Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Game Notes & Picks

Since most of the games are vs. non-conference opponents, we will focus on what we might expect from them. We'll be more balanced for conference games.

East Central at Sam Houston State
SHSU Game Notes
Anticipation builds as Kats look toward season opener
Bearkats Gear Up For Lid-Lifter Thursday
Time to go to Work
QB Bomar awaits ECU Tigers

Sam Houston was 7-4 last year, winning their last 5 games. Two of their wins were against D2 schools, 17-13 over Angelo State and 48-10 over Arkansas Monticello. QB Rhett Bomar returns for his senior season, after throwing for 2,200 yds and 10 TDs in an injury interrupted season. DE Chris Brown returns to lead the defense. He had 60 tackles, 7 for losses and 5 sacks. Look for the Bearkats to get off to a fast start this year - SHSU 49 ECU 14.

Soutwestern Oklahoma at Northwestern Oklahoma
Ranger Football Home Page
Bulldogs Ready for Rangers
NAIA coaches pick Rangers 15th
Rangers host Bulldogs in opener
Rangers face SWOSU in season opener tonight

The Rangers went 8-4 last year, qualifying for the NAIA playoffs. Two of the losses came in the first two weeks to SWO and SOSU. While SWO beat NWO by a 33-7 margin, the margin of victory was cushioned by a safety, an 87 yd punt return, and a late 52 yd TD pass. Billy Barefield returns at QB and has several of his top targets returning, but must replace their top two RBs and Zach Edwards at WR. The defense, which allowed only 16 pts and 266 yds per game last year, returns 2 first and 4 second team all-conference players. This game should be close and could come to a couple of big plays - SWO 24 NWO 17

Southeastern Oklahoma at Tarleton State
SOSU 2008 Outlook Part One - Offense
SOSU 2008 Outlook Part Two - Defense & Special Teams
Southeastern football set for opener versus Tarleton State

The only matchup of LSC teams. Tarleton has dominated this series, winning 8 of the last 9 games, including last year's 41-17 game in Durant. We expect Tarleton's offense to come out firing - when returning your QB, top 3 RBs, top 2 WRs, a solid OL and adding a talented and versatile player like Eric Foreman its not a stretch. It's when Southeastern Oklahoma has the ball that we're not sure what to expect. Will SOSU be more of a running team with Baylen Laurey in the backfield, or can Brandon McCain step right in and utilize his talented receiving corps? How well will the almost totally revamped Texan defense play? This has the makings of a shootout, and Tarleton seems to have more bullets - TSU 42 SOSU 28

Northeastern State at Arkansas Tech
Arkansas Tech Football Home Page
ATU Game Notes
Evans: I came to NSU for a turnaround
Opener a mystery for Arkansas Tech

The Wonderboys went 5-5 last year, including a 20-13 win over NSU in the opener. They played national champion Valdosta State (27-28) and North Alabama (20-27) very tough and in back to back weeks. Two of their other losses were by 7 pts. ATU has won the last 5 in this series, and look to make it six - ATU 31 NSU 14

Texas A&M Kingsville at North Dakota
UND Prospectus
UND Game Notes
Sioux opponent seeks past success
North Dakota looks forward to promotion to FCS status
Sudden impact?

North Dakota went 10-2 in their final year of D2 ball, losing to Grand Valley 21-14 in the second round of the playoffs. They averaged 39 points and 494 yds per game while the defense allowed 18 pts and 323 yds. They return just 4 offensive starters, but 7 on defense. The Javelinas will be hard pressed to pull out a win here - UND 35 TAMK 21

West Texas A&M at Mesa State
Running with the Buffaloes
Mavericks’ D-backs primed for big year
Depth charge: Deep corps of linebackers has knack for making big ...
Mesa State Football Webpage
What an opener: Two of D2 football's best face off as Mesa State ...
Spirits high for WT season
Hearing the roar: Means excited to play in front of a crowd again
What an opener: Two of D2 football's best face

Mesa State, picked second in the RMAC preseason poll, will look to show that last year's playoff blowout was a fluke. Bobby Coy (1,256 yds) returns at RB and Philip Vigil (1,960 yds 11 TDs) at QB. OL Trevor Wikre was a unanimous selection to the preseason all RMAC team. DT Nic Pade, LB Ryan Kadavy, and DB Brandon Waymire were chosen on the defensive side. Still the depth and talent of the Buffaloes should overwhelm the Mavericks - WT 52 Mesa St 10

Pittsburg State at Central Oklahoma
Pitt State Football Home Page
Back in the saddle
Bronchos probation not a factor

For all the talk of the "demise" or "lull" in the football program at Pittsburg State, consider this - in 2007 they went 8-3 losing to the National Championship runner-up NWMSU by 3 in OT, to a playoff team (Washburn) 35-28, and to a very Missouri Western sqaud 39-32 (TD pass with 22 seconds to go). The offense is still potent (37 pts and 454 yds per game) and the defense is good enough (20 pts and 354 yds per game). They are also very aware of the Broncho's upset of ACU in the 2007 opener so look for a typical grinding Gorilla game - PSU 45 UCO 10

Texas A&M-Commerce at Northwestern State
Stoker sets lineup for season opener Saturday
Quarterbacks key to Demon offense
NSU faces make or break season
Demons' 'D' looks for return to form
Northwestern State Football Home Page
Stoker sets lineup for season opener Saturday
VIP seats still available for NSU games
Wasington's versatility key to NSU line

The Demons went 4-7 last year, but two of the losses were to Ole Miss (38-31) and Texas Tech (75-7). The will challenge the Lions run defense, averaging 212 yards rushing last year, and with Byron Lawrence (1,377 yds) returning. Tough opener for the Lions - a win is possible, but it would be an upset - NSU 31 TAMC 21

Angelo State at Texas State
New coach instill new defensive attitude for Bobcats
Texas State Football Home Page
ASU Game Notes
Driving for athletics at Texas State
Bobcats: Time to get tough!
Veteran staff gives State a new mentality
State’s ‘D-Block’ taking shape

Texas State was a disappointing 4-7 last year, with one of those losses coming at the hands of Abilene Christian. Couple that with Angelo State's near upset of Sam Houston, and its doubtful that TSU will be overlooking the Rams. The Bobcats look to show off a balanced offense and overwhelm ASU - TSU 45 ASU 17

Eastern New Mexico at Southern Nazarene
Southern Nazarene Football Home Page
Football Season Preview

SNU went 6-4 last season finishing 3rd in the CSFL behind Northwestern Oklahoma and Langston. They will be looking for a new QB, but return bruising running back Branden Smith, a 1,000 rusher last season as a sophmore, as well as their number one and three receivers and four offensive linemen. Good news for the new Air Raid offense, SNU only returns 4 defensive starters, none in the secondary. Going to take the home team in this one SNU 24-ENMU 14

Abilene Christian at Northwest Missouri
MIAA football outlook
Northwest Missouri Football Home Page
Top-10 Tussle

Do non-conference games get any better than this (at least on paper)?

Okay, we know the Bearcats lost a great running back in Xavier Omon. But a team does not reach the national championship game three years in a row because of one player. You can't get much more balanced than the Bearcat's offense last year - 3,071 yds rushing and 3,101 yds passing. Joel Osborn returns for his senior season after completing 67% of his passes last year. Kendall Wright and Raphael Robinson also return to give him solid targets to throw to. Four starters on the offensive line also return, including All-Americans Reid Kirby and Jeremy Davis. Defensively, NWMSU returns five starters, including three in the secondary. The run defense was especiall strong last year allowing just 90 yds per game and 2.5 yds per carry. Just two teams gained more than 200 yds on the ground vs. and only four more cracked the century mark.

For ACU to win - Limit turnovers (zero would be nice), get some stops (the earlier the better), don't let NW dictate the pace of the game.

For NWMSU to win - Jump on ACU early (like the WT playoff game), contain Scott, maintain offensive balance.

For all the firepower ACU has, this is an extremely tough opener. They struggled against a UCO defense last year, and that isn't in the same caliber as NW's. NWMSU 35 ACU 31

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Lone Star Conference

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Cameron University

Eastern New Mexico University

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Western New Mexico