|All Eyes are on the opening weekend of the D3 seasons.|
Yes! The pick ‘em contest is back. For those that are new to the blog, during the regular season, I’ll be posting up my Northwest Conference game picks and a selected West Region Game of the Week and National Game of the Week on each Thursday. Members of the D3football.com posting board community have been organizing and running these contests for a number of years and we’re lucky enough to have “cawcdad (California Wildcat Dad)” putting the NWC contest together once again.
If you would like to take part, you just need to register on D3boards.com and then start to make your picks on the NWC Pick ‘em page. It’s easy as pie.
At one time, I was the NWC pick ‘em champ (2010) but like Lewis & Clark’s 2011 season, I was just a flash in the pan. The past two years have seen my faith in Whitworth and Puget Sound football get me nothing but middle of the road results. But with a new season comes a new lease on a pick ‘em life.
Along with my picks, I also have a treat for you as former Whitworth player and the biggest fan of Tully ball in the Pacific Northwest, (509)Rat , will be joining me throughout the year to provide his picks and thoughts on during the season. I’ve never met (509) and I don’t even know his name. He could be living in his mom’s basement in Cheney or he could be a Seattle area Proctologist for all I know. But I know (509) has a great knowledge of the conference, is funny, and has a passion for NWC sports. I think you’ll enjoy his point of view. To the picks!
Adrian over Pacific (at Adrian): This is actually a game that I went back and forth on for a good amount of time. This is a Friday night opener as the Boxers make their longest trip in program history to play defending Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association champions, the Adrian Bulldogs. Pacific has been making a big deal in playing a conference champion and 2012 playoff qualifier to open their season but come on. The MIAA a middle of the road conference and Adrian was blasted 42-10 in the opening round of the playoffs last year by a non-power school. The Boxers aren’t flying out to play St. Thomas or North Central. However, I think Adrian will be good enough and Pacific will find out that traveling across the country is harder than it looks. I do think Pacific is going to battle hard this year but I think Adrian gets the goods here.
(509)Rat says: Adrian over Pacific. A non-conference opponent that comes from a weaker conference. Adrian would finish 3rd at best in the NWC, but that's better than Pacific ever has. Adrian returns 8 starters from the MIAA's best defense. Pacific will score, but the defense won't be enough to get them a win on the road. The kids from Pacific have never played a game outside of the Pacific timezone, I don't like their chances this weekend.
Hardin-Simmons over Willamette (at Willamette): Last year the Bearcats surprised HSU with their new open air attack and compounding the issue was the Cowboys lack of experience on the defensive side of the ball. It led to Willamette posting up crazy offensive numbers and started off HSU’s season on the wrong foot. That element of surprise will be gone and so is a large bulk of key seniors off of Willamette’s roster from last season. I feel HSU is going to be a dangerous team and they start the season off with a key road win over the Bearcats new “if it’s good enough for Linfield” 9-game schedule.
(509)Rat says: Hardin-Simmons over Willamette. I'm secretly rooting for the Bearkitties, but they lost all 5 offensive linemen and the offense won't catch the Cowboys off guard this time. Those really are the only 2 reasons I like HSU to win. This will be the most exciting and entertaining game to watch between these pick-ems.
Utica over Lewis & Clark (at Utica): It’s Pioneer on Pioneer crime on the East Coast as Lewis and Clark flies out to New York to play the Pioneers out of the Empire 8 conference. I think that’s great that L&C is going to fly across the country to play a game. This will be a great experience right up to the point of kickoff for Lewis & Clark. Look, Lewis and Clark’s defense gave up 36 PPG last season and they lost 6 out of their 8 top tacklers from 2012 and it sounds like a total rebuild of an already beleaguered defense. I look for Utica to blaze a trail through Lewis and Clark.
(509)Rat says: Utica over L&C. Lewis and Clark appears to have some incoming talent which is nice to see for a program that has struggled for a long time now. I don't know anything about Utica other than they've been improving within their conference over the last 3 years. And in my opinion, LC will take a step back. This is another game where I worry about young players traveling across the country for an opening game. I don't think LC has quite enough experience or talent to pull this one off.
Whitworth over St. Scholastica (at Whitworth): It’s been a rough start for the NWC this week but thankfully the Rats are here to salvage the weekend. St. Scholastica is one of those “playoff teams” in the same way Adrian is. They’re the best of a so-so group in an auto-qualifier conference and Whitworth should have their way with them. The Rats are an interesting team this season. Their roster last year was riddled with injury and still managed to be respectable. The Rats have a lot of experience back, had some nice impact transfers, have a great schedule with Pacific, Linfield, and PLU at home, and have traditionally played well at Willamette. The Rats should be a team to watch in a conference that most consider a two horse race (Linfield and PLU).
(509)Rat Says: Whitworth over St. Scholastic. Whitworth not only returns most of their starters from last year, they get back a couple of kids from injury who started before the players who are being counted as returning starters. Make sense? The defense should be much improved which is why I'm picking the Pirates to finish above Willamette (sorry guys, not enough talent or coaching acumen to knock of Linfield or PLU). And don't worry about losing Thomas at RB. Whitworth will run zone right and zone left on first and second down almost every series so [insert name of RB here] should be able to replace his production. St. Scholastica might be the best the UMAC has to offer, but that's not saying much. They would struggle to beat the bottom of the NWC. Whitworth should win comfortably in their home opener.
West Region Game of the Week:
#3 Mary-Hardin Baylor over Redlands (at Redlands): UMHB is a top level team in Division III that is going through a little transition but it shouldn’t spin out this program for very long. This game seems like a no-brainer but Redlands did knock off North Central at home a few years back and the ‘Cru doesn’t have the best history on the road. I think Redlands is close to challenging CLU for the SCIAC crown and will have a good showing in what should be a loss to a great football program.
(509)Rats Says: UMHB over Redlands. I hate the Bulldogs. Do I really need to say anything more? Ok, Maynard is a chump and UMHB is the better football team. Cru on the road.
National Game of the Week:
#5 Wesley over #20 Widener (at Wesley): Widener is only returning 3 starters on offense and that spells doom against the Wesley defense. I think this is going to be an ugly game for Widener.
(509)Rat Says: Wesley over (I can't remember but it doesn't matter). I didn't do any research for this one. I honestly don't remember who the Wolverines are playing and I just posted my picks 5 minutes ago. Wesley will have a suffocating defense with a couple of pre-season all americans on that side of the ball. The offense may see a drop in production with a new QB, but they won't need to score more than a couple TD's in most games to get the W. If the offense struggles to move the ball this game could be closer than I expect, but I can't see the Wolverines losing.