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Hansen's 2017 DIII Football Preview

August 28, 2017

Welcome to my season preview. First things first: I hope you enjoy what I'm doing here. I started out doing this just for myself, to satisfy my own curiosities, and I'm glad other people think what I do is interesting. That said, I'm only one guy, trying to preview all of DIII (except the NESCAC, those nerds don't play well with others). I don't have an editor, and I'm sourcing all of my data from public sources (NCAA.org & d3football.com). There's going to be mistakes. There's going to be a player back for a team I didn't know about, or one leaving that I assume is back. There's going to be a glaring omission somewhere. Players' positions are going to be wrong. It's not my fault, it's your SID's. I welcome your emails & tweets telling me how wrong I am.

 

It will be important for you to know how to read what you're seeing below. I break things down by conference, sorted in descending order of that conference's average rating in my model. For each conference, I start out with a snapshot review of the 2016 season--who I projected as the most-likely champion, who earned the Pool A bid, and which team finished with the best rating. The model correctly predicted 14 of 25 Pool A bids last season, and correctly predicted an addition 6 playoff teams (UMHB, UMU, UWO, Wheaton, UWP, SJU).

 

Also included in the 2016 review is the top players for the conference. For offense, the top QB and the top skill player are listed, and for defense, the top lineman and the top LB/DB are listed. The metric used for determining these players is Yards Above (or Below, for defense) Average Player per Game (YAAP/gm), adjusted for opponent. I wrote about my methodology for these metrics here and here. On offense, it's essentially a player's yards per play, with a 20 yard boost for every touchdown, and a 45 yard deduction for every turnover (also known as Adjusted Net Yards/Attempt, or ANY/A). The defensive metric is more complex, with an empirically-determined "yard" value for every statistic a defender could earn, weighted by their team's overall defensive efficiency, and adjusted for opponents. This can lead to some interesting players appearing as the top defenders, but for the most part, I feel like the stats back up the conventional wisdom. For the 2017 conference MVP predictions, I just removed all seniors from the 2016 list.

 

The 2016 stat profiles are each team's opponent-adjusted ANY/A for rushing (vertical axis) and passing (horizontal axis). The size of each team's bubble is proportional to their opponent-adjusted points per game. For the Offensive Efficiency graph, being a big bubble in the top right is good, while being a small bubble in the bottom left is bad. For defense, it works opposite, because allowing yards & points is bad. If a team's location on the graph doesn't seem to jive with the size of their bubble, that may be an indication of a team ripe for regression or progression, or it may be an indicator of good/bad special teams play not captured by yards/play.

 

The 2017 Pool A projections and conference projections are from a simulation of the full season, which you can find on the right-hand side of this page. The average win totals here will differ from the "Expected Wins" on the main landing page of the site, due to the nature of the simulation (the simulation does a better job of representing the inherent uncertainty in preseason ratings). 

 

Enough exposition, HERE ARE THE STATS.

WIAC (1)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 1

Final Conference Rank: 1

2016 Favorite: UW-Whitewater

Champion: UW-Whitewater

Best Team: UW-Oshkosh

 

Offensive MVQB: Tom Kelly QB UW-Platteville

Offensive MOP: Dan Arnold WR UW-Platteville

Defensive MVP: Johnny Egan DB UW-Oshkosh

Defensive MVDL: Kyle Hunter DL UW-River Falls

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

UW-Whitewater - 0.9970; 49.3; 6.1

UW-Platteville - 0.9967; 50.7; 7.8

UW-Oshkosh - 0.9961; 48.4; 6.4

UW-Stevens Point - 0.9513; 38.7; 12.6

UW-River Falls - 0.9034; 40.3; 19.8

UW-La Crosse - 0.8985; 39.1; 19.0

UW-Stout - 0.8248; 38.8; 24.1

UW-Eau Claire - 0.7095; 30.4; 21.7

 

Offensive MVQB: Tarek Yaeggi QB UW-La Crosse

Offensive MOP: Drew Patterson RB UW-Whitewater

Defensive MVP: Josh Mackie DB UW-Platteville

Defensive MVDL: Isaiah Hardy DL UW-Stout

 

Pool A Odds

 

Whitewater finished a decent distance behind UWO & UWP last season in the final ratings, but the combination of attrition on defense for UWO, attrition on offense for UWP, and the four-year regression for UWW makes the Warhawks the slightest of favorites for 2017. It's been far too long since the pecking order in the WIAC has been upset, and with UW-La Crosse expecting a second-year bump from Coach Schmidt and returning one of the five best QB's in the country, I expect this year to be the year. I seriously doubt anyone outside of the top 3 wins the conference, but a new #3 wouldn't be much of a shock.

CCIW (2)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 2

Final Conference Rank: 2

2016 Favorite: North Central

Champion: North Central

Best Team: Wheaton

 

Offensive MVQB: Broc Rutter QB North Central

Offensive MOP: Maurice Shoemaker-Gilmore RB Illinois Wesleyan

Defensive MVP: Jeremy Niklos DB North Central

Defensive MVDL: Kyle Venhuizen DL Illinois Wesleyan

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Wheaton - 0.9960; 45.6; 3.9

North Central - 0.9934; 50.5; 11.4

Illinois Wesleyan - 0.9365; 36.6; 12.5

Carthage - 0.8959; 37.5; 17.7

Augustana - 0.7729; 31.1; 19.3

Elmhurst - 0.7248; 32.2; 22.8

Millikin - 0.5492; 29.1; 27.1

North Park - 0.4593; 23.6; 25.2

Carroll - 0.2633; 23.2; 33.2

 

Offensive MVQB: Broc Rutter QB North Central

Offensive MOP: James Cobbs WR Carthage

Defensive MVP: Eric Stevenson LB Wheaton

Defensive MVDL: Pete Laughlin DL Carthage

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

If I were a betting man, and I had to pick between Wheaton and North Central, the return of Broc Rutter (who was 5th in the nation in YAAP/gm AS A FRESHMAN) makes me a lot more comfortable picking North Central. Wheaton probably has the more complete team, but an All-American QB can hide a lot of other deficiencies. I would also disagree with my numbers on Carthage/Illinois Wesleyan. It's easy to see Carthage progressing next season with the returners they have back, but over-valuing returning starters is what led to Augustana cracking my preseason Top 25 last season. Coach Bell is a proven winner given his time at Monmouth, but since taking the job at Auggie, he has yet to finish a season with a higher rating than his former team.

 

Quick aside about how impressive Rutter's season was last year. Among the Top 25 QB's in the country last season in YAAP/gm, 19 were seniors, 5 were juniors, and ONE was a freshman--Rutter. Obviously, the difference between an 18/19 year old and a 22 year old is huge. The next-best sophomore or freshman was PJ Settles (Rhodes) at #36, and the only other freshman in the Top 50 was Dom Davis (Mount Union). While he may suffer from regression to the mean this season, the future is supernova bright in Naperville.

MIAC (3)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 3

Final Conference Rank: 3

2016 Favorite: St. Thomas

Champion: St. Thomas

Best Team: St. Thomas

 

Offensive MVQB: Alex Fenske QB St. Thomas

Offensive MOP: Evan Clark WR St. John's

Defensive MVP: Dawson Brown LB Bethel

Defensive MVDL: Ted Kalina DL St. John's

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

  

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

St. Thomas - 0.9994; 57.1; 6.1

St. John's - 0.9900; 43.6; 6.9

Bethel - 0.9352; 38.7; 14.8

Concordia-Moorhead - 0.9137; 34.8; 13.3

Gustavus Adolphus - 0.7276; 32.5; 23.0

Hamline - 0.5787; 26.7; 23.5

Augsburg - 0.5344; 31.2; 29.8

Carleton - 0.2755; 25.7; 35.1

St. Olaf - 0.2633; 22.2; 32.8

 

Offensive MVQB: Ben Alvord/Jackson Erdmann QB St. John's

Offensive MOP: Evan Clark WR St. John's

Defensive MVP: Dawson Brown LB Bethel

Defensive MVDL: Ted Kalina DL St. John's

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

I remain convinced that St. Thomas was the best team in the country last year. They retained the top spot in my final ratings after their turnover-fueled loss in the playoffs (turnover luck is a real thing that has a huge impact on games), and I didn't see a dominant enough performance out of UMHB in the Stagg Bowl to convince me otherwise. Sure, they lost their QB and several impact players from their defense, but they have 3 QB's on their roster who have spent time in DI programs, and they return the 2015 national player of the year at running back. They're my pick to win the Stagg Bowl this season.

 

St. John's returns two QB's who cumulatively would have easily outpaced Fenske for the conference MVQB in 2016, and given the return of Clark, their offense should remain one of the best in the country through the air regardless of who earns the starting role. Behind SJU, my model still (for about the 4th year in a row) thinks Bethel is a Top 25 team somehow. If they can get through a season without catching the injury bug, and if they find some answers in the secondary, I can see them solidifying themselves as the conference's #3.

OAC (4)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 5

Final Conference Rank: 5

2016 Favorite: Mount Union

Champion: John Carroll

Best Team: Mount Union

 

Offensive MVQB: Logan Stepp QB Otterbein

Offensive MOP: Roger Walker RB Marietta

Defensive MVP: Dorian Maynard DB Muskingum

Defensive MVDL: Austin Crow DL Heidelberg

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Mount Union - 0.9992; 53.2; 3.7

John Carroll - 0.9922; 41.3; 3.2

Heidelberg - 0.9514; 45.5; 19.4

Ohio Northern - 0.9082; 41.1; 20.2

Baldwin Wallace - 0.7544; 31.6; 20.7

Otterbein - 0.7511; 36.3; 25.6

Muskingum - 0.6572; 23.6; 17.3

Marietta - 0.4749; 31.7; 32.7

Capital - 0.3544; 27.9; 33.8

Wilmington - 0.1227; 23.5; 41.8

 

Offensive MVQB: Logan Stepp QB Otterbein

Offensive MOP: Roger Walker RB Marietta

Defensive MVP: Mason McKenrick LB John Carroll

Defensive MVDL: Austin Crow DL Heidelberg

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

Here's a bold prediction for 2017: a conference with two semifinalists in 2016 is only going to have one team make the playoffs in 2017. This prediction hinges on a few things, the first being that Mount Union earns the Pool A bid, and the second being John Carroll's inability to reproduce their 2016 results under a new coach, with basically a brand new defensive unit. Heidelberg might have the star power to finish second in the conference, but they're probably not good enough to do it with a 9-1 record, and John Carroll probably loses to UWO. With only 5 Pool C bids, I don't see how a second OAC team gets in at 8-2. I would also look for a bounce-back from Baldwin Wallace, whose rating was much better than their record last season.

NWC (5)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 6

Final Conference Rank: 8

2016 Favorite: Linfield

Champion: Linfield

Best Team: Linfield

 

Offensive MVQB: Sam Riddle QB Linfield

Offensive MOP: Kobe Williams WE Pacific

Defensive MVP: Travis McMillion DB Pacific Lutheran

Defensive MVDL: Jeff Bajema DL Pacific Lutheran

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Linfield - 0.9847; 39.9; 5.9

Whitworth - 0.8620; 44.3; 27.1

Pacific Lutheran - 0.8158; 28.6; 14.4

George Fox - 0.8102; 31.5; 17.7

Willamette - 0.7109; 28.6; 19.8

Pacific - 0.6378; 30.8; 25.2

Puget Sound - 0.4175; 27.7; 31.0

Lewis and Clark - 0.2331; 26.6; 38.1

 

Offensive MVQB: Ian Kolste QB Whitworth

Offensive MOP: Kobe Williams WR Pacific

Defensive MVP: Travis McMillion DB Pacific Lutheran

Defensive MVDL: Caleb Dalzell DL George Fox

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

 

Even after two seasons finishing 6-1 in conference, I'm still not sold on Whitworth as the definitive #2 behind Linfield. My model had PLU as the #2 team in the preseason last year, and Whitworth needed a crazy 17-point comeback last season to win against them. Like I mentioned before the jump, when a team's bubble doesn't match up with their efficiency stats, something is amiss. Whitworth somehow had the second worst passing defense and the second worst rush defense, but somehow, a decent scoring defense. Likewise, they had the best scoring offense despite barely outpacing George Fox in rushing and passing. Expect regression. My personal prediction is that either GFU or PLU finishes #2 in the conference this season.

 

Linfield is going to have to rely heavily on their defense in the beginning of the year while they try to find a groove offensively in the post-Riddle era, good thing their defense is going to be one of the best in the country. They're a massive underdog to UMHB early in the year, but they're still going to walk away from their conference schedule with the championship.

 

E8 (6)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 4

Final Conference Rank: 6

2016 Favorite: St. John Fisher

Champion: Alfred

Best Team: Alfred

 

Offensive MVQB: Tyler Johnson QB Alfred

Offensive MOP: Dan Andrews RB Brockport

Defensive MVP: Pat Minogue LB Ithaca

Defensive MVDL: Nicholas Bruzzese DL Utica

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Brockport - 0.8454; 41.1; 25.1

Buffalo State - 0.8301; 33.5; 18.4

St. John Fisher - 0.8277; 39.3; 24.4

Alfred - 0.8151; 36.6; 22.5

Cortland - 0.7945; 36.7; 23.7

Utica - 0.6495; 26.1; 20.1

Hartwick - 0.5354; 40.7; 39.3

Morrisville State - 0.4367; 32.3; 34.8

 

Offensive MVQB: Billy Pine QB Hartwick

Offensive MOP: Koree Reed WR Hartwick

Defensive MVP: AJ LiCata LB Alfred

Defensive MVDL: Cliff Brown DL Buffalo State

 

Pool A Odds

 

I don't care what the numbers say, Hartwick is winning the conference. It's the only thing that makes sense. Billy Pine + Koree Reed = Tuddies. That offense is going to be even more electric this season, but somehow they need to find a defensive stop every once in a while.

 

In all seriousness though, the top-end of this conference is as wide-open as can be. The top 5 teams are all separated by less than 0.5 wins. Brockport has the most experience returning in the conference, which should help in close games (there's bound to be a few of those). 

IIAC (7)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 7

Final Conference Rank: 7

2016 Favorite: Wartburg

Champion: Coe

Best Team: Coe

 

Offensive MVQB: Riley Gray QB Central

Offensive MOP: Trevor Heitland RB Coe

Defensive MVP: Dylan Stepleton DB Coe

Defensive MVDL: Isaac Frazier DL Simpson

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Dubuque - 0.9285; 41.3; 18.3

Central - 0.9206; 41.2; 19.0

Wartburg - 0.8884; 38.8; 19.6

Coe - 0.8293; 36.3; 21.3

Simpson - 0.5604; 27.8; 25.4

Buena Vista - 0.5110; 27.9; 27.5

Luther - 0.4939; 27.1; 27.3

Nebraska Wesleyan - 0.4904; 27.4; 27.8

Loras - 0.2224; 26.7; 38.8

 

Offensive MVQB: Conor Feckley QB Dubuque

Offensive MOP: Sam Markham WR Central

Defensive MVP: Peyton Imhoff DB Wartburg

Defensive MVDL: Drew Heitland DL Coe

 

Pool A Odds

 

Quick gripe: I rely on d3football.com a lot for my data, and their coverage of the sport in Division III is awesome, but there's no conference in the country that gets more consistently underrated in their conference rankings than the Iowa Conference. The IIAC has never finished a season worse than 8th in my model, and they've only ranked that high in the d3football rankings once in the last six years. #Disrespekt

 

The coaches pretty overwhelmingly voted BVU as the last place team, while the usual four teams split first-place votes. I don't see BVU being worse than Loras, and I think NWU and Simpson are pretty clearly a class above Luther and BVU, even if the numbers don't show it.

 

Coe started nearly the same 22 players for all of their games last season, and most graduated, so it's hard to see them staying as healthy, or performing at the same level this season. I know I'm biased, but if any team is going to surprise people with an undefeated record, it's going to be Wartburg. They lost a lot of games in the fourth quarter or overtime last season behind an inexperienced defense. Don't be surprised if their record in close games flips this season. Matt Scacia was an underrated force last year, finishing just a hair behind Conor Feckley in YAAP/gm, despite having far fewer attempts. 

ASC (8)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rating: 8

Final Conference Rating: 4

2016 Favorite: Mary Hardin-Baylor

Champion: Mary Hardin-Baylor

Best Team: Mary Hardin-Baylor

 

Offensive MVQB: Blake Jackson QB Mary Hardin-Baylor

Offensive MOP: Markeith Miller RB Mary Hardin-Baylor

Defensive MVP: Jordan Washington DB McMurry (Baylor Mullins was only 1 yard/game behind, chill)

Defensive MVDL: Zack Roberson DL Sul Ross State (I know, Teidrick Smith was a baller, but this metric doesn't know if you're getting triple-teamed every play)

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Mary Hardin-Baylor - 0.9987; 49.4; 2.1

Hardin-Simmons - 0.9568; 43.9; 16.9

McMurry - 0.7371; 33.3; 23.3

East Texas Baptist - 0.6902; 42.2; 34.4

Sul Ross State - 0.6748; 29.7; 22.6

Louisiana College - 0.6642; 34.2; 27.5

Texas Lutheran - 0.5615; 35.7; 33.3

Southwestern - 0.4494; 23.6; 25.6

Belhaven - 0.3674; 27.1; 32.4

Howard Payne - 0.0538; 13.8; 39.1

 

Offensive MVQB: Dru Smith QB East Texas Baptist

Offensive MOP: Markeith Miller RB Mary Hardin-Baylor

Defensive MVP: Jordan Washington DB McMurry

Defensive MVDL: Haston Adams DL Mary Hardin-Baylor

 

The ASC won't have an automatic bid until next season, but whovever wins the conference is pretty much guaranteed a Pool B birth, and the runner up has around a 50% chance of edging out the NEWMAC champ or Washington U. (Finlandia is not going to get a Pool B bid). Here's each team's odds of getting a Pool B bid:

 

UMHB: 91.3%

HSU: 41.5%

McMurry: 7.2%

ETBU: 5.2%

SRSU: 4.1%

LC: 3.5%

TLU: 1.7%

SW'ern: 0.6%

Belhaven: 0.4%

HPU: 0.0%

 

The Pool B process, considering the relative strength of the NEWMAC and the unlikelihood of WashU getting through their schedule with a shot at consideration, actually boosts a second ASC school's chances of getting into the tournament by around 25%. It's almost like they have 1.5 Pool A bids.

 

The big difference between UMHB and everyone else in the conference is glaringly obvious when looking at the team efficiency from last year: DEFENSE & the ground game. They lose some on D (Baylor Mullins and Teidrick Smith come to mind), but most of the rest of the defense is back, as is RB Markeith Miller. Assuming they are able to find someone to throw the ball (like maybe the coaches' preseason pick for offensive POY), they'll win the conference again. Hardin-Simmons and ETBU are both going to be deadly on offense, with several players ranking in the top 5 nationally at their position in YAAP/gm (Alex Bell, Reese Childress, Dru Smith). Southwestern and TLU are interesting case studies for the reliability of my system, too. Four-year regressions mean that TLU was one of the highest risers from the final ratings last year, while Southwestern's rating fell more than any team's in the nation over the offseason. 

NJAC (9)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rating: 12

Final Conference Rating: 9

2016 Favorite: Wesley

Champion: Wesley

Best Team: Wesley

 

Offensive MVQB: Ryan Jones QB Salisbury

Offensive MOP: Bryce Shade WR Wesley

Defensive MVP: Darin Hungerford LB Kean

Defensive MVDL: William Sewell DL Frostburg State

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Wesley - 0.9869; 49.2; 14.2

Salisbury - 0.9221; 43.9; 21.5

Frostburg State - 0.8815; 33.4; 14.8

Christopher Newport - 0.7623; 29.8; 18.5

Kean - 0.7390; 29.3; 19.3

Rowan - 0.6794; 22.6; 15.3

Montclair State - 0.6377; 22.6; 17.0

TCNJ - 0.2675; 16.0; 25.8

Southern Virginia - 0.1666; 16.7; 31.9

William Paterson - 0.1599; 19.5; 35.2

 

Offensive MVQB: Connor Cox QB Frostburg State

Offensive MOP: Russell Neverdon WR Frostburg State

Defensive MVP: Darin Hungerford LB Kean

Defensive MVDL: Jordan Procter DL Frostburg State

 

Pool A Odds

 

The NJAC is the antithesis of the ASC. The top 7 teams in the conference all have Top 50 defenses, with only Wesley and Salisbury ranking in the Top 50 offensively. Understandable then why it took Wesley so long to get into a groove without Joe Callahan. While the offenses are very different, I would expect the same sort of growing pains for Salisbury this season without Ryan Jones under center. Frostburg has the best quarterback in the conference returning this season, and if their DL keeps wreaking havoc without William Sewell, their clash with Salisbury in Week 11 might decide if the East is going to get a Pool C bid in 2017.

LL (10)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rating: 15

Final Conference Rating: 12

2016 Favorite: Hobart

Champion: Hobart

Best Team: Hobart

 

Offensive MVQB: Shane Sweeney QB Hobart

Offensive MOP: Brandon Shed WR Hobart

Defensive MVP: Alec Dietsch LB St Lawrence

Defensive MVDL: Chyron Brown-Wallace DL St. Lawrence

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Hobart - 0.8648; 36.5; 19.5

St. Lawrence - 0.7878; 29.8; 17.2

Ithaca - 0.7494; 23.9; 13.4

RPI - 0.6838; 26.2; 18.6

Union - 0.4951; 23.4; 23.6

Rochester - 0.2838; 29.5; 38.5

 

Offensive MVQB: Shane Sweeney QB Hobart

Offensive MOP: Brandon Shed WR Hobart

Defensive MVP: Pat Minogue LB Ithaca

Defensive MVDL: Chris Ryan DL St. Lawrence

 

Pool A Odds

 

Hobart finished the year looking like a legit Top 10 team, starting with a convincing win over one of the best defenses in the Eastern time zone (34-18 over SLU). But they also played games in the middle of the season, often needing last-second heroics to avoid being upset:

Like I talked about with North Central, the Shane Sweeney gives me a lot more confidence in picking Hobart to repeat, and when you add maybe the most-skilled WR (Brandon Shed) in the nation, the offense will be impressive. SLU returns their fair share of playmakers on defense though, and after last season, I'm guessing they will have some new answers for Sweeney/Shed. Ithaca has a dominant defense of its own, which could also give Hobart struggles if they start slow.

PAC (11)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rating: 11

Final Conference Rating: 10

2016 Favorite: Thomas More

Champion: Thomas More

Best Team: Thomas More

 

Offensive MVQB: Ryan Radke QB Thiel

Offensive MOP: Sam Benger RB Carnegie Mellon

Defensive MVP: Donovan Hayden LB Bethany

Defensive MVDL: Cameron Brown DL Case Western Reserve

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Thomas More - 0.9476; 42.4; 16.8

Case Western Reserve - 0.9046; 38.2; 17.6

Westminster Pa. - 0.8921; 33.7; 14.3

Washington and Jefferson - 0.8551; 37.2; 20.6

Carnegie Mellon - 0.7790; 35.6; 23.5

Bethany - 0.5330; 27.4; 26.1

Geneva - 0.5212; 22.2; 21.4

St. Vincent - 0.4930; 31.7; 32.0

Thiel - 0.3293; 33.8; 40.8

Waynesburg - 0.2698; 16.0; 25.7

Grove City - 0.1917; 22.6; 36.3

 

Offensive MVQB: Rob Cuda QB Case Western Reserve

Offensive MOP: Sam Benger WR Carnegie Mellon

Defensive MVP: CJ Armstrong LB Westminster Pa.

Defensive MVDL: Cameron Brown DL Case Western Reserve

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

For the second year in a row, Case Western has the second-best odds of making the playoffs out of the PAC. The difference between last season and this season though, Case Western is actually the second-best team in the conference, with the best quarterback. They still avoid Thomas More in the conference scheduling, which helps, but again, Case needs to rely on finishing either undefeated (no undefeated team has been denied entry to the playoffs under the current format) or a game ahead of Thomas More to get into the playoffs, thanks to tie-breakers relying on in-conference strength of schedule. Last season proved that a one-loss PAC school with Case's SoS isn't getting in with six Pool C teams. Having one less Pool C bid only makes their chances that much worse. For anyone else in the conference with a Top 25-caliber team, of which there are a few, the impending departure of Thomas More has to be welcome news. The top half of this conference is too talented for only one playoff team.

ODAC (12)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rating: 13

Final Conference Rating: 13

2016 Favorite: Guilford

Champion: Randolph-Macon

Best Team: Randolph-Macon

 

Offensive MVQB: Charlie Nelson QB Washington & Lee

Offensive MOP: Cedrick Delaney WR Shenandoah

Defensive MVP: Jeremy Niklos DB North Central

Defensive MVDL: Davon Keith DL Emory and Henry

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Washington and Lee - 0.7315; 33.3; 23.6

Emory and Henry - 0.7190; 36.5; 27.4

Randolph-Macon - 0.7013; 28.6; 20.3

Bridgewater - 0.6255; 30.2; 25.1

Guilford - 0.6182; 33.0; 28.2

Hampden-Sydney - 0.6181; 30.5; 25.7

Shenandoah - 0.4783; 35.2; 36.1

 

Offensive MVQB: Hayden Bauserman QB Shenandoah

Offensive MOP: Tre Frederick WR Randolph-Macon

Defensive MVP: Griffin Davis LB Hampden-Sydney

Defensive MVDL: Davon Keith DL Emory and Henry

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

Emory and Henry is the popular pick to win the ODAC, which is odd, and not because they're a bad team, but because it's odd for ANY team from the ODAC to develop any sort of consensus as the favorite in the preseason. They do return a game-wrecker on the D-Line in Davon Keith, but it's hard to ever count out Washington and Lee, and Randolph-Macon is still going to play good, disciplined defense despite their graduation losses (defense is generally more resilient to turnover than offense). It's also only been a couple years since Guilford looked like the best team in the conference, and HSC's senoirs were on a playoff team as freshmen, and Bridgewater tied for the conference championship with the HSC team, and Shenandoah returns a proven quarterback... you know what? I have no idea who's going to win the ODAC, but I do know that it's going to be an exciting ride for whoever does.

CC (13)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rating: 9

Final Conference Rating: 11

2016 Favorite: Johns Hopkins

Champion: Johns Hopkins

Best Team: Johns Hopkins

 

Offensive MVQB: Jonathon Geronimo QB Johns Hopkins

Offensive MOP: Nick Savant RB Muhlenberg

Defensive MVP: Edward Delia LB Moravian

Defensive MVDL: Joe Granahan DL Franklin and Marshall

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Johns Hopkins - 0.9490; 46.0; 20.2

Muhlenberg - 0.9221; 37.7; 15.3

Franklin and Marshall - 0.6901; 24.9; 17.1

Susquehanna - 0.6695; 35.7; 28.7

Moravian - 0.5383; 28.0; 26.4

Ursinus - 0.5164; 28.2; 27.5

Gettysburg - 0.5038; 29.8; 29.6

McDaniel - 0.4650; 27.9; 29.3

Juniata - 0.2517; 24.3; 34.9

Dickinson - 0.2284; 18.0; 29.8

 

Offensive MVQB: Justin Davidov QB Gettysburg

Offensive MOP: Nick Savant RB Muhlenberg

Defensive MVP: Jimmy Turner LB Dickinson

Defensive MVDL: Joe Granahan DL Franklin and Marshall

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

My playoff prediction model last season thought Muhlenberg was the more likely choice for the last Pool C bid than UW-Platteville, but only because I had tweaked the criteria to assume that any team finishing outright in third place in their conference would be excluded. I say that to say this, Muhlenberg is a really good team, and Nick Savant is a damn good back, capable of carrying them into the playoffs this year if Johns Hopkins struggles to replace a large senior class in pretty much any way. The gap between those two teams and every other team in the CC is so large, and has been for so long, that their game Halloween weekend is going to be the championship game. 

MIAA (14)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 16

Final Conference Rank: 16

2016 Favorite: Albion

Champion: Olivet

Best Team: Olivet

 

Offensive MVQB: Braden Black QB Olivet

Offensive MOP: Brandon Campbell RB Hope

Defensive MVP: Marcus Winters DB Trine

Defensive MVDL: Troy Gahm DL Alma

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Olivet - 0.7978; 38.2; 25.1

Hope - 0.7096; 25.4; 16.7

Alma - 0.5610; 30.0; 27.6

Trine - 0.5589; 31.7; 29.4

Adrian - 0.5274; 24.5; 23.4

Albion - 0.4723; 27.8; 28.9

Kalamazoo - 0.2803; 23.8; 33.0

 

Offensive MVQB: Hunter Hamm QB Adrian

Offensive MOP: Brandon Campbell RB Hope

Defensive MVP: Marcus Winter DB Trine

Defensive MVDL: Damon Fuller DL Adrian

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

Hope college has pretty much all of the answers: a dominant pass defense, a bruising running game, a stout rush defense. Do they have a quarterback? Two players split time at QB last season, both with underwhelming results. If Hope can get even average play out of the most important position on the field, they should win the conference, should win the conference, but that's a big if. Olivet is the only other team with enough proven talent to be a safe pick for the Pool A, but pretty much everyone but Kalamazoo has a decent shot of beating every other team in the conference. The model assumes (I think correctly) that Albion's tank job last season we a temporary blip that just compounded as the year went on. They played their best football early in the season against their best competition, and then seemed to have lost their swagger in the back half of their schedule.

SCIAC (15)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference rank: 17

Final Conference Rank: 18

2016 Favorite: Redlands

Champion: Redlands

Best Team: Redlands

 

Offensive MVQB: Bryan Scott QB Occidental

Offensive MOP: Aaron Lacombe WR Cal Lutheran

Defensive MVP: Elan Harris DB Pomona-Pitzer

Defensive MVDL: Charlie Fries DL Pomona-Pitzer

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Redlands - 0.9390; 43.1; 18.7

Cal Lutheran - 0.7389; 33.2; 23.1

Chapman - 0.7314; 33.7; 24.0

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps - 0.7015; 29.2; 20.8

Pomona-Pitzer - 0.5677; 26.9; 24.6

La Verne - 0.3959; 27.8; 32.0

Occidental - 0.3744; 36.9; 42.0

Whittier - 0.0362; 16.5; 44.8

 

Offensive MVQB: Ricky Bautista QB Chapman

Offensive MOP: Aaron lacombe WR Cal Lutheran

Defensive MVP: Elan Harris DB Pomona-Pitzer

Defensive MVDL: Tyson-Jay Saena DL Claremont-Mudd-Scripps

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

Redlands started the season as the favorite in the SCIAC, and only got better as the season went on. They showed an ability to make big plays against the best competition in the country in the playoffs against UMHB, but they lacked the horses to compete for a full four quarters. They start the year in the Top 25, and their most conference's most-likely playoff opponent (Linfield, duh) starts with their lowest preseason rating in over a decade. If there were ever a year for the SCIAC champ to get out of the first round, it's this year. Outside of Redlands, I feel like Cal Lutheran is the team to beat. They've had some bad luck in close games the last couple years, and this should be the year their luck flips back to what it had been during their string of championships, but then again, Chapman has the best returning QB. Feels to me like C-M-S missed their opportunity last season, and they haven't shown the ability to reload that other the three ahead of them have.

MAC (16)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 18

Final Conference rank: 17

2016 Favorite: Albright

Champion: Stevenson

Best Team: Delaware Valley

 

Offensive MVQB: Jose Tabora QB Wilkes

Offensive MOP: Preston Addo WR Stevenson

Defensive MVP: Austin Tennessee DB Stevenson

Defensive MVDL: Byron Cooper DL Widener

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Delaware Valley - 0.9331; 36.9; 13.2

Stevenson - 0.8710; 35.4; 17.6

Albright - 0.7902; 35.3; 22.6

Widener - 0.6629; 30.2; 23.6

Lycoming - 0.5458; 25.7; 23.9

Lebanon Valley - 0.5400; 22.4; 20.8

King's - 0.5388; 27.3; 25.7

Wilkes - 0.2534; 26.1; 36.5

Misericordia - 0.1775; 20.9; 35.4

FDU-Florham - 0.0686; 23.4; 46.8

 

Offensive MVQB: Jose Tabora QB Wilkes

Offensive MOP: Preston Addo WR Stevenson

Defensive MVP: Bruce Damon LB King's

Defensive MVDL: Vince Char DL Widener

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

I know there's going to be disagreement about where the MAC is in this preview, and I can see why. The top four teams are all good, which I acknowledged last year, but the bottom three teams are... not.

 

Del Val, despite not winning the conference last year, was easily the best team in the conference when looking at their overall profile. They had the best passing offense, rushing offense, scoring offense, passing defense, scoring defense, and the second-best rushing defense. Yes, they were shut out by Stevenson in 2016, but the Mustangs graduated some key pieces in their secondary, and with minimal question marks in marquee positions for Del Val, I expect that result to flip this season.

SAA (17)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 14

Final Conference Rank: 14

2016 Favorite: Hendrix

Champion: Washington U.

Best Team: Hendrix

 

Offensive MVQB: Seth Hendrix QB Hendrix

Offensive MOP: Dayton Winn RB Hendrix

Defensive MVP: Cal Lewellyn DB Centre

Defensive MVDL: Mamadou Soumahoro DL Berry

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Centre - 0.8037; 38.6; 25.2

Hendrix - 0.6878; 38.2; 30.5

Berry - 0.6106; 24.5; 20.1

Trinity Texas - 0.5478; 24.0; 22.1

Rhodes - 0.4908; 34.1; 34.5

Millsaps - 0.3743; 26.5; 31.5

Birmingham-Southern - 0.2895; 24.6; 33.4

Austin - 0.2727; 16.7; 26.2

Sewanee - 0.2181; 19.1; 31.4

 

Offensive MVQB: PJ Settles QB Rhodes

Offensive MOP: Nate Hodapp WR Hendrix

Defensive MVP: Cal Lewellyn DB Centre

Defensive MVDL: Mamadou Soumahoro DL Berry

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

Oh man, that Hendrix offense in 2016 was a thing of beauty. They led the nation in efficiency (1st downs per set of downs), and had the most valuable backfield tandem in the country. I'm not saying they should have won the conference last year, but I am saying that their offense would have been good enough to win the conference with a better than average defense, and this year, pretty much everything that made that offense so special is gone. The thing is, for every team at the top of the conference, a lot of key pieces are gone. Centre returns an average number of starters on an offense that was second-best last year, and was above average on defense, but I honestly feel like Berry is the team to beat. Their defense has holes to fill, but Soumahoro is a big enough presence to fill them nearly by himself. If PJ Settles progresses in his junior season, Rhodes could surprise some people. As I mentioned above, he was the highest-rated sophomore quarterback in the country last year.

NCAC (18)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 19

Final Conference Rank: 19

2016 Favorite: Wabash

Champion: Wittenberg

Best Team: Wittenberg

 

Offensive MVQB: Matt Hunt QB DePauw

Offensive MOP: Josh Philander WR Hiram

Defensive MVP: Brooks Hepp DB DePauw

Defensive MVDL: Gary Brodek DL Ohio Wesleyan

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Wabash - 0.9164; 36.5; 14.7

Wittenberg - 0.9031; 36.8; 16.4

Denison - 0.7397; 30.6; 20.5

DePauw - 0.6597; 34.6; 28.1.

Ohio Wesleyan - 0.5436; 22.9; 21.1

Wooster - 0.3505; 30.3; 36.3

Hiram - 0.2042; 20.2; 33.3

Kenyon - 0.1880; 21.9; 35.9

Oberlin - 0.1627; 20.5; 36.0

Allegheny - 0.0663; 17.1; 40.8

 

Offensive MVQB: Canaan Gebele QB Denison

Offensive MOP: Jake Wilson RB Allegheny

Defensive MVP: Brooks Hepp DB DePauw

Defensive MVDL: Nate Keirn DL Denison

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

Last season brought surprising parity in the NCAC--uncertainty that seemed unexpected in the preseason. With so many big playmakers graduating for the quartet of contenders, Wittenberg and Wabash start the year as big favorites thanks to their proven ability to replace starters without sacrificing quality on the field, but Denison brings back the biggest big-play threat in the conference. If Wabash and DePauw struggle to find quarterbacks, or Wittenberg struggles to block for theirs, it's easy to see Denison win the conference in 2017. Also of note: Denison has improved on their previous season's rating every season for the last seven years. I would bet they make it eight in a row this year.

 

USAC (19)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 20

Final Conference Rank: 20

2016 Favorite: Huntingdon

Champion: Huntingdon

Best Team: Huntingdon

 

Offensive MVQB: Luke Bailey QB Huntingdon

Offensive MOP: Malike Adams WR N.C. Wesleyan

Defensive MVP: Ethan Williams DB Maryville

Defensive MVDL: Montel Lee DL Ferrum

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Maryville Tenn. - 0.8609; 34.3; 17.22

Huntingdon - 0.8570; 37.7; 20.9

Brevard - 0.6337; 25.0; 19.6

N.C. Wesleyan - 0.6131; 32.4; 27.8

Averett - 0.4734; 25.2; 26.2

Ferrum - 0.3187; 20.5; 27.9

Methodist - 0.2549; 23.4; 33.8

LaGrange - 0.1559; 22.2; 38.1

Greensboro - 0.0065; 8.4; 47.5

 

Offensive MVQB: Connor Blair QB LaGrange

Offensive MOP: Elijah Chenier RB Maryville

Defensive MVP: Ethan Williams DB Maryville

Defensive MVDL: Montel Lee DL Ferrum

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

Brevard is overrated by my system. I usually like to express the significant uncertainty in any preseason rating, especially for a team switching divisions, but after reading the Brevard preview in Kickoff, I'm convinced. They are not going to be good this year. They ran a very run-heavy option attack last season, and are switching offensive styles this year. Assuming they try to pass the ball at all, their offense is going to be bad. It was against DII opponents (which helped their opponent adjustments above) but their offense had NEGATIVE Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt. And pretty much their entire roster left before the drop down to DIII. The only positive for them: they don't have to play conference favorite Maryville thanks to previous scheduling commitments.

 

The trio of Maryville, Huntingdon, and NC Wesleyan are all solid teams. NC Wesleyan's scoring underperformed their offensive and defensive efficiencies, so I think they're closer to challenging the top two teams than their rating would suggest. Maryville gets the nod thanks to the value of their returning starters. Huntingdon's O was electric last year, and less than half of that unit returngs, while Maryville had the best defense in the league last year, and everyone returns.

NEWMAC (20)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: N/A

Final Conference Rank: N/A

2016 Favorite: N/A

Champion: N/A

Best Team: Springfield

 

Offensive MVQB: Dan Eckler QB WPI

Offensive MOP: Darius Adams WR Coast Guard

Defensive MVP: Brian Murtagh LB WPI

Defensive MVDL: Christopher Ford DL Maine Maritime

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Springfield - 0.6599; 27.1; 20.6

WPI - 0.5830; 26.4; 23.1

Merchant Marine - 0.4934; 26.9; 27.2

MIT - 0.2910; 20.3; 29.0

Catholic - 0.2015; 23.3; 36.5

Coast Guard - 0.1458; 18.4; 35.0

Norwich - 0.1226; 15.5; 33.8

Maine Maritime - 0.0387; 19.9; 47.7

 

Offensive MVQB: Brice Moore QB Merchant Marine

Offensive MOP: Darius Adams WR Coast Guard

Defensive MVP: John Bennett DB Maine Maritime

Defensive MVDL: Luca Cerasoni DL WPI

 

 

The NEWMAC has a football conference baby!!! First things first, Darius Adams is a straight up baller, and makes me want to watch a Coast Guard game online if I get the chance this year. In a conference that's going to have more than its fair share of rushing, a receiver is probably its best offensive player.

 

As far as the playoffs go, the NEWMAC champ has about a 50% chance of getting in via Pool B, and around 67% overall. The Pool B odds break down as follows:

 

Springfield: 19.4%

WPI: 15.6%

Merchant Marine: 10.6%

MIT: 3.4%

Coast Guard: 0.7%

Catholic: 0.3%

Norwich 0.2%

Maine Maritime: 0.0%

 

The former LL teams appear to be the class of this new conference, with everyone else a decent step behind. Springfield has the best overall team, and WPI has to replace their biggest playmakers on offense and defense. Merchant Marine nearly (should have?) beaten Hobart last season. If they can replicate that sort of performance every game this year, they're going to be a hard out for everyone on their schedule. Having a senior QB running their option offense should help.

CCC (21)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank (NEFC): 25

Final Conference Rank: 22

2016 Favorite (NEFC): Western New England

Champion (NEFC): Western New England

Best Team (NEFC): Western New England

 

Offensive MVQB: Anthony Service QB Western New England

Offensive MOP: Sam Pascale RB Salve Regina

Defensive MVP: Obi Etuka DB Western New England

Defensive MVDL: Craig Anderson DL Endicott

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Western New England - 0.7253; 35.4; 26.0

Salve Regina - 0.5913; 32.5; 28.9

Endicott - 0.4233; 23.5; 26.6

Curry - 0.0971; 22.8; 43.2

Nichols - 0.0920; 18.6; 39.5

Becker - 0.0514; 12.2; 37.9

 

Offensive MVQB: Anthony Service QB Western New England

Offensive MOP: James Dawson RB Salve Regina

Defensive MVP: William Rivera LB Endicott

Defensive MVDL: John Salute DL Salve Regina

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

Salve Regina graduated the best non-QB skill player from the CCC (former NEFC) last year. Luckily, they also had the second-best skill player in the conference. WNE returns a quarterback that helped them outpace every other school in the conference by 2 adjusted net yards per play passing in 2016. Endicott is sound enough on both offense and defense to give a scare to either Salve or WNE, but the championship will be decided by who wins their matchup in Week 9.

HCAC (22)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 21

Final Conference Rank: 21

2016 Favorite: Franklin

Champion: Rose-Hulman

Best Team: Franklin

 

Offensive MVQB: Chase Burton QB Franklin

Offensive MOP: Raphael Dell WR Bluffton

Defensive MVP: Keandre Gillmer DB Defiance

Defensive MVDL: Isaac Zickafoose DL Bluffton

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Franklin - 0.8262; 41.1; 26.3

Rose-Hulman - 0.7000; 30.8; 22.5

Mount St. Joseph - 0.5626; 30.7; 28.3

Defiance - 0.3946; 20.7; 24.9

Bluffton - 0.3750; 25.0; 30.0

Hanover - 0.2905; 24.1; 32.8

Manchester - 0.2035; 22.5; 35.5

Anderson - 0.0081; 8.8; 46.6

Earlham - 0.0025; 10.1; 54.4

 

Offensive MVQB: Chase Burton QB Franklin

Offensive MOP: Raphael Dell WR Bluffton

Defensive MVP: Greg Ward DB Defiance

Defensive MVDL: Isaac Zickafoose DL Bluffton

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

There were a lot of good rushing teams in the HCAC last fall, but only one of those schools also had Chase Burton at QB. Offense wasn't the reason they failed to make the playoffs last year, and Burton should provide ample cushion for the defense in 2017. MSJ and RHIT are both solid programs, and RHIT's defense likely separates the two. MSJ's QB is still young, so 2017 probably isn't their year, but 2018 might be when they get back to the playoffs.

MWC (23)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 22

Final Conference Rank: 25

2016 Favorite: Monmouth

Champion: Monmouth

Best Team: Monmouth

 

Offensive MVQB: Tanner Matlick QB Monmouth

Offensive MOP: Joey Valdivia RB Lake Forest

Defensive MVP: Tyler Jensen DB St. Norbert

Defensive MVDL: Nicholas Egersdorf DL Macalester

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Monmouth - 0.9426; 37.6; 12.8

St. Norbert - 0.7885; 33.5; 20.9

Chicago - 0.5721; 29.4; 26.6

Lake Forest - 0.4619; 27.9; 29.4

Illinois College - 0.3334; 27.6; 34.4

Macalester - 0.2768; 15.2; 24.5

Cornell - 0.2146; 28.1; 40.6

Ripon - 0.1911; 15.4; 29.1

Knox - 0.1002; 15.8; 36.0

Lawrence - 0.0674; 14.2; 37.7

Beloit - 0.0590; 19.3; 43.9

Grinell - 0.0021; 5.9; 51.1

 

Offensive MVQB: Daniel Brown QB Cornell

Offensive MOP: Joey Valdivia RB Lake Forest

Defensive MVP: Tyler Jensen DB St. Norbert

Defensive MVDL: Thomas Lesniewski DL Monmouth

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

The conference win totals above are actually division win totals. The Maroons might challenge St. Norbert in the North division this fall, but the title runs through Monmouth. Given their weak SoS, they really have to dominate to have a good rating in my system, and they finished the year in the Top 15. Replacing a stud QB is hard, but they should be good enough at every other position to help soften the blow in conference. Two matchups against Hope and Wartburg early in the year should give an indication of how easily they'll cruise through the South, or if an upset by St. Norbert or Chicago is likely.

MASCAC (24)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 23

Final Conference Rank: 23

2016 Favorite: Framingham State

Champion: Bridgewater State

Best Team: Bridgewater State

 

Offensive MVQB: Quinn Fleeting QB Western Connecticut State

Offensive MOP: Eddie Sheridan WR Mass-Dartmouth

Defensive MVP: Ryan Jarzavek DB Western Connecticut State

Defensive MVDL: Matt Halaby DL Bridgewater State

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Framingham State - 0.6697; 31.2; 24.3

Western Connecticut - 0.5814; 32.2; 28.9

Bridgewater State - 0.4933; 29.0; 29.3

Mass-Dartmouth - 0.2059; 19.2; 32.1

Worcester State - 0.1806; 21.3; 35.6

Fitchburg State - 0.1802; 15.3; 29.7

Plymouth State - 0.1416; 15.2; 32.1

Massachusetts Maritime - 0.1000; 18.5; 38.7

Westfield State - 0.0524; 12.7; 38.2

 

Offensive MVQB: Quinn Fleeting QB Western Connecticut State

Offensive MOP: Eddie Sheridan WR Mass-Dartmouth

Defensive MVP: Ryan Jarzavek DB Western Connecticut State

Defensive MVDL: Joe Esposito DL Plymouth State

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

 

Western Connecticut, Framingham, and Bridgewater State were all solid in pretty much every aspect of the game in 2016, though none of the three really separated themselves from the other in any of the three. Framingham gets the nod from the model in large part due to their four-year regression, but West Conn returns the best defender and best QB in the conference (if you've been reading this far, you've probably noticed that I'm big on returning your QB if they were good; there's a reason for that), and Bridgewater State is the returning champ. It's easy to talk yourself into any of these three winning the conference this year, but I would default to Framingham State. They've finished with the highest rating in the conference in each of the last four years.

NACC (25)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 24

Final Conference rank: 24

2016 Favorite: Lakeland

Champion: Lakeland

Best Team: Lakeland

 

Offensive MVQB: Ryan Sample QB Benedictine

Offensive MOP: Elijah Walker WR Benedictine

Defensive MVP: Airiss Hargrow LB Lakeland

Defensive MVDL: JD Leisemann DL Wisconsin Lutheran

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Lakeland - 0.5822; 33.9; 30.7

Benedictine - 0.5686; 29.1; 26.4

Aurora - 0.3236; 22.8; 30.0

Wisconsin Lutheran - 0.3098; 20.8; 28.6

Concordia Wis. - 0.1420; 22.9; 39.8

Concordia-Chicago - 0.0956; 19.4; 39.9

Rockford - 0.0318; 16.8; 46.1

 

Offensive MVQB: Ryan Sample QB Benedictine

Offensive MOP: Lance Moise RB Concordia-Chicago

Defensive MVP: Brendan Fulton DB Aurora

Defensive MVDL: JD Leisemann DL Wisconsin Lutheran

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

The results of the last couple seasons and current ratings suggest a relatively even matchup between Lakeland and Benedictine, but looking into the play-by-play efficiencies for the two reveal how drastically Benedictine underperformed in crucial situations. They led the NACC in rushing and passing offense and defense. Despite my model showing Lakeland as a minuscule favorite, Benedictine feels like more of a sure thing.

UMAC (26)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 26

Final Conference Rank: 26

2016 Favorite: St. Scholastica

Champion: Northwestern Minn.

Best Team: Northwestern Minn.

 

Offensive MVQB: Kyle Stepka QB St. Scholastica

Offensive MOP: Chazz Middlebrook RB MacMurray

Defensive MVP: Chandler Erickson DB Minnesota-Morris

Defensive MVDL: Ray Vogel DL Eureka

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Northwestern Minn. - 0.3655; 16.7; 22.1

St. Scholastica - 0.3423; 22.8; 29.2

Eureka - 0.1803; 17.2; 31.6

Westminster Mo. - 0.0797; 14.8; 37.0

MacMurray - 0.0661; 20.3; 44.0

Crown - 0.0546; 11.6; 36.8

Minnesota-Morris - 0.0389; 11.4; 39.1

Greenville - 0.0296; 17.4; 47.1

Iowa Wesleyan - 0.0232; 10.3; 41.7

Martin Luther - 0.005; 3.4; 54.9

 

Offensive MVQB: George Harris QB Greenville

Offensive MOP: Chazz Middlebrook RB MacMurray

Defensive MVP: Kenneth Jinkins DB St. Scholastica

Defensive MVDL: Ray Vogel DL Eureka

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

St. Scholastica had held down the UMAC for pretty much their entire existence as a football program until last year. If the loss to Northwestern hadn't been immediately been followed up by a baffling loss to Minn-Morris, I would have said it was a fluke, but a let-down loss like that isn't something you would expect from a senior-heavy team. Bouncing back from that season is going to be hard with a young roster this year. Eureka seems to be garnering some interest as the preseason darling, but they lost to CSS and Northwestern by a combined 63 points last year. I don't see them competing for the opportunity to get slaughtered by St. Thomas this year.

ECFC (27)

2016 In Review

Preseason Conference Rank: 27

Final Conference Rank: 27

2016 Favorite: Husson

Champion: Husson

Best Team: Husson

 

Offensive MVQB: Cory Brandon QB Husson

Offensive MOP: John Smith RB Husson

Defensive MVP: Sean Chinova LB Mount Ida

Defensive MVDL: Alexander Stewart DL Becker

 

2016 Stat Profiles

 

 

2017 Preview

Team - Rating; AdjO; AdjD

Husson - 0.4061; 26.3; 30.1

SUNY-Maritime - 0.1548; 16.1; 32.1

Castleton - 0.1111; 18.0; 37.3

Mount Ida - 0.0707; 13.8; 37.0

Gallaudet - 0.0223; 7.9; 39.5

Alfred State - 0.0117; 7.9; 43.6

Dean - 0.0064; 10.0; 49.3

Anna Maria - 0.0026; 2.8; 46.9

 

Offensive MVQB: Cory Brandon QB Husson

Offensive MOP: John Smith RB Husson

Defensive MVP: Jakob Trautwein DB Castleton

Defensive MVDL: Luke Washburn DL Husson

 

Pool A Odds

 

 

Husson is a big favorite right now, and for good reason. They only have one conference loss in the last three years, and they return many of the biggest reasons for their success last year. Every other program in the ECFC has been far too up and down the last few years for the model to give them much of a shot, but SUNY-Maritime returns a ton of starters. That experience should help in close games, but can they keep Husson close? Just like with Brevard, I thought Dean would be a program to keep an eye on given their results against DIII opponents last year, but extreme attrition in the division-changing process will likely keep them out of serious contention.

INDEPENDENTS

(YES, BOTH OF THEM)

 

Spoiler: Washington University, a playoff team from last season, is better than Finlandia. They might even be better at every position. The teams don't play each other this season, but Washington U. does play the toughest non-WIAC schedule in the country this year (it's extremely unlikely they make it back to the playoffs (like, less than 1% unlikely)). Finlandia barely plays a schedule. It's a great thing for Finlandia they join a conference next year, because their program is hanging on by a thread, and with Maranatha Baptist disbanding this season, one of their peer opponents within a reasonable driving distance is no more.

 

If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I do this for fun (yes, I find this fun), and even if I get a little snarky here and there, I don't mean any disrespect, except for the cases of Coe and Dubuque. They deserve all of the disrespect I can throw their way. #GoKnights

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