Thursday, September 1, 2016

2016 NWC Pick 'Em Contest: Week 1

Every NWC defensive coordinators headache, #8 Spencer Payne

Football is here once again.  Oh, how I’ve missed you football season.  If you are not familiar with the blog.  Welcome and feel free to check in on us often during the season.  Yeah, I don’t post much at all during the off-season anymore. Chalk that up to the ease of social media (follow me on Twitter, IG, and Facebook) to get out information quickly and the fact running a blog can be a major pain in the backside. Regardless, football is here and that means this blog is back with more of my ramblings, shoddy grammar, but hopefully some insight on YOUR Linfield Wildcats, the NWC, and Division III football in general. Oh, how I love me some small college football.

Every Thursday for the remainder of the season, we’ll be posting up our week Division III game pick. These game picks originate from’s posting board: You can talk everything D3 in what is a great community of like-minded sports fans. Once you have registered, head over to the NWC pick ‘em post and join in the action. It’s fun, and besides, how cool would it be to brag to your friends that you took out Speedybigboy and HSCTiger74 in this year’s pick ‘em contest? I know, right?

Hopefully joining me this year once again is former Whitworth football player and current swing shift manager of a Spokane area GameStop, (509)Rat.  (509)Rat is a long time contributor to this pick ‘em post, has a deep hate for Pacific, and misses Tully Ball at his alma mater. So strap in and let’s get this year started on a hot streak.  PICKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Northwest Conference Games of the Week:

Pacific (0-0) over Adrian (0-0) (at Pacific):  The Boxers kick off as they host Adrian College out of Michigan. This isn’t the first time these two have faced off and the Bulldogs are actually the favorite to win the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.  But being the top dog of the MIAC doesn’t really mean much.   The Boxers offense is the big question this year but it looks like they have weapons, it’s just a matter of how fast they come together.  A win over Adrian would be a good start in helping that process.

UW-Platteville (0-0) over George Fox (0-0) (at GFU): Platteville has been that upper 2nd tier WIAC team that has just been on the outside looking in on the WIAC title.  I think Platteville is a solid program and would be looking at annual playoff trips if they were not in the same conference as Whitewater and Oshkosh.  This should be an interesting contest.  Fox’s QB is in his 4th year in the program (a year 0 player) and he does have targets to work with. GFU will be more physical this year due to the roster maturing and you have to take the travel for Platte into consideration as well. That should make this a fun little match up. Do expect Platteville to go over on GFU.  But I'm sure Fox will still brag about their juiced up attendance numbers.

 La Verne (0-0) over Puget Sound (0-0) (at UPS): Very hard call here.  La Verne lost the heart of their team with their All-American RB and QB graduating and UPS returns their QB and top receiver but I’m not sure if their interior play is going to be up to snuff. I think this could be a down to the wire game that could go either way but the Loggers do have the advantage of having EXTREAM DESIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!  Still, I’m going to take La Verne in a tight one while the UPS coaching staff goes over to their rocky beach 5 MINUTES away from campus to catch up on email and ponder their season.

Random Tangent:  Man, I love that video with Jeff Thomas at that gravel slope near the water. I do have a major question that I need an answer to. At the :41 second mark, Coach Thomas throws the ball out of the frame to what you think would be someone catching the ball. However, in the next shot it shows Coach Thomas walking back with the ball from the direction he just threw it.  So did he throw it to someone?  Did he just throw it in the gravel to nobody 20 yards away?  Does Coach Thomas like going to gravel like slopes near the water to play catch by himself? The Loggers have like 30 receivers on the roster, he couldn’t get one of them to go with him to catch the ball? These are questions that need to be answered!

Whitworth (0-0) over Central (0-0) (at Whit): Solid little match up for the Rats to get sharp in week one of the 2016 season.  Central is a solid program but not a great one anymore.  The Rats return a ton of talent but I’m curious to see how their pass protection pans out this year now that their fantastic left tackle has graduated. Regardless, Central will offer up some resistance but I’m expecting the Rats to open up the season in style.

Willamette (0-0) over Rhodes (0-0) (at Rhodes): Is it too early to call this a must win game? No? Well, I think this is a must win game for Willamette.  In looking at their schedule if the Bearcat offense doesn’t come out and show some major improvement the Bearcats season might be done before it even starts.  Rhodes stink and if the Bearcats can’t go to Tennessee and take care of business then Willamette fan will just have to start looking forward to basketball season…, wait…um… season….nope, not that either……Willamette fan will just have to start looking forward to 2017.

West region game of the week:

West region games stink this week…moving on.

National Game(s) of the Week (2 pts):

No. 15 Johns Hopkins (0-0) over No. 20 Washington and Lee (0-0) (at JHU):  These two teams face off for the first time since 2003 as both JHU and Wash & Lee are coming off fantastic 2015 seasons as Johns Hopkins continues their domination of the Centennial Conference and W&L won the always competitive Old Dominion Athletic Conference.  The Blue Jays have to replace pretty much their entire offensive line from last season and W&L returns the bulk of their starters. Even with that in mind, I’m going with the historically stronger program at home.

No. 7 Wesley (0-0) over No. 25 Delaware Valley (0-0) (at Wesley):  The Aggies are a solid program out of the Mid Atlantic Conference but Wesley is one of the top tier programs in division III for a reason. Yeah, the Wolverines have to replace All-American QB Joe Callahan (who has looked damn good for Green Bay in the preseason) but Wesley is dripping with talent and have everything running back Jamar Baynard to take pressure on whoever the new Wesley QB will be. Wolverines in a route.

No. 23 Salisbury (0-0) over No. 16 Albright (0-0) (at SU): Yeah, I could make a crappy steak joke right now but I’ll pass. I would be higher on Salisbury but I can’t shake the fact they were handled by Cortland State last year in the first round of the playoffs.  However, these two did battle in a 1-point game last year (Albright win) and you have to consider the fact that Albright is going to have 6 new defensive starters facing a triple option team right out of the gates.  I’ll take the Seagulls in an upset

No. 6 UW-Oshkosh over No. 18 John Carroll (0-0): Please, John Carroll is one of those teams that is in the rotation to be the second best OAC team so they get way more credit than they deserve for getting thumped every year by Mount Union. Oshkosh is a legit badass program and should run through the Blue Streaks like a light night burrito supreme from Taco Bell.

Wildcat11’s NWC Preseason Power Rankings:

1. Linfield: The heavy favorite but that game in Spokane looms large for the ‘Cats.

2. Whitworth: The clear cut number two and the Rats building into a yearly contender.

3. PLU: The NWC coaches disagree but I’m expecting a big rebound year for the Lutes. I think PLU has a star QB in making and return 19 of 22 starters for team that played their schedule tough in 2015.

4. Pacific: The Boxers lost 9 of 11 starters on offense including all their skills starters.  The Boxer defense should be good, especially at Linebacker. However, the Boxers’ are on their 3rd defensive coordinator in three seasons. Staff stability with their top assistances hasn’t been a strong suite for Pacific.

5. Fox: George Fox has a number of 4th year juniors starting and leading their program. The Bruins should take another step forward but have to replace Shaffer at running back. GFU gets a big boost with the return of Charles Riga at LB (I think the kid is a player). If the breaks go their way, GFU could challenge for the 3rd/4th spot. If not, they’ll have to be happy in the middle of the pack.

6. Willamette: The Bearcats returns much of their offense but it was a terrible offense last year. So I’m not sure what that means.  I like what Willamette does on defense but I’m having doubts they’ll have enough firepower to contend in 2016.

7. UPS: It’s back to the lower rung for Loggers even though they return their QB and top receiver. I’m basing the fall back on what UPS returns on the interior on both sides of the ball.  The Loggers only return 2 of 5 offensive linemen all three d-line starters are gone.  Add to the mix that two of three of the Logs top receivers are gone and I think it’s a backslide season.

8. L&C:  The Pioneers are going to start showing signs of improvement and will push more teams but I don't see many wins on the schedule.  I think their best bet will be on Sept 17th vs Pomona-Pitzer.  If they don’t get it done then, it could be another 0-9 year on the hill.

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