St. Thomas Football
The Tommies lost at Bethel 28-21 Saturday to drop to 4-2 on the season, but more importantly 2-2 in the MIAC. The win for the Royals also gives them the inside track at a league title and the MIAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Playoffs.
If the St. Thomas football team has any hopes of playing in the NCAA Division III Playoffs, it knows winning out is pretty much the only option. That got a lot more difficult this week despite a 20-12 win at Gustavus last Saturday.
The excitement of a road win for the St. Thomas football team at Gustavus was a bit tempered Saturday as the Tommies headed back to St. Paul. St. Thomas, ranked No. 6 in Division III headed into the game, actually dropped three spots in the polls despite claiming a 20-12 win over the Gusties.
It’s probably been a very, very long time since St. Thomas had to look up at Gustavus in the MIAC football standings, but that’s exactly the case as the two teams square off Saturday afternoon in St. Peter. The Gusties have made quite a turnaround in the last year and are 3-1 entering Saturday’s contest.
There were several smiling faces on the field after the St. Thomas football team got done with a dominating Homecoming performance on Saturday at O’Shaughnessy Stadium. The Tommies, ranked No. 6 in Division III, piled up nearly 700 yards of total offense and had seven different players score touchdowns in a 65-6 win over the Knights to claim their first MIAC win of the season.
After falling to St. John’s 20-18 in the conference opener, every week the rest of the season will essentially be a playoff game for the Tommies. St. Thomas (2-1, 0-1) can’t afford to have another MIAC loss if it has any hopes of another league title and a trip to the NCAA Playoffs.
The St. Thomas campus, at least from a football standpoint, was quiet last weekend with the Tommies on a bye following a frustrating loss to St. John’s. With that bye after three games, it gave St. Thomas an early chance to correct several mistakes and get back to the fundamentals of football.
There’s rarely been a time in the St. Thomas/St. John’s football rivalry where it’s considered an upset if the Johnnies come out with the victory. That was exactly the scenario Saturday as the two teams entered their MIAC opener 2-0, with the Tommies ranked No. 2 in the nation after making a run to last year’s national title game.
St. Thomas hosts arguably the biggest small-college athletic event of the year Saturday as it opens the MIAC football slate against rival St. John’s at O’Shaughnessy Stadium. When the two teams met in St. Paul two years ago, St. Thomas broke a 29-year record with more than 10,000 people in attendance as the Tommies rolled to a 63-7 victory.
The St. Thomas football team got its first real test against an opponent last Saturday in its home opener, and by all accounts the Tommies passed with flying colors. The Tommies, ranked No. 2 in the national polls, scored the first 15 points against UW-Eau Claire and led 32-7 at the half on the way to a 52-7 victory.
Students moved in over the weekend, and it should make for a festive atmosphere Saturday when No. 2-ranked St. Thomas hosts UW-Eau Claire Saturday afternoon. They may not say it right away, but the three-time defending MIAC champion Tommies have their sights set on something bigger: A national championship.
I’ve never been a huge fan of the “what might have been” scenario, especially when it comes to sports and championships. I’ve always viewed that as pretty cut and dry. If you did enough, you’ll win a championship. If you didn’t, you won’t.
If you head over to Palmer field at O’Shaughnessy Stadium it’s pretty quiet these days. That will all change in a few short weeks as the St. Thomas football team prepares for the start of the fall season. Camp starts in early August for the Tommies, who went 14-1 last season. That one loss prevented St. Thomas from winning its first national championship.
Seniors at the University of St. Thomas will get their degrees on Saturday, but many athletes are already taking the time to reflect on one of the most successful sports years in the school’s history. St. Thomas won a total of 10 MIAC titles, six in men’s sports and four in women’s to sweep the conference’s All Sports Competition.
Every football coach will tell you they are excited about a new class of incoming players, it’s up to everyone else to determine how legitimate that excitement is. Glenn Caruso was downright giddy when talking about his 2013 recruiting class that will arrive on the St. Thomas campus this fall.