Slipped a bit, going 5-2 on the week. For the season, we are 43-12 with our picks.
Last Week's Games
TAMK 35, TAMC 34
While we had this as the mismatch of the week, we did state that it was not a true mismatch, just a matchup of the teams ranked farthest apart. This turned out to be one of the best games of the week, if not the year. The Lions utilized big plays on special teams and the passing game to lead most of the game. In fact the Javelinas trailed by 13 with 11 minutes to play in the game. But for the second week in a row, the TAMK defense would force 3 fourth quarter turnovers, and the offense would convert them into 14 points, allowing the Hoggies to leave Commerce with a victory. Billy Garza went 9-10 for 89 yards and 2 TDs in the fourth quarter.
UIW 38, ECU 20
The good news for East Central was that they held a lead in a football game for the first time this season. The bad news was that they were outscored 38-14 the rest of the day. Incarnate Word got their first victory over an LSC team as they passed for 293 yards, rushed for 105 and held ECU to just 277 yards. The defense also scored 2 TDs on fumble returns.
SOSU 41, UCO 24
The Bronchos were intercepted on three consecutive second quarter possessions, leading to 14 points for the Savage Storm. Southeastern Oklahoma was able to keep UCO at arm's length the rest of the game. Josh Johnson had 100 yards rushing, and Baylen Laury chipped in with 81 on the ground and 73 receiving. Justin Pitrucha had 317 yards passing and 3 TDs, but also had 2 interceptions.
NSU 13, SWO 6
Not much offense was expected in this game, and not much offense was delivered. The teams combined for just 418 yards on the evening. The Riverhawks got the bulk of their production on three scoring drives in the first half (210 yards, vs. 21 the rest of the night). Chris Davis rushed for 109 yards, while Kenny Davis went 6-8 passing for 63 yards and a TD.
WTAM 34, ENMU 24
Trailing 10-7 early in the second quarter, WT scored 24 straight points to take control of the game. Keithon Flemming made his 2009 debut in the Wagon Wheel game, rushing for 52 yards and catching 10 passes for 49 yards. Taylor Harris had 371 yards passing with 3 TDs. The Greyhounds were limited to just 245 yards passing, and only 331 total yards on the evening.
TSU 31, MSU 28
While everyone knew this would be a good game, there's no way anyone could have scripted a more exciting finish. Midwestern State took the early lead, and led 21-3 midway through the second period. But a Shaun Ragon TD reception right before half kept the Texans in the game. Tarleton would draw within 3 in the fourth quarter, but things were looking bleak, as the Mustangs were driving late in the game. With the Mustangs on their 12 yard line, the Texans picked off a Zack Eskridge pass and returned it to their own 3. With just over 3 minutes to play, Scott Grantham led Tarleton downfield, twice converting fourth downs, setting the stage for a game tying 36 yard field goal, which Garrett Lindholm converted. Midwestern State then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which Tarleton recovered. Bring on Mr. Lindholm again, who nailed a 55 yarder as the clock expired. Tarleton wins a nail biter and keeps their playoff hopes alive.
ACU 38, ASU 14
While our first game of the year (Tarleton at Texas A&M-Kingsville) lived up the hype, our second choice was not even close. Abilene Christian jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first half, and put the game away with three second half TDs. The Wildcat defense gave up just 299 yards on the evening, with 149 coming the Ram's final two drives. Mitchell Gale threw for 218 yards and a TD in his second collegiate start for ACU.
This Week's Matchups
#7 Texas A&M-Commerce at #12 East Central - Mismatch of the week
The Lions have shown they can compete with the best teams in the conference (and two of the best in the nation). But they have also shown inconsistency against lesser teams, needing big fourth quarters to beat Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State. East Central is playing hard, but just doesn't have the firepower to match up. The Lions win comfortably and without the late game heroics. TAMC 35-14
#10 Northeastern State at Southwest Baptist
The Bearcats showed UCO that they have a balance offense that can move the ball and put points on the board. QB Steven Gachette threw for 291 yards, and rushed for 78 of SBU's 250 as they defeated 31-23 two weeks ago. The Riverhawks will probably be able to slow them down some, but will need to rev up an offense that is scoring just under 10 points a game the last 6 weeks. SBU 24-17
#8 West Texas A&M at #1 Abilene Christian
This was the game we had circled in the preseason as "The Biggie". ACU has kept their end of the bargain - undefeated, #1 in the both national polls, and also the regional poll. West Texas got off to a rough start against arguably the toughest schedule in D2. Throw in injuries and sprinkle in a few suspensions and you get a 1-5 start. But they have played better the past four weeks, winning two games, and playing nationally ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville and Midwestern State tough in the losses. The return of Keithon Flemming will obviously help the running game, and should open up things for Taylor Harris as well. Meanwhile, the Wildcats seem to have settled on Mitchell Gale at quarterback, and have the LSC's top rushing offense. On the other side of the ball, the defense still leads the LSC in total defense, and rush defense and is third in points allowed. While having Flemming back is huge for the Buffs, ACU is just too much of a complete team. ACU 34-21
#4 Angelo State at #6 Southeastern Oklahoma
The Rams went into last week's game on a roll and with the confidence that they could compete with ACU. It didn't quite work out that way, as the ACU defense kept Angelo State at arm's length, holding the Rams to just 150 yards offense prior to the last two drives. Have many people noticed that Southeastern Oklahoma is 5-2? It doesn't seem that way. With two solid running backs, Daniel Nichols leading the receivers and Justin Pitrucha possibly rounding into his 2005-6 form, the Savage Storm have the ability to improve even more. Defensively, both teams have been solid against the run, but the Rams pass defense has been better. We think the Rams will bounce back and keep their playoff hopes alive, ASU 35-24
#13 Southwestern Oklahoma at #11 Central Oklahoma
Two teams here that have had frustrating seasons. Central Oklahoma, because they were picked not only to win the LSC North, but to compete for a playoff spot after winning their last 7 games of 2008. Southwestern Oklahoma, because they just haven't been competitive in most of their games this year. The Bronchos have at least been competitive in most of their games, trailing Tarleton by just 4 and SBU by 5 in the fourth quarter, and leading Texas A&M-Commerce until the last minute. They should get win #2 this week, UCO 24-6.
#3 Tarleton State at #9 Eastern New Mexico
Eastern New Mexico sure does like throwing defensive coordinators for a loop. They used to do it with the option offense, now they do it with the air raid. So far, however, the LSC South defenses have done a pretty good job at slowing it down. After averaging 48 points per game the first four weeks of the season, the Greyhounds have been held to just 27 the past 3. Passing yards have gone down, too - from 593 per game to 314 the last 3 games. That's bad enough, but we're also hearing reports that starting QB JJ Harp and WR Darian Dale, one of their top receivers, will not play this week. That spells big trouble for ENMU. Tarleton runs wild and wins 42-14.
Game of the Year (Part III)
#2 Texas A&M-Kingsville at #5 Midwestern State
Someone is living right down in Kingsville. For the third straight week (and fourth time this season), the Javelinas came through late to pull out a 35-34 win in Commerce. The offense played well (431 yards, no turnovers), but the defense was hurt by a couple of big pass plays (which led to 2 TDs) and special teams had two huge miscues which also led to 14 TAMC points. But for the second week in a row, the defense turned it on in the fourth quarter, forcing fumbles on consecutive Lion possessions (leading to 2 TDs) and getting an interception to seal the game.
For all of the good fortune the Javelinas are enjoying, the Mustangs have been on the opposite end, losing two hearbreakers to Angelo State and Tarleton State. Last week's game appeared to be in hand as the Mustangs led by 3 and had a second down and one on the Tarleton12. But a Zack Eskridge interception (just his fourth this season) and an improbable 78 yard drive put Tarleton in position to tie the game with 12 seconds remaining. Remarkably, Midwestern State fumbled the ensuing kickoff, allowing Tarleton to kick a 55 yard game winning field goal. With the loss, the Mustangs are in a must-win position if they are to have any shot at the playoffs.
How they stack up
Scoring offense - MSU 36.0, TAMK 33.7
Scoring defense - MSU 12.3, TAMK 18.0
Rushing offense - TAMK 182.9, MSU 131.6
Rushing defense - TAMK 91.9, MSU 114.9
Passing offense - MSU 274.4, TAMK 269.3
Pass efficiency offense - MSU 178.4, TAMK 142.6
Passing defense - MSU 182.7, TAMK 193.6
Pass efficiency defense - MSU 84.7, TAMK 108.6
Total Offense - TAMK 452.1, MSU 406.0
Total Defense - TAMK 285.4, MSU 297.6
On paper the teams look pretty evenly matched up - good, balanced offenses and solid defenses, not much to differentiate the two teams. If Midwestern State is going to win this game, they will need to get out early and keep the Javelinas out of striking distance in the fourth quarter.
Some years, a team just seems to get all of the bounces, and this year it looks like the Javelinas are the lucky ones. TAMK in another nailbiter, 31-24.