Thursday, October 31, 2013

NWC Pick ‘Em Contest: Week 9

BOO!  (Thanks to the Fisher family for another great 'Catdome themed pumpkin)

(509)Rat and I are back after with another big week in NWC play and around the nation as conference races continue to play out as the playoffs are right around the corner.  Last week, we both missed the big PLU/Willamette game and I don’t feel bad about that.  It was a tossup game that could have gone Willamette’s way so I’m not overly crushed I missed that.  The other game we missed was more surprising as Illinois Wesleyan took down Wheaton and delivered a major blow to the Thunder’s playoff hopes (they still have to play NCC).   

For the season both Rat and I are 36 out of 45 games (80%) and are once again in agreement for the week 9 slate of games.  The two highest profile games in Division III are taking place in the WIAC and OAC as Mount Union faces their first real OAC test of the season and the WIAC race for conference crown could be put to bed this weekend as Whitewater hosts Platteville in what should be a classic defense (UWW) vs offense (Platteville) pairing.  Let’s get to the action!

Northwest Conference Games of the Week

#2 Linfield (6-0) over #25 Willamette (5-1) (at Will): (509)Rat says Linfield.  Not gonna write a lot for this. I think people have finally stopped pretending that Linfield isn't that much better than the rest of the conference. This one could look closer than the PLU game only because Willamette's big play offense and ST...oh and anything is better than the goose egg laid by the Lutes. It will be out of hand by the time the 4th quarter starts. What's that you Wildcat homers say? Phone it in

#16 Pacific Lutheran (6-1) over Puget Sound (1-5) (at PLU):   Puget Sound is starting to feel like they’re at the same point where they were last year.  After getting crushed over and over again you think it’s going to get worse as they face the toughest part of their schedule.  But the Loggers actually start playing some improved football, and while they still lose to the NWC heavies, it’s not quite the smash jobs you would think.  We’ll see if that’s the case this Saturday vs the Lutes.

(509)Rat says PLU: The UPS v Whitworth game felt a lot closer, unfortunately, than the score indicated. UPS did a nice job of pressuring the Pirate QBs and sold out against the run when Whitworth was in obvious run formations or on 1st and 2nd down. Whitworth only ran for 140 yards which is surprisingly well below what everyone else has done against the Loggers. Why am I still talking about stuff that doesn't really matter? Because this game isn't going to be close. PLU earned themselves an NCAA tourney bid last weekend (well not officially but I'd put money on it) and also got the running game back on track against a suspect Willamette D. The Lutes ran for 252 yards last Saturday...I expect it to be closer to 352 this week.

Pacific (6-1) over Lewis & Clark (1-6) (at Pacific):  The Boxer defense is very good and will dominate the Pioneers one-man show in Forest Grove.  This must be a pretty rough week of practice for Lewis & Clark after getting a beatdown for the ages last week.  This should be a big spread.

(509)Rat says Pacific: Pacific is playing as well as anyone not named Linfield in NWC play. L&C isn't. I mean, we're talking about a team that could have easily lost by 120+ had the Linfield coaching staff been interested in making 22 year old men cry. Pacific will hold the L&C offense in check and I expect the offense to put up numbers like they did against UPS and Occidental...and Whitworth (ugh)

West Region Game of the Week:

#6 UW-Whitewater (7-0) over #8 UW-Platteville (7-0)  (at UWW):  Last week the Warhawks gutted out a tough 17-14 road win at Oshkosh and took one more step in reclaiming the WIAC title.  Platteville has the offense but to me I’ve been thinking that Platteville is the weakest of the WIAC’s big three this season.  I’ve used the term fool’s gold when discussing UW-Platteville and the Warhawks will expose them this weekend with their dominating defense. 

(509)Rat says UW-Whitewater: The Oshkosh game was much closer than I thought it would be. And made me hesitate to pick a Whitewater team that is going to face an offense that averages 530 yds/gm. Then I remembered who they've played, scaled down the offensive numbers, scaled up the defensive numbers, and realized Plateville hasn't seen anyone close to as good as Whitewater is this season. They are conference opponents so it's not like much is going to "surprise" the guys on either team, but Plateville hasn't had to respond to being punched in the mouth since Oct. 2012 against's been awhile. It's been even longer since they've beaten Whitwater (2004). Whitewater wins another close one and reclaims the WIAC.

National Games of the Week:

#1 Mount Union (7-0) over #9 Heidelberg (7-0) (at Heidelberg): This game has been talked for a long time now in the OAC as many people are thinking…excuse me…hoping that Heidelberg is going to be the OAC team to finally knock Mount off the top of the conference pile. Mount Union is Mount Union until proven otherwise and I’m not picking against them in OAC play until further notice.

(509)Rat says Mount Union:  Doesn't matter what number you put in front of Heidelberg, they are still a long ways away from being able to threaten Mt. Union. The Purple Raiders are giving up, on average, 54 yds/gm rushing and 99 yds/gm passing...And that's with starters only playing a half of football each game! Mt. Union is, surprise, surprise, still Mt. Union. At least this isn't Heidelberg's Homecoming game.

#4 North Central (7-0) over #13 Illinois Wesleyan (7-0) (at IWU):   So maybe I’m dumb for picking against IWU two weeks in a row but North Central has shown no signs of having fallen back to the CCIW pack this season in handing out butt kickings like they’re Halloween candy.   I think the Titans defense will slow down the NCC rushing attack to keep the game close but in the end NCC will have too much for IWU to overcome.

(509)Rat says NCC:  WC11 and I both compared the CCIW to the NWC in terms of one heavy favorite and a couple other guys battling for second. Unfortunately we were wrong about the 2nd place teams (PLU and Ill Wesleyan). The Titans outplayed Wheaton last week and should be all kinds of fired up to get conference favorite NCC at home. I didn't pick the home teams last week and I got burnt. Luckily this week the away teams are quite a bit more talented and easily considered heavier favorites. North Central has been rolling through middle of the road WIAC teams and the bottom of the CCIW (4 teams with a combined 6 wins on the season), but that doesn't mean they don't deserve the #4 ranking. NCC's defense has been much stingier and more consistent than the Titan's which will easily make up for any sloppiness or unfavorable road calls. NCC should pull away without a whole lot of trouble in this one.

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