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Thoughts Regarding the Top Five Lists. Also, Northern Sun and Northeast-10 Previews

You all had thoughts on our lists. We've got some of our own, after the fact.

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The Lead

So now that we're done with our Top Five series, we'd like to go back over some things which came up in comments both here, on Twitter, on Facebook, and in your Benevolent Despot's mailbox.

First and foremost, this was not a scientific exercise. We did not pore over statistics and engage in debate over how to rank the players. (Some staff members may have been analytical about it, but based on comments that's doubtful. For the most part, you can presume that the rankings submitted by each staff member were somewhat off-the-cuff. And that's okay, because this wasn't hard-hitting journalism. It was, at its heart, a fan exercise designed to generate discussion. More than just statistics and accomplishments went into the thought process. It's probably completely fair to say that Josh Freeman wasn't mentioned in the quarterback article simply because Josh Freeman isn't a particularly well-liked character in Wildcat history. If we'd listed our top five wide receivers as Mitch Running, Frank Hernandez, Taco Wallace, Yamon Figurs, and Curry Sexton... well, that would have been just as valid as the list we did present. (It would have been completely insane, but valid nonetheless.)

And this really applies to you, the reader, as well. Look, maybe Mitch Running was your favorite receiver ever. We're certainly not going to fault you for that, because Mitch was pretty awesome in a lot of ways. You like who you like. Your memories are your memories. We're not going to take them away from you.

That said, obviously there's no way a panel of multiple staff members could possibly have come up with anything that loony, which is why your top five wideouts were pretty much who you'd expect them to be. Any instance where someone you think should have at least been mentioned but wasn't comes down to one of three things:

  • They were simply out of our frame of reference. That's not something that was common, but you may recall that in the running backs list, nobody mentioned Larry Brown. Some failed to do so on purpose, and some simply because they didn't really think about him at all.
  • Everyone mentally downgraded them for one reason or another. This certainly applies to Josh Freeman, and it probably had a lot to do with Chad May not making the top five. It probably also cost Chris Canty a spot or two on the defensive backs list. Some people object to that, because they either think those things shouldn't matter or because their feelings are different regarding those players. Well, in the scope of this project, they mattered.
  • We just plain forgot.

That last one is what we really want to address here, because we need to shine a bit of a light on those guys. Mack Herron is the big one. We didn't leave him off because of his legal troubles. We just all happened to completely forget about him. There were some others that we completely spaced on. Josh Scobey. Jeremetrius Butler. Andrew Shull. Lamar Chapman. Heck, we completely ignored the 1982 team. How did Darrell Ray Dickey, Mike Wallace, Reggie Singletary, or Scott Fulhage not come up? At some point, we'll probably go back through comments and try and do some profiles of those players and give them the love they deserve.

But no failure on our part during this project is more galling than your Benevolent Despot's failure to exercise his fiat and name Garrett Gilbert as the greatest quarterback in Wildcat history. That was a tragic oversight for which we hope our readers will eventually offer forgiveness.

Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preview

2014 Standings and Info
3 University of Minnesota, Duluth Bulldogs Duluth MN 7-0 13-1
Northern State University Wolves Aberdeen SD 6-1 8-3
Saint Cloud State University Huskies Saint Cloud MN 5-2 6-5
University of Mary Marauders Bismarck ND 3-4 5-6
Minnesota State University, Moorhead Dragons Moorhead MN 3-4 4-7
Bemidji State University Beavers Bemidji MN 3-4 3-8
Minot State University Beavers Minot ND 1-6 1-10
University of Minnesota, Crookston Golden Eagles Crookston MN 2-7 2-9
2 Minnesota State University, Mankato Mavericks Mankato MN 7-0 14-1
18 University of Sioux Falls Cougars Sioux Falls SD 6-1 11-1
Concordia University, Saint Paul Golden Bears Saint Paul MN 4-3 5-6
Augustana College Vikings Sioux Falls SD 3-4 6-5
Wayne State College Wildcats Wayne NE 3-4 5-6
Upper Iowa University Peacocks Fayette IA 2-5 6-5
Southwest Minnesota State University Mustangs Marshall MN 2-5 3-8
Winona State University Warriors Winona MN 1-6 4-7

It was a pretty sweet season for the NSIC, as the conference had the top two teams in the final regular-season poll. But there was a snub, as 10-1 Sioux Falls was left out of the playoffs. Duluth's run was halted in the quarterfinals by Mankato, who then went on to lose in the national championship game to Colorado State-Pueblo.

Since the addition of Minot State and Sioux Falls, the conference plays no non-conference games; each team plays the other seven teams in its division and four of the eight teams in the other division each year. As a result, the above standings reflect divisional record and overall record; for teams which didn't play in the post-season, overall record is the same as conference record. But the conference additionally counts overall conference record and ranks teams in order of conference finish irrespective of division, and the order of teams below reflect their overall position in the preseason coaches' poll. Mankato and Duluth are again expected to win their divisions and finish 1-2, but Sioux Falls received serious support for the overall first-place position (4 votes, actually 2 more than Duluth got).

Minnesota State-Mankato will have the task of rebuilding their offensive line, but for this program that shouldn't be an issue. OLs Max Hofmeister, Josh Meeker, and Chris Reed, all first-team All-NSIC picks, have graduated along with fellow honorees RB Andy Pfeiffer (673 yards, 8 TDs), WR Dorian Buford (1,057/15), DLs Bryan Keys and Barry Ballinger, LB Kris Fleigle, and DB Nathan Hancock (6 INT). Think that's a lot to lose? No problem, say the Mavericks.

All-NSIC talents RB Connor Thomas (1,362/13), OL Herschel Prater, Defensive Player of the Year and All-American DL Josh Gordon (17.5 sacks), LB Tyler Henderson (122 tackles), and DB Justin Otto (4 INT) all return. And that's not all. MSU was so dominant during the regular season that they were able to give two quarterbacks enough time to both receive attention. Southern Miss transfer Ricky Lloyd (1,728, 20/6) was the starter, and earned honorable mention, while freshman Nick Pieruccini (1,305, 12/5) was NSIC Offensive Newcomer of the Year. Both posted passing efficiency ratings in excess of 150. WR Kyle Piggott and TE Bryce Duncan are back, as are LB Rob Myers and DB Rumeal Harris (5 INT). The Mavs will have a fight even defending their division title, as Sioux Falls is charging hard. But they're not stepping away quietly.

Minnesota-Duluth also littered the post-season honors list. They'll lose RB Austin Sikorski (480/7), WRs Aaron Roth (537/7) and Zach Zweifel (738/5), OLs Andrew Muer (an All-American) and Phillip Rutz, and LBs Gavin Brown and Gavin Grady, as well as honorable mention selections DL Jacob Brusehaver and KR Aaron Roth. But QB Drew Bauer (2,381, 25/6 and 983/13 rushing), RB Logan Lauters (1,531/14), OLs Peter Bateman and Connor Randall, DLs Jonathan Harden and Jake Lambrecht (5.5 sacks), LBs Beau Bates (9 TFL) and Nathan Zibolski, DB Darion Fletcher, and K Andrew Brees all return. Duluth has an easier path to a division crown than does Mankato, and they'll be part of the overall title conversation from day one.

Sioux Falls took a couple of years to acclimate to Division II after leaving a phenomenally successful run in the NAIA, but now they're right back on track. All-NSIC RB Nephi Garcia (1,195/18) is gone, but other than honorable mention DL Jarrett Grabbe the Cougars suffered no other serious losses. Junior QB Luke Papilion (2,779, 26/11 plus 804/6 rushing), the NSIC Offensive Player of the Year, returns along with WR Josh Angulo (891/12), OLs Antonio Green, Terry Huber, and Jesse Springer, DLs Evan Gentry (5.5 sacks) and Grant Schindler, LBs Cameron Ostrom (9.5 TFL) and Carter Ahlers (79 tackles), All-American DB Solomon St. Pierre (10 INT, 2 for scores), and DB/KRs John Tidwell (4 INT and 2 punt return TDs), and David Clark (3 INT, 1 for a TD, and a kickoff return for a score). That's one crazy secondary. The Cougars are going to give Mankato heartburn.

Augustana (SD) loses only LB Ben Skelly from their All-NSIC list, while returning QB Trey Heid (2,564, 25/4), WR Matt Heller (796/7), OLs Brian Long and Chris Mathieu, LB Brandon Mohr (106 tackles), K Lucas Wainman, and KR Jason Greenway. Although RB Dajon Newell (739/7) graduated, his partner C.J. Ham (774/7) returns. The Vikings won't beat out Mankato and Sioux Falls over the course of the season, but could take a stab at finishing second if they can manage an upset over either. That's not an outlandish proposition.

Saint Cloud State doesn't lose much. All-NSIC DLs Bo Putrah and Jeff Bias II (4 sacks each) are gone, and leading interception artist Kyle Risinger (4) as well. RB Ledell White (757/6), WR Matt Hentges (578/3), TE Grant Thayer, OLs Bret Piekarski, Karl Echinger, and Rafael Saez, LB Adam Josephson, DBs Keyshawn Davis, Jordan Sefon, and Brady Westart, and K/P Eric Mielke return after receiving accolades, and QB Nate Meyer (2,061, 16/11) is back too. If anyone's going to chase down Duluth, it'll be the Huskies. But they're going to have to mush hard.

Winona State had an uncharacteristically horrible season, and as a result only had one all-NSIC selection. That was WR Josh Mikes (1,025/13), and he'll be back. So will QB Jack Nelson (2,843, 27/12), RB Paul Preston (715/4), and nine other starters. The Warriors should bounce back.

Northern State surprised last year, but they'll now have to do without QB Jared Jacobson (2,989, 30/11) and OL Justin Parsons. TE Conner Doherty (718/5), OL Tyler Roberl, DL Chad Stoterau, and DB Joe Parsley (4 INT) all earned All-NSIC honors last year, and they'll return, as will leading rusher Nicholas Truen (820/4). The key problem for the Wolves is that their primary backup at QB last year was WR Jared Hannigan (690/6), and he's gone. Northern State has four quarterbacks on the roster: Christian McAlvain, Colin McAlvain, Kyle Lavand, and Jake Comeaux. Elder brother Christian McAlvain is a transfer from Santa Rosa CC; where he threw for 2,792 yards and 28 TDs; the other three are freshmen. The uncertainty over the quarterback position is largely why Northern is expected to slide back this year.

Concordia-Saint Paul will remain solid in the trenches, but they're suffering a skill bleed. All-NSIC selections TE Jermaine Clemon, Defensive Newcomer of the Year DL Dion Roche (10.5 sacks as a junior, but no longer listed on the roster), DB Abdullah Asad (3 INT) are gone, as is K/P Tom Obarski, who strangely received first-team All-NSIC honors as a kicker but only second as a punter, yet was the AFCA All-American at punter. Don't ask me, man. Also gone are QB Jared Russo (923, 8/4), leading rusher Tre Spears (1,254/7), leading reciever Cordell Smith (587/6), and LB Nick Jauch (16 TFL). The loss of Russo is alleviated, as Ben Schramski actually played in more games, although he was similarly ineffective (794, 4/4). Returning are OLs Josh Coyne and Brett Morris, DL Hank Goff, and LBs Jordan Halverson (108 tackles) and Josh Trifunov. But when you're counting on new faces in pretty much every skill position, your outlook is a little bleak.

Bemidji State was decimated on defense. All-NSIC honorees DLs Dan Kiebler and J.J. Reinke and DBs Scott Christensen and Troy Beckett, plus HM DB Dylan Valentine, are gone. The Beavers do return all-conference LBs Connor Quinn (96 tackles, 17.5 TFL) and Colton Blascyk (13 TFL), WR Blake Holder, OLs Jesse Hein and Matt Valentine. QBs Ryan Shields (1,877, 12/11) and Jordan Hein (963, 10/9) both return; Hein, a transfer from Northern Iowa, was also the team's leading rusher (361/3). Leading pass-catcher Blake Holder (764/6) is also back, as is the team's leader in interceptions, LB Greg Button (4). It's not enough to catch Saint Cloud, much less Duluth, but the Beavers should be respectable.

Minnesota State-Moorhead had youth last year, with HM OL Kasey Groettum being the most important loss. All-NSIC RB Zayne Medhaug (1,127/17) and WR Adam Jiskra (1,039/8) return, along with honorably mentioned QB Jake Hodge (1,981, 16/7 plus 738/6 on the ground), DL Jake Busse, and DB Abe Roehrich (3 INT). The latter two were freshmen last year. The Dragons are still going to struggle this year, but there's a base to build on here.

Southwest Minnesota State loses All-NSIC P Mike Wenk, and returns DB Andrew McReynolds (4 INT). QB Charlie Kern (2,246, 19/18) and leading rusher Tyler Tonderum (930/6) have graduated, but HM WR Nathaniel Huot (649/9) and leading tacklers Jared Twedt (95) and Casey Hertz (94) are back. But the offense needs a lot of work, and Twedt and Hertz are both safeties, so you know what state the defense is in.

Mary suffered several key losses. WR/KR Elby Pope (1,048/10), DL Troy Guptil (10 sacks, 17 TFL), and All-American LB Grant Singer (96 tackles) are gone. QB Zach Roberson (2,148, 19/1), OL Deon Paulson, and LB Seth Walton, all honorable mentions, will return. Roberson's ability to avoid turnovers will be important, but the rushing game was non-existent last year (1,143 yards total) and his favorite target is gone. Mary will struggle.

Upper Iowa loses their entire host of key offensive skill players, as first-team RB Chris Smith (1,144/19), WR Derek Giesking (914/6), TE Lucas Hefty (737/4), and OL Casey Beck graduate along with HM QB Cole Jaeschke (3,350, 22/15) and the team's second WR Shay Gutman (868/9). Also departing are DBs Chayz Holt (8 INT) and Javon Moore (5 INT). The carnage is ugly. First-team DL Jevell Rollins (13.5 TFL) and LB Alex Wahl (127 tackles, 18.5 TFL) return to anchor what's left of the defense, along with LB Tyler Fisher (95 tackles, 13.5 TFL). But there's literally no offensive skill player returning with significant game experience, and the Peacocks aren't going to be strutting this fall.

Wayne State (NE) says goodbye to all-NSIC selections DL Jeff Van Den Top (8.5 sacks), LB Nick Monzu (96 tackles), DB J'Ron Erby, and WRs Cole McDaniel (918/7) and Adam Stark (883/6). OLs Shane Finley and Taylor Jensen return, along with HM QB Zach Osborn (3,291, 25/15), leading rusher Ryan Ludlow (827/9), and P Colton Hough. If Osborn finds new friends to play catch with, maybe this season won't be a disaster. But the returning defense doesn't elicit fear.

Minot State's only major loss is WR Leon La Deaux (713/3). All-NSIC picks DL Thomas Bryson (10.5 sacks), LB Levi Freidt (124 tackles), and P Aaron La Deaux return, as do honorable mentions OL Chad Sickles and DB Randel Barber. QB Zac Cunha (1,866, 14/5) returns to lead the offense, joined by RB Jarvis Mustipher (413/3). There is room for improvement here, but the season is still going to be grim.

Minnesota-Crookston loses their only all-NSIC honoree, LB Greg Lofquist, who racked up an utterly insane 160 tackles, which led the conference by over 30. Honorable mentions went to the departed LB Andrew Hall (78 tackles) and returning DL Drew Selvestra (89 tackles). Those were the team's three leading tacklers. QB Ben Bucholz (1,136, 7/8) has graduated, but returning Tra Hearns (652, 5/6) saw quite a bit of action. RB Dre Person returns after leading the team... with 299 yards. Oof. WR Adam Connette (628/5) will be back, and that's the brightest spot on the offense. Crookston is going to have a challenge on their hands to even win a game.

Game of the year: Normally, the internicine squabble between Mankato and Duluth (which kicks off the season at Mankato on September 3) would be the obvious answer here, but with the rise of Sioux Falls, November 7 takes on massive significance. Mankato visits the Cougars that afternoon, and they might well both be 9-0 heading into that contest.

Northeast-10 Conference Preview

2014 Standings and Info
American International College Yellow Jackets Springfield MA 8-1 8-3
rv Long Island University-Post Pioneers Brookville NY 7-2 8-4
Assumption College Greyhounds Worcester MA 6-3 7-4
University of New Haven Chargers West Haven CT 6-3 6-5
Saint Anselm College Hawks Goffstown NH 5-4 6-5
Stonehill College Skyhawks Easton MA 4-5 5-6
Merrimack College Warriors North Andover MA 4-5 4-7
Bentley University Falcons Waltham MA 3-6 5-6
Southern Connecticut State University Owls New Haven CT 2-7 2-9
Pace University Setters Pleasantville NY 0-9 1-10

It's our first Division II conference which hasn't yet released any preseason goodies yet. The Northeast-10 has been the weakest of the eastern conferences for awhile, notwithstanding New Haven's occasional bursts of dominance, and part of it is that they just don't seem to take their football as seriously as most other Division II conferences. Some schools don't even have 2015 rosters posted yet with just three weeks to go until kickoff. That state of affairs is likely to continue, especially with the Chargers in a down cycle.

The Northeast-10 does a couple of strange things. Their Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year aren't listed as members of the all-conference team, and they name an entire All-Rookie team. As far as scheduling, the final week of the season is left unscheduled, and the teams are assigned games that week based on their position in the standings with the top two teams playing one another for the league championship, even if the top team has a two-game lead on second place.

American International made a surprising run to the conference championship, and squeaked into a first-round playoff loss thanks to the earned access rule. It's not going to happen again. Virtually every major contributor last year is gone. QB Kevin Arduino (2,311, 18/6), WR Stephan Davis (800/11), TE Gary Farley, OLs Zach Jones (co-Offensive Lineman of the Year) and George Grosz, LBs Demetrius Steed and Joel Bowen (10 TFL), and P Daniel Bacick all received All-NE10 honors and then graduated, as did leading rusher Terrell Williams (481/6) and leading tackler LB Jaquawne Simpkins (90). DL Danny Omoregie is the only all-conference selection returning. OL Shawn Lockett, an all-rookie selection, also returns, along with WR/KR Evan Graham (655/5). Sophomore Shawn Brathwaite will probably take over at QB, while the leading returning rusher is sophomore Adam Salvadori (137/0). The Jackets are going to have to rebuild.

LIU-Post is probably the favorite to claim the title, although they've got some serious losses with which to contend as well. League MVP QB Steven Laurino (3,565, 29/14, plus 609/19 rushing) is gone, and so is Defensive Lineman of the Year David Sumter (9.5 sacks). Also among the missing are All-NE10 OL Chris Rossi and LB Anthony Brunetti (120 tackles). RB Mike Williams (532/2), WR Shane Hubbard (1,058/9), TE Sean Binckles (714/5), and OL Mike Solienne all return with honors, joined by all-rookie selections DL Jesse Agbotse and DB Richard Wright (3 INT). Sophomore James Higgins and junior Matt Brennan will likely battle for the starting job behind center.

Assumption also had a surprising season, and they're also not going to repeat it. All-NE10 picks WR Eddy Frazier (560/6), OL Jack Dustin, DL Derrick Mann, DB Erik Abramson (78 tackles), K Tad Beuchert, and KR De'Ontray Johnson (431/2, plus 503/4 as a RB) have all graduated, along with leading rusher Matt Heriveaux (628/5). LB Jarrod Casey (89 tackles, 10.5 TFL) and DB Bakari Blunt (4 INT) return, along with all-rookie WR Ashton Grant (446/3) and DB Kyle Contreras. QB Trevor Vasey (1,704, 13/9) is also back, and RB James Ward (254/3) is the team's leading returning rusher.

New Haven Had a bad year, for them, and they're going to have some work to do to get back on track. Gone are all-conference selections RB Trevor Officer (681/4), OL Zach Guy, DL Drake Harris (6 sacks), LB Matt Zakrezewski (96 tackles), and DB Herb Antenor; QB Joey Bradley (2,675, 20/8) is also gone, and not one other player took a single snap under center last year to get ready to replace him. WR Ty Headen (625/6), OLs Zach Voytek (co-OL of the Year) and Eliot Luebner, and LB Tyler Condit (133 tackles) return, as does Rookie of the Year RB Lemar Thomas (334/6). WRs Henry Adequnle (455/6) and Rishawn Harris (357/3) will also be back along with RB Andre Anderson (518/10), so at least the Chargers will have an offense behind a mostly-intact offensive line... if they can find a quarterback.

Saint Anselm loses all-NE10 DL Justin Waltzer and WR Justin Bernard (1,028/6) -- along with their next three top receivers, Akheen Williams (1,033/4), Brandon Gomes (580/2), and Nick Marcella (405/1) and top tackler LB Zach Hayes (99). The loss of essentially the entire receiving corps a devastating blow to the passing game, which will be managed by junior Yianni Gavalas (3,337, 14/14), who didn't receive any post-season honors. Returning players who did: RB Elad Covallu (522/8), OL Ryan Barry, DB Carroll Bailey (80 tackles), and K Shane Grayson were all-NE10, and LB Eric Mercer was an all-rookie pick. If the Hawks can find some guys to step up for Gavalas to throw to, they could make a little noise.

Stonehill loses all but one of their All-NE10 nods. WR/KR Nate Robitaille (1,025/4), OL Lucas Brum, DL Taylor Russell (11 TFL), LB Brian Harrington (105 tackles), DBs Nate Morris (5 INT) and Sherry Codrington, and P Ryan Handy have graduated. RB Colin Markus (712/5) returns, along with all-rookie DLs Alex Parenteau and Jermel Wright. Other than Robitaille, the Skyhawks return most of their skill position starters on offense, however. Junior Tom Sydeski (1,166, 7/9) and sophomore Matt Foltz (609, 2/4) return to battle at quarterback, while RBs Colin Markus (712/5) and Deontae Ramey-Doe (413/3) are back. The leading returning receiver is last year's #2 Gordon McLeod (395/3). LB Ryan Doherty (73 tackles) returns to lead the defense, which will have to improve. Otherwise, Stonehill's going to be on the wrong end of some high-scoring contests.

Merrimack loses nobody who received accolades last year, but then the list wasn't very long. WR Jere Brown (827/4) and DB Devonte Jones (4 INT) earned second-team nods, while QB Joe Capoblanco (1,999, 13/11) and DB Terrell Huff were all-rookie honorees. Leading tackler LB Jon Hooper (63) is back, as are RBs Armond McRae (569/7) and Adriell Mayes (325/4). There's a lot to be said for not losing anyone of consequence, and that's a theme we've been following through these previews. But even if you bring everyone back, they have to be good in order to contend. Whether the Warriors are actually returning enough talent to make that experience pay off is the question. If so, they could vault up the standings.

Bentley loses WR Jeff Hill (1,113/12) and LB Kyle Young (99 tackles), but more importantly the league's Offensive Player of the Year, QB Danny Guadagnoli (3,438, 31/10), has graduated. OL Eric Beckwith and DL Paul Norris, both second-team selections, will be back along with leading tackler LB Bryan Hardy (103, 10.5 TFL) and leading rusher Martin Bannerman (361/5). Junior C.J. Scarga will probably take over under center after attempting only four passes last season. His best returning option will be WR Sean Myers (551/6). The Falcons are in for a long season.

Southern Connecticut State has been eviscerated on defense, where all three of their All-NE10 selections graduated: DLs Carlif Taylor and Zach Williams (7.5 sacks) and LB Brian Wilcox (96 tackles). At least leading tackler LB Mike Cerisano (98) will be back. Offensively, however, the Owls do return a pair of all-rookie honorees in sophomores QB Ray Catapano (1,136, 4/4) and WR Shaquan Hall (129/2). The Owls lose their leading rusher and receiver, RB Julian Hayes (498/3) and WR Gary Williams (532/1), but in addition to Hall WR Seth Sheridan returns (304/0), and sophomore RB Donald Thomas (478/0) isn't a downgrade from Hayes. This season won't be fun, but the trio of offensive playmakers can use their sophomore years to build. The Owls might be a threat in 2016.

Pace is just plain bad, and they have been for a long time. Their only major loss is QB Brian Beeker (761, 3/8), who didn't even have a firm grip on the job last year anyway. They will return DL Tyler Owens and DB Jamir Gee (4 INT), as well as all-rookie KR Jhalen Bien-Aime, along with leading rusher Valentino Miles (260/4) and receiver Kyle Johnson (599/4). Sophomores Steven Demeo (631, 4/3) and Brandon Tobin (382, 1/5) will fight over the quarterback position. But just looking at the numbers in this paragraph will tell you all you need to know. Pace will struggle to even win a game.

Game of the year: With everything being in such a state of flux for teams which were atop the standings last year, the best game of the season -- aside from the championship game, of course -- is likely to be October 24 when LIU-Post visits New Haven.


We'll being running through the Big 12 schedule week-by-week and offering up our staff's consensus on who's winning what games. That'll be loads of fun. We'll also preview the Mountain East Conference and -- trumpets! -- the MIAA, which means you can all start arguments in the comments about Pittsburg State, Washburn, and those vile contemptuous vermin from Maryville... and search for the hidden reference to the brother of a member of the 2003 Big 12 Champions.