Thursday, September 4, 2008

Game Notes & Picks (9-6)

First a recap of last week's picks...
Sam Houston over ECU 58-14 (prediction 49-14) - Pretty much the way we were thinking
Southwestern Ok over Northwestern Ok 29-15 (24-17) - NWO pulled to within 7 with 4:25 to go , but 61 yard TD pass on the second play of the ensuing SWO possession sealed the win.
Tarleton over Southeastern Ok 51-10 (42-28) - This game was tied 10-10 about midway through 2nd period (SOSU had 117-73 advantage in total yards).
Arkansas Tech over Northeastern State 22-3 (31-14) - NSU led 3-2 at half, but ATU scored TDs on its 3 second half possessions.
North Dakota over Texas A&M-Kingsville 40-14 (35-21) - TAMK led 7-3 after one quarter, but UND found its rhythm after that.
West Texas A&M over Mesa State 23-20 (52-10) - We really missed on the margin, but at least the Buffaloes got the win.
Pittsburg State over Central Oklahoma 16-12 (45-10) - Again we really missed the margin, unfortunately, we got the result right.
Norhwestern St (LA) over Texas A&M-Commerce 30-14 (31-21) - Pretty close on the margin, Lion mistakes led to a couple of Demon scores.
Texas State over Angelo State 21-14 (45-17) - Rams have played Southland conference teams close two years in a row now.
Southern Nazarene over Eastern New Mexico 16-9 (24-14) - Greyhounds defense kept it closer than we thought.
Abilene Christian over Northwest Missouri 44-27 (21-35) - The only upset (in our eyes) of the week. The game started as we thought it would, with NWMSU jumping out early. ACU did not panice and outscored the three-time defending national runner-ups 37-6 over the final three quarters.

For the week 10-1, for the season 10-1.

This Week's Games

#7 Southwestern Oklahoma at #13 Eastern New Mexico - Both teams coming off road openers against NAIA opponents. SWO won their game 29-15, converting a couple of early turnovers and a poor NWO punt right before the break into 13 first half points and then immediately responded when NWO pulled to within 22-15 with a 61 yd TD pass to ice the game. Ovie Esalomi (85 yds rushing) and Joe Sawyer (7 recs 116 yds 2 TDs) had nice openers - are they emerging as the playmakers the SWO offense needs? ENMU could not overcome the weather or Southern Nazarene in losing 16-9. Offensively, they Greyhounds were inconsistent, unable to sustain drives (only two were longer than 2 minutes) and their only score came on a trick play. The defense played better, shutting down SNU's running game (58 yds on 43 attempts) and allowing a total of 348 total yards.

ENMU's transition is going to need more time to gel, and the spirits of Blackwater Draw don't recognize them just yet. SWO should control the clock and win somewhat comfortably 31-14.

#6 Texas A&M-Kingsville at #11 East Central -
Texas A&M Kingsville Game Notes
Both teams faced tough IAA schools last week with not so great results. The Tigers trailed 52-0 at halftime at Sam Houston, before scoring a couple late TDs in a 58-14 blowout. Of ECU's 379 yds of offense, 293 came after the score was 58-0. Marcus Johnson finished the game 31-53 for 296 yards and both ECU TDs, but also had 2 Ints. The Javelinas fared a bit better in losing to North Dakota 40-14. TAMK led 7-3 after the first quarter, but UND scored TDs on 5 of their next 6 possessions to take control of the game. TAMK had 342 yds of offense, something they did not accomplish until game 6 last year. The QB situation did not appear to get settled as both Garza and Ramirez led the team to scoring drives, but both were under 50% on completions.

ECU upset the Javelinas last year in Kingsville, jumping on the Javelinas early, and then recovering after the Javelinas took the lead early in the fourth quarter. But the Javs showed much better poise in a hostile environment last week. TAMK gets rolling 35-17.

#12 Northeastern State at #3 Tarleton State - The Riverhawks struggled offensively at Arkansas Tech, held to just 287 yards and a FG. The running game was okay, with John Kelly picking up 91 yds and Josh Lewis adding 53, but outside of the final NSU possession, the passing game was struggling (112 yds and 2 INTs). The defense kept them in the game, but couldn't get a stop in the second half - ATU had the ball 3 times, and scored TDs on long sustained drives each time. Meanwhile, the Texans, after Southeastern Oklahoma tied the game at 10 with 7:41 to go in the first half, put up 41 unanswered points to blow out the Savage Storm 51-10. The offensive numbers are somewhat modest (373 total yards), but 5 of TSU's scoring drives started at midfield or closer. The defense, which was a question mark coming into the season, allowed just 188 yards (just 71 after SOSU tied the game in the 2nd quarter).

This game has the potential to be a blowout. Tarleton wins 35-7.

#10 Southeastern Oklahom at #5 Midwestern State - Last week's game against Tarleton started off well enough for Southeastern Oklahoma. Midway through the second quarter, the game was tied and SOSU had 117 yds on offense...and then things kind of went downhill. Baylen Laury had 62 yds rushing in his debut for the Savage Storm and Cameron Sparks led the defense with 10 tackles.

It will be interesting to see what Midwestern State does on offense, but with so much of the defense returning, this game should be a solid win for the Mustangs - MSU 31-10.

#2 West Texas A&M at #9 Central Oklahoma -
Central Oklahoma Game Notes
West Texas A&M Game Notes
UCO played Pittsburg State much closer than just about everyone thought, losing 16-12. The defense was especially salty, limiting the Gorillas to 376 yds and forcing 5 turnovers. The offense was unable to capitalize, gaining just 221 yds, and not being able to respond on four drives after PSU took the lead in the fourth quarter. Is this de ja vu? The Bronchos played a nationally ranked team in the 2007 opener as well, and in fact shocked ACU with a 27-17 upset. The next week against MIAA doormat Emporia State they lost 17-7 (despite allowing just 67 yards on defense). West Texas A&M struggled as well, escaping Grand Junction with a 23-20 win over Mesa State. While the offense did put up 396 yds, 267 came on just 3 drives. They did move the ball when they had to, with a 92 yd 12 play drive to set up the game winning FG. The run defense allowed Bobby Coy to gain 201 yds and 2 TDs.

Look for West Texas to shake off last week's game and return to last year's form. WT wins 38-7.

Game of the Week
#8 Angelo State at #4 Texas A&M-Commerce -
Angelo State Game Notes
Texas A&M Commerce Game Notes

Not only do we wonder if UCO will repeat last year's start to the seaon, it looks like either Angelo State or Texas A&M-Commerce will be heading down the same path as last year as well. Will ASU suffer a letdown after playing a Southland Conference team very tough? or will TAMC lose a game they expect to win after playing a tough team closer than expected?

Last week, the Rams had their chances against Texas State. The offense did a nice job of sustaining drives (3 of 10 or more plays) and controlled the clock for more than 32 and a half minutes. The running game never got untracked, but Josh Neiswander had a super game, completing 72% of his passes, for 213 yds, 2 TDs and no INTs. The defense was even better, holding the Bobcats to 288 yds, and picking off 3 passes. The Rams did miss 3 FGs, with the longest being a 36 yarder.

The Lions played Northwestern State (another SLC school) tough as well. Mistakes really hurt them, as the Demons scored on a fumble recovery and an interception return. The offense struggled to find consistency, but showed the ability for the big play. Terry Mayo and newcomer Willie Thorton combined for 2 TDs (a 65 yarder and a 48 yarder). Outside of those two plays, the Lions gained just 189 yards, and just 23 of that on the ground. Defensively, the Lions allowed just 83 passing yards, but did surrender 206 on the ground to a run-oriented team.

For this Saturday, our expectation is for a game similar to last year - a close, low-scoring game with a few big plays sprinkled in. TAMC needs to do the obvious offensively - establish their running game, and complete a higher percentage of passes. Even with big plays sprinkled in, a 40% completion rate isn't going to get it done. Same for ASU - get Daniel Thomas back to the 100+ yds a game he was at last year, and not rely too much on the passing game. All that said, we'll go with the Lions 21-17.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Scoopers are way off on the ASU - TAMUC game. ASU will dominate.

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