2019 playoffs: Wheaton bracket

Thunder Wheaton (Ill.) Thunder
Seed:No. 1, Wheaton bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 3, Week 11 2019
Location: Wheaton, Ill.
Enrollment (FT undergrads): 2367
Stadium: McCully FIeld (5000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: CCIW
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 22
Head coach: Mike Swider (Wheaton '77)
Career record: 207-51 (.802)
Base offense: Multiple
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 14-10 (1995, 2002-04, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2014-16)
NCAA D-III championships: None

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Points for Points against
478 62
How they got here: Pool A, CCIW champ
You'll know they're playing well if: The defensive line is dominating their opponent. Which has been happening all year. Wheaton may have the best front four in the division (Dallas McRae, Patrick O'Connell, Jake Holaday and River Shindledecker) and they are all TFL monsters.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: Penalties accrue. If there is a red (yellow?) flag on this Thunder team, it is the penalties. Wheaton is one of the most penalized teams in the division. It hasn't hurt Wheaton through the regular seasons, but may as the competition level ratchets up and the margins for error narrow.
This season's turning point: Tied at 21 against North Central, Luke Anthony threw touchdown passes of 58 and 21 yards on the Thunder's first two fourth quarter possessions, putting away North Central and clearing the way for their perfect 10-0 season.
Strength of schedule (rank): .546 (32)
Rushing/passing yards per game: 230.6/258.9
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 47.6/127.3
Yards per play/allowed per play: 6.7/2.7
How far can they go? The Thunder has a gaudy ranking and gaudy seeding and both are deserved, but St. John's looms in this bracket and the semifinals would be even more challenging, should Wheaton make it that far.
Panthers Chapman Panthers
Seed:Likely No. 2 seed, Wheaton bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 12, Week 11 2019
Location: Orange, Calif.
Enrollment (FT undergrads): 5433
Stadium: Ernie Chapman Stadium (2000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: SCIAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 73
Head coach: Bob Owens (La Verne '70)
Career record: 78-49 (.615)
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: 3-4
Record in NCAA playoffs: 0-2 (2014, 2017)
NCAA D-III championships: None

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Points for Points against
334 152
How they got here: Pool A, SCIAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: They're having a party in the backfield. Chapman ranks 12th in the division in sacks per game.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The Panthers are not controlling the clock. Chapman is one of the top time of possession teams in the nation, which is certainly related to the relentless pass rush noted above.
This season's turning point: A 21-18 win over Redlands on October 12. This win put Chapman in the SCIAC driver's seat and helped secure the first playoff game in Southern California in a very long time.
Strength of schedule (rank): .520 (79)
Rushing/passing yards per game: 258.8/203.3
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 61.2/252.4
Yards per play/allowed per play: 6.0/5.1
How far can they go? Chapman beat Whitworth and Whitworth took Linfield to overtime. Or, Chapman beat Redlands and Redlands beat Linfield. If nothing else, Chapman should have legitimate confidence it can get the SCIAC a playoff win. And that is half the battle.
Johnnies St. John's Johnnies
Seed:Likely No. 3, Wheaton bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 8, Week 11 2019
Location: Collegeville, Minnesota
Enrollment (FT undergrads): 1877
Stadium: Clemens Stadium (7482)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: MIAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 3
Head coach: Gary Fasching (St. John's)
Career record: 66-13 (.838)
Base offense: Multiple one-back
Base defense: 3-4
Record in NCAA playoffs: 39-23 (1976-77, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1993-94, 1996, 1998-2003, 2005-09, 2014-18)
NCAA D-III championships: 1976, 2003

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Points for Points against
410 114
How they got here: Pool A, MIAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: Jackson Erdmann is flinging the ball all over the lot and his young receivers are making great plays, the run game is doing enough to keep defenses honest and the defense is containing things at the line of scrimmage.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: Turnovers become an issue and the defense makes uncharacteristic lapses that turn into key plays for the opposition.
This season's turning point: Stabilizing the kicking game over the final two games of the regular season, after the Week 9 loss to Concordia-Moorhead.
Strength of schedule (rank): .537 (41)
Rushing/passing yards per game: 174.0/347.7
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 89.7/156.9
Yards per play/allowed per play: 7.8/3.9
How far can they go? Despite the late-season stumble, the Johnnies can still make the national semifinals.
Dutch Central Dutch
Seed:Likely No. 4 seed, Wheaton bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 24, Week 11, 2019
Location: Pella, Iowa
Enrollment (FT undergrads): 1179
Stadium: Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium (6000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: ARC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 41
Head coach: Jeff McMartin (Central '90)
Career record: 125-41 (.753)
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: 4-3
Record in NCAA playoffs: 21-19 (1974, 1977, 1984-90, 1992, 1994-95, 1998-2001, 2005-07, 2009)
NCAA D-III championships: 1974

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Points for Points against
473 279
How they got here: Pool A, ARC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: Eric Knaack beats defenders deep, Blaine Hawkins moves the chains with his arm and his feet and Central protects the ball and moves the clock to keep the defense off the field.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: Hawkins tries to do too much and turns the ball over, and the defense, which has allowed 25 passing touchdowns, six more than any other playoff team, gets burned.
This season's turning point: Hunter Robinson twisting his way into the end zone in overtime to send Central home a winner, 57-56 in overtime against Wartburg.
Strength of schedule (rank): .530 (57)
Rushing/passing yards per game: 201.9/297.9
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 126.0/280.9
Yards per play/allowed per play: 6.4/5.2
How far can they go? As far as their defense can carry them.
Titans UW-Oshkosh Titans
Seed:Likely No. 5 seed, Wheaton bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 18 Week 11 2019
Location: Oshkosh, Wis.
Enrollment (FT undergrads): 7918
Stadium: Titan Stadium (10000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: WIAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 26
Head coach: Pat Cerroni (Carroll '92)
Career record: 103-41 (.715)
Base offense: Multiple spread
Base defense: 3-4
Record in NCAA playoffs: 12-4 (2012, 2015-17)
NCAA D-III championships: None

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Points for Points against
255 181
How they got here: Pool A, WIAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: Kobe Berghammer is able to push the ball up and down the field with both his arm and his legs, the defense is in the opposing backfield and the offense is able to get three points when it stalls out at or inside the 25.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The Titans turn the ball over, give up quick scores and can't recover.
This season's turning point: Berghammer led the Titans on a 75-play drive over a span of 94 seconds in the final two minutes to lift UW-Oshkosh to a 24-20 road victory at UW-Platteville. The Titans went on to win their next two games, including the WIAC final against UW-Whitewater.
Strength of schedule (rank): .590 (4)
Rushing/passing yards per game: 183.4/164.4
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 112.8/174.5
Yards per play/allowed per play: 5.3/4.3
How far can they go? UW-Oshkosh is on a bit of a roll right now, and could certainly win in the first round.
Wildcats Linfield Wildcats
Seed:Likely No. 6 seed, Wheaton bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: No. 20, Week 11 2019
Location: McMinnville, Ore.
Enrollment (FT undergrads): 1615
Stadium: Maxwell Field (2250)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: NWC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 12
Head coach: Joe Smith (Linfield '93)
Career record: 127-25 (.836)
Base offense: Pistol
Base defense: 4-2-5
Record in NCAA playoffs: 26-13 (2000, 2002-05, 2009-17)
NCAA D-III championships: 2004

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Points for Points against
418 142
How they got here: Pool A, NWC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: The Wildcat defense is stingy against the run. Linfield surrendered over 100 yards rushing in four of their first five games this season, but have not allowed more than 79 in their last four.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The entirety of the Wildcat offense Wyatt Smith's right arm. Running back Artie Johnson has come on a bit as the season has progressed, but the Linfield running game has left Smith out to dry in their loss to Redlands, and in close calls against Whitworth and George Fox.
This season's turning point: Getting a chance to find its stroke on offense in relatively low-pressure games against Puget Sound, Willamette, Pacific Lutheran and Lewis & Clark.
Strength of schedule (rank): .517 (89)
Rushing/passing yards per game: 119.6/375.8
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 89.3/183.3
Yards per play/allowed per play: 6.8/4.0
How far can they go? Could make for an interesting second-round matchup of big passing attacks, or could make for another SoCal disappointment.
Spartans Aurora Spartans
Seed:Likely No. 7 seed, Wheaton bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: Never ranked
Location: Aurora, Ill.
Enrollment (FT undergrads): 3461
Stadium: Spartan Athletic Park (1,000)
Playing surface: Turf
Conference: NACC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 127
Head coach: Don Beebe (Chadron State '89)
Career record: 9-1 (.900)
Base offense: Pro spread
Base defense: 3-4
Record in NCAA playoffs: 0-4 (1992, 2000, 2004, 2008)
NCAA D-III championships: None

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Points for Points against
494 225
How they got here: Pool A, NACC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: Gavin Zimbelman's passes are on target, the receivers add even more yards after the catch and the defense bends more than it breaks.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The defense can't get off the field on third down, leaving the offense little time to work, and the offense struggles in the red zone.
This season's turning point: Hudson Stedman intercepted Benedictine's two-point try, then recovered Benedictine's onside kick and preserved Aurora's 27-25 win against the conference opponent which gave it the biggest challenge.
Strength of schedule (rank): .507 (119)
Rushing/passing yards per game: 199.1/318.9
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 129.2/210.0
Yards per play/allowed per play: 6.8/5.0
How far can they go? They have enough offense to advance, but it would need to be a 62-56 game.
Knights Martin Luther Knights
Seed:Likely No. 8, Wheaton bracket
Last Top 25 ranking: Never ranked
Location: New Ulm, Minnesota
Enrollment (FT undergrads): 743
Stadium: Martin Luther Field (1200)
Playing surface: Grass
Conference: UMAC
Preseason ranking from Kickoff: 215
Head coach: Mark Stein
Career record: 25-26 (.490)
Base offense: Pistol veer
Base defense: 4-2-5
Record in NCAA playoffs: 0-1 (2018)
NCAA D-III championships: None

D3football.com team page: Schedule and results, more news

Points for Points against
376 172
How they got here: Pool A, UMAC champ
You'll know they're playing well if: Austin DeNoyer, and Joshuah Kren, who started his career as a defensive back at St. Cloud State, are able to find some running room and pile up yardage, and the defense can get into the backfield and force some mistakes.
You'll know they're playing poorly if: The opponent's speed and athleticism forces the Knights into mistakes that they cannot overcome and they give up chunks of yardage.
This season's turning point: Starting off 2-0 in conference play, with a sizeable win against Greenville and a win at one-time UMAC heavyweight St. Scholastica in which they held the Saints to 84 total yards.
Strength of schedule (rank): .437 (215)
Rushing/passing yards per game: 335.8/141.1
Rushing/passing yards allowed: 59.6/174.8
Yards per play/allowed per play: 6.7/3.8
How far can they go? On the road to a different one seed, but still one-and-done.