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As for the race in the NWC, there is still a lot of different scenarios that could play out if Linfield goes into the tank the last three weeks of the season. But the most reasonable possibilities are Linfield winning it outright in going 7-0 or we could have a three way tie between Linfield/Fox/Whitworth if either Fox or PLU can knock off Linfield in the final weeks or there are other possibilities if Pacific knocks off Whitworth or George Fox stumbles.
Speaking of George Fox, they have to been feeling pretty good regardless of the outcome this weekend. To be in their 3rd year of playing (4th overall) the Bruins are playing solid football and it reminds me of the Pacific team from 2002-2003 when they had their first class of players starting to develop and mature and have now you have a core group of players with over 20 starts under their belt. It’s very similar but Fox also had that zero year to help accelerate the process. If anything, GFU will be even better next season and then we’ll really see where they are at in 2018 when that first core group graduates. That’s when the proof is in the pudding for a “new” program, IMO.
Let’s get to the action!
Northwest Conference Games of the Week
#7 Linfield (5-1) over George Fox (3-3) (at Lin): (509)Rat says Linfield. Wake me up when Linfield gets to their second round playoff game and I actually have to think about whether they will win or not.
Whitworth (5-2) over Pacific (3-4) (at Pac): This has the potential to be an interesting football game. That Whitworth defense gets lit up more than Kieffer Sutherland at a buy one get one free happy hour. Pacific’s offense can be very hit or miss as they have some explosive players but are unreliable ball catchers paired with an erratic QB. This will come down to if the Boxers defense can slow the Rats offense down enough to move on Whitworth’s offensive defense. However, I think the Rats will do enough to pull it out on the road.
(509)Rat Says Whitworth: There were glimpses of a capable Whitworth defense last week against Linfield, though the secondary is still bad and they refuse to attempt to apply any pressure. Luckily, I don't think Pacific has enough firepower to exploit the glaring deficiencies in this Pirate defense. As a program, Pacific may have peaked a little early, they just aren't as talented as they were a couple years ago and I don't think they can store enough to keep up with Whitworth
Willamette (2-5) over Lewis & Clark (0-6) (at L&C): Even though the Pioneers lost last weekend as least they were in the ball game in the 4th quarter. That has to be something the Pios will try to build on. Willamette’s not a very good football team but they should get a feel good win over Lewis & Clark.
(509)Rat Says Willamette: Lewis and Clark put up a good fight last week and that deserves some recognition. Unfortunately, the fact that they haven't won a game since October 5th of 2013 also deserves some recognition. The Pios aren't gonna break that streak this week.
Pacific Lutheran (3-3) over Puget Sound (3-3) (at PLU): Man, the Lutes have had consecutive gut-punch losses. PLU went from the possibility of setting up a winner takes all showdown with Linfield at the end of the season to just playing out the string. Should be an interesting game as PLU plays pretty good defense and bad offense and UPS plays high tempo offense and zero defense. I think the Lutes will win by a comfortable margin and all hold hands afterwards to sing their favorite Michael Bolton songs.
(509)Rat says PLU: The Lutes continue to rain on my pick 'em parade. UPS won for the last time this season against L&C last week. Hope they took my advice and enjoyed themselves. Of course, now that I'm picking PLU in a game they should win...
West Region Games of the Week
Redlands (5-1) over Pomoa-Pitzer (5-1) (at PP): Wow. When was the last time that Pomona-Pitzer was playing meaningful football this late in October? Good on the ‘Hens to be in the thick of the SCIAC title this season but while Redlands isn’t that great, they’re good enough to knock off Pomona and move one step closer to getting shelled by the ‘Cats in the first round.
(509)Rat Says Redlands: Just like we all predicted at the beginning of the season...Redlands and PP are playing for 1st place in the SCIAC. Seriously though, Pomona Pitzer struggled with Lewis and Clark in Portland and I think they shocked some folks by beating Cal Lu, but you have to remember the Solutes lost to PLU and Willamette (meaning they aren't that good). I have to imagine Redlands is bigger, stronger and faster than the hens and that they win this one pretty easily.
UW-Stevens Point (4-3) over UW-La Crosse (5-2) (At UWL): After a while all these WIAC games look the same. Highly competitive, good athletes on both sides of the ball, high drama, playoff implications each week, blah, blah, blah. Pointers just because.
(509)Rat says Stevens Point. The Pointers' last 3 games have been against Platteville, Oshkosh and Whitewater. They understandably lost all 3 which I'm hoping does not lead to a beaten down and demoralized UWSP team that comes out flat and loses to an inferior team. The Pointers have been a good team the last few years, but when you are in a conference that has 3 of the top 10-15 teams in the country, you're always going to be forgotten. UWSP gets back on track this week with a win.
National Games of the Week
Rose-Hulman (5-1) over Bluffton (6-1) (at RHU): Going to keep this short and sweet (mainly because I have zero clue about either team) and say go Rose-Hulman!
(509)Rat says Rose-Hulman: Huge win last week over Franklin for the Engineers. They have a capable QB and an opportunistic defense in a must win game at home. They beat Bluffton by 1 on the road last season, returning the same QB and 10 of 11 starters on defense. I'm just hoping the moment isn't too big for a program that's never really been in this position before.
Case Western Reserve (7-0) over Washington University (6-1) (at UW): No, Case isn’t playing the Washington Huskies this Saturday and as Oregon Duck fans can tell you, that’s a good thing. CWRU is the better defensive team and that’s will be the roadmap to victory this weekend for the Spartans.
(509)Rat says Washington: I'll take Wash U because they are at home. Not to mention CWR's undefeated record has come against a whole lot of garbage teams. The most recent of which (Geneva) nearly beat the Spartans. What I'm trying to say is that I don't know anything about these teams and I need something to justify my pick.
Trinity (Conn) (5-0) over Middlebury (5-0) (at Trinity): Is this game between schools in that conference who think they're too esteemed to participate in the playoffs because it might effect the focus of their student-athletes? It is? Then hope they both lose tomorrow.
(509)Rat says Trinity: These are the teams that play 8 conference games and don't participate in the playoffs right? My vote is to boycott the NESCAC by never including them in the pick 'em again (I want to say this is the second time we've had a Trinity game in the last few years). That'll show em! Seriously though, I couldn't care less about two programs that play zero out of conference games and can't make the playoffs. Trinity wins because their mascot is a nicer name for a rooster than the one Pacific fans are...nevermind
Wildcat11’s Week 8 NWC Power Rankings
1. Linfield: Another week, another challenger
2. Whitworth: If they had even a decent defense, they would be a playoff worthy team.
3. George Fox: All of those starts the past three seasons is paying off for Fox
4. Pacific Lutheran: Had a chance to make this a big comeback year but blew it.
5. Pacific: Good, but not good enough.
6. Willamette: Wonder what they would be like if Speckman was still around?
7. Puget Sound: From a distance, and if you squint, they might look pretty good, until you get up close and then you can see how ugly this team really is.
8. Lewis & Clark: Played their best ball of the year in a loss but that’s is something.