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2016 NCAA Division 3 Football Playoff Round 2 Predictions

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2016 NCAA Division 3 Football Playoff Round 2 Predictions

A wonderful opening round of the Division 3 Football playoff has been completed and the field is down to 16 teams. Those teams will play this weekend in the second round for the right to be in the Quarterfinals. An updated bracket can be found here.

Below are predictions for each of the 8 games and we will go by quadrant starting with Mary Hardin-Baylor. In the opening round, we correctly predicted 12 of the 16 games.

Mary Hardin-Baylor Region

Linfield (9-1) at Mary Hardin-Baylor (11-0)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Linfield went to Texas in the opening round and defeated Hardin-Simmons 24-10. They shut down Hardin-Simmons’ run game allowing only 15 yards. Sam Riddle threw for 367 yards with 1 touchdown with 11 completions to Reed Peterson for 207 yards and 1 touchdown. Linfield now has to go back to Texas for the third time this season.

Mary Hardin-Baylor was given fits at home from Redlands, but a strong fourth quarter saw them pull away for a 50-28 win. MHB put up 595 yards of offense, but had three turnovers (one fumble returned for a touchdown) and also gave up a kickoff return to Redlands. The duo of Markeith Miller and Blake Jackson put on a running clinic with 186 yards and 153 yards, respectively.

This is also a rematch of a game earlier this season. MHB thrashed Linfield 66-27 with 552 yards of offense including Jackson passing for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns with 1 interception (98 yards rushing as well) and Miller rushing for 165 yards and a touchdown on only 6 carries. The Crusaders had 2 defensive touchdowns and a kickoff return for a touchdown that really crushed Linfield’s hope.

This game has a different feel to it than what we saw in September. Mary Hardin-Baylor rushed for 335 yards that day, but after seeing what they did last week to Hardin-Simmons does this seem like the same Linfield team? The Crusaders will certainly get their rushing yards, but how high will that total be?

One last thing to consider: Linfield has gone on the road to Mary Hardin-Baylor the last 2 seasons in the playoffs and won both times. Last year it was a 38-35 win and in 2014 they won 31-28. Looks like another thriller this year and we will go with Mary Hardin-Baylor to win 41-38.

Wheaton (IL) (10-1) at North Central (11-0)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Another game, another rematch for this region. We will get to that in a second, but let’s start with the first round games. Wheaton handled Huntingdon 45-10 at home thanks to 2 non-offensive touchdowns and a passing touchdown in the span of 4 minutes in the second quarter. Andrew Bowers threw for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns on 10 of 18 passing. Stone Watson rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 9 carries.

North Central cruised in their opening round game at home 41-7 over Rose-Hulman. Broc Rutter threw for 299 yards and 4 touchdowns with no interceptions on 21 off 33 passing. The defense was stingy giving up 210 yards (103 passing, 107 rushing).

Now back to the rematch. In the pivotal game of the CCIW season, North Central defeated Wheaton 35-25 at home. The Cardinals built a 24-5 lead in the third quarter, but withstood a furious rally from Wheaton and to win the CCIW Title.

That game was dominated by the passing attacks. Wheaton’s Andrew Bowers went 15 of 31 for 241 yards with a touchdown and an interception. North Central’s Broc Rutter went 23 of 39 for 238 yards with 3 touchdowns and no picks. Wheaton had 108 yards rushing compared to 56 for North Central.

This looks like another even matchup between these two rivals. The rush defenses are stellar so it may be another game that is won by the better pass defense and pass offense. In the interest of full disclosure, yours truly is a graduate of North Central and going with them to win 28-21.

Alfred Region

Western New England (11-0) at Alfred (11-0)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

Western New England had a big fourth quarter to pull away from Husson for a 44-27 victory. They scored 20 points including two rushing touchdowns from Dante Aiken. Alfred needed a 2 yard overtime touchdown run from Tyler Johnson to defeat Bridgewater State 33-27.

Both teams will use the rushing attack to get their offense going. WNE averages 248 yards per game (had 211 versus Husson) while Alfred averages 244 yards per game (had 229 versus Bridgewater State). Will it be Nick Connell and Aiken for Western New England or Johnson and Casey Bright for Alfred? We are going with Western New England to take this game 34-31.

Mount Union (10-1) at Johns Hopkins (11-0)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

The unusual sight of Mount Union on the road to start the Playoffs was met with the unusual sight of seeing the Purple Raiders tied late in the third quarter. Mount Union responded with a 17 point burst to win 38-21. Dom Davis threw for 321 yards and a touchdown while Bradley Mitchell (90 yards) and Jawanza Evans-Morris (76 yard) both had 2 rushing touchdowns.

Johns Hopkins took a 21 point lead after 15 minutes and went on to win 42-21. Jonathan Germano went wild throwing for 418 yards with 4 touchdowns and 2 picks. Luke McFadden had 11 catches for 222 yards and 2 touchdowns.

JHU will want to get that passing attack going and they average 341 yards per game while UMU allows 195 yards per game. The one key will be limiting the interceptions as JHU has thrown 17 of them on the season. If you want to beat a team like Mount Union, you cannot turn the ball over. Both teams also lose fumbles quite often: 8 on the year for JHU and 11 for Mount Union.

This does not feel like the same Mount Union team we have seen in year’s past. That is clear from them having to go on the road in the Playoffs. Still, it is hard to go against the Champs and we will take Mount Union to win a high-scoring thriller 45-41.

St. Thomas Region

Coe (11-0) at St. Thomas (MN) (11-0)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Coe had a very interesting first round game against Monmouth. They won 21-14, but quite frankly it should have not been that close. They forced NINE turnovers. NINE!! Five interceptions and four fumble recoveries and yet they only won by a touchdown. Maybe that is more of a testament to Monmouth and their defense. It is worth noting that Trevor Heitland ran for 251 yards and a touchdown on 50 carries.

St. Thomas had a strong performance giving up only 162 yards of offense to Northwestern (MN) in their 43-0 win. The offense put up 455 yards with 206 yards and a touchdown from Alex Fenske along with multiple contributors in the rushing attack.

This game comes down to Heitland versus the Tommies defense. They allow 62.5 yards per game on the ground and Heitland could easily top 100 or 150 yards this game based on the volume of his carries. However, the defense will need to produce turnovers like last week to create short field and limit offensive possessions for St. Thomas. That is a tall task here and we will take the Tommies to win 41-17.

St. John’s (MN) (10-1) at Wisconsin-Oshkosh (10-1)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

What an incredible game the Johnnies played in last week against Wisconsin-Platteville. They needed a last second touchdown by Dusty Krueger to win 32-31, but did he get in? Or was he stopped? The refs said he was in and that is all the St. John’s fans care about.

Oshkosh was not involved in anything remotely close to that. They just obliterated Washington University 49-13 with 608 yards of offense with 410 coming on the ground. Mitch Gerhartz had 204 yards and a touchdown while quarterback Brett Kasper threw for 192 yards and 3 touchdowns with no picks.

Last week, St. John’s survived the Platteville passing attack (held Tom Kelly to 217 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception). This week it is the rushing attack of Oshkosh that averages 278.3 yards per game with many different options to lead the attack. The Johnnies defense gives up only 63.1 yards per game on the ground.

The Johnnies will try a balance attack against the Oshkosh defense that gives up 265.4 yards per game (95.4 rushing and 170 passing). It is hard to ignore Oshkosh against Playoff teams in 2016 as they are 3-1 with their lone loss to Whitewater 17-14 on the road. The Johnnies will play this game close, but we like Oshkosh to win 28-20.

John Carroll Region

Wesley (9-2) at John Carroll (10-1)

Game Time: 12 PM Eastern

Wesley took care of a stubborn Stevenson team in round one 38-17. Jamar Baynard had 265 yards and 3 touchdowns on 36 carries while the offense put up 540 yards of offense. John Carroll strolled past Olivet 37-12 with 4 touchdown passes from Anthony Moeglin (262 yards and 1 pick). The defense allowed only 188 yards to Olivet including 46 on the ground.

This game will come down to Wesley’s offense against John Carroll’s defense. Nick Falkenberg has thrown for 1,456 yards with 15 touchdowns, but also has 8 interceptions this year. Four of those picks came in two of the last four games: Montclair State and Stevenson. Baynard will need to get things going on the ground so the Carroll defense is not teeing off on his quarterback.

We like John Carroll to prevail here in a 31-21 win. Their defense will stop the Wesley attack and the offense will be able to move the ball.

Wittenberg (10-1) at Wisconsin-Whitewater (11-0)

Game Time: 1 PM Eastern

Wittenberg needed four overtimes to defeat Thomas More 33-30 in what was a battle of field goal kickers in the extra periods. Jake Kennedy had 293 yards of total offense while the defense withstood two 130+ yard rushers to win. Whitewater looked on their way to an easy victory after taking a 28-0 lead, but Lakeland was pesky and did not go quietly. Whitewater won 45-27, but looked mortal at times giving up 366 yards including 339 yards through the air.

What is interesting about this game is that Wittenberg can have success against Whitewater’s pass defense. Whitewater allows nearly 300 yards per game through the air, but Wittenberg prefers a more balanced attack (185.3 yards per game rushing and 225.3 yards per game passing). If Wittenberg puts more of a burden on Jake Kennedy’s shoulder, they could make this a good game.

We like Whitewater to come out on top here, but if they are getting burned in the pass game and have a lot of turnovers, it will be a lot closer. Whitewater takes this game 48-25.

Picks

Below are all the teams picked to win by region.

Mary Hardin-Baylor Region

Mary Hardin-Baylor and North Central

Alfred Region

Western New England and Mount Union

St. Thomas Region

St. Thomas and Wisconsin-Oshkosh

John Carroll Region

John Carroll and Wisconsin-Whitewater

Check back next week for the Quarterfinal predictions for the 2016 Division 3 Football playoff.