BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - With two weeks left to play in the 2019 Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) football regular season, the race for the conference championship has taken an unexpected turn. Concordia pulled off a wild 19-18 overtime upset of previously unbeaten Saint John's last week, snapping the Johnnies' 20-game home winning streak and putting a share of the MIAC title back within striking distance for at least two more teams. The Johnnies still boast a league-best 6-1 record in conference play; however, Bethel and St. Thomas are both firmly back in the title picture now with one conference loss each, and Gustavus is lurking with a pair of losses and two games left to play.
Saint John's wraps up its conference schedule on Saturday and can secure at least a share of the MIAC crown, as well as a sixth straight trip to the NCAA Playoffs with a victory at Hamline. Gustavus and St. Thomas will match up in a pivotal contest between two high-powered teams looking to move into the NCAA regional rankings. One point decided last year's game between the Gusties and Tommies in St. Peter. Bethel hosts Augsburg on Saturday with hopes of setting up another potential NCAA Playoff play-in game against St. Thomas in the regular season finale next week, and then the "Ugliest Rivalry Trophy in College Football" will be back on display in Moorhead, as Concordia and St. Olaf battle for the vaunted Troll Trophy in the annual Lefse Bowl.
Two MIAC teams appear in the season's first NCAA Division III West Region Rankings. Saint John's ranked No. 5 in the region with Bethel at No. 6. Regional rankings take into account win-loss percentage against NCAA Division III opponents, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition, results versus common and ranked opponents, and win-loss percentage over the last 25 percent of the season. Regional ranks come into play after conferences have determined their automatic qualifier for the NCAA Tournament, as all remaining teams are considered for at-large spots based on regional rankings. The NCAA Football Playoffs welcome just 32 teams, comprised of 27 conference champions and five at-large selections.
Three MIAC teams are ranked among the nation's top-20 again in this week's D3football.com Top 25, with Saint John's at No. 8, Bethel at No. 9, and St. Thomas at No. 18. Those three teams also fit into the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top 25 Poll, as the Royals are No. 11, Johnnies are No. 12, and Tommies are No. 22. Since last September, six of the nine MIAC football teams have been ranked or received votes in Division III national polls.
Concordia linebacker Willie Julkes III was named to D3football.com's Team of the Week on Tuesday. Julkes blocked a pair of PAT tries in the Cobbers' victory over Saint John's last Saturday and is tied for the NCAA lead in all divisions with five blocked kicks this season.
Carleton strong safety Travis Brown has forced four fumbles in 2019, tied for the third-most in Division III, while his 95.0 tackles are tied for eighth-most in the nation.
Concordia punter Alex Berg ranks second in D-III with an average of 45.1 yards per kick this season.
Gustavus quarterback Michael Veldman ranks fourth in NCAA Division III in both passing touchdowns (29) and passing efficiency (191.8) while coming in sixth in passing yards (2,544), ninth in passing yards per game (318.0), and tenth in completion percentage (0.693).
Gustavus wide receiver Brice Panning ranks second in D-III with 15 touchdown grabs on the season and is tied for the fourth-most points scored in Division III with 90. Teammate Josh Kirk is ninth in Division III with 971 receiving yards this fall.
Saint John's quarterback Jackson Erdmann leads NCAA Division III in total offense this season with an average of 351.8 yards per game, and ranks second in passing yards (2,788) and passing yards per game (348.5). Among active college football players, Erdmann trails only Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Mount Union's D'Angelo Fulford for the nation's best career pass efficiency rating at 180.45.
St. Thomas running back Josh Parks is tied for the third-most points scored in Division III this season with 96. He is also tied for the fourth-most rushing touchdowns in the Division with 14, and ranks fifth in D-III for yards per carry at 7.67.
AROUND THE MIAC
Augsburg running back Quran Al-Hameed rushed for a season-high 146 yards on 17 carries against Gustavus two weeks ago, tallying a pair of touchdowns on the day. Al-Hameed also caught two passes for 17 yards and returned three kickoffs for 24 yards.
Bethel defensive tackle Michael Judd set new career-highs with three sacks and six tackles against Hamline last weekend. The sophomore has logged multiple tackles in three straight games.
Carleton quarterback Jonathan Singleton climbed into a tie for eighth-place on the Knights' single-season touchdown list with 16 scoring strikes over his first seven career games. Singleton did not play in the team's first two games of the year and has tossed 12 touchdowns in his last three starts.
Concordia wide receiver Matt Bye made a juggling touchdown grab on 4th-and-9 in overtime to help the Cobbers defeat No. 4 Saint John's in Collegeville last Saturday. It was the first win over a nationally-ranked top-five team in program history and ended the Johnnies' 20-game home win streak. Concordia only completed three passes in the game, with all three going to Bye, who finished with 42 receiving yards and the game-tying 24-yard score in overtime.
Gustavus wide receiver Brice Panning became the first Gustie receiver to haul in at least 10 catches in a game this season in last Saturday's convincing 55-28 win over Carleton. Panning caught 10 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns in just one half of play. He has gone for multiple scores in all but two games this season.
Hamline linebacker Monty Stenroos registered a career-high 16 tackles with seven solo stops against Bethel last week. Stenroos has totaled double-digit tackles in three of the team's last four games.
Saint John's quarterback Jackson Erdmann tied Alex Kofoed (2004-07) for the most 300-yard passing games in SJU history with the 10th of his career last week. He has tallied six 300-yard days this season, including four consecutive.
St. Olaf defensive back Payton Schott led the Oles with a career-high 10 tackles - including eight solo stops - and his second interception of the season last Saturday against St. Thomas. Schott has started all eight games in his debut season for the Oles.
St. Thomas running back Josh Parks recorded the 20th 100-yard rushing game of his career last weekend with a 21-carry, 122-yard effort against St. Olaf. Parks scored three touchdowns to move into second place on the MIAC's career touchdowns list with 55. Former Saint John's wide receiver Blake Elliott holds the record for most career touchdowns scored by a MIAC competitor with 78.
|Week 10 | Saturday, November 9 | MIAC App | MIAC Scoreboard | MIAC Live|
|2019 MIAC Football Statistical Leaders|
|Passing Yards Per Game||Jackson Erdmann, Saint John's||348.5||Jackson Erdmann, Saint John's||364.7|
|Passing Touchdowns||Michael Veldman, Gustavus||29||Jackson Erdmann, Gustavus||23|
|Rushing Yards Per Game||Josh Parks, St. Thomas||128.1||Josh Parks, St. Thomas||144.6|
|Rushing Touchdowns||Josh Parks, St. Thomas||14||Josh Parks, St. Thomas||11|
|Receiving Yards Per Game||Josh Kirk, Gustavus||121.4||Josh Kirk, Gustavus||123.0|
|Receiving Touchdowns||Brice Panning, Gustavus||15||Brice Panning, Gustavus||11|
|Tackles||Travis Brown, Carleton||95.0||Travis Brown, Carleton||82.0|
|Sacks||Luke Swenson, St. Thomas||6.0||Alex Berg, Concordia||5.0|
|Interceptions||Cale Ferrin, Bethel||5||Cale Ferrin, Bethel||4|