|'Cats get to break out the new stormtroopers this weekend.|
While there seems to be a clear cut top of the NWC this season, teams 4-7 are a complete mess. Fox has shown some very good improvement in year 2 and might be able to knock off some of these other programs that are in flux right now. PLU’s offense is a dumpster fire right now with no ability to run the football and they continue to pass out more turnovers than a pastry shop. I’ve been hard on Willamette but maybe the Bearcats have chance to move to the top of the middle here and while UPS is improved, it’s just hard to think of them as better than PLU and Willamette. I think overall the NWC is down a little this year, just based on the middle of the pack’s strength.
Let’s get to the action!
Northwest Conference Games of the Week:
#3 Linfield (2-0) over Lewis and Clark (0-2) (at L&C): (509)Rat says: Lots of chalk this week. Unfortunately I'll have to wait another week to continue my rise to the top as I really start to pull away from WC11 in the pick'em standings. Why am I mentioning all of this here? Because there is nothing to talk about when it comes to Linfield v L&C. It's a shame this game is at L&C, only because less Linfield student athletes are going to get a chance to play with conference travel restrictions. It's also too bad Linfield has respect for Locey because it would be hilarious if they showed up without any starters...and still won by 40+
Whitworth (3-0) over George Fox (2-1) (at Whit): I watched the great majority of the Whitworth vs Chapman game last week and color me impressed with the Rats. Their offensive line is much improved from year (and big), Kolste can extend plays and keeps his eyes down the field, they have a number of sure handed receivers, tough running backs, and a much improved defense. The Rats are legit. Speaking of legit, this will be the first real opportunity to see if Fox’s offensive production is truly legit or not. You can move the ball on Whitworth’s defense but they do a great job in creating havoc and ball hawking. I do expect Fox to get some points but Whitworth should win by a comfortable margin.
(509)Rat says Whitworth: George Fox might be the best team Whitworth has played so far, which says less about the Bruins and more about the dumpster fire that is the SCIAC. Fox will score some points, but they have zero hope of stopping the Whitworth offense. If students do not bring signs referencing Tully's age discrimination lawsuit against the University, consider me one disappointed alumni.
Pacific (2-1) over PLU (0-2) (at Pacific): The more things change, the more they stay the same. PLU just doesn’t take care of the football and it’s the biggest reason why they continue to lose football games the past years. It comes down to bad decision making with the football and the Lutes have become experts at it. If you’re Pacific’s coaching staff, you love the fact that the Boxers get better as the game goes on. That bodes well for the Linfield and Whitworth games coming up. Boxers boat races PLU.
(509)Rat says Pacific: 1.1 yards/rush, 27 yds/game for the Lutes this year...I promise I'm not making that up. Of the 53 points the Lutes have given up this season, 37 have come in the 3rd and 4th quarters, while only scoring 6 points in the second half of games themselves. Pacific has made a living this season showing up in the 4th quarter and putting points on the board, so PLU's only hope is to get out of the gate quick and form an insurmountable lead. I just don't see that happening. Especially when you can't run the ball and bleed clock against a team who has no problem doing its damage in the 4th quarter.
Willamette (0-2) over Puget Sound (1-1) (at Willamette): I’ve been really harsh on Willamette this year but I saw a little glimmer of hope out of that 2nd half vs CLU (granted CLU isn’t the 86 Bears) but I’m going to give the Willamette the benefit of the doubt. This was a very hard game to pick as UPS is better and did beat Willamette in Salem last year but I just can’t pull the trigger on UPS this weekend.
(509)Rats Says Willamette: Willamette had to replace a number of players this year and I think they will continue to improve as the season wears on. Overall, though, they are still more talented than UPS despite the 0-2 record. The defense really stepped up in the second half against Cal Lu last week, and the offense gets a chance to get going against a bad Logger D this week. If I thought UPS could possess the ball and keep their defense off the field, I may have gone with the Loggers. Needing overtime to beat CMS just doesn't inspire confidence. Then again, neither do the Bearcats. I'll stick with the traditionally strong program in this one.
West Region Game of the Week
#1 UW-Whitewater (3-0) over #14 UW-Plattville (3-0): Whatever. Next.
(509)Rats Says UWW: Seriously, who in their right mind would pick against Whitewater? Since 2005 they have lost 3 WIAC games and 2 of those came during a rebuilding year in 2012. Next.
National Games games of the week:
#18 Hardin Simmons (3-0) over Trinity (3-0) (at Trinity): Yeah, I think that Trinity gets the cold water in the face treatment this weekend vs HSU. Granted, the jury is still out on if HSU is back to being a legit ASC contender but I still think they’re going to be the more talented and explosive team than the do everything solid but not great Tigers.
(509)Rat Says: Hardin Simmons is back! Probably. Trinity got smoked by HSU last season, and while the Tigers are probably a better team this year, HSU definitely is. The Cowboys are only allowing 13.3 pts/game (a somewhat deceiving number given 2 of the 3 teams they played aren't very good), pointing to an improved defense. I find it interesting that defense may be the key to a program who has never had a very good defense...even when they had a very good team. If Trinity can continue to play mistake-free football they can make this a game, I just don't see them scoring enough points to win this Saturday.
#12 Thomas More (3-0) over #13 Washington and Jefferson (3-0) (at TMC): Last time I picked against Thomas More and they won 48-0 so I’m not going to fall for the banana in the tailpipe trick again. I’m going for a big win for the Saints.
(509)Rat says TMC: Thomas More has been the more impressive team this year. W&J are the reigning champs. These two have finished 1-2 in the PAC each of the past 7 years. It certainly could go either way but outside of St. Johns getting taken to the woodshed by St. Thomas, I've done pretty well on these toss up rivalry games so far this year. I'm sticking with the home team again, Saints win comfortably.
Wildcat11’s NWC Week 5 Power Rankings
1. Linfield – One final tune-up before the ‘Cats hit the meat of their schedule
2. Whitworth – Impressed with them. Should be a top 25 team, IMO.
3. Pacific – Boxers get better as the game goes on.
4. Fox – Offense looks way better this year. Must have cut a deal with the devil.
5. UPS - …but I’m picking Willamette this week.
6. Willamette – Could be number 4 in next week’s ranking
7. PLU – Can’t run it and turn it over. Bad Combo
8. L&C – Will be in the basement for the remainder of the season.