Since I finished my Y1P+ system recently, and it can provide more granular data than by merely looking at final scores, I'll be using that system instead of my main system for weekly grades for the rest of the season.
Highest Graded Teams (Percentile Performance)
Holy S*** St. Thomas. And Gustavus isn't even that bad! They were a Top 50 team before this beat-down, and 63rd nationally now. GAC gained one net yard, had three total non-penalty first downs, were sacked for 15x as many yards as they passed for, and their longest play was 12 yards. The difference in first down rates (66%) was was the highest for any MIAC conference game all season. The final score isn't as eye-popping and jaw-dropping as some of St. Thomas & St. John's games this season, but it was probably the most methodical dismantling of a good opponent in the entire country this year.
Case Western has been ranked in the D3Football & AFCA Top 25 for most of this season, and has been lingering around the same spot in my model (or slightly lower) for most of the season. They've also been getting a lot of grief lately for their weak schedule. They're also a case study for why margin of victory, and margin of victory above expected is a better predictor than just wins and losses. Not only were they undefeated, but they were winning by large margins. Yeah, maybe they were running up the score against weak teams, but they were doing so more than most teams would be able to. Their game against Westminster was a master class in sustaining and finishing drives. The Titans scored touchdowns on drives of 45, 55, 55, 71, & 71 yards. Usually in a blowout like this between teams that are relatively equal, one of the teams is consistently scoring on short fields. Now they're probably going to lose to CMU again and ruin my little rant here.
Highest Graded Offenses (Percentile Performance)
It seems like Hendrix has gotten back into their groove after graduating the most-productive backfield combo in the country from 2016. The Warriors' offense has consistently (except for the Berry game) been climbing higher and higher in my ratings, peaking this week at #11 nationally (#7 in passing offense), one spot ahead of the always explosive Hardin-Simmons Cowboys. Against Rhodes, Hendrix gained 30 total first downs, and only faced nine total third downs, converting seven of them. They were explosive enough on the ground and through the air to out-gain a dynamic Rhodes team, despite running fifteen fewer plays on the day.
Merchant Marine tried their darndest to match fellow triple-option aficionado Springfield's high-point for efficiency from a couple weeks ago (97.44%), but fell just short. Huntingdon had the second highest efficiency mark this season, but also averaged over 19 yards per dropback, and over 21 yards per attempt.
In probably the biggest outlier result from the weekend, Wilmington graded out as one of the top ten offenses in the country in their loss to ONU, one spot ahead of Mount Union. If it seems odd to you that Wilmington's offense is rated ahead of Ohio Northern's, remember that they weren't playing against the same defenses. Wilmington's overall rating right now is higher than its been since 2010, and their offensive rating is above the national average for the first time since 2009.
Highest Graded Defenses (Percentile Performance)
Pacific Lutheran has played stellar defense for the second consecutive week, and earned a grade that normally would have ranked first nationally, if not for UST. Their NWC opponent from a week ago also earned their second-straight week in the Top 10, albeit against an inferior opponent. PLU's offense (like Linfield's) has struggled throughout the season, but their defense is elite. In my preseason preview, I thought the Lutes had a chance to finish second in the conference, and while they need to beat an improve Lewis and Clark squad next week to avoid finishing with a losing record, their defense definitely gave them a chance in every game this season--their worst loss was by only 10 points, and they haven't allowed more than 27 points all year.
A several teams known more for their offenses than defense made the list this year, notably Springfield, UWL, and HSU. Springfield still put on a show offensively, scoring 62 points, but they also shut down and shutout Maine Maritime, allowing less than half of the national average in both yards per play and first down rate. La Crosse matched Springfield's mark in defensive efficiency, and also added a defensive score for good measure. Hardin-Simmons stymied Hal Mumme's Belhaven offense, holding them to under 4.0 yards per dropback, and allowing a passing first down on less than 20% of dropbacks.
Biggest Upsets (Predicted Line)
Like last week, almost all of the teams who scored upset victories this week were in the green for turnover margin. TCNJ allowed two late scoring drives of 90 and 89 yards, but held when it mattered most, stopping a 2-point conversion attempt to tie the game with two seconds left to preserve their second straight win.
In the IIAC, Nebraska Wesleyan earned their second straight conference victory, moving the Prairie Wolves out of last place in conference play (Coe is in last place, in case you were wondering). Simpson was no slouch either. The Storm have been the only team in the IIAC to lose to Wartburg by less than 23. That Wartburg team probably keeps NWU from winning three straight next week.