|The South End Zone should be rocking in the 'Catdome this Saturday.|
The conference wrapped up most of their non-conference engagements with a solid 15-6 record. It could have been a little better if it wasn’t for some inexplicable losses but overall it was another great non-conference season for the members of the Northwest Conference. Coaches in the conference will talk about how the NWC is one of the best in the nation and they’re not blowing smoke. The NWC does belong in the same breath as the WIAC and the MIAC. The top half of the conference is very strong and we should be thrilled with the quality football that is played in our corner out in the country.
But onto the good stuff and that’s the 1st week of Northwest Conference play. It should be a great season with lots of intriguing storylines. Let’s get to the action.
Northwest Conference games of the week:
#2 Linfield (3-0) over #11 Pacific Lutheran (3-0) (at Linfield): (509)Rat says Linfield: I will be shocked if this is within 2 touchdowns. All week d3boards have been full of the "PLU has a legitimate shot at beating us and this is going to be a real nail biter" and other things that should make us think Linfield isn't on another level. Well they are and PLU is going to find that out.
Pacific (3-0) over Whitworth (2-2) (at Whitworth): Before the season started I looked at this game as a critical moment in the season for both programs. Whitworth was talking about playing for an NWC title and playoffs before the season started and Pacific wants to be in that same conversation. That means whoever wins this game gets to continue that line of thought and the loser is pretty much done in terms of the NWC title chase. Whitworth started strong but has been terrible the last two weeks in the dropping to La Verne and getting handled by Chapman. Pacific was on the bye last week but has put up a solid 3-0 against suspect competition. I do think Pacific’s rush defense is going to be the difference as the Boxers earn the biggest win since they rebooted their program.
(509)Rat says Whitworth: I'm glad this game is this week. Hopefully everyone is picking Pacific (as they should) because I really think I can get a point from this one. Pacific was in a fight with Occidental (for most of the game) and Menlo (all of the game). I guess that's better than losses to La Verne and Chapman, but I'm still looking at Whitworth as a team who may not be as good as I originally thought, but they aren't nearly as bad as they've looked the last 2 weeks. I think the offense can get back on track against a team who hasn't stopped anyone since Adrian. And the D should fare better against an offense that isn't as effective running the ball as they are through the air. Pirates right the ship (temporarily).
Puget Sound (1-1) over Lewis & Clark (0-3) (at Lewis & Clark): I’ve smelled this one since the beginning of the season and this is the moment when UPS finally can climb out of the NWC cellar and put L&C back in. Whatever magic the Pios had back in 2011 is 100% gone and they were not able to turn any of that momentum into sustained success. The key for me in this on is that Puget Sound has invested greatly into trying to be a more physical program and that should pay dividends this weekend. L&C can still move the ball and put up points but I think UPS will have their 1st two game win streak in years.
(509)Rat says Lewis & Clark: Do I have to pick a winner? I think LC has the advantage with Welch at QB. He's shown he can be good with more talent surrounding him at least. UPS also can't run the ball to save their life. Nor are they interested in defense. In their one win, they gave up 26 first downs and 418 yards against Whittier. The loggers were lucky poets don't know how to hold on to footballs, because Whittier beat them in every other facet of the game. Lewis and Clark's defense is pretty bad too...I'm hoping the Loggers are worse.
West Region Game of the week:
Wartburg (2-1) over Simpson (2-1) (at Wartburg): This isn’t a super sexy game as we’re talking about two teams that probably aren’t going to be in anyone’s top 25 by the end of the year. Simpson has improved as a program the past few years while Wartburg isn’t as strong as in year’s past but they’re still good enough to beat the Storm at home.
(509)Rat says Wartburg: Simpson won by a point last year. Wartburg certainly is the better program, but in recent years the Storm have caught up. Neither team has seen vastly different early season results compared to last year, so I'm going with the Home team in a close one.
National Game of the week:
Wesley (3-1) vs Huntingdon (3-0) (at Wesley): Linfield vs PLU is the national game of the week but for the pick ‘em sake we’re going out to Delaware. Wesley showed they’re still a good team (and that Mary Hardin-Baylor is scary) and while Huntingdon is coming on I still like Wesley at home to put up some big offensive numbers.
(509)Rat says Wesley: I think Huntingdon can have some success running the football. I think Huntingdon is getting better and better each year. But Wesley is still a better team. If you give up 406 yards of offense to Mississippi college, Louisiana college, and Ferrum, Wesley is going to have a field day. If you take out the UMHB game (which is fair since everyone should be able to throw out their stats against that Defense), where they only had 105 yards of Offense, Wesley is averaging 489 yards of offense per game...and I haven't even gotten to the talent on defense. Wesley will win a decently competitive game at home.