Friday, September 23, 2016

2016 NWC Pick 'Em Contest: Week 4

We'll be back.....
Well, my game picking this year has been just about as good as the ‘Cats performance in the second half of the UMHB game.  I’m actually sitting in dead last right now.  Ugh.  So, I’m not actually sure why you’re even reading this game pick article.  If you were smart, you would look at my picks and instantly take the other team and bet the farm on it.

I didn’t post up last week’s picks because of the travel to Texas.  Speaking of Texas.  I know that Texans LOVE themselves some Texas but I don’t get it.  It’s miserable hot, flat, ugly, the access roads kill me. Whoever is in the road construction business in Texas has to make a killing.  I’ve never seen such intricate highway bridges located in the middle of nowhere.  I did like the Sonic we stopped at for a quick bit that didn’t have a front desk but just a phone you picked up to place your order in the back. Besides that, forget that place.

The NWC is shaping up to have a very interesting year.  Everyone is on the bye this week so let’s do a quick status check on the NWC. If the ‘Cats can get their issues worked out, Linfield should still be hands down the favorite in the conference race.  Linfield does have two big road games at Whitworth and Pacific that should be big hurdles. Whitworth’s offense has been electric but defense is all over the map. Pacific is better than their record would indicate. I think the Boxers could easily be 2-1 or 3-0 right now and have found their offense.  Credit to UPS for getting to a point there they are sitting at 2-0 but I’m just not sold….yet.  Fox is struggling to find their identity this season. I think their QB play has been unimpressive through two games and the don’t have much of a rushing attack. Willamette may not be the best team ever but they continue to play hard and it paid off with a big comeback win over CLU.  PLU’s offense just doesn’t have much punch and L&C is putting out guys on the field that look like actual football players but they don’t have enough of those guys yet.
I think the NWC race will come down to what Linfield decides to do.  We have all seen that if the ‘Cats play well and sharp, Linfield should win another NWC title but at this team’s worst the ‘Cats can be ripe for the taking.  It should make for a great year to follow the conference.  Onto the picks!

D3 Game of the Week: 

#4 St Thomas (3-0) over #6 St. Johns (at SJU):  Game of the week in all of division III is also the best rivalry in division III. The setting should be a sea of red and purple and I would love to be there for this annual showdown.  For a long time the Tommies were whipping boys for the Johnnies but recent history has been on the Toms side and I don’t think tomorrow is any different. My call is for UST be more physical and that will win the day for UST.

(509)Rat says: St Thomas - The Tommie-Johnnie game in Collegeville should a bucket list type game for any fan of division III football. St. Thomas has had the Johnnies number lately and I don't think that will change this year. The two teams' season stats are practically identical, though St. Thomas has probably played very slightly tougher competition, but this is a rivalry game and previous results go out the window. This will be a lot like my UMHB-Linfield pick last week where I take the team who I think is going to win, while I root for the other team (St. John's in this case) to prove me wrong.

Inter-Association battle of #2 Teams:

#2 UW-Whitewater (2-0) over NAIA #2 Morningside (2-0) (at UWW): This game last year was a thriller in the rain at Morningside as each teams traded body blows until Whitewater eventually outlasted the Warhawks. I’m expecting more of the same as this could really be consider a toss-up game but I’m just not one to pick against the Warhawks.

(509)Rat says UWW: Nobody really knows who's going to win this game. Morningside has absolutely pummeled a couple bad opponents and Whitewater had only some temporary struggles against Hal Mumme's Belhaven squad. UWW won last year in Iowa and get the Mustangs at home this year. I'll stick with the highly ranked d3 team over its equally high ranked NAIA counterpart every time. 

South-West Special:

Trinity (2-1) over Chapman (0-1) (at CU): Trinity should 100% have the advantage of being the more tested team with this being their 4th game of the season while Chapman is coming off the bye after getting hammer in the ‘Catdome in week 2.  Trinity has had ok results against just ok competition.  I did like some of Chapman’s personnel and I feel like the long flight with the additional week of preparation will work in the Chapman’s favor but I like the Tigers to knock off the Panthers.

(509)Rat says Chapman: I don't think I'm putting too much stock in Trinity's struggles against PLU. They want to run the football and if you have the players or the scheme to take that away then Trinity struggles to move the ball through the air. I didn't see the game against Linfield but you are kidding yourself if you don't think the Wildcats are sometimes sluggish out of the gate only to blow the doors off the opponent in the 2nd half (boy do they wish that would have been the case last week). I think Chapman will finish higher than folks expected in the SCIAC and win one at home against a Trinity team that has had ok games against average competition.

The winner of this game stays in or breaks into the top 25:

#23 Cortland (2-1) over Utica (3-0) (at Cort):  These two played a pretty tight ball game last season but I just like Cortland to bully past Utica after a letdown performance against St. John Fisher last weekend.

(509)Rat Says Cortland:  Speaking of slow starts...I think Cortland is the better team here and will learn from the hole they dug themselves into last week. Utica has a good win this season against Ohio Northern. But remember Ohio Northern is one of those "ranked because they are in the same conference as Mt Union even though they aren't nearly as good" type of teams. Here's to hoping Cortland, much like the Dallas Cowboys, play better on the road than at home.

Remember when these teams were contenders? 

St. Olaf (1-2) over Bethel (0-3)  (at St. Olaf): What in the blue blazes happened to Bethel the past two seasons? Bethel put together two 12 win seasons over the past 6 seasons, went to the National Semifinals twice, and won a few MIAC titles along the way, and now are sitting winless three games in the season. The Royals haven’t had a six loss season in a LOOOONNNNGGG time and with the Tommies and SJU left on the schedule they better get going or they are on the fast track to a losing season. St. Olaf has been terrible since 2013 and since I’m bringing up the rear I need to roll the dice here and take St. Olaf here.

(509)Rat says Bethel: Do I pick the team that lost to Luther or the one that gave up 70 points to Dubuque? The the opposite of whatever wildcat11 did. That's the real reason I'm taking the Royals here.

Somebody has to win: 

Ohio Wesleyan (0-2) over Oberlin (0-3) (at Oberlin): Both of these teams are terrible. Ohio Wesleyan wins.

(509)Rat says Ohio Wesleyan:  Ohio Wesleyan won last year. I know nothing about either team except that they aren't very good. 

Wildcat11 Week 4 NWC Power Rankings

1 Linfield – Even with the meltdown, the ‘Cats are the top of the NWC

2 Whitworth – Defense has given up 49, 0, and 42. Strange. Good news is the offense is averaging 52.3 points per game.

3. Pacific – I’ve watched some Boxer football games this season and I’m impressed.  Kobe Williams is a game breaker on the outside and Pimental has done a good job rushing the ball. Going to be a tough out in NWC play.

4. Puget Sound – Legit shot at starting 3-0 when they host Willamette next weekend.

5. George Fox – Going to get lit up like a Christmas tree next week vs Whitworth but at least they’ll score some points…I think.

6. Willamette -  Well look at that, the Bearcats went down to SoCal and knocked off CLU.  That has to feel pretty darn good going into the bye-week

7. PLU – So far it looks like I was really off the mark on PLU.  I thought their offense was going to take a huge step this season but so far, it’s been a bad group.

8. L&C – Missed their best chance to win this season last week against Pomona-Pitzer.

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