LSC Game of the Year #1
West Texas A&M at Midwestern State
West Texas A&M at Midwestern State
Two of the top offenses face off against two of the top defenses. Unbeaten #10 at Unbeaten #12. Hey this might be a pretty good ball game, especially if the past couple of years are any indication. West Texas came out on top in two thrillers – 47-44 on a FG with as the clock ran out, and 29-27 on a TD pass with 2:30 to play.
The WT Offense
The Buffs are the D2 version of Texas Tech, they love to pass the ball, gaining 401 of their 530 yds per game. Keith Null has followed Dalton Bell’s footsteps and not missed a beat. He has hit 67% of his passes for 364 yards a game, with 19 TDs and only 3 INTs. He spreads the ball around with 8 players having double digit receptions, and also 8 with TD catches. His favorite target is All-American Charly Martin with 22 catches for 348 yds and 4 TDs in only 3 games. He has not played the past 2 games and is not listed on the 2 deep for this week. Keithon Flemming is the #1 running back, and is averaging 86 yds per game and an impressive 8.1 yds per carry. He is also a threat out of the backfield, leading the team with 33 catches for 330 yds and 4 TDs. The past 2 weeks, his running been slowed somewhat, gaining only 77 yds on 18 carries, but he has still been a weapon catching 19 passes for 148 yds and 4 TDs. Wayne McKnight is another weapon, running for 165 yds and catching 15 passes for another 115. The offensive line has done a nice job protecting Null, but needs to do better with run blocking.
The WT Defense
The WT defense is somewhat overlooked, because of their offense. Since giving up 45 points and 693 yards in the season opener vs. South Dakota, the defense has settled down, allowing only 214 yds and under 7 points per game over the last 4 contests. Four of the top 5 tacklers are the LBs, the strength of the team. All-Americans Jared Brock (45 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2 Sacks) and Steve Allen (40 tackles, 6 TFL, ½ sack) have been joined by converted RB Mark Ford (27 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 Sack) and Eldon Grimslid (34 tackles, 2.5 TFL, ½ Sacks) to form the heart of the Buffalo defense. The defensive line has been beset by injuries, but Brandon Swain has stood out with 28 tackles, and LSC leading 10.5 TFL and 6 sacks. The secondary is led by Cashmin Thomas who has 24 tackes, 1 INT, and 4 passes broken up.
The Midwestern State Offense
Midwestern State offense is just as prolific as WT’s, scoring 44 points per game and averaging 565 yards a game. They prefer to run the ball, racking up 327 yards on the ground, but can pass it as well to the tune of 237 yards per game. QB Daniel Polk is the focal point of the offense. He has hit on 70% of his passes, for 231 yards a game, with 9 TDs and only 2 INTs and has run for 410 yards (7.5 per carry) and 9 TDs. For his career, he has run for 2,931 yds with 34 TDs, while passing for 3,554 yds and 31 TDs (he split QB duties with Rashaan Bell the past three years, with Bell the better passer, and Polk the better runner). Helping Polk out with running the ball is Marcus Mathis with 374 yds and Joe Chatman with 310. The receiving corps is led by DelJuan Lee with 22 catches for 440 yds and 6 TDs. The offensive line returns four starters from 2006, including 2nd team All-LSC Immanuel Sennet, and has allowed only 5 sacks while doing a good job run-blocking.
The Midwestern State Defense
The LSC leader in scoring defense (12 pts per game) and rushing defense (71 yd per game), second in total defense (258 yd per game) is fifth in pass defense (187 yd per game). The pass defense ranking is almost sure to change after this week. Todd Zoglmann and Justin Foyt have been joined by Kellen Belcher and Glenn Watkins to form a solid front. They will need to pressure Null, while keeping Flemming and McKnight from having big games. LBs Emmanuel Bagley and Cody Thompson don’t have the stats that WT’s LBs do, but have been solid. Ryan Craven is the leading tackler (32) from the defensive backfield. The Mustangs are deeper on defense (19 players have double digit tackles), and this could come into play late in the game.
Should be a shootout. WT has a lot of weapons, but MSU is solid all around. Both teams will get their yards, but expect a score similar to last year’s not 2005’s score. WT’s LB’s will busy chasing Polk and company, but MSU will have enough success running the ball to keep the passing game viable. WT’s running game will continue to sputter, and the MSU D-Line will put more pressure on Null than he has seen to date. Charly Martin’s health could be the deciding factor, though WT doesn’t want to risk him for the season. I’ll still go with MSU if he plays 35-28, if he doesn’t, MSU 35-21.