PACIFIC LUTHERAN (5-3, 4-2 NWC) AT NO. 7 LINFIELD COLLEGE (7-1, 6-0)
1 p.m. Saturday, Maxwell Field, McMinnville, Oregon
Series: Linfield leads, 42-21-4. The Wildcats have won the past 16 meetings, including a 38-10 victory last season in Puyallup. PLU’s last win (31-20) came in 2001.
What to watch for: Arguably the conference’s top rivalry closes the season. And even though Linfield is still the class of the league, this could set up to an interesting showdown. The Lutes have one very interesting piece that could be a matchup advantage — wide receiver Kellen Westering (40 catches, 590 yards, six touchdowns). He will not only be extra motivated to end the skid in his last game, but he certainly can beat this secondary deep with his route-running — assuming quarterback Jon Schaub can hit on a few big plays. Linfield quarterback Sam Riddle (156-234, 2,347 yards, 29 touchdowns) has had a good — not great — season directing the offense.
What’s at stake: The longest losing streak in the series has to end someday. Linfield is looking toward the NCAA Division III playoffs. Maybe a classic Lutes blindsiding will do the trick.
TNT pick: Linfield, 31-21.
PUGET SOUND (3-5, 1-5 NWC) AT PACIFIC UNIVERSITY (3-6, 2-4)
1 p.m. Saturday, Hanson Stadium, Forest Grove, Oregon
Series: Pacific leads, 18-14-3. The Loggers snapped a four-game losing streak last season with a 38-20 victory in Tacoma.
What to watch for: Don’t let the Boxers’ record fool you — this is arguably the third-most talented roster in the conference, especially along the offensive line and with speedy receiver Kobe Williams (66 catches, 1,103 yards, 11 touchdowns). Not only is Williams a lock to be an all-NWC, first-team selection, he should be the consensus freshman-of-the-year award winner, too. Yet, for some reason, Pacific’s offense seems prone to imploding at key junctures. … UPS quarterback Hans Fortune (251-414, 2,712 yards, 22 touchdowns) will let it fly, attacking the Boxers along the seams. He needs 138 yards to become the school’s career passing leader.
What’s at stake: A win not only would leave the Loggers in a tie for fifth in the Northwest Conference standings, it would send a young team into the offseason with a ton of optimism.
TNT pick: UPS, 28-26.
Todd Milles: firstname.lastname@example.org