PUGET SOUND (5-2, 4-1 NWC) AT No. 2 LINFIELD (7-0, 5-0)
1 p.m. Saturday, Maxwell Field, McMinnville, Oregon
Series: Linfield leads, 27-12-2, and is on a 24-game winning streak. The Wildcats won 73-10 last season in Tacoma. In fact, they have scored a combined 152 points in the past two meetings.
What to watch for: Stay tuned for big-boy football as Linfield is a viable NCAA Division III national championship contender. Quarterback Sam Riddle (96 of 167, 1,517 yards, 17 touchdowns) is a dual threat, and player-of-the-year candidate, even though most around the program would say he has not played his best football yet this season. Tailback Spencer Payne (74 rushes, 505 yards, five TDs) leads a rushing attack that averages a conference-best 215.3 yards per game. And on the other side, this might be the best defensive line in the country, which limits opponents to 59.0 ypg — led by defensive end Alex Hoff (16.5 tackles for loss). … The Loggers are basking in clinching their first winning season since 2006 after their 6-2 win over PLU. Without receiver Kevin Miller (foot), the passing attack struggled. Coach Jeff Thomas hopes Parker Brisebois can be a similar threat inside the seams, which is vital to the success of their short passing game.
What’s at stake: Though a heavy underdog, UPS would tie for the NWC lead with an unexpected win over the Wildcats.
TNT pick: Linfield, 38-14
PACIFIC LUTHERAN (1-6, 1-4 NWC) AT LEWIS & CLARK (0-7, 0-5)
1 p.m. Saturday, Griswold Stadium, Portland
Series: PLU leads 38-10-1. The Lutes have won 19 of their past 20 games, including a 44-7 win in Portland last season. The Pioneers snapped a 16-game skid with a 34-32 win in 2011. Their last home victory over PLU came in 1989.
What to watch for: The starting quarterback carousel spins again. With freshman Cole Chandler (shoulder) out indefinitely, the Lutes will turn to Walker LaVoy, another newcomer who is from Big Timber, Montana. LaVoy isn’t the accurate passer Chandler is, but he can take off and run. The Lutes’ rushing attack showed life last week against UPS behind the duo of Marc Gallant (60 yards) and Elijah Clayton (35 yards). Gallant is an off-tackle speedster; Clayton is an inside hammer. … Neither offense is expected to light up the world Saturday. PLU is seventh in total offense (330.0 yards per game); the Pioneers are eighth (280.3 ypg). Lewis & Clark is utilizing a quarterback platoon, led by Niko Fortino (129 of 227, 1,232 yards, six touchdowns).
What’s at stake: PLU does not want to finish in last place in the conference — and won’t let that happen against the Pioneers.
TNT pick: PLU, 24-12