Here are my fearless, if you want to call them that, predictions forthe weekend in the NESCAC. Now, I tend to write more about the NESCAC because it is a conference I cover for ESPN Radio up here in the woods of Vermont. It is a good conference with some quirks, but the level ofplay is pretty good. The one thing I don't like is the fact they don't play outside of their own conference and do not play in the playoffs. I will spout off more on that later.
Bates at Middlebury: Bates is a perennial loser, and Middlebury's defense has been tough this year, with the exception of last week's 40-9 loss at Williams. Middlebury's defense will do well against theBobcats, but the offense has to start kicking it up a notch or two. Prediction: Middlebury 10 Bates 3.
Hamilton at Colby: Hamilton scored their first points of the year lastweekend, and their defense looked as good as it has all year. Colbyhas the weapons on offense, but haven't been consistent of late.Prediction: Colby 17 Hamilton 0.Williams at Tufts: This is by far the game of the week in the NESCAC. Williams has a potent offensive attack and their defense isn't half bad either. Jon Dreckenhan and Brendan Fullmer will give the Tufts defense fits all afternoon. Prediction: Williams 35 Tufts 21.
Trinity at Bowdoin: Let's see here, perennial power Trinity againstBowdoin, a team that has only scored 13 points this season. Trinity 49Bowdoin 10.
Amherst at Wesleyan: I actually like this Wesleyan team as they aremuch improved from last year. Zack Librizzi has put up good numbersand is running that wide open offense very well this season. Freshman Danny Granatell had a fantastic game last weekend with seven receptions for 111 yards and I think that is what the kid needs to getgoing. Amherst will put their share of points on the board with their strong offense, but in the upset special of the week: Wesleyan 24 Amherst 20.
Now for my feelings on the NESCAC and not playing out of conferencegames and not going to the Division III playoffs. I understand thefact that NESCAC schools have strong academic traditions, and league officials don't want teams to take more time out of the classroom than need be. Ok fine, I can deal with that, but doesn't their current schedule and not playing outside the conference do a disservice to the teams? Take for example Middlebury College and not playing outside of the NESCAC. There is a fantastic rivalry up here between the Panthers and Norwich University that has not been played in years. Norwich and Middlebury are the only two schools in Vermont that play at any levelof college football. This was a rivalry that packed the respective stadiums, and was a game the entire state got involved in. Rivalries like this are what makes college football what it is today. Bring it back!! Let the teams play at least one game outside of the conference so rivalries like this can be played and continued. Especially in a state where there are only two college football teams, I think this rivalry needs to be brought back so at the bare minimum, there can be some bragging rights in the Green Mountain State.
When it comes to the playoffs, how can a team like Trinity prove theyare as good as they really are if they don't go up against competition outside their conference? This is a team who has won 33 of their last 34 games and are one of the best teams in New England. How can theyprove they are one of the best in the nation if they don't face outside competition? To me, this is a joke, and a couple of coaches I have spoken with want to have the ability to prove themselves at a national level. If other schools with equal academic traditions inDivision III football can make the playoffs, why can't the NESCAC?
That's all for me, time to prepare for the Middlebury/Bates game. For those outside of Central Vermont, you can catch the game on the web atwww.wfad1490.com. Alan O'Donnell will have the color commentary, I will have play-by-play duties. Pre-game at 12:30, kickoff at 1:00 Eastern Time.