Thursday, September 25, 2008

Game Notes and Picks (9-27)

Recap of last week's games...

ASU over ECU 34-24 (Prediction 28-10) - Rams didn't follow the script, but won anyway.
ACU over SOSU 59-10 (45-17) - nothing Savage Storm could do. Is anyone in the country playing better than ACU?
WTAM over SWO 42-20 (45-17) - Bulldogs kept the game close for most of three quarters before WT pulled away.
TSU over UCO 42-17 (38-10) - kickoff return right before half took away UCO momentum.
TAMC over ENMU 38-14 (17-14) - Thorton finishes game 6 receiving yards shy of LSC record, but ties for TD catches
TAMK over NSU 42-14 (28-10) - almost ready to say the Javs are back; we'll see after this week.
MSU over Newberry 24-10 (13-24) - Missed this one, but glad for the Mustangs.

For the week 6-1, for the season 28-3


#12 Northeastern State (0-4) at #13 East Central (0-4)
As expected, the defense is ahead of the offense for the Riverhawks. While on the surface, 27 pts
and 379 yds per game doesn't look impressive, the first four opponents for Northeastern State have a combined 12-1 record vs. D2 opponents. Offensively, the team has really struggled - they are last in the LSC in scoring (7.5) and yardage (191) per game. Last week, they had negative rushing yardage for the night, and barely cracked 200 yds for the game. Jarrett Byers continues to add to his collection of school records - he is NSU's career leader in receptions (125), receiving yards (2,027) and now receiving TDs (22)

East Central found themselves in their first close contest last week at Angelo State. The Tigers took their first lead of the season, 17-14 on a Corey Dozier 30 yd FG with 9:14 to go in the third quarter. The Rams scored the next two TDs, but the Tigers pulled back to within three before allowing a final ASU TD to make the margin 34-24. The offense put up season highs in both points (24), yards (462) and rushing yards (131).

These two schools have to be happy to have their opening games behind them and get into LSC North play. Outside of Marcus Johnson's passing, it's hard to know what to expect from two teams that have been so overmatched earlty this year. Both teams average less than 75 yds per game rushing, but the rushing defenses have allowed more than 170 yds per game, so that's not help. ECU does have the advantage in the passing game, and they are home, so... 17-14 ECU gets their first win

#6 Texas A&M Commerce (2-2) at #11 Central Oklahoma (0-4)
In what might be a preview of things to come, the Texas A&M-Commerce offense came alive, gaining 545 yards (the most since 9/15/2001) with the Terry Mayo to Willie Thorton combo doing the bulk of the damage. Mayo threw for 360 yds and 5 TDs and Thorton tied a team record with 4 TD receptions, and set a new Lion record with 266 reception yards. Not to be outdone, the defense racked up 7 sacks, had 13 tackles for losses, forced 2 fumbles, and had 3 interceptions.

UCO Game Notes
Central Oklahoma has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation. They have been blown out a couple of times, but have also give two ranked teams scares. Last week against Tarleton State, a Broncho field goal right before halftime pulled UCO to within 21-17 and with momentum on their side. Tarleton answered right back, taking the kickoff all the way back for a TD and a 28-17 halftime lead. UCO did not recover and ended up losing 42-17.

The Lions ran the ball effecitively last week for the first time this season. With UCO 12th in the LSC in rushing defense, they should be able to once again. That just makes their passing game so much more effective. Which Broncho team will show up Saturday? The one that had over 200 yds offense in the first half last week, put up 17 points and controlled the clock - or the one that was shut out in the second half with less than 50 yards of offense and just 2 first downs. It will probably be somewhere in between, which will be enough for a Lion victory. 28-17 TAMC

#8 Southeastern Oklahoma (1-3) at Norwestern State (LA) (2-2)
The Demons come into this game winners against Texas A&M Commerce in week one, and Grambling two weeks ago, and losers against Baylor and #13 (in IAA) Cal-Poly last week. They prefer to run the ball, but have had only moderate success against a tough schedule. Three players have over 100 yds rushing, but all average below 4 yds per carry. John Hundley has passed for 145 yds per game with 4 TDs and 2 Ints. Defensively, they have allowed 144 yds rushing and 250 passing.

SOSU Game Notes
Its been feast or famine for the Savage Storm. There were blowout losses to Tarleton and ACU in weeks one and four, but also a near upset of nationally ranked Midwstern State and a win over Eastern New Mexico in between. There were some silver linings last week. The offense was able to move the ball for the first 35 minutes of the game, with two scoring drives and two drives that ended in ACU territory with turnovers. Brandon McCain completed 18 of 23 passes for the game. The defense really struggled against ACU (just like everyone else), giving up 581 yds (over 11 yds per play).

The Demons will likely be able to run the ball effectively and control the clock and field position. Even against TAMC, they rushed for over 200 yards. Northwestern State should be able to jump out early and cruise to a relativley easy win. NW 35-14

#3 Tarleton State (4-0) at #10 Southwestern Oklahoma (1-3)
Despite outscoring the opposition by a 42-11 margin, national respect for Tarleton State is slow to come by, as they remain ranked #16 in the AFCA poll. They have been consistent, jumping out early on teams, and relying on their running game to coast in the second halves of their games. They lead the LSC in rushing (245 per game) are fourth in total yardage (414) and third in scoring (42.2). With the running game so effective, they haven't needed much out of Scott Grantham and the passing game. The defense has been nothing less than spectacular, leading the LSC in scoring (10.8) and yardage (186).

Southwestern Oklahoma's season has gone south since winning their opening game. The Bulldogs did play West Texas tough, trailing just 28-20 with 3:42 to go in the third quarter. SWO has struggled running the ball, averaging just 85 yds per game, and just 2.6 yds per carry. Steve Day has had some success throwing the ball, averaging 209 yds per game, but is completing just 43% of his passes, and has almost as many Ints (5) as TDs (6). Joe Sawyer and Johnathan Haggerty have been his favorite targets, accounting for more than half of the team's receptions, yards and TDs. Ruzell McCoy leads the SWO defense, which has been good against the run, limiting teams to 106 yds rushing (3.5 yds per carry).

The Texans love to run the ball, but the Bulldogs have the best run defense the Texans have faced so far. If they struggle a bit, the passing game may need to help out a bit more. For the Bulldogs to have success they need to improve their running game, and improve their completion rate in the passing game. The Texan starters might play a bit longer, but they should pull away. TSU wins 35-14

#1 Abilene Christian (3-0) at #9 Eastern New Mexico (1-3)
ACU Game Notes
ACU continues their impressive march through the LSC. The offense leads the conference in both scoring and yardage, while the defense has been more than adequate (17 pts and 304 yds per game). Billy Malone and Bernard Scott continue to put up big numbers despite backups getting plenty of playing time for the Wildcats. Mike Kerns has chipped in with the scoring, running back an interception 99 yards for a TD, a week after scoring on a fumble return.

ENMU continues their transformation to the air raid offense with uneven results. Greyhound QBs have completed more passes in four games this year, than the last three years combined. The running game is practically non-existant, averaging just 23 yds per game. JJ Harp and Darian Dale gave ENMU a glimpse of the future as they combined for 2 fourth quarter TDs last week. The defense has struggled the past two weeks, allowing almost 500 yds and 33.5 pts per game.

If ENMU had trouble with Willie Thorton and Terry Mayo, what will happen this week with Malone, Scott, Knox and company? Even at Blackwater Draw with all its mojo, the Wildcats will roll. They have scored 40+ in 14 of their last 16 games, look for it them to make it 15 of 17. ACU wins 45-10

Game of the Week (honorable mention)
#7 Angelo State (2-2) at #4 Midwestern State (3-0)
ASU Game Notes
The Angelo State offense enjoyed their best game last week, putting up 34 points and going over 400 yards for the first time. Daniel Thomas had 2 TDs and 177 yds rushing. For the year, they are scoring 20 pts a game, and are just under 300 yds of offense per contest. The defense has been stellar, third in points allowed (15 pts per game) fifth in yardage (301 yds) and they have forced 10 turnovers, tied for tops in the LSC.

MSU Game Notes
Midwestern State played their best game of the season, defeating top 20 ranked Newberry College 24-10. Marcus and Bee Jay Mathis lead the Mustangs offense, combining for 140 of MSU's 182 yds rushing per game. That has been necessary, because the Mustang QBs are completing just 41% of their passes for a league low 105 yds per game and have twice as many Ints (4) as TDs (2). The defense has been the main reason that the Mustangs remain undefeated. Teams a scoring just 11 pts per game, and have been held to just 229 yds a contest.

There will be some high scoring games this weekend, but unless something highly unusual happens, this won't be one of them. These two teams have been led by their defenses and have not had the big offensive numbers that others in the LSC South have put up. We'll take MSU in another close one 17-14.

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