|Team, Excellence, Attitude, Class...often imitated, never duplicated.|
Sorry we’re late this week but (509)Rat has been pulling double shifts at Plaid Pantry the past couple of days so he’s asked if we could post this late. Not a problem, my good friend. Last week, I was just ok in picking 5 out of 8 games correctly, while (509)Rat nailed 6 out of 8. I’ve been getting waxed with the National Games of the Week picks so far this year as Hobart was exposed as a pretender and NCC took one on the chin vs a WIAC contender.
As for the NWC goes, the biggest surprise was Pacific dropping their home opener vs an 0-2 Debuque team. Debuque did drop their first two games to top 25 teams so it wasn’t like they were losing to Lewis and Clark but that was a case of Pacific again losing a non-conference game you would think should be a sure thing. Willamette showed some fight but they’re going to take a number of losses this year, Lewis & Clark blew their only chance for a win this year, and Whitworth raced out to a 36-0 lead over La Verne before mailing it in the second half.
This is a very difficult week of games this week. I feel there are a lot of evenly matched rosters/programs facing off so there is a chance of this being big on the pick ‘em page with separation in the standings. Right now, both (509)Rat and I are stuck in the middle of the standings but there is a lot of season left. Let’s do it!
Northwest Conference Games of the Week
Pacific Lutheran (0-1) over Trinity (Tx.) (3-0) (at PLU): It may be curious to pick a 3-0 team to lose this weekend but I believe that the Lutes are going to be able to get the job done against a Texas team making a LOOOONG road trip to the Pacific Northwest. Yeah, Trinity is 3-0 but the teams they’ve beat so far in 2015 are a combined 0-7. Not exactly talking about the stiffest slate of competition for the Tigers so far and I think they’ll wind up getting tripped up by a young but capable PLU squad.
(509)Rat Says Trinity: PLU can't run the football and it's not because Cal Lu's defense is that good. I mean, Willamette outgained them last week. Trinity has essentially made this trip, playing at Willamette last year, and should be better prepared in that regard. Trinity appears to be a well rounded team that has an improved defense from last year. They aren't really good at any one thing, but they seem to do everything well. 2 weeks and I've already abandoned my NWC loyalty...It's all PLU's fault, really.
Pacific (1-1) over Occidental (1-0) (at Oxy): Man, I didn’t see that loss last week coming for Pacific. That was very surprising to see that outcome and the fact that Debuque was close in the 4th quarter to making it a boat race before Pacific was able to make it close with a late rally. So now the Boxers Pool C hopes are dashed and they get a last tune-up before NWC play as they head to SoCal against the offensive minded Oxy Tigers. I’m expecting some fireworks from both offenses but Pacific should be the deeper and more talented team.
(509)Rat says Pacific: I hate Pacific. Partly because they come on the scene as a new program and quickly started winning, but mostly because they continue to ruin my picks. They beat a COI team that is better than them and then lose to a Dubuque team who is worse...at home. I can't figure them out. I don't think Occidental will have them figured out either though. I'll take one of the better NWC teams against a middle of the road SCIAC program any day. A team that couldn't stop UPS from scoring 41 is going to have a tough time beating Pacific. Plus, apparently Pacific is better on the road.
Whitworth (2-0) over Chapman (0-1) (at Chap): A lot of people in both the NWC and SCIAC are going to be taking a good look at what could be a very competitive football game down in Orange County. Whitworth has come out of the gates firing in two impressive victories over some of the SCIAC bottom feeders and look to have made big strides in year 2 of the Sandberg regime. Chapman is a solid team but I’m not sure if they’re going to have enough offense to hang with Whitworth. I’m looking for this to be a statement win for Whitworth and for the Rats to start picking up some more top 25 votes as a result.
(509)Rat Says Whitworth: The Pirates haven't played anyone yet, this will be a good test to see how they respond to real competition. The defense is improved and they get a Chapman offense that will likely take some time to get up to speed. Whitworth shut out a La Verne team until they put in the 2nd string to start the second half after opening up a 39-0 lead. And even though Linfield's defense will make every offense look bad, Chavez was inaccurate and unable to move the ball downfield when they fell behind the sticks on 1st and 2nd down. Whitworth's defense will do just enough for them to steal a win down in Orange.
George Fox (1-1) over Arizona Christian (0-2) (at ACU): A match-up of two second year programs that seem to be going in two different directions. So far the GFU offense seems improved on the early year compared to year one but their defense is giving up a ton of yardage and points while ACU has been pounded in their first two games of the year. Granted ACU has played much better competition that Fox so it’s a little hard in trying to compare box scores to get an idea of how these two programs will match-up. This was a tight game last year and I expect it will be the same thing this year as well. I’m just going to take Fox for the hell of it.
(509)Rat Says GFU: Fox lost a close one last year and the Bruins appeared to be improved in year 2. I know nothing about the NAIA program from Phoenix, they could very well have landed some stud transfers/recruits and blow GF out of the water. I have faith in the Bruins though and their new QB coach.
West Region Game of the Week
#8 St. Johns (3-0) over #12 St. Thomas (3-0) (at SJU): Oh, I would love to be out in Collegeville this week. I have no problem in saying this is the prime time rivalry game in all of Division 3 and with both programs being top ten quality and undefeated, it just ramps up the intensity that much more. UST has downed SJU 3 out of the last 4 years and could easily do again this week. Again, I’m picking SJU because they have a stud running back and I enjoy seeing anybody get over on UST.
(509)Rat says SJU: I already said I was taking the Johnnies from here on out. A heavy dose of Sam Sura and his 6.3 yds/carry should help St. John extend their win streak in this rivalry to 3 games. St. Thomas has looked real good (beating bad WIAC teams) so far this season and this is a rivalry game, so nobody should be surprised if they win this game. Should be a good one, looking forward to some ESPN coverage of the rivalry Saturday.
National Games of the Week:
#5 Wesley (2-0) over #22 North Central (1-1): This had the makings of another top ten’ish match-up but NCC dropped one to the a program that I just called Fool’s Gold last week (Platteville). Thanks for nothing North Central. May Wesley run up and down on your backsides for helping give Platteville some validity this season. A pox on your house. A POX, I SAY!
(509)Rat says Wesley: Wesley is the better program and is basically Mount Union-away from winning a championship at some point in the past 10 years. I think North Central comes out a little flat after that heart breaking loss to Platteville last week. They can't afford to do that against the Wolverines and end up digging themselves in a hole they can't get out of.
#9 Wabash (2-0) over #15 Wittenberg (at Wabash) (2-0): The best rivalry game outside of SJU/UST as the traditional top two powers in the North Coast Athletic Conference hook up once again. Wittenberg has won this game a great clip than the Little Giants but I think this is going to be one of those seasons where Wabash can get it done. The Little giants have only given up 3 points in two games while the Tigers have been pretty tough on defense as well (giving up some garbage time scores). I expect this to be close but Wabash might have a little more firepower this season.
(509)Rat Says Wabash: Wittenberg has beaten Wabash in each of the last 2 seasons. Wabash is due and I'm picking them to win this one at home. Another rivalry game that could go either way. This should be a good game, and I'm hoping at some point the Little Giants run the Annexation of Puerto Rico.
Wildcat11’s NWC Week 4 Power Rankings
1. Linfield – Have some kinks to work out but they have the look of a contender.
2. Whitworth – HUGE game for the Sandberg era this weekend in SoCal.
3. Pacific – Expect a bounce back win vs. Oxy. Think they’ll be dangerous in the NWC.
4. PLU – Going to take some lumps but they have talent.
5. UPS – Easily be in the bottom 3 in the near future but are safe with the double bye.
6. Willamette – Gave CLU a good run but not sure if they can hang with the top four.
7. Fox – Unfair that I dropped them after a bye but they gave up 500 yards of offense to that Redlands offense. Not a good sign.
8. L&C – Locey called Pomona-Pitzer a “good team”.