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Let’s talk about the NWC for a minute. It’s hard to judge from just one week of games. Team do make big strides from game one to game two and throughout the season, but there have been a few surprises. I’ll admit that I didn’t think Fox would knock off Redlands so that’s a feather in GFU’s cap that they’ll build off of. Pacific and Whitworth are for sure conference contenders, and while PLU is very young, I think the Lutes are going to give some NWC teams fits this year as they reload. UPS….not sure yet. They could make a run to the middle of the conference but Fox’s performance tells me that maybe the Loggers are going to be in the bottom half along with Willamette and L&C. LOTS of football to be played but it should be a fun year in the NWC. Let’s get to it!
NWC Games of the Week:
#3 Linfield (1-0) over Redlands (0-1) (at Linfield): (509)Rat says Linfield. This one is laughable as Redlands is apparently the 6th or 7th best team in the NWC. Redlands gave up 521 total yards of offense to the Bruins last week. That is not a typo. George Fox averaged 6.1 yards per play. Redlands actually won the turnover battle and TOP was a wash, so it’s not as if they beat themselves. As far as I can tell Redlands suited up their best players...I cannot envision a scenario where those same players are competitive in McMinnville. Sam Riddle would be a good DraftKings pick-up for you weekly fantasy guys.
Cal Lutheran (1-0) over Willamette (0-1) (at Will): So Willamette laid a complete egg out in Texas but I’m not surprised. I pegged Willamette to have one of the biggest step downs in the conference this season and for good reason as they lost their two guys that made them competitive last year and L&C had a better recruiting class that Willamette. Not good signs for the Bearcats for this year and moving forward. CLU pulled off a last minute win against a young PLU team and I’m expecting the Kingsmen to knock off Willamette as well. Coach Mac’s teams haven’t tasted victory in the state of Oregon for a long time so I’m sure he’ll savor this one.
(509)Rat says CLU: My homerism got the best of me last week and left me near the bottom of the pick'em standings. Not this week. Willamette has a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball. They gave up 3 sacks, threw 3 picks, lost 2 fumbles, gave up 5 yards per rush...the only nice thing you can say is "at least they didn't lose to George Fox." I don't think Willamette's problems are any that will be fixed in a week's time. CLU should shut down another NWC rushing attack, forcing Willamette to the air and getting "W" number 2 on the season.
Pomona-Pitzer (0-1) over Lewis & Clark (0-1) (at P-P): Pomona-Pitzer is terrible. They stink…but L&C is one who wears similar cologne. I’ll admit that talking about L&C is so strange because of the coaching situation there. Yeah, the Pios will improve with time but they’re going to take their lumps for a few years. I know all L&C talks about is Coach Locey’s pedigree (which is WELL deserved) and excellence this and “new era” that but folks don’t remember that when Locey first took over Linfield, the ‘Cats went 5-4, 6-3, 7-2, and 6-3 in his first four seasons as Linfield’s HC before the program took off again, and that's at a place that loves their football program and was still viable even thought that was a time of transition. What I’m saying is that Locey will make L&C a much better program but it’s not going to happen overnight and the Pios are going to stink for a number of years until he builds not only a quality starting line ups but also depth…..and that takes time….years.
(509)Rat says Pomna-Pitzer: You couldn't pay me to watch this game. P-P and L&C are in similar positions within their respective conferences...in the cellar. This is actually a very winnable game for L&C, certainly the only one left on the schedule, I just don't think L&C has enough talent to do it. Locey just hasn't had nearly enough time to get actual football players enrolled at L&C so you have to think of them last year's team with some coaching improvements. Hopefully I get a "wc11 edit" here because I want his opinion, but what's the Over/Under on seasons Locey lasts at L&C? (WC11 edit: No idea but I say at least 6 seasons but maybe 8 at the most. Just guessing.)
Whitworth (1-0) over La Verne (1-0) (at Whit): Another SCIAC chump for the Rats to get fat on. The one benefit of .500 Tully Ball over the past decade is that Whitworth had some of the mouth breathers of the SCIAC lined up to play games against. Whitworth should have plenty of fireworks and put up a fat number of the Leos. Rats in a romp.
(509)Rat says Whitworth: Kolste and the Pirates should have another strong offensive showing, plenty of crooked numbers on the scoreboard again. The defense is definitely improved, not good enough to challenge Linfield for NWC supremacy, but they're better. La Verne will score some points, but this won't be the 50-48 shootout we saw 1 year ago.
Pacific (1-0) over Dubuque (0-2) (at Pacific): The Boxers landed a great week one comeback win over College of Idaho. I think Pacific is legit and will push Linfield (along with Whitworth) for the conference title this year, and if they fall short, I think Pacific could be a Pool C contender this year. Dubuque’s offense has been as explosive as that 14 year old’s clock in Irving, Tx. Pacific will pound the Spartans and start picking up more top 25 votes.
(509)Rat says Pacific: College of Idaho is a good team and Pacific got yet another W that I don't understand. Shaw should continue to play solid, error-free football against a Dubuque team that has been getting shelled by some top #25 caliber teams early this season. Pacific's defense will get a little break as well, though Dubuque's lack of offensive production could have a lot to do with who they've played. They beat Pacific at home last year and this year I think the Boxers return the favor.
West Region Game of the Week:
#8 St. Johns (2-0) over Concordia-Moorhead (2-0) (at CM): SJU has not beaten Concordia-Moorhead since the 2011 season but that’s going to change this weekend up near Canada. I do think SJU is a legit player again on the national scene and that’s a good thing for division 3 football. It’s just more fun with SJU being in the hunt and if they can take down a very good Concordia-Moorhead team, the Johnnies are one step closer to being in the national title hunt.
(509)Rat says SJU: The Johnnies are back! I have a good friend who played football at St. Johns so I'll probably roll with them in any future pick'em weeks (you might as well just pencil that in now). The Johnnies have absolutely steamrolled their first 2 opponents, both of whom were overmatched. They could come out a little sluggish against C-M, which is their first real test of the year, but when the dust settles they should go away with a comfortable win. Sura and the running game will be too much for the Cobbers.
Nationals Games of the Week:
#13 North Central (1-0) over #22 UW-Plattville (2-0) (at UWP): There is one thing that I’ve learned over the years in doing this pick ‘em and that’s UW-Plattville is fool’s gold. They get way too much credit because they are from the WIAC but when it comes down to playing against top tier programs the Pioneers never seem to be able to punch through their glass ceiling. More of the same here as North Central will kick Platt to the curb and right out of the Top 25.
(509)Rat says UW-Platteville: When two very good programs are a part of the pick'em, neither of whom I know much about, I pick the home team. I also like to pick the WIAC team when playing against a team from...well, pretty much anywhere. I would love nothing more than to see someone knock the Warhawks off of their perch.
#16 Hobart (2-0) over #24 Ithaca (1-0) (at Ithaca): I have this very strange soft spot for Ithaca. I don’t know if it’s because they have this not fancy but cool home field setup, or it could be that “Bombers” are a sweet nickname, or maybe it’s the fact that Ithaca’s consecutive winning season streak ended at 40 years in 2011when the Bombers finished at 4-6. Either way, I like the Bombers but I don’t think they have the firepower to knock off Hobart.
(509)Rat says Hobart: When you lose an offensive linemen to the second day of the NFL draft, you're gonna take a small step backwards. Hobart should still be fine. Ithaca will keep it close, but I think Hobart wins. If Hobart gets a running game going, which they struggled with so far this season, Hobart should be able to pull away and win by a couple of touchdowns, but I've been mostly wrong so far this season. Take my advice at your own risk.
Wildcat11’s NWC Week 3 Power Rankings
(Doing something new this year as I’m going to tag the end of our pick ‘em posts with my personal NWC power rankings. The rankings can change wildly from week to week based of the previous week’s results.)
1. Linfield – Looked strong in game one
2. Pacific – Comeback win is sign of program that’s maturing.
3. Whitworth – Improved defense bodes well for the Rats.
4. PLU – Better debut than I thought vs CLU.
5. GFU – Give the devil its due.
6. UPS – Loggers with back-to-back bye weeks? You can catch Coach Thomas at the BEACH!
7. Willamette- A clunker in Texas. Wasn’t a good sign for Willamette
8. L&C – Look into my eye. This is probably your only chance to win a game this year.