The big news out of the LSC this week is the dismissal of Fred Winborn from the Texas A&M-Kingsville football team, and the arrest of West Texas A&M starting defensive lineman Simione Kuli on drug possession charges. According to published reports, Winborn violated "University and team academic policies". No further explanation was given. This is obviously a big blow for the Javelinas. Winborn led the LSC in rushing in 2009, and was the top LSC ground gainer through the early part of the 2010 season as well (and 7th in the nation). Connell Davis is expected to move into the starting role, with Myron Brew now second on the depth chart. Kuli was arrested early Wednesday morning, along with another man, and was booked on charges of possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana and possessing drug paraphernalia.
In a normal week, the top news would likely have been the most recent AFCA poll. Four LSC schools are listed in the top 10 - ACU at #5, TAMK at #6, WT at #9, and MSU at #10. This is thought to be the first time that the LSC has had four teams ranked in the top 10.
Statistically speaking: The Texas A&M-Kingsville defense leads the nation in rushing defense (19.3 yds per game), pass defense (97.3 yds per game), total defense (116.7 yds per game) and scoring defense (4.7 pts per game) and is 2nd in pass efficiency defense (67.6 rating). WT leads the way in passing offense (473 yds per game) and total offense (593.3 yds per game) and is second in scoring (49.7 pts per game). Midwestern State is third in scoring offense (47.3 pts per game), fourth in total offense (526 yds per game), and a surprising third in rushing offense (295 yds per game). Their defense isn't far behind, ranking 9th in scoring, 12th in rushing and total defense. Neither ACU unit ranks as high as those listed above, but the Wildcats do sport a 26 point and a 154 yard per game differential. Next week, we'll look at some of the individuals high on the NCAA charts.
Last week's action:
MSU 46, SWO 9 - The Mustangs broke out of a 2-2 tie by scoring the next 37 points. The offense rolled up 471 yards with Marcus Mathis getting 129 rushing and Zack Eskridge passing for 271 yards and 3 TDs. The defense was just as impressive, allowing just 161 yards, with over half of that coming on one play (82 yard TD pass).
TAMK 21, TAMC 0 - This one was all about the weather (rainy with a muddy field) and the Javelina defense (87 yards allowed, 52 on one drive, 35 on the other 16 possessions). Fred Winborn led the Javelina offense with 149 yards rushing in what was likely his final college football game. Redshirt freshman WR, Robert Armstrong, had two TDs for TAMK - a 7 yard rush and a 5 yard reception.
NW St 17, TSU 14 - The Texans drop a close on to the FCS Demons. Tarleton wasn't able to move the ball most of the night and missed out on a golden opportunity when they had a third and one situation on the NSU 14 yard line late in the second quarter, but were stuffed on two consecutive running plays. They did score a TD with 1:29 to play to pull within three points, but did not try an onside kick, and the Demons were able to run out the clock.
ACU 47, ECU 7 - The Wildcats sported the Tigers a 7-0 lead a little over a minute into the game, then reeled off 47 straight points in this blowout. Mitchell Gale threw 5 TD passes in the first half and backup running backs Charcandrick West, Darrell Cantu-Harkless and Josh Morgan combined for 218 yards rushing. ECU gained 70 of their 119 yards on one play, the 70 yard TD pass from Tyler Vanderzee to Tyra Waits on the fourth play from scrimmage.
UND 55, NSU 14 - The Riverhawks were never in this one, as North Dakota scored on their first five possessions taking a 31-0 lead into the break. In fact of NSU's 5 first downs in the first half, 2 came via personal foul penalites on UND. For the night, NSU could garner up just 174 yards offensively, with 93 coming in the fourth quarter and NSU trailing 48-0. The defense gave up 509 yards, forcing just one punt through the first three quarters.
UIW 42, UCO 41 - The most exciting game of the week saw the Cardinals get their first conference win. The Bronchos got on the board first, but UIW responded and neither team led by more than 7 points. The game was about as even as possible, with UCO gaining 444 yards, and UIW 413. UCO scored first in OT, but Dakota Mawyer blocked the PAT. UIW scored on their possession and converted the extra point for the win.
WTAM 41, SOSU 17 - The Buffs piled up 656 yards with 576 coming through the air. WT jumped out to a 31-0 lead in the first 20 minutes of the game despite a 3 and out series and two turnovers. The Savage Storm offense struggled through that time frame, running 22 plays for just 28 yards and just one first down.
Texas A&M-Commerce at Eastern New Mexico
This could be the game that decides the LSC North. TAMC comes into the game with an offense that has just 10 points scored in the last two games, and is 11th in the LSC with 255 yards per game. The defense has held up pretty well so far, allowing 20.7 points and 319 yards per game, both 4th in the conference. The Greyhounds will challenge those numbers with their pass happy offense which is scoring 38 points per game and moving the ball to the tune of 433 yards per contest. The defense continues to struggle, with opponents scoring 35 points and averaging 438 yards per game. Both teams have faced Angelo State, with the Lions dropping a 31-10 game at the Cotton Bowl and the Greyhounds a 38-41 heartbreaker on a last minute Angelo score.
The Lions did not have an answer for the Greyhounds last year, dropping the contest 76-56, with the teams combining for over 1,300 yards offensively. This year's game is at the Draw again, and while it (probably) won't be such a high scoring game, the outcome should be the same. ENMU 38-24.
Tarleton State at #5 Abilene Christian
This was supposed to be one of the marquee matchups of 2010. ACU has done their part, dropping #9 Washburn on the road, and blowing out NSU and ECU in LSC play. The Wildcats are third in the LSC in scoring (41.3 pts) and fifth in total yards (411 per game), while the defense is giving just 255 yards and 15.3 points per game, both good for 3rd in the LSC. Tarleton has struggled mightily, losing their first three games. They have not had a losing season since 1999, but barring a 2009 WTAM turnaround, that 10 year streak is in serious danger. The offense has yet find their groove 9th in the LSC in scoring (19.3 pts per game) and 10th in yardage (334.7 yards) and the defense hasn't been much better 7th in scoring (28.3 pts) and 5th in yardage (324.7 per game).
With the way last year's contest turned out, this is probably a game that ACU has had circled on their calendar. The Texan's used a 57 yard punt return, and a 75 yard TD pass (both in the fourth quarter) to take a defensive struggle, 13-7. We don't expect the fourth quarter to be nearly as important this time around, ACU 38-14.
Southwestern Oklahoma at East Central
The bottom two in the LSC offensively, near the bottom defensively, winless this year, and one win between the two last year (SWO's 14-13 win over ECU). ECU showed some life the first two weeks of the season, but ACU completely dismantled them last week. So far this year, SWO has not shown any improvement over last year. Should be a close game, with ECU getting revenge for last year. ECU 14-13.
Northeastern State at Southeastern Oklahoma
This is a game that could show how much the Riverhawks have improved. The opening week win doesn't look nearly as impressive given Tarleton's struggles and the lopsided losses by NSU to ACU and North Dakota. The Savage Storm's up and down season was down last week, with WTAM taking them to the woodshed. SOSU's offensive numbers don't look bad, but WT shut them down early on and took a 31-0 lead before the Savage Storm could score.
This should be an entertaining game, along the lines of last year's contest. Following the pattern so far, SOSU schould have an up week and take this one 45-35.
Texas A&M-Kingsville at Incarnate Word
How will the Javelinas respond to the loss of the LSC's leading rusher? The offense wasn't setting the world on fire, scoring just 19 points per game and only picking up 346 yards per game. Maybe, they may work harder on establishing the running game (with ACU on the schedule for next week) or maybe they turn more to the passing game - time will tell. While the offense has not been stellar, the defense most definitely has been. In addition to the stats listed earlier in the column, TAMK leads the LSC in sacks (13), opponent first downs (7.7), red zone defense (1 score in 6 chances) and is second in third down conversions (18.2%). That does not bode well for a young Cardinal offense with underclassmen all over the field. Don't expect a repeat of last weeks 304 rushing yards for UIW.
The Javelinas need to get refocused on football and put all of the distractions (uninspired win over ECU, the weather for the TAMC game, and the loss of their leading rusher) behind them. Sorry UIW, but you may be just the tonic the Javelinas need right now. TAMK 42-14.
#10 Midwestern State at Central Oklahoma
Some teams struggle against teams they should handle easily. Midwestern State does not fall into that category. They routinely rout the teams they are expected to beat. So far this year, they have outscored their opponents by a 142-32 margin and are outgaining them by 294 yards per game. The occupy the number two slot in the LSC in scoring offense and defense and total offense and defense. They are running the ball extremely well (295 yards per game), while still passing efficiently. Teams are finding it difficult to move the both on the ground (58 yards per game) or through the air (173 yds per game). The Bronchos have to be kicking themselves, dropping a 42-41 contest to UIW last week, with a blocked PAT the difference. Ethan Sharp has rebounded from a disastrous opening game and Josh Birmingham continues to have a great redshirt freshman season. The defense will be challenged this week, especially against the run, giving up 304 yards on the ground to Incarnate Word.
Midwestern State will continue to take care of the teams they are supposed to - MSU 45-24.
#9West Texas a&M at Angelo State (Game of the Week)
West Texas A&M has been buffaloing (good one huh?) opposing defenses so far. As mentioned earlier in the column, they are at the top or near in passing, scoring and total offense. The running game has been okay as well, averaging 120 yards per game and 6.4 per carry. The defense has allowed just 273 yards per game the last two weeks as well, and kept SOSU off the board until midway in the second quarter and the offense had scored 31 points. The Rams are a quiet 2-0, with the focus of the D2 world on the four ranked squads and the fall of Tarleton State. As expected, Josh Neiswander is leading the offense, throwing for 305 yards per game, with 8 TDs and just 1 interception. Also as expected, V'Keon Lacey and Dekari Pecikonis are his favorite targets, combining for 23 catches for 418 yards and 4 TDs. The running game has been better, with Tristan Carter and Nevin Gardiner teaming up for 110 yards per game. Overall, that has translated to 36 points and 424.5 yards per game. Despite facing ENMU in the opening week, the defense is the upper middle of the LSC pack, allowing 24 points and 351.5 yards per game. They have allowed 260 yards per game passing, a number that will undoubtedly rise after Saturday. The Rams are second in the LSC with 6 interceptions, and will likely need to add to that total in order to have a chance at upsetting WT.
Will the Simi Kuli arrest be a distraction this week? Possibly, but Buffaloes have enough depth on defense and more than enough fire power on offense to overcome. WT takes this one 38-21.