Around the NAIAtion Week 3: Chip’s Picks, Recaps and Why This Week is Tough.

I’m a coward. That’s the best way to describe it. If anyone looked at my predictions or every bet I’ve ever put on college football they could probably say one of two things and be accurate.

He’s a coward.

He’s an idiot.

Last week I predicted that Benedictine at Graceland would be one of the biggest games of the week in the NAIA. I also went so far as to say “this game has upset written all over it.” But what did I do? Not pick the upset and look like a coward.

Graceland is not playing like cowards. They knocked off previous NAIA Top 10 Benedictine 37-35 in Lamoni, Iowa Saturday night. The Yellowjackets are now 3-0 behind one of the most high powered offenses in the NAIA. GU trailed 35-28 with 7:45 remaining before punching in another touchdown and kicking a game winning FG with 13 seconds left in the game. What’s interesting is GU kicker Alex Tuyo had a chance to tie the game at 35 when the XP failed and Benedictine retained the lead. On the ensuring drive, Benedictine couldn’t move the ball and was forced to punt. Graceland took over at their own 14 with 2:10 left to play and went 59 yards to set up the game winning kick.

Marian and Saint Xavier were tied at 21 with 13:24 left to play before William Gibson found the endzone from two yards out to give the Knight the go ahead score. The drive was set up by an interception from Marian’s J Underwood at the SXU 42 yard line. The Knights went the distance, grinding out a 12 play, 42 yard drive to secure the 28-21 victory. The Knight defense was stout, limited the Cougars to 173 yards of total offense while forcing four turnovers.

Keiser got a big win over Lindsey Wilson, 30-26. The Seahawks went up 30-6 with 12:13 left to play before LWC battled back. KU was led on offense by QB Bryce Veasley with 236 yards through the air. Veasley found the endzone on the ground twice finishing with 39 yards. Louis Lubin finished with 6 solo tackles, 1 sack and 1 TFL.

Southeastern pulled out a 23-20 win over previous No. 10 Reinhardt. Statistically, this game was very even as it was a game of two halves. RU led at the break 20-6 before being shutout in the second half. The difference in the game was probably kicker Joel McGrath of Southeastern going 3/3 on FGs with a long of 35 which ended the first half.

The NAIA was 2-1 vs. the FCS Pioneer League this weekend. No. 1 Northwestern went into OT to defeat Drake 27-24. QB Jalyn Gramstad carried the load for the Red Raiders putting up 224 yards through the air and adding another 114 yards on the ground. Konner McQuillan looked to be bottled up on the game winning score before busting away from Drake’s defense for paydirt. He finished with 23 yards on the ground and 71 yards receiving, adding a score in each category. WR Michael Storey added 10 catches and 81 yards.

The other win for the NAIA against the Pioneer came with Indiana Wesleyan beating Valparaiso, 24-22. Indiana Wesleyan picked off Valpo 5 times holding their offense to 259 yards. Wesleyan’s offense had it’s struggles but found a way to pull out the win behind Xander Stokes’ 170 yards through the air and three TDs.

The lone loss by the NAIA was by Taylor who dropped their game with Butler, 41-13. Despite the lopsided score, the Trojans still moved the ball at times for a total of 320 yards of total offense.

In other NAIA vs. the World action, Dickinson State went on the road to defeat DIII Wisconsin Stout, 24-21. DSU put up 383 yards with the biggest spark coming from a 76 yard pass from Will Madler to Cameron Sheppard to put DSU up 17-13.

Speaking of beating teams outside the NAIA, Montana Tech raised a few eyebrows with a 37-29 win at DII Central Washington. This was not expected to happen. Huge win for the ‘Diggers.  Tech did it through the air with QB Blake Thelen throwing for four TDs and 271 yards. Two of those went to WR Wyatt Alexander who finished with 116 yards. On the ground, Blake Counts ran for 126 yards. Blake and Blake? Could be a candidate for Blake of the Year?

Staying in the Frontier Conference, Carroll College defeated Saint Thomas, 26-23. Carroll trailer 23-16 with 9:34 left in the game before St. Thomas essentially self-destructed. After picked off Carroll at the 6 yard line, St. Thomas was put down in the endzone for a safety. The ensuing free kick went out of bounds and Carroll took over at the 40 yard line. This was followed by a pass interference that put the ball on the 26 yard line. Carroll QB Jack Prka found Chris Akulschin for the score and CC pulled out the victory. Crazy ending to a crazy game. I realize I’m missing some nuance, so for the full story check out the Helena IR.

This Week’s Slate of Games and Chip’s Picks

This is one of the weeks that’s tough to predict. There’s just not a lot of games that jump off the page at me and say, “wow, that’s a HUGE game.” But along that same line, there are a lot of good games. I’d classify it as the “get over the hump” week in the NAIA. There are a lot of 1-1 teams facing off with 0-2 teams or 1-1’s playing each other. And of course, this also means there’s going to be some major upset that I will fail to predict, but I digress.

Sneaky, Sneaky: Don’t look now but Evangel, Midland and Graceland are all 3-0. None of these teams started the year in the Top 25 but all have played their way into a spot to hold the keys to their future. There are several other teams that have snuck into matchups of undefeated teams this week and I fear a few of them will be rather lopsided. You can only play the teams on your schedule and in some cases that means some average teams are 2-0 right now. That means they have a chance to prove they belong this week or get blown out of the water.

Baker at Grand View 1:00 PM: Baker has an opportunity to make some noise on the road. The Wildcats are 2-0 with nice wins over Peru State and Clarke. This will be their biggest test to date against the Vikings. Grand View has played well this year against two teams they handled appropriately. If the Vikes defense shows up ready to play, that will continue this week. Grand View 31 Baker 14.

Bluefield (VA) at Bethel (TN) 2:00 PM: Bluefield is 2-0 but they’ve given up a lot of points. Bethel. . .scores a lot of points. That doesn’t bode well for the Rams. With that said, Bethel hasn’t exactly been playing the ’85 Bears this season. I think Bethel is the better team hands down and will prove it this week. Bethel 56 Bluefield 21.

Indiana Wesleyan at Saint Xavier 8:00 PM: SXU is coming off a loss to a team that will contend for a national title. IWU just beat a FCS Pioneer League team. This week helps us understand one thing: who is for real? SXU has to get their offense going early at home and maintain momentum if they are going to prevail. IWU needs to be more efficient throwing the football or else the Cougars will cause them problems. I’ll go with the roady upset special. IWU 31 SXU 23.

Reinhardt at Cumberlands 1:30 PM: Cumberlands has just gotten it done this year. They only allow 8.7 ppg and have found ways to win over the last two weeks. Reinhardt gave up a winnable game last week and needs to play four quarters of inspired football or else the physical Patriots will keep them down. I’ll give the edge to the home team in this slobber knocker. Cumberlands 17 Reinhardt 14.

Missouri Valley at Graceland 7:00 PM: Undefeated teams in the Heart face off vying for an opportunity to take control of their destiny early in the season. MoVal’s defense has to show up or else this game will get ugly. The Vikings are only giving up 17.5 ppg but they haven’t faced an offense like GU’s. I’ve talked a lot about GU’s offense, but it will be their D who has to get it done on Saturday. Graceland 42 MoVal 27.

Carroll (MT) at Rocky Mountain * 3:00 PM: Both teams are 2-0 and head into this Frontier Conference game with a lot on the line. Carroll won by the skin of their teeth in both victories this season and has to take the trip to Billings to show if they are for real. RMC has faced two very different teams to start the season and I’m not entirely sure what this team will be this year. I’ll give the edge to CC. Carroll 21 RMC 14.

Bethel (KS) at Avila (MO) * 2:00 PM:” Bethel is 2-1 while Avila has fallen to 1-2. Bethel is trying to make a case for their postseason resume and cannot afford to lose this game. They have a strong rushing attack but if it faulters Avila will have a shot to spoil the day. The Eagles have held opponents to 180 yards on the ground this year, so this game is going to be a battle. I think BC squeaks by. Bethel 21 Avila 17.

The Rest of the Slate (Predicted Winners in BOLD)

Ave Maria at Texas Lutheran 7:00 PM

Baker at Grand View 1:00 PM

Bethany (KS) at Sterling * 7:00 PM

Bethel (KS) at Avila (MO) * 2:00 PM

Bluefield (VA) at Bethel (TN) 2:00 PM

Carroll (MT) at Rocky Mountain * 3:00 PM

Central Methodist at Clarke (IA) 2:00 PM

Concordia (Neb.) at Dordt (IA) * 2:00 PM

Doane (NE) at Northwestern * 2:00 PM

Eastern Oregon at Montana Tech * 4:00 PM

Evangel (MO) at Saint Mary * 2:00 PM

Faulkner (AL) at Pikeville 1:30 PM

Florida Memorial (FL) at Grambling State 2:00 PM

Friends (KS) at Kansas Wesleyan 7:00 PM

Indiana Wesleyan at Saint Xavier 8:00 PM

Jamestown (N.D.) at Hastings * 2:00 PM

Judson at Concordia (MI) 1:00 PM

Keiser at Valdosta State 7:00 PM

Kentucky Christian at Cumberland (TN) 7:00 PM

Lewis and Clark College (Ore.) at Montana Western 4:00 PM

Louisiana Christian at Langston (Okla.) * 7:00 PM

McPherson at Ottawa * 2:00 PM

Midland at Dakota Wesleyan (SD) * 3:00 PM

Missouri Baptist at Culver-Stockton (MO) 7:00 PM

Missouri Valley at Graceland 7:00 PM

Montana State-Northern at Arizona Christian * 10:00 PM

Mount Marty at Morningside (Iowa) * 2:00 PM

North American at Portland State University

Oklahoma Panhandle State at Texas Wesleyan * 8:00 PM

Olivet Nazarene at Marian 1:05 PM

OUAZ at Texas College * 7:00 PM

Peru State at Benedictine 2:00 PM

Point at Lindsey Wilson 2:00 PM

Reinhardt at Cumberlands 1:30 PM

Roosevelt at Madonna 1:00 PM

SAGU at Arkansas Baptist College 7:00 PM

Southwestern at Tabor * 8:00 PM

St. Ambrose at Siena Heights 12:00 PM

St. Francis (Ill.) at Lawrence Tech * 12:00 PM

Taylor at Dayton 1:00 PM

Valley City State at Dakota State (SD) * 5:00 PM

Waldorf at Mayville State * 3:00 PM

Wayland Baptist (TX) at Sul Ross State 1:00 PM

Willamette University at Southern Oregon 7:00 PM

William Penn (Iowa) at MidAmerica Nazarene 7:00 PM

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