MIAC Football Offensive
Player-of-the-Week award as a result. Neal racked up 269
combined rushing and passing yards and threw for two scores in the
win. Gustavus defensive back Zach
Dilger was named the MIAC Football Defensive Player-of-the-Week. His
two first-quarter interceptions, as well as his five tackles,
tackle-for-a-loss and two other pass breakups, help Gustavus score
a big win over St. Olaf. Bethel kicker Andrew
O'Reilly received the MIAC Football Special Teams
Player-of-the-Week award after a perfect PAT performance.
The sophomore was 8-for-8 on extra points, and sent his nine
kickoffs a total of 505 yards in the Royals' victory at Carleton
IN THE TRENCHES
The Gustavus offense came to life in a big way in Saturday's
45-19 win over St. Olaf, and the kudos extend to the guys up front.
The Gustie offensive line helped the team rack up 433 yards of
total offense and 27 first downs in the win. Gustavus ran for 132
yards and four scores on the ground, and added 301 yards and two
more touchdowns through the air. The Gusties allowed just three
sacks on 42 dropbacks, and just six negative-yardage plays on 74
offensive snaps. The starters up front for Gustavus were:
center David Gschneidner,
Opdahl and Trevor
Winkelman and tackles Marcus
Kelly and Wyatt Adams.
Concordia's defense was certainly stout up front in the Cobbers 24-14 upset at Saint John's, with much of the credit going to the defensive line. Concordia held the Johnnies to just 86 rushing yards on 26 attempts - a 3.3 yards per carry average. The Cobbers limited SJU to a 40-percent conversion rate on third down, and Saint John's was 0-for-2 on fourth downs. Concordia's starters up front were nose guard Mark Wychor and defensive ends Nick Leen andNate Adams.
BY THE NUMBERS
5: MIAC teams ranked in the top 31 in the
nation in both the D3football.com and AFCA polls.
253.5: The previous career record for
tackles at Bethel prior to Saturday. Royals' star
LB Seth Mathis made 10 tackles in the
win at Carleton to become the school's all-time leader.
12: Combined field goal and PAT attempts
by St. Olaf kicker Eric Tusa without a
miss. Tusa is 2-for-2 on field goals and 10-for-10 on extra points
0: Interceptions thrown by
Bethel's Erik Peterson in 87 pass
attempts. He's the only starting quarterback in the MIAC without a
pick this season.
3.5, 8.5: Sacks and tackles-for-a-loss,
respectively, for Concordia's Nate Adams.
Both totals lead the MIAC.
38: Straight points scored by Gustavus in a little more than two quarters during Saturday's 45-19 win over St. Olaf. The Gustaies trailed 13-7 after the first quarter, and were leading 45-13 early in the fourth.