Thursday, October 6, 2016

2016 NWC Pick 'Em Contest: Week 5

Have to love College Football!!!
Guess who’s typing and no longer in last place in the NWC pick ‘em contest? That’s right, WC11 finally did what the Cleveland Browns haven’t been able to in about 30 years and climb out of the cellar. (509)Rat is still very much in the thick of the pick ‘em title this year but slipped a little last week so I think he’s feeling the pressure.

Little bit of a crazy week last Saturday in the NWC.  The Loggers were 100% embarrassed at home by Willamette. I’m thankful that I stayed reserved on Puget Sound’s prospects this season but I was almost more surprised by the PLU score. Most of the picks last week did take PLU over Pacific so I’m not sure what that says about my talent evaluation but I was for sure that Pacific was going to have more of an offensive punch against the Lutes.  Meanwhile, Whitworth had to survive a last gasp to get out of George Fox with a win.

Some very good NWC match-ups this weekend so make it out to a game if you can. The weather looks to be good on Saturday so get a pumpkin spice latte and get out to a small college football game.

Northwest Conference Games of the Week:

#7 Linfield (2-1) over Pacific (1-3) (at Pacific): (509)Rat says Linfield: I would set the spread at Linfield -36...then I'd take the Cats to cover. Of course last week my picks looked like wildcat11 made them so maybe I'm losing my touch? I thought PLU had a good defense but Pacific struggled mightily throughout most of the game to move the ball on the Lutes. More than I think most folks expected. I don't see anything more than garbage time points for the Boxers this week. Cats continue to roll to the playoffs.

Pacific Lutheran (2-1) over Willamette (2-2) (at Willamette): Oh boy, this is the hardest NWC game for me to pick this week. Kudos to Willamette in starting off the first two games looking terrible to looking much better a few weeks later. PLU, I just can’t figure out. I had them as my pre-season 3rd place NWC team and their offense looks terrible and then they churn out a solid victory over Pacific. I’m not sure what to expect out of this game but I do know that PLU plays better rush defense than UPS (that’s not saying much). PLU inches out the Bearcats in a game that winds up in the mid 20’s.

(509)Rat says Willamette: I still don't trust the PLU offense. Schaub and Chandler combined for 146 passing yards. That's not gonna cut it if Willamette continues to run the ball well and gets out to a couple touchdown lead. The problem with that is, I'm not sure you can expect Willamette to continue to run the ball well. They were averaging less than 3 yards per carry prior to playing the Loggers. Did Willamette all of a sudden figure out something in their running game or is the Logger front 7 not very good? I reserve the right to change my official pick on the message boards all the way up until kickoff. I've changed my mind three times since sitting down to write this. I'm taking the Bearcats but I'm not sure if that’s my final answer.

Whitworth (3-1) over Puget Sound (2-1) (at Whit):  The Loggers head coach said after their season opening win that they are a “legit program”…and then the Loggers gave up 63 points at home….to Willamette.  Whitworth on the other hand have struggled to put away La Verne and George Fox but I think this will be a route with Whitworth unloading a 50 plus point performance against UPS.

(509)Rat says Whitworth: UPS got absolutely gashed on the ground against Willamette last week. They gave up 379 rushing yes and allowed 8.2 ypc. That's great news for a Whitworth team that needs to re-establish the run after their worst offensive performance of the season. After watching the Whitworth game against Fox last week, I still believe the D-coordinator would be gone if this were FBS or FCS football. I also thought the DL is pretty good with the linebackers being bad and the corners being even worse. I mean, these guys were getting beat over the top in what looked like a cover 3. That is nearly impossible to do. Anyways, UPS really needed to beat Willamette...they might only have 1 win left on their schedule

George Fox (0-3) over Lewis and Clark (0-3) (at L&C): This should be a feel good win for the Bruins this weekend up on the hill as Fox has been close this year but no cigar. The Pios are a better football team this year but are still nowhere close to being ready to start winning games in the NWC this season.

(509)Rat says GFU: The Bruins reported a surprisingly honest, though likely inflated, attendance of 2732 spectators at the Whitworth game last week. Hope the OL with what looked like a broken ankle has a speedy recovery. The best thing that can happen to a team that suffered a heartbreaking loss during Homecoming is a matchup with Lewis and Clark.

West Region Games of the Week

#5 UW-Oshkosh (4-0) over #2 UW-Whitewater (4-0) (at UWW): Not too long ago (last week) I said that I don’t pick against Whitewater, well I’m picking against Whitewater. Look I’m behind in points and I need to make a few against the grind picks to see if I can make up ground. Whitewater just survived Platteville and taking on Oshkosh the very next week has to be a tough haul and I think it catches up to UWW. The Titans are a darn good football team this year and I’m call it that it’s Oshkosh’s year in the WIAC

(509)Rat says UWW: Fun fact: Platteville had more yards of offense than Whitewater despite rushing for -15 yards. Maybe there is something to the fears of Whitewater fans that the secondary is a big chink in the armor? That doesn't necessarily help Oshkosh as their attack is much more balanced, running the ball more than they throw in a perfect world. I'll be rooting for the Titans because anyone who isn't sick of Whitewater and Mt. Union yet is a Whitewater or Mt. Union fan. I just can't bring myself to pick against the Warhawks, even if Oshkosh was able to dethrone the WIAC king last year.

#7 UW-Platteville (3-1) over UW-Stevens Point (4-0) (at UWSP):  Yeah, more WIAC games. Stevens Point is sneaky good this year and the Pioneers could very well play themselves out of the playoffs with a sloppy performance this weekend after the UWW loss but I just don’t like Stevens Point. I think that’s because I drove to that forsaken place way back in 2004 and haven’t been able to wash my memory of that hellhole.

(509)Rat says Platteville: Platteville is ripe for a letdown game after being a late game INT away from knocking off UWW. I still think they'll travel to Stevens Point, throw the ball all over the field, get the W and go home happy knowing their playoff hopes are still alive.

National game of the Week:

#16 Wittenberg (4-0) over DePauw (4-0) (at DePauw): I heard the Eye of the Tiger playing on the radio today and I’m taking that as an omen for Wittenberg. Go Tigers.

(509)Rat Says Wittenberg: DePauw squeaked one out last year, a pick I missed. Hopefully the Tigers of Wittenberg don't let me down again. Wittenberg is at home and appear to have a defense that is improved from last year while DePauw's may be worse. I feel good about this one.

Wildcat11’s Week 5 NWC Power Rankings:

1.    Linfield – This team still hasn’t played a complete game yet. When it does…look out.
2.    Whitworth – They have been on shaky ground during their last two games.
3.    Pacific Lutheran – That’s what a big win will do for you. Still not sure on the offense though.
4.    Pacific – Still think the Boxers are capable of making some noise in the NWC.
5.    Willamette – Win this week the Bearcats are for sure moving on up.
6.    George Fox – Have two weeks to fatten up before the meat of their NWC schedule.
7.    UPS – Hope they enjoyed the first 4 weeks of the season.
8.    Lewis & Clark – Headed to another 0-9 season.

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