Thursday, October 16, 2008

Game Notes & Picks 10-18

ECU over Southern Nazarene 37-30 (our pick 31-28) -turned 3 SNU Ints into 17 pts.
UCO over SOSU 41-7 (27-24) - dominant performance by Bronchos
SWO over NSU 17-16 (27-24) - the bad luck had to end for one
ACU over ASU 51-7 (45-14) - ACU continues to cruise
WTAM over ENMU 51-27 (49-14) - WT struggled with weather, inspired Greyhounds
TAMK over TAMC 35-0 (35-21) - TAMC never got inside 25 yd line
TSU over MSU 37-16 (24-14) - Texans back on winning track

For the week, a perfect 7-0, for the year 46-6.


Southwest Baptist (4-3) at #13 Northeastern State (0-7)

The Bearcats are coming off a 54-14 win over Grand View (an NAIA school in their first year of competition). Two weeks ago, SBU lost a 43-40 thriller to UCO as the Bearcats missed a 27 yard field goal as time expired. SBU generated 328 yds passing, to go with a negative 23 yds rushing. Their defense did little to stop UCO, allowing 117 yds on the ground and 363 through the air. Four Broncho fumbles led to 24 SBU points, keeping them in the game. Of the Bearcats 4 wins, 2 were against D2 schools and 2 against NAIA programs.

The Riverhawks lost another close one, 16-17 to SWO. The Riverhawks had a first down at the SWO 27 yd line with about 7 minutes to play, but could get no closer. The defense did its part, forcing the Bulldogs to punt 10 times and generating 3 turnovers. The offense struggled - limited to just 173 yds and unable to turn those three SWO turnovers into any points. Kicker Jared Horner had a whale of a game, hitting field goals of 46, 56 and 51 yards.

This may be Northeastern State's last best chance to get into the win column. The SBU defense could be just what the Riverhawks' need to get the offense back on track. If the defense continues to get some turnovers, and the offense takes advantage, then NSU takes a 24-21 squeaker.

#12 East Central (2-5) at #8 Texas A&M Commerce (3-4)
How much the Tigers rely on Marcus Johnson was revealed last Saturday. Johnson did not play in the first half of the game, and Southern Nazarene led 24-0. In the second half, with Johnson under center, ECU scored on four straight possessions and with the help of an opportunistic defense, sent the game to overtime. Both teams scored TDs on their first possessions, but neither could convert the PAT. In the second OT, ECU scored a TD, then recovered an errant SNU snap to end the game.

Texas A&M Commerce took the long trip down to Kingsville and turned in a lackluster performance, getting shut out for the first time since 2003. The offense managed just 173 yards, and had a 25 minute stretch where they picked up 2 first downs (one of them from a penalty) and ran 25 plays in 8 possessions. On the bright side, the defense did pick up 4 sacks, 8 tackles for losses, and recovered 3 fumbles.

With three games remaining, the Lions are still in a good position to post a winning record. But they won't if they continue to play like they have in recent weeks. They should be able to run the ball and set up Willie Thorton for some big gains. ECU has won the two games they were able to keep close, but the Lion defense is better than eith NSU or SNU. TAMC wins 31-21.

#9 Southeastern Oklahoma (2-5) at #7 Angelo State (3-4)
Many thought the Savage Storm would be much better than they have shown this year. They are tied for last in scoring offense and are second to last in scoring defense. The two teams they have beaten have won a combined two games against D2 competition and they have been blown out in 4 of their games. And yet they find themselves with an opportunity to post a winning record and are just one game back in the LSC North race. They have the talent on offense to improve on their stats to date, and the defensive numbers should improve with the upcoming schedule as well.

The young Rams have been a surprise defensively, allowing more than 24 points just once (to ACU), and have kept them in every other game. They are 4th in points allowed and yards allowed. The offense is still a bit behind the defense, but that's understandable when forced to play freshmen b/c of an injury to Josh Neiswander. Daniel Thomas is having another solid season, but that has not been enough to lift the team to more than 16.7 pts (last) and 299 yds (8th) per game.

The Rams should try to exploit the Southeastern defense that is allowing 175 yds per game rushing. If they are successful, then the young QBs can take some shots at apss defense that is allowing 246 yds per game. The Savage Storm need Baylen Laury to be able to run the ball, and they have to find a way to get the ball in Daniel Nichols hands. We'll take the Rams at home 28-17.

#6 Central Oklahoma (3-4) at #10 Southwestern Oklahoma (1-6)
After opening the season with arguably the toughest four game stretch of anyone in the nation (and losing all four by a 53-148 margin), the Bronchos have really turned things around. The win over TAMC three weeks ago was a surprise, but last weeks 41-7 throttling of Southeastern Oklahoma really opened some eyes. During this three game winning streak, the Bronchos have outscore the opposition by a 105-60 margin and outgained them by an avg of 396-204. Da'Marean Pullen rushed for 259 yds, Brandon Noohi has thrown for 760 with 5 TDs and 0 Ints, and Ryan Gallimore has caught 19 passes for 413 yds and 5 TDs. They are alone at the top of the LSC North and control their own destiny for the title.

The Bulldogs finally won a close game edging Northeastern State 17-16. The defense limited the Riverhawks to just 173 yds, forced NSU to punt 10 times and set the offense up at the 3 yard line after a fumble recovery and retrun at the end of the third quarter. The offense moved the ball okay, but 3 turnovers and 2 missed FGs did not help.

Can the rejuvenated Broncho's continue their surprising turnaround? The way the defense has been playing, and the production of Noohi, Gallimore and Pullen on offense suggest that they can. UCO wins their fourth in a row. 24-21

#11 Eastern New Mexico (1-6) at #4 Tarleton State (6-1)
After falling behind 37-0, the young Greyhounds reeled off 27 straight points, before WT pulled away for a 51-27 defeat of ENMU in the Wagon Wheel game. The offense was limited to just 213 total yards (including a minus 1 rushing), but took advantage of three WT INTs on consecutive possessions to make the game fun. JJ Harp threw for 214 yds and 2 TDs with no INTs.

The Texans rebounded from their first loss of the season to defeat Midwestern State 37-16. Travis Evans led the rushing attack with 107 yds and 2 TDs, while Scott Grantham threw for 209 yds and 2 TDs with no INTs. Eric Foreman led the receivers with 4 catches for 91 yds, including a 59 yd TD grab. The defense stiffened after the first quarter, limiting MSU to just 22 plays on six consecutive possessions, forcing 2 turnovers during the stretch. The win kept Tarleton in the hunt for the playoffs, but with games against ACU and WT still to come.

Tarleton will run the ball all night long and limit the ENMU offense to short gains. ENMU has yet to win away from home this year, and Tarleton has too much at stake to let the Greyhounds sneak up on them. Texans win 35-14.

#5 Midwestern State (4-2) at #3Texas A&M-Kingsville (5-2)
The good news is that Midwestern State may have found a passing game, with Zack Eskridge passing for a season high 247 yards. But the Texan defense limited the Mustangs to just 216 yds of total offense over the last 3 quarters, the Mustangs defense could not stop Tarleton's offense in the second half (5 possessions - 3 TDs, FG, and game over). The Mustang defense may be showing signs of fatigue - after allowing 9 pts and 234 yds per game over the first four weeks, MSU has allowed 39.5 pts and 446 yds per game the last two weeks.

Texas A&M Kingsville continues to be the most improved team in the LSC. Since last year's game with MSU (a 73-6 shellacking), the Javelinas are 7-2 against D2 competition with the losses coming to #19 ACU in the second to last game of last season and #6 WT this year. In somewhat of a switch this year, the defense led the team to victory last week, shutting out the Lions and holding them to just 173 yards, just 58 in the second half. Billy Martin led the offense with another big day - 161 yds rushing with 2 TDs and a 16 yd TD reception.

This game features two teams with playoff aspirations, but no margin for error. Midwestern has been getting it done with defense this year, but the offense has not helped enough the last two weeks. The Javelinas offense has become more balanced with the emergence of Billy Martin the past two weeks. Look for TAMK's run defense to win that matchup and for the Javelina's playoff hopes to stay alive. TAMK wins 27-17.

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Lone Star Conference

Angelo State University

Cameron University

Eastern New Mexico University

Texas A&M-Commerce

Tarleton State University

Texas A&M-Kingsville

Texas Woman's College

University of Texas of the Permian Basin

West Texas A&M University

Western New Mexico