Yuck, 4-3 last week, bringing the season tally to 56-19.
Last Week's Games
West Texas A&M 66, Northeastern State 23
The Buffaloes continue their late season assault, blowing out Northeastern State by 43. Brittan Golden had his best day as a Buffalo, catching 7 passes for 178 yards and 3 TDs. Taylor Harris and Tanner Marsh combined for 464 yards and each had 3 TD passes. Keithon Flemming rushed for 110 yards and 3 TDs and also caught 4 passes for 26 yards all in the first half. WT has now won 4 in a row, averaging 44 points a game during that stretch.
Central Oklahoma 42, East Central 25
The Bronchos jumped out to an early lead and kept ECU at arm's length the rest of the day. Jason Palmer had a big day, rushing for 146 yards and 2 TDs, and Brandon Noohi threw for 230 and rushed for 61. Josh Phillips had a big day for the Tigers, throwing for 305 yards and 3 TDs, but ECU was held to just 3 yards rushing.
Midwestern State 50, Eastern New Mexico 17
The Greyhounds tied the game at 10 with 3:55 remaining in the first half, but it was all Midwestern State from that point on, with the Mustangs outscoring ENMU 40-7 the rest of the way. The Mustangs threw for 356 yards and rushed for 300, including a 73 yard TD run by Brandon Kelsey as time expired.
Oklahoma Panhandle State 28, Southwestern Oklahoma 24
The Bulldogs took a 24-14 lead early in the third quarter, but turnovers doomed two other scoring opportunities as Panhandle State squeaked out the win. Bruce Hatton scored all 3 SWO TDs, and Steve Day threw for 256 yards. Panhandle State's Darryl Brister was the star for the Aggies, as he ran for 227 yards and 3 TDs, including the game winner with 2:51 in the game.
Texas A&M-Commerce 27, Southeastern Oklahoma 17
With a 3 point lead and the Savage Storm driving, TAMC got another big defensive play, as Cory Whitfield sacked Justin Pitrucha, forcing a fumble that Stephen DeGrate picked up and ran 55 yards for the game clinching score. Marcus Graham rushed for a season high 166 yards and one TD, and Taylor Fore had a 47 yard TD reception to lead the Lion offense. Justin Pitrucha threw for 300 yards but had three turnovers in TAMC territory. Daniel Nichols had another TD reception and trails Romar Crenshaw for the Savage Storm career record, he also needs 37 yards receiving for 3,000.
Tarleton State 21, Angelo State 14
The Texans shut the door on Angelo State's playoff hopes, while keeping theirs alive in this defensive battle. The Rams drove 72 yards on their opening drive for an early 7-0 lead, but the Tarleton defense clamped down, picking off a pass on the next drive and forcing the Rams to punt on 6 of the next 7 possessions. Tarleton's offense got off to a slow start, the result of good ASU defense and poor field postion in the first half, but was able to put together three long scoring drives and take a 21-7 lead with just under 12 minutes in the game. Markeith Jones picked off a Scott Grantham pass inside the Ram 10 yard line keeping the Rams alive. After driving 87 yards for a TD, Angelo State recovered the onside kick, only to fumble the ball and game away six plays later. Roderick Smith rushed for 104 yards and a TD, while Devin Guinn caught 8 passes for 129 yards and 2 TDs. Josh Neiswander had 233 yards passing for Angelo State.
Abilene Christian 47, Texas A&M-Kingsville 35
The Wildcats played like a cornered animal scoring 37 straight points in the second and third quarters. During that stretch, the defense forced 3 punts, 3 turnovers and a safety, while the offense had two touchdown drives of over 80 yards, as well as converting the turnovers into TDs. In a matchup of the top two rushing offenses, ACU outgained the Javelinas 167 to 50. Billy Garza did throw for 309 yards and 3 TDs, with over half of the yardage coming in the fourth quarter. Fred Thompson led the Wildcat defense with 9 tackles, 2.5 for losses, 1.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. ACU was flagged for 5 personal foul penalties during the game.
This Week's Games
#7 Texas A&M-Commerce at #12 Southwestern Oklahoma - Mismatch of the week
The Lions look to end 2009 on a very upbeat note. With a win, the Lions would even their record at 5-5 and wrap up the LSC North title - their first outright divisional title since the LSC split into two divisions in 1997. TAMC has enjoyed their LSC North schedule, winning all four games to date by a 28-20 margin. On the other hand, the Bulldogs have been outscored by an average of 13-25 in their four games, avoiding a winless season with a last second game winning touchdown two weeks ago against East Central. Look for the Lions to head to 2010 with confidence winning 5 of their final 6 games, TAMC 28-14.
#8 Southeastern Oklahoma at #13 East Central
Barring a major upset in Weatherford, the Savage Storm will be the LSC North runner-ups. Over the past 8 seasons, Southeastern Oklahoma has finished first or second in the LSC North, compiling a 29-10 divisional record. The offense has played well this season, averaging 32 points and 390 yards per game, but the defense is giving up 30 points and 387 yards, with Southwestern Oklahoma the only D2 teams they have held to under 24 points all season. Lucky for them, they are facing an East Central squad that has only broken the 20 point barrier three times all season (but interestingly, all in the last four games) and scored just 31 points total in their first six games. SOSU in a snoozer 32-14.
#11 Northeastern State at #10 Central Oklahoma
The Riverhawks offense has shown some signs of life, scoring 92 points the past three weeks (compared to 91 in the first 6 weeks). The defense however has been shredded, giving up 153 (compared to 173 in the first 6 weeks). The Broncho's offense has also stepped it up lately, averaging 32.5 points in LSC North games (compared to 18.3 against everyone else), and the defense has tightened up a bit, but is stilling allowing too many points at 29 per game. Expect a lot of points in this one, with UCO coming out on top 38-31.
Incarnate Word at #9 Eastern New Mexico
Interesting set up in this one - Incarnate Word joins the LSC next year and will compete in the South division, with the Greyhounds moving to the North. ENMU should be compete for the divisional title right away - over the past three years, they are 0-18 in the LSC South, but 6-3 in crossover games. JJ Harp should continue his impressive season and needs 3 TD passes to claim the team single season record - he could have that in the first quarter. ENMU 49-14.
#6 Angleo State at #4 Texas A&M-Kingsville
For the first time since 2005, this season ending rivalry game has playoff implications. Angelo State is the most improved team in the conference, but has run into stiff competition late in the season, dropping games to ACU, WT and Tarleton. In those three games, the Rams were outscored by an average of 14-34 and outgained by an average of 323-435. Meanwhile Texas A&M-Kingsville has been a Jeckyll and Hyde team this year. 2-2 on the road with an average score of 25-34, and 6-0 at home and an average score of 36-18. Coupled with the home field advantage is the fact that the Javelinas must win to have a shot at the playoffs. TAMK 35-27.
# 5 West Texas A&M at #2 Tarleton State
Talk about a monkey on your back. Since 2005, the Texans have had a shot at the playoffs three times heading into this game, and three times the Buffaloes sent them home short of their goal. The last two games weren't even close, with WT outgaining Tarleton by a 604-311 margin and outscoring them by an average of 45-7. But that was the past and this is the present. So what about this year? Well the Texans are 9-1, ranked number 7 in the latest AFCA poll, and more importantly #3 in this weeks NCAA Super Region 4 poll. West Texas is just 5-5 and far removed from playoff contention. They also happen to be the hottest team in the LSC right now, winning their last four games by an average of 44-21 and gaining almost 500 yards per game. Tarleton has also won their last four contests, but have not been nearly as dominant. We have to go with the hot hand, WT 35-21.
#3 Abilene Christian at #1 Midwestern State - Game of the Year (Part VI)
Can't the NCAA just call this a playoff game? You have #12 at #9, and whoever comes up short will almost assuredly not be playing next week. And that will be a shame, but losses earlier in the season that put them in that position, not this game.
How they stack up
Scoring offense - MSU 38.3, ACU 32.9
Scoring defense - MSU 12.6, ACU 18.5
Rushing offense - ACU 183.3, MSU 152.1
Rushing defense - ACU 34.3, MSU 102.8
Passing offense - MSU 287.1, ACU 211.5
Pass efficiency offense - MSU 183.5, ACU 125.7
Passing defense - MSU 213.9, ACU 231.8
Pass efficiency defense - MSU 94.2, ACU 111.4
Total Offense - MSU 439.2, ACU 394.8
Total Defense - ACU 266.1, MSU 316.7
Not much to separate the teams on paper - the Mustangs have shown a little more offense, while the Wildcat's defense has been a bit better.
ACU leads the LSC in rushing with Darryl Richardson and Reggie Brown combining for over 1,500 yards and 22 touchdowns rushing. Mitchell Gale bounced back after two subpar outings, with 289 yards and 2 TDs against TAMK. Edmund Gates had his third 100 yard receiving game and had a 72 yard TD reception, his longest of the season. The offensive line did their job as well, not allowing a sack and doing a solid job with run blocking. The defense has allowed 300 yards just three times this season and leads the nation against the run - just 34.3 yards per game. Kevin Washington has come on of late, giving ACU a dynamic pair of linebackers - a combined 89 tackles, 23 for losses totalling 108 yards and 9 sacks. Tony Harp is the leader in the secondary, and has a team high 52 tackles. Aston Whiteside will look to add to his 12.5 TFL and 8 sacks as well.
MSU will counter with an offense led by Zack Eskridge. Eskridge currently leads the NCAA in QB efficiency with a rating of 187.97 (Billy Malone had a 189.66 rating in 2008 for comparison). More impressively, he hasn't had a bad game all year - his worst rating was 154.8 against West Texas - and he has 27 TD passes to just 5 interceptions. Andy Tanner remains his favorite target and now has 61 receptions for 999 yards and 11 TDs. Sheldon Galloway (25 catches for 255 yards and 3 TDs the past 4 games). With the absence of Marcus Mathis, BeeJay Mathis has picked up the slack at running back, running for 299 yards over the past four games. The Mustangs defense has been good also, but not quite at ACU's level. Five of the last six opponents have gained over 300 yards with Tarleton getting 509 and Eastern New Mexico 458. Surprisingly, their opponents over that period were only able to convert that yardage into 17 points per game, with only Tarleton scoring more than 21. Ryan Craven, Danny Jackson and Micah Hill head up the secondary (9th best in the nation in pass efficiency defense), while linebackers Emmanuel Bagley and Matt Ellerbrock have combined for 99 tackles, with 13 for losses.
For Midwestern State to win, they will need another great outing by Eskridge, since it is unlikely that they will run the ball too effectively. The Wildcats will be looking to stuff the run and get pressure on Eskridge, and they have the players to do it. On offense, they need to run the ball enough to keep the MSU defense honest. The big intangible here is big-game experience, and that is in ACU's favor. ACU in a slug-fest 21-17.