Friday, October 3, 2008

LSC Game of the Year #2

#4 Midwestern State (4-0) at #2 West Texas A&M (5-0)

The Mustangs continue to win and continue to rely on their defense to lead them. They lead the LSC in points allowed at 9 per game (3rd nationally) and are second in the LSC in yards allowed at 234 per game (8th nationally). They are good at run defense (69 yds per game) and pass defense (166 yds per game, 97.2 pass efficiency rating). Linebackers Emmanuel Bagley and Jacob Martin are the leading tacklers with 29 and 26 respectively. Stephen Turner and Jarrell Warren each have 3.5 sacks to pace the team. "Winky" Walker is tied for the LSC lead in Ints with 4 and is second in passes defended with 6. That has been enough so far to keep them undefeated and ranked #17 in the AFCA poll. Offensively, they have struggled more than expected, scoring just under 19 pts per game, and generating just over 250 yds. They have run the ball well, but the passing game has not surfaced. Marcus and Bee Jay Mathis are the top RBs with a combined 505 yds on the ground. Zack Eskridge has gotten the most playing time at QB and is hitting 58% of his passes, but for just yds per game. Tyron Morrison is the leading receiver with 9 catches for 117 yds and just one TD.

Charly Martin had more catches in last week's game (10) and almost as many yards on one reception (97). As a unit, the Buffs have 6 players with more than 10 catches, led by Martin 34-671 and 7 TDs, and Carl Johnson 26-357 2 TDs. Getting the ball to them is senior Keith Null, who is throwing for 392 yds per game, with 17 TD passes, while completing 70% of his passes. Keithon Flemming is the top running threat, averaging 77 yds per game (6.3 per carry). Put it all together and WT is averaging 49 pts and 543 yds per game. The defense hasn't been to shabby either, holding the opposition to 21 pts and 302 yds per game. All-American Jared Brock is only 5th on the team in tackles with 22, but 5 have been for loss including 2 sacks. DE Eugene Sims leads the Buffs with 3 sacks and is third in total tackles with 23. Darnell Johnson has 3 Ints, including one returned for and 85 yard TD last weekend.

There are two main questions about this matchup. First, can the MSU defense slow down the WT offense? Second, even if they do, can the MSU offense score enough to keep pace? Notice that both of the questions are in regard as to what MSU can or will do. WT is largely the same team as last year and has been compiling similar results, but MSU, despite having played 4 games, still has questions as to their ability to generate offense. Look for the game to remain competitive for a while, but for the Buffaloes to pull away and win somewhat comfortably. WTAM 35-17

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