Thursday, November 8, 2007

Game of the Year #6 - West Texas A&M at Tarleton State

What's at stake? For the Buffs, a win gives them an undefeated regular season, and could possibly move them third to second in the Southwest regional rankings. A loss could drop them down a spot or two and take away the possibility of hosting any playoff games. For Tarleton, the situation is much more serious - they must win to have a shot at the playoffs, and even if they do, they might need some help from Midwestern State to get in.

Recent History. The past two seasons, WT has edged TSU and kept them out of the playoffs. In 2005, they won 30-26, overcoming a 10 point Tarleton lead with 19 minutes to play. Last year, WT almost lost a 21-3 lead with about 19 minutes to play, sacking Richard Bartel 3 consecutive plays and the D holding on 4th and 35 to preserve a 21-16 win.

Tarleton's defense has been good this season, with one glaring exception. They are allowing 338 yds and just under 22 pts per game (296 yds and 16 pts without the ACU game). On offense, their skill players are very good, and there is good depth. The O line is among the best in the LSC and is solid both run and pass blocking.

WT's defense is close to Tarleton's statistically, and did a much better job against the dangerous ACU offense (one of only 3 teams to limit ACU to under 100 yds rushing). Brandon Swain up front, and the LB corps of Steve Allen, Jared Brock, Eldon Grimslid, and Mark Ford lead the swarming defense. Offensively, the Buffs have had some injuries, but have overcome them without much of a dropoff. Taylor Harris has filled in the past two weeks for Keith Null, and done very well. More of a concern is Keithon Flemming - the running game really suffered after he left the game last week. It might be better to rest him this week, and have him at his healthiest for the playoffs, but it is currently unclear as to whether he will play.

Prediction - I'm sure fans of both these school would rather I pick against their schools given my 1-3 record to date in the Games of the Year series. Sorry WT fans, I'm going to go with the Buffs in this one (did I hear someone from Canyon say finally?). Swain and co. will pressure Grantham, and Allen, Brock and co. will keep the Texan RBs in check, while Harris/Null will put up solid passing numbers. The wildcard is Flemming - with him the Buffs win 38-24, without him, it will be much more of a struggle, but the Buffs should still win 28-24 (though one big play away from a close loss).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I believe WT just has more and better football players than Tarlton and should win Saturday. An ex Tech graduate assistant attended WT's last 2 games and stated Kolo, Flemming, Allan, and a couple of O-linemen could play on most D1 teams.

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