Thursday, September 18, 2008

Game Notes and Picks (9-20)

Recap of last week's games...

WTAM over Azusa Pacific 75-13 (Prediction 56-10) - a name your score game
ASU over SWO 24-2 (21-17) - solid D and 5 SWO turnovers
TSU over ECU 38-6 (49-14) - ECU turnovers allow TSU to jump out big and cruise
SOSU over ENMU 29-14 (24-21) - Savage Storm took control of the game once they held on to ball
TAMK over UCO 41-6 (31-14) - Javs overcome IKE and early penalties to cruise
MSU over NSU 7-3 (28-10) - another week of defense saving the day; offense has to improve
ACU over TAMC 45-14 (42-17) - ACU led 42-0 early in third

for the week 7-0, for the season 22-2.

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#13 East Central (0-3) at #7 Angelo State (1-2)
To say that ECU's season has been a disappointment so far would be a huge understatement. It's one thing to be 0-3 (especially with their schedule), but to be outscored by an average of 36-2 in the first half of their games is another. While the passing game has been pretty good (234 yds per game, 60% pass completion), the running game has been non-existant (54 yds, 1.7 per carry average). Defensively, the Tigers are allowing only 168 yds passing, but 245 on the ground as teams are rushing the ball almost 2/3 of the time (and averaging 6.2 yds per carry).

That should be good news for Angelo State. Even taking out the game vs. IAA Texas State, the Rams only ran for a 102.5 avg vs. TAMC and SWO (on an avg. of 42.5 carries per game). Will Metzger did well in his second start, going 15-26 for 155 yds and 2 TDs. The big surprise so far for the Rams this year has to be their defense. They are 3rd in the LSC in both yardage and points allowed, and have yet to give up 300 yds in a game. The run defense should be able to lower its 127 yds allowed average, but the pass defense will be hard pressed to match the 119 yd per game average.

The Ram's would like a repeat of last week - jump out early and keep their freshman QB from having too much pressure on him. Look for the running game to break out and have their best game of the year. The Tigers will get their yards and Johnson will keep them in the game for a while, but don't expect a repeat of last year's offensive explosion. ASU wins 28-10


#1 Abilene Christian (2-0) at #8 Southeastern Oklahoma (1-2)
It's not a shock that ACU is leading the LSC in total offense at 538 yards a game, it might be a bit surprising considering they did it against two defenses that were expected to be pretty tough this year. Balancing the run and pass, the Wildcats have been nearly unstoppable. Malone is spreading the ball around, tossing TD passes to six different players. The defense has been good enough, allowing 21 pts and 316 yds per game. If they continue at that level, this team will be difficult to beat.

Southeastern Oklahoma has improved each week, getting their first win last week with a 29-14 victory over Eastern New Mexico. Baylen Laury has been solid at RB, averaging 79 yds per game, and Brandon McCain had his best game last week completing over 70% of his passes for 292 yds and 2 TDs. Daniel Nichols is looking like the best WR in the north. The run defense has allowed 131 yds per game, which is pretty good considering they opened with Tarleton State and Midwestern State.

Don't expect the weekly trend to continue for the Savage Storm. ACU has too much offensive firepower for SOSU to slow down enough for their offense to keep up with. SOSU might keep it respectable for a while, but ACU wins comfortably 45-17.


#10 Southwestern Oklahoma (1-2) at #2 West Texas A&M (3-0)
The Bulldogs are in the middle of the pack in the main statistical categories, but have lost their only two games vs. D2 teams (both of whom were picked at the bottom of the LSC South to boot). While averaging 213 yds per game passing, SWO is completing just over 40% of their passes, and the running game hasn't gotten untracked, averaging just 80 yds per game and 2.5 yds per carry. The defense has been solid against the run (94 yds per game), but has allowed teams to complete 2/3 of their passes.

The Buffaloes put on an offensive show for their fans last week, overowering NAIA Azusa Pacific 75-13 (and it could have been much worse). Excluding that game, the offense is averaging 115 yds rushing and 401 yds passing. The defense is allowing 150 yds per game rushing and 181 passing (again excluding Azusa Pacific). The starters have been getting plenty of rest with two consecutive blowouts, which could pay dividends down the road.

The Buffs should be able to move the ball through the air fairly easily, but they might want to work on their running game as well. Keithon Flemming has not had that breakout game we got used to seeing last year - this may be that week. WT 45-17.


#11 Central Oklahoma (0-3) at #3 Tarleton State (3-0)
If you think East Central has had a tough schedule, Central Oklahoma one ups them with Tarleton State this week. The Bronchos have be struggling on offense (232 yds and 12 pts per game) and defense (526 yds and 35 pts per contest). They are second to last in rushing yardage and passing efficiency on offense (on defense its third from last and second from last in the same categories). The good news for the Bronchos is that their schedule gets much easier after this week.

Tarleton has been jumping on teams early (26-3 average halftime score) and then cruising. They lead the LSC in rushing (249 yds per game) and run the ball twice as much as they pass. That may be a result of the big early leads, but its been effective. Roderick Smith is averaging almost 10 yds per carry. The defense is starting to make believers out of those who had their doubts. They lead the LSC in both scoring defense and yardage.

Same script for the Texans this week. Take advantage of Broncho miscues, and keep running the ball until someone stops them. TSU wins 38-10


#9 Eastern New Mexico (1-2) at #6 Texas A&M-Commerce (1-2)
The learning process continues for the Greyhounds. Coming off a win over SWO the week before, ENMU had a 14-0 lead over Southeastern Oklahoma, taking advantage of 3 SOSU turnovers. The second half was the polar opposite, as 4 ENMU interceptions led to 29 unanswered points for the Savage Storm. They've been able to move the ball through the air (260 yds per game) but are dead last in rushing. The defense has been good at stopping the run (74 yds per game) but not so good agains the pass (302 yds per game).

Texas A&M-Commerce was completely overwhelmed by ACU last week, falling behind 42-0, before falling 45-14. The Lions have not established the running game, averaging just 70 yds per game (2.5 per carry) and the passing game has been inconsistent, with Terry Mayo completing less than 45% of his passes. The defense played well in the first two weeks, allowing just 254 yds per game, but could not stop ACU's starters last week.

Look for the Lion's defense turn up the heat and try to force ENMU into mistakes. This could be a close game, but the TAMC should be able to handle the Greyhounds. TAMC 17-14

#5 Texas A&M-Kingsville (2-1) at #12 Northeastern State (0-3)
The road warriors head back to Oklahoma for a third straight week to take on the Riverhawks. Despite the distractions of Hurricane Ike, the Javelinas rolled into Edmond and rolled over the Brochos. TAMK's offense seems to get better each week. They are averaging 33 pts and 450 yds per game on offense (170 rushing and 280 passing). The defense is allowing 20 pts and 330 yds per game (78 rushing and 252 passing).

The defense has been okay for the Riverhawks (338 yds and 22 pts per game), but the offense has not found its groove (187 yds and 5 pts per game). The red zone offense has only converted 2 of 7 trips inside the 20, and NSU has only one TD total through 3 games. Broderick Mondy is enjoying another solid season, leading NSU with 27 tackles, with 2.5 for losses and has broken up 2 passes.

The Javelinas appear to be much improved over the past two years. The Riverhawks do not. As long as TAMK is not looking ahead to WTAM next week, they should win comfortably. TAMK 28-10

Game of the week
Newberry (1-1) at #4 Midwestern State (2-0)

Newberry is nationally ranked and played #1 Valdosta State to a standoff (barely losing 14-9) and stomping North Greenville 41-3. They may very well start redshirt freshman John Carnell after his 13-19 213 yd 3 TD performance last week. They average 135 yds rushing and 196 passing. Defensively, they are led by LB Will Newell. This experienced group has given up just 62 yds rushing and 182 yds passing.

While Midwestern State is 2-0, they could easily be 0-2. While they have done well rushing the ball (182 yds per game), the passing game has struggled (96 yds per game). Neither Green nor Eskridge has established himself as the clear choice at QB. The defense has played great so far. Second in defense in both scoring and yardage.

This has the makings of a game dominated by the defenses. Midwestern State will have a hard time running on Newberry if the passing game doesn't improve. Newberry has proven it can play with the nation's elite and hold their own. Newberry 24-13

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