Another week of D3 football is in the books, naturally leading to some wild assumptions. Before you start freaking out because Team A lost to Team B, or Team C didn’t perform well against Team D, let me try and give you a little perspective.
NO CHAMPIONSHIP FOR BR-6 WHITEWATER!
One of the biggest surprises of Week 6 was Whitewater’s dismantling at the hands of BR-5 UW-Oshkosh. The defending champs had difficulty moving the ball, with the lone score coming at the 10:32 mark in the second quarter off a QB sneak by Chris Nelson. Otherwise the Warhawks netted a paltry 150 passing yards and just 71 rushing yards for 221 total yards of offense at a 5.8 yards per attempt click. They also converted just 3-of-11 third downs. Ouch.
It’s no secret the Warhawks passing attack has been anemic to start the season. Heading into the battle with Oshkosh, Whitewater ranked 210th in the nation in total passing yards. QB Chris Nelson had attempted just 57 passes through four games and totaled 488 yards and four touchdowns.
On the flip side, the team’s rushing attack ranked No. 21 overall, averaging 262.3 ypg thanks to an RB corps led by Jordan Ratliffe.
So, what happened?
UW-Oshkosh boasts a pretty incredible defense, particularly when it comes to stopping the run. Before this week’s meeting, the Titans allowed just 91 ypg on the ground and 160.3 ypg through the air — in other words, Whitewater’s worst nightmare.
In a furious defensive battle, Oshkosh scored a touchdown and a 41-yard field goal, then blocked Whitewater’s FG try that would have sent the game into OT. It wasn’t pretty, but the Titans did what they had to do to knock off the champs. They also put an end to D3’s longest active winning streak of 36 games, which means we can stop talking about a three-peat …
Oshkosh is just really that good. Yet, for all of the Titans accomplished in thumping the champs, it took a miracle defensive effort — in this case a blocked FG — to keep the Warhawks at bay. That’s not taking away anything from the Titans amazing victory. Quite the contrary. Great teams make big plays in big time situations. The Titans did what they had to do and garnered a huge victory.
But Whitewater was in this thing until the end, thanks to a crackling defense that allowed just 10 points and 340 yards of offense.
The Warhawks may not be what they were last season. The team lost a lot of players along with a legendary head coach. This is a transitional period for them, and so far they are doing a tremendous job under head coach Kevin Bullis — all things considered. They boast a 4-1 record, and were a FG away from sending a pivotal road game into overtime.
This is still a good team. Oshkosh was just better … this time.
BR-2 MOUNT UNION IS THE REAL DEAL … THE BEST TEAM IN D3 FOOTBALL!
Of all the D3 teams, none looks more complete than the Purple Raiders, thanks to a stifling No. 1 ranked defense and an offense capable of lighting up the scoreboard. Through five games, the Raiders have allowed just 14 points and 672 total yards of offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders ranked third in total offense, averaging 582.5 yards per clip with 31 touchdowns on the year — you can add six TDs to that total.
What’s more, they’re getting it done through the air and on the ground. Against BR-45 Ohio Northern on Saturday, the team finished with just 132 passing yards, but accumulated 415 rushing yards and six rushing scores. Two weeks earlier, against BR-175 Marietta, the Raiders put up 304 passing yards and 412 rushing yards.
This a very well balanced team that can defeat you via numerous ways, and looks like the team to beat come the playoffs …
No, I completely agree with this assessment. Mount Union is the real deal, and while teams like BR-3 UHMB and BR-1 Linfield will likely be among those attempting to disprove my theory, until someone actually puts forth a solid game against the Raiders, I’m sticking to my guns.
BR-34 CORTLAND STATE IS DONE FOR!
I feel like I write about the same teams in this overreactions post each week, but Whitewater, Mount Union and Cortland State have been the most exciting teams this season. How could I possibly pass up on including the Red Dragons in this post? Especially after they fell to R-20 Buffalo State in disheartening fashion on Saturday?
Up until that point, the Dragons had put together an impressive 5-0 record and looked primed to run the table. They led 21-9 at halftime against Buffalo and then watched as the Bengals put up 20 unanswered points for the 29-21 victory.
Cortland’s magical run finally came to a halt, and now the Red Dragons will fade into mediocrity …
Cortland merely had a down half. It happens. And the Bengals, likely inspired by the way their NFL counterparts dismantled the Seahawks on Sunday (seriously, that’s a weird coincidence), played a terrific second half. It was almost as though, up 21-9, the team lost its mental focus. The offense stalled and the defense couldn’t finish.
Again, these things happen. Great teams respond well to adversity, let’s see how the Red Dragons fare against BR-38 Alfred on Saturday before jumping to any crazy conclusions.