TAMC over NSU 38-37 (27-17) - Seemed like neither team wanted to win this one
ACU over ECU 66-7 (63-17) - Different team, same result
ASU over ENMU 25-13 (24-14) - Played out as expected
SOSU over SWO 29-21 (21-24) - SOSU took advantage of opportunities
TAMK over TSU 27-16 (27-35) - Javs slowed down TSU running game, TSU defense showed cracks
WTAM over MSU 42-14 (35-17) - Buffs pulled away systematically
For the week 5-2, for the year 39-6
#12 East Central (1-5) at Southern Nazarene (2-3)
Finally!!! The schedule from hell is behind them. No more Sam Houston, TAMK, Tarleton, ACU, or even Angelo State. Four more games against the LSC North and this week NAIA Southern Nazarene. Doesn't mean they will win any of them, but they will at least be competitive in some if not all of them. The Tigers enter the second half of the season averaging 20 pts a game, while allowing an LSC worst 48. The offense accounts for 340.7 yds per game (66 rush, 274.4 pass), while the defense gives up an LSC worst 463.7 (214.2 rush, 249.5 pass).
Southern Nazarene has lost three in a row, including a 26-34 loss to Panhandle State two weeks ago and a 30-31 loss to Bacone last week. Offensively, the Crimson Storm is scoring 21.8 pts per game, rushing for 154.4 and passing for 191.4. Branden Smith leads the team with 413 yds rushing, Larry Dockery is the leading passer with 820 yds and 4 TDs, and Jared Elmore is his favorite target with 31 receptions for 442 yds and 5 of SNU's 6 TD receptions. The defense is allowing 25.4 pts per game and 386 yds (144.2 rush, 241.8 pass).
The Tigers should be able to move the ball, and should put up their second highest point total of the season. They need to limit the turnovers (obviously), and convert when they get into the red zone. They should be successful enough to pull out a 31-28 victory.
#9 Southeastern Oklahoma (2-4) at #7 Central Oklahoma (2-4)
The Savage Storm are not the team some had predicted before the season (the AFCA had them just outside of the top 25), but they have won the games they should, and lost the ones they should, even taking Midwestern State down to the wire. They are averaging 18.3 pts per game, while allowing 39.2. The offense has averaged only 274.2 yds per game, while the defense has given up 411.2. Baylen Laury has been solid at the tailback position all year, and Brandon McCain has improved at QB as the season has progressed. The defense should see their stats improve down the stretch.
The Bronchos have shown signs of life the past two weeks, beating Texas A&M Commerce and outlasting Southwest Baptist. Da'Marean Pullen has rushed for 215 yds the past two weeks, while Ryan Gallimore has hauled in 12 passes for 274 yds and 3 TDs over the same period. Brandon had a career game against SBU, throwing for 359 yds and 3 TDs. The defense has been stingy, allowing TAMC and SBU just an average of 239 yds and 16.5 points (the Lions and Bearcats did score 3 defensive TDs).
This is an interesting matchup of two teams that don't measure up with the top of the conference, but have won the games in which they matched up talent-wise. Both teams have playmakers on offense, and defenses that have given up yards and points, but have been opportunistic. The Bronchos are at home, so we'll take them by a slight 27-24 margin.
#13 Northeastern State (0-6) at #10 Southwestern Oklahoma (1-5)
The agony of defeat. The Riverhawks had the game well in hand, leading Texas A&M-Commerce 27-3 with 5 minutes to go in the second quarter. The defense was shutting down the Lions offense (and scored a TD of their own), the special teams were clicking, and the offense was even moving the ball some. But it was not meant to be - TAMC's offense kicked into gear, the Riverhawks punting game gave up two blocked punts, and the offense was only able to muster one drive over 25 yards the rest of the way. The end result was the second straight heartbreaking loss for NSU.
It's not much better for the Bulldogs. A week after losing to Tarleton on a last minute miracle pass, SWO lost another close game as Steve Day threw 3 first half Ints (2 of which led to SOSU TDs) and an SOSU 54 yd punt return TD with under 8 minutes to play. Their won-loss record does not indicate it, but the Bulldogs have played some decent football this year - they've just allowed too many big plays.
The records are similar, but SWO has played teams much tougher than Northeastern State. The Bulldog's should be able to run the ball effectively and try to limit turnovers. The Riverhawks need to get the ball into Jarrett Byers' hands - passing, kick returns, it doesn't matter, just get him the ball. Someone's bad luck streak will end this week - and it should be SWO in a close one 27-24.
#6 Angelo State (3-3) at #1 Abilene Christian (5-0)
The Rams have the top defense in the LSC in yardage, and are second in points allowed. They have not allowed more than 24 pts in a game, and have given up more than 300 yds just once. The offense is not as far along as the defense, not surprising given that an injury at the QB position has forced the team to rely on a redshirt freshman and true freshman to run the offense. Daniel Thomas is the focal point on offense, averaging 114 yds per game. The passing game is generating just 157 yds per game.
Since opening the season with a big win at Northwest Missouri, the Wildcats have not been challenged. They have blown out their LSC opponents by a 56-11 margin, allowing the starters plenty of rest and the backups considerable playing time - both of which could prove beneficial down the road. Still Bernard Scott and Billy Malone have put up huge numbers. Johnny Knox has been joined by Edmund Gates and Jonathan Ferguson (and Bernard Scott out of the backfield) as a very dangerous receiving corps - the four have a combined 74 receptions for 1,434 yds and 13 TDs. The defense has been lights out as well, allowing just 261 yds and 13.8 pts per game. The defense has also scored an amazing 6 TDs.
This matchup has similarities to last week's WTAM-MSU matchup - an explosive offense/good defense vs. a solid defense/average offense. No team has slowed down the Wildcat offense this year, they have had their way each and every week. To make matters worse for their opponents, they lead the LSC with a +13 turnover margin. While Angelo State's defense is good, their rankings at the top of the LSC will take a hit this week. ACU wins 45-14.
#2 West Texas A&M (6-0) at #11 Eastern New Mexico (1-5)
The Buffaloes dispatched previously unbeaten Midwestern State, pulling away in the second half. Keith Null threw for 447 yds and 5 TDs - he has passed for at least 326 yds every game this year. Charly Martin added to his amazing season with 7 catches for 176 yds and 3 TDs - he now has 41 catches for 847 yds and 10 TDs. The running game has yet to break out, but with Keithon Flemming and Wayne McKnight, it could happen at any time. The defense is doing its part, holding teams to just 20 pts per game and under 300 yds.
The learning process continues for ENMU - the Greyhounds are last in the LSC in offense and near the bottom in defense. JJ Harp has started the past 2 games and for the season is completing 53% of his passes, though most are for short gains (under 8 yds per completion). The running game has been nonexistant - easily last in the LSC with just 15 yds per game. The defense has battled, but has been hampered by the offense turning the ball over 17 times and the LSC's worst time of possession. They will have their hands full this week as well.
The Wagon Wheel game has produced some classic matchups in previous years. With a young team and 180 degree turn in offensive philosophy this would have been a tough matchup without the kicker - WTAM needs a solid tuneup game for next week's huge game vs. ACU. WT in a blowout 49-14.
It was one of those WTH? games. A week after getting upset by Central Oklahoma, the Lions almost were upset by Northeastern State. The defense allowed just 220 yds and 16 points, but offensive turnovers and poor kickoff coverage almost allowed the unthinkable to happen. Taylor Fore blocked two NSU punts - one of which TAMC returned for a TD, and the other which led to a TD - to help save the day. The offense is now averaging just over 300 yds per game (94 rushing and 208 passing) and 21.7 pts. The defense is allowing just 288 yds (96 rushing 192 passing) and 26.2 pts.
The Javelinas won their fourth straight road game, beating previously undefeated Tarleton State 27-16. TAMK slowed the Texan run game, limiting the LSC leaders to just 136 yds on the ground, and 312 total. Just as surprising was the success TAMK had on the ground - 188 yds, while TSU had only been allowing 68 per game coming into last week. Billy Garza only hit 16-33 passes, but 3 went for TDs.
Both teams went into last weeks games looking to bounce back from losses the prior game. And while both got victories, the manner in which they got them were vastly different. The Javelinas answered their critics with a solid win over a ranked team. The Lions barely got by a winless Riverhawk team. If the Lions can get some big plays from the Mayo-Thorton connection and El-Amin can run the ball effectively, the Lions can make this a ball game. Still the Javelinas should have enough firepower to pull away - TAMK 35-21
Tarleton State lost for the first time last weekend, but the warning signs had been there for two weeks. UCO played them tough for a half, and SWO for 59 and a half minutes the prior two games. The offense was inconsistent and generated a season-low 312 yds and just 10 points. The defense allowed a season high in yardage (414) and points (27 and dodged a bullet, when a bad snap foiled another likely score), though they did return an Int for a TD. They are still third in LSC scoring defense, and second in yards allowed.
Midwestern State hung around with WT for a while, trailing just 21-14 at the half. They were buffaloed in the second half, unable to muster up a score, while WT put up 21 more. The Buffaloes first 5 scoring drives all covered at least 71 yards as they systematically moved the ball on the Mustangs defense, and WT gained 270 more yards than MSU had been allowing prior to last week. The offense was not able to keep pace with the WT offense. After pulling to within 21-14, the Mustangs were limited to just 34 plays on their next 8 possessions.
Though the losses last week take the luster off of this matchup, this is still a very important game for both teams. In fact the losses last week make it more important, as a loss will make the playoffs very much a long-shot opportunity. Both teams have very good defenses that had their toughest games last weekend. Both teams have run-oriented offenses, with multiple talented running backs to share the load. Tarleton has the advantage in the passing game, with an experienced QB and several explosive receivers who can go all the way at any time. That's enough to give TSU a 24-14 win.