|The 'Cats will be game ready this weekend. (Photo from Korym12's flickr feed)|
We have a monster game in the NWC, WIAC, CCIW, and SCIAC this week and all should go a long way in impacting title chances and possible Pool C bids. The conference races are heating up around Division III as anything could happen before we get to the playoffs. I can’t wait to see how this week shakes out.
Northwest Conference Games of the Week
#2 Linfield (5-0) over Lewis & Clark (1-5) (at Linfield): (509)Rat says Linfield: Linfield is a national championship caliber team. Lewis and Clark is slightly better than UPS. How in the world did wc11 fill up a whole blog post talking about this game? Seriously, someone answer that.
#21 Willamette (5-0) over #17 Pacific Lutheran (at Willamette): I agonized over this game for the past week and probably changed my mind at least a half of dozen times. For me, this comes down to the fact that PLU’s offense isn’t the same as last year. They just don’t seem to be able to hit the big play as often and that’s strange considering it’s the same offensive group as last year. Willamette’s Josh Dean has been super this year at Quarterback and has three good running backs and some guys that can make plays catching the ball but I still question their ability to protect and their overall physicality up front. On the flip side, the Bearcats give up 28 points a game and 4.4 yards per rush against. PLU loves running the ball so that might swing the game back into PLU’s favor. Sheesh, I almost changed my pick back to PLU but I’m going to stick to Willamette.
(509)Rat says Willamette: Willamette in what I don't think is really an "upset". Like I mentioned before, Linfield did unspeakable things to the Lutes and they haven't been the same since. Maybe their offense can get back on track against a weak Bearcat D, I just don't see them hanging with a very good Bearcat O. Willamette gets off to hot starts, out scoring opponents 93-16 in the first quarter. Not good for a bunch of depressed Lutherans. Willamette wins 2nd place in the NWC this weekend.
Pacific (5-1) over University of Chicago (5-1) (at Pac): The Boxers rebound over a tough and hard fought loss against PLU. All I know about University of Chicago is they’re 5-1 but it’s one of those St. Scholastica or Adrian 5-1’s…..it doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot. The Boxers get right in a rare late non-conference game.
(509)Rat says Pacific: So Pacific can play football. Their defense has probably been the biggest surprise and the reason for the strong season. PLU hasn't been the same since Linfield committed acts of violence against them, but Pacific took them to the wire and held the Lutes to 76 yds rushing on 32 attempts...stout. I know nothing about U Chicago and I don't care. I'm done doubting the Boxers.
Whitworth (2-5) over Puget Sound (1-4) (at UPS): The Rats rushing attack must be falling over themselves to get out to Tacoma as UPS is give up 200 rushing yards a game. The worst news for UPS is this is their last chance to maybe get a win, which is slim to begin with. Their next three games are against PLU, Linfield, and Willamette. Yikes.
(509)Rat says Whitworth: Hoping to see this one in person. Whitworth looked good early in the season in what turned out to be bad competition. The good news is that UPS is worse than "bad competition". Whitworth will once again get away with run, run, pass and get the TO's that they can't seem to force against good teams. If this game is close, check room 108 at the South Tacoma Motel 6...that's where you'll find the body.
West Region Games of the Week
#7 UW-Whitewater (6-0) over #9 UW-Oshkosh (6-0) (at Oshkosh): To me, this is the national game of the week without question. I moved UWW to #4 in my D3football.com Top 25 as they’ve left no doubt in my mind they’re a national championship contender once again after missing the playoffs last season. Their defense has been lights out this season and the offense has once again found their stride. Pretty much, it’s bad news for everyone in the WIAC and in Division III. Oshkosh is a hard-nosed and tough program that’s earned it the hard way. However, this is where the loss of their superstar QB from last year (Wara) comes back to haunt them as UWW takes the first step into regaining that WIAC crown.
(509)Rat says UWW: Whitewater is back. They beat the living daylights out of Buff State (like they should have last year) and they are rolling through the WIAC (albeit the bottom). The defense has been very strong all year and I think they hold Oshkosh well below their 35.5 pt/game average. The offense keeps rolling against a team that struggled to stop a UW-Stout comeback.
Redlands (3-2) over Chapman (5-0) (at Chapman): We get a 2nd west region game and this one is huge down in the SCIAC as Redlands and Chapman are playing for what could be the SCIAC title and the automatic playoff bid. Chapman is 5-0 on the season and has exactly ZERO votes in the D3football.com Top 25. That tells you all you need to know about what the D3 pundits think of Chapman’s hot start. I’m taking Redlands on the fact they’ve played Mary Hardin-Baylor, PLU, and beat CLU to start their year. The Dawgs know what tough competition is and I think that will carry them to the win.
(509)Rat says Redlands: I have to pick Redlands. Their proven with games against UMHB, PLU, and CLU. The fact that 2 of those were losses matter. I feel like I know exactly the level Redlands is capable of playing on. Chapman has moved the ball against some real bad defenses. I don't know what's gonna happen against a tough D. A defense that held the salutes to 7 points. If I was putting a spread on it I'd call it a pick'em honestly. I figure in that situation there's nothing wrong with picking the battle tested team.
National Game of the Week
#10 Wheaton (6-0) over #20 Illinois Wesleyan (6-0) (at IWU): These two teams are playing for a shot at North Central in the CCIW but essentially they’re playing for a Pool C playoff berth. IWU has been on that 2nd tier of the CCIW for the past 5-6 season but haven’t been fully been able to pass up Wheaton for that number two spot in the conference. The Thunder hasn’t been a world beater on offense this season but I think their defense is enough to get past the Titans.
(509)Rat says Wheaton: Very similar to Willamette v PLU as these two teams are also fighting for 2nd, but behind North Central instead. I don't know much about either team and they have similar early season results against common opponents. So I'm going with the more consistent program, and the team that people much more knowledgeable than I have decided is better in the top 25 poll. I went back and forth over whether to ding me for being on the road and go with Ill Wesleyan, but in the end I decided it wasn't enough to pick against the Thunder.