|We'll be back to you soon enough.|
It was an interesting week around the conference as Pacific broke through with their biggest win since reinstating their program in 2010 and essentially ending Pacific Lutheran’s 2014 NWC title/playoff hopes (I did have a Linfield fan reach out to me stating he was sad he would never see another Dalton Ritchey turnover in person now that the Lutes season is done. Ouch.). What that means for Pacific is they are a lock to get a shot at either a piece or for the outright NWC title at the end of the year when they come to Linfield. That’s going to be a fun one.
This week around the NWC it looks like a bunch of for sure picks. We’ll see if PLU has a hangover from the loss to Pacific and if UPS has enough defense to slow down Whitworth. A few big games from around the nation as well as we move deeper into the second half of the regular season.
Northwest Conference Games of the Week:
#5 Linfield (5-0) over Lewis & Clark (0-6): (509)Rat says Linfield: Not sure if the Wildcats have any lingering injuries but the bye week will give them a good chance to rest up before finishing up conference play.
Pacific Lutheran (3-2) over Willamette (4-1) (at PLU): Easily the most interesting matchup in the conference this week as Willamette looks to stay in the NWC title hunt and PLU’s season was crushed last week. The Bearcats went with a Frosh QB (Ryan Knowlton) last week against L&C. I’m not sure if that was due to injury to their main starter or looking to add more of a passing component to the Bearcat offense. I’m very curious to see where PLU’s head is at after last week but regardless I still like them to prevail against Willamette.
(509)Rat Says PLU: I have serious doubts about this PLU team after seeing what everyone else has done to CLU and last week’s loss to Pacific. I still think they are good enough to prevent Jones from running wild and the rest of the Willamette O from breaking off a bunch of big plays. I won't be surprised if they lose, but Willamette's defense and lack of a passing game don't inspire much confidence.
Whitworth (4-3) over Puget Sound (3-2) (at Whit): Did you know that UPS is only allowing 21.8 points per game this season? Yeah, neither did I. I’ve been saying all year that UPS is better, not good, but better. That’s a big improvement to where they’ve been. And I think that Whitworth has a chance to be pretty good in the next couple of years but right now their defense stinks and I’m not in love with the offensive philosophy. This will be a long game as both teams love chucking it around the yard and I’m expecting a high scoring game with the Rats coming out on top.
(509)Rats Says Whitworth: Thankfully Puget Sound is not Linfield, as I don't know if I could handle a second straight shellacking. UPS will score some points against a bad Whitworth defense. However, an even worse UPS defense will give up more.
Pacific (3-2) over George Fox (0-5) (at GFU): So through three Northwest Conference games, George Fox is averaging 6.66 points per game. What!? I’m just sayin’. This won’t be much of a game. Pacific is going to mop up the Bruins and Fox will release another of the worst game reviews in the history of sports information. Seriously, go check out their game reviews. Is someone actually being paid to write these or do they draw straws in their athletic/marketing department?
(509)Rat says Pacific: I hate Pacific and I hate myself every time I have to pick them. George Fox just isn't any good. Had they not played what must be a horrendous Arizona Christian team to open the season, and then kept it close with La Verne, I probably wouldn't have whiffed on them last week against UPS. Never again...well, until L&C shows up in Newberg.
West Region Game of the Week:
#11 Bethel (5-1) over #22 St. Thomas (5-1) (at Bethel): Major showdown out in the MIAC, as Bethel is 4-0 in MIAC play and FOUR other teams sit with only one conference loss. One of those team is St. Thomas and it’s make or break for the Tommies this Satruday. Win and UST still has a shot at the MIAC title or Pool C, lose and UST is done. I would love nothing more than to see UST done with 3 weeks to play so I’m pulling for the Royals all the way.
(509)Rat Says Bethel: So Wartburg has a very good team this year. Bethel handled the Cobbers in conference play a few weeks ago and hasn't been tested since. St. Thomas has been killing the lesser of their MIAC brethren as well, but that loss to St. John's still hangs over their heads. This is going to be a close game and I'm going to play it safe, picking the favorite at home.
National Games of the Week:
#12 North Central (5-1) over #17 Wheaton (6-0) (at Wheaton): The current and traditional top two teams in the CCIW hook up for what should be the deciding game in their conference title hunt (Elmhurst is still lurking but won’t be so for long). Wheaton is undefeated but has played nobody of note and hasn’t been racking up the style points while NCC took one on the chin vs UW-Stevens Point 4 weeks ago and has been stomping the opposition since. I think NCC will have too much offense and Wheaton won’t have enough offense in the end. Cards with the big CCIW win.
(509)Rat Says NCC: Wheaton really hasn't played anyone yet and I think that will be the difference. NCC is the better team and has already been tested, twice. They are more than prepared to go on the road for a big game and get a W. No UW-SP let down this week. Wheaton has been playing some great defense but I fully expect those stats to take a big hit when a capable offense finally lines up on the other side of the ball.
#2 Mary-Hardin Baylor (6-0) over Texas Lutheran (6-0) (at TLU): Texas Lutheran is sitting right on the outside of the D3football.com Top 25 poll and is itching for a signature win for their program and the SCAC. Too bad that’s not happening this weekend against the ‘Cru. I’m expecting a Texas sized beat down by UMHB.
(509)Rat says UMHB: I won't be picking against UMHB until UWW or Mt Union is the other option.