Thursday, October 28, 2010

Game Previews and Predictions Week 10

Latest LSC Scoop Regional Rankings

1. Central Missouri 8-0 (1) - .789
2. Abilene Chrisitan 8-0 (2) - .776
3. Northwest Missouri 6-1 (3) - .726
4. Texas A&M-Kingsville 7-1 (4) - .708
5. West Texas A&M 6-2 (9) - .648
6. Midwestern State 6-2 (6) - .631
7. Humboldt State 4-1 (5) - .616
8. Northeastern State (13) - .599
9. Central Washington 5-2 (10) - .595
10. Missouri Western 5-3 (7) - .588
11. Washburn 4-4 (8) - .558

Other LSC teams
18. Angelo State 3-4 (24) - .467
22. Southeastern Oklahoma 3-5 (19) - .437
23. East Central 3-5 (26) - .431
24. Tarleton State 2-5 (21) - .404
25. Incarnate Word 2-5 (23) - .403
26. Southwestern Oklahoma 2-6 (27) - .384
27. Eastern New Mexico 2-5 (25) - .373
29. Central Oklahoma 2-6 (29) - .339
30. Texas A&M-Commerce 2-6 (30) - .332

We slighty altered our calculations for this week, giving equal weight to a team's W/L% and their SOS (Opp W/L + OOW W/L divided by 2).

Playoff Handicapping (upcoming games)
Teams that can likely afford a loss
Central Missouri - 99% - (Missouri Southern, and NWMSU) playing for top seed
Abilene Christian - 99% - (Angelo State, West Texas A&M, Southwestern Oklahoma) have been slowly closing gap with UCM
Northwest Missouri - 98% - (Fort Hays, Central Missouri, Pitt State) Beating UCM would give them a first round bye
Texas A&M-Kingsville - 90% - (Southwestern Oklahoma, Midwestern State, Southeastern Oklahoma) could get in with 2 losses, but not guaranteed

Teams that will be in if they win out
West Texas A&M - 80% - (Incarnate Word, Abilene Christian, East Central) Would a loss to ACU end their playoff hopes?
Washburn - 50% - (Truman State, Emporia State, Missouri Southern) Strong SOS helps offset four losses.

Teams that need to win out and need some help
Central Washington - 35% - (Simon Frasier, Western Oregon) Weak closing schedule requires a lot of help for CWU
Midwestern State - 35% - (Tarleton State, Texas A&M-Kingsville, Northeastern State) New Mexico Highlands opening game really hurts SOS
Northeastern State - 8% - (East Central, Eastern New Mexico, Midwestern State) Riverhawks have very tough season ender, and need several teams in front of them to lose.
Missouri Western - 5% - (Emporia State, Nebraska-Omaha, Fort Hays) Loss to Missouri Southern likely ended realistic playoff shot.
Humboldt State - 1% - (Simon Frasier, Western Oregon, Simon Frasier) Can a one-loss team miss the playoffs? Yes, and HSU will likely prove it.

Taylor Harris - moved into second place on the West Texas A&M charts for passing yards.  Harris has thrown for 8,048 yards and trails Keith Null by 1,721 yards.  He currently ranks fifth on the LSC career passing yards charts.

Josh Neiswander - became the 15th LSC player to surpass the 7,000 mark for passing yards.  He trails Ned Cox by 704 yards and 6 TDs for tops in Angelo State history.

Ryan Lincoln - A week late, but Lincoln became the all-time leader in Javelina history for receptions.  Lincoln passed Glenn Starks, and now has 193 receptions in his career.

Last Week's Games
East Central 20, Southeastern Oklahoma 19
There have been some very surprising games in the LSC North this year and this one certain fits the bill.  The Savage Storm lose a heartbreaker, despite Baylen Laury rushing for 222 yards and 2 TDs, and ECU's offense scoring just one TD.  The Tiger defense picked off four SOSU passes, returning two for TDs, including Dontae Smith's 36 yarder with 13:17 to play, giving ECU the lead for good.

Northeastern State 39, Central Oklahoma 28
Through three quarters, this was a great back and forth battle with neither team leading by more than one score.  But the Riverhawk defense shut down UCO's offense in the fourth quarter, allowing just one first down, and 25 yards total on 15 plays.  Kenny Davis had an effective day, throwing for 264 yards and 2 TD passes to Trey McVey, and Josh Lewis rushed for 100 yards and 2 TDs.

Southwestern Oklahoma 24, Texas A&M-Commerce 10
The oddest game of the week.  Orginally scheduled for Saturday, severe weather postponed the game until Sunday, and on Sunday there was a three hour delay at the 12:06 mark of the fourth quarter.  The Bulldogs were cruising along, leading 17-3 prior to the delay, with TAMC mounting little resistance.  After the delay, the momentum switched to the Lions, as they returned a fumble 30 yards for a TD to pull within one score.  On their next possession, they appeared to tie the game on a 35 TD pass, but a holding penalty negated the play, and ended the Lions threat.

Abilene Christian 53, Eastern New Mexico 14
The Wildcats continued their march through the LSC, dominating Eastern New Mexico in Blackwater Draw. ACU scored on their first five possessions, leading 27-0 after the first quarter, eventually building their lead to 39-0 with 10:07 left in the third quarter.  The high winds did not seem to affect Mitchell Gale, as he threw for 362 yards and 5 TDs, three of which went to Edmund Gates.  Wes Woods did not fare as well - he could only complete 11 of 31 passes for 126 yards, and the Greyhounds gained more yards on the ground (141) than through the air (126).

Texas A&M-Kingsville 13, Tarleton State 10
Nothing comes easy for these Javelinas.  The Texans and Javelinas battled it out in a defensive game, but a missed field goal by Tarleton, and another late fourth quarter scoring drive by the TAMK were the difference.  Nate Poppell threw for 222 yards with no TDs or Ints, while Nick Stephens was just 16-30 for 130 yards wit 1 TD and an Int.  Jonathan Woodson is emerging as an offensive leader for the Javelinas, as he had 162 all purpose yards a week after posting 243 against West Texas A&M.

Angelo State 61, Incarnate Word 17
It looks like Angelo State was tired of losing close games, and made sure that this one wasn't close.  The offense was nearly unstoppable - one punt, one fumble and the end of the game were the only three possessions that didn't result in scores for the Rams.  The offense totaled 650 yards - 471 passing, 179 rushing.  The defense allowed just 270 yards, with 72 coming on the Cardinal's final drive with under 6 minutes to play.

West Texas A&M 42, Midwestern State 29
It took the Buffalo offense four drives to get the kinks out, but when they did, the put the pedal down, scoring 35 straight points over a 27 minute stretch of the game.  The Mustangs tried to get back into the game, scoring two quick TDs late in the third quarter, but WT put the game away with a Tommy Hampton 3 yd TD run with 10:25 to play.  Two late MSU TDs made the score closer than the game felt.  The Buffalo defense held the Mustangs offense to 101 yards below their season average, and forced 5 turnovers, including 4 interceptions.

This Week's Games
#14 West Texas A&M at Incarnate Word

This one could get ugly if last week was any indication.  Angelo State has a good offense, but they are not the same caliber as WT, so UIW's defense has to be concerned.  The Cardinal defense has held just one team to less than 28 points this year, and is last in the LSC in both points and yards allowed.  Taylor Harris continues his march up the WT and LSC passing charts, and the Buffaloes get ready for ACU next week.  WT 49-17

Angelo State at #3 Abilene Christian
Abilene Christian continues their impressive march through the regular season.  The Wildcats offense has scored at least 31 points in every game this year, and are averaging 515 yards per game over the last 6 weeks.  The defense has been almost as impressive, allowing just 16.5 points and 283 yards per game, good for second in the LSC.  To top it off, ACU has scored 4 defensive TDs.  The Rams took out their frustrations on Incarnate Word last week, exploding for 650 yards and 61 points.  It doesn't erase the prior four weeks, but had to give them a big shot of confidence coming into this week's game.  If they left any bullets in the chamber, this could be an exciting game.  More likely, however is that the Wildcats continue to march toward next week's showdown undefeated.  The Wildcats pull away late, ACU 38-24.

Texas A&M-Commerce at Central Oklahoma
An inept offense on one side versus a porous defense on the other.  The Lions are second from last in both scoring and yardage on offense, while UCO is also second from the bottom in those defensive categories.  The Bronchos can move the ball and score, but that is TAMC's relative strength as well.  The Bronchos' two wins have come at Wantland Stadium, while TAMC is winless on the road and outscored by an average margin of  9-34.  Probably a closer margin than that, but we'll stick with UCO 35-24.

#5 Texas A&M-Kingsville at Southwestern Oklahoma
The Bulldogs come into this week's game playing some of their best football of the season.  Over the past four weeks, they have a 2-2 record, scoring 90 points and giving up 82 (compared to 30 points for and 173 against in the first four weeks).  The Javelinas meanwhile have played four tough games, dropping their only game to ACU, and edging out Angelo State, WTAM and Tarleton State.  This week's game should be a little easier for them.  Look for the Javelina defense to continue setting the tone, putting the offense in good field position and the offense to convert a little better.  TAMK 38-10.

Tarleton State at #22 Midwestern State
The young Texans seem to be improving.  Over their past four games, they are 2-2, knocking off Angelo State and Texas A&M-Commerce with late comebacks, and nearly doing the same to Texas A&M-Kingsville.  Nick Stephens has shown the ability to play at his best late in the game with a chance to win.  The Mustangs, ranked #8 just three weeks ago, are now fighting for their playoff lives, having dropped games to ACU and WT over the past three weeks.  Zack Eskridge threw four interceptions last week, and now has 6 on the season, equal to last year's total.  Look for the Mustangs to bolt out of the gates quickly, and not give Stephens a chance to pull this one out of the hat - MSU 42-17.

Northeastern State at East Central - Game of the Week
Who woulda thunk? Who woulda thunk?

Prior to the season, no one would have honestly predicted this game as the most important matchup in the LSC North for 2010. But that's what we have, as the Tigers (3-1 LSC North) host the Riverhawks (4-0 LSC North) Saturday. With a win, Northeastern State can claim the North title outright, while an East Central victory puts them in position to share the crown, depending on the November 6 games.

The Tigers are in this position by winning their last two games by a combined four points.  They aren't dominating anyone (outscored by an average of 18-26, outgained by 261-400), but their defense leads the LSC in turnovers forced.  Two of the teams three TDs against ENMU came right after turnovers two weeks ago, and last week, they returned two Ints for TDs.  The offense is led by QB Tyler Vanderzee, who has thrown for 1,569 yards and 9 TDs.  Zack Patteson is the leading receiver (36-506, 2 TD), but Chris Espinoza has emerged as well (10-112, 3 TDs).  Charles Opeseyitan is the leading rusher (309 yds 2 TDs) and cracked the 100 yard mark last week.  Dontae Smith leads the defense with 5 interceptions and is one of four defenders to have TD from an interception.  Norris Wrenn is the leading tackler and has 3 Ints of his own.  Armonty Bryant has 6.5 sacks and 11 tackles for losses to lead the team.

The Riverhawks have won their last three games, and their only D2 losses are to ACU and WTAM.  Both the offense and defense are middle of the pack statistically.  They are scoring 25.4 points per game (8th), while gaining 324 yards (9th).  The defense allows 28 points (7th) and 379 yards (6th) per contest.  They are third in the LSC in turnover margin at +6.  At QB, Kenny Davis is completing just 47.8% of his passes, but he has a 13-2 TD-to-Int ratio.  Easily his favorite target has been Trey McVey (38-611, 9 TDs).  Josh Lewis is the leading rusher with 472 yds and 3 TDs, and a 5.2 yd per carry average.  Jon Evans is the leading tackler with 57, while Travis Boswell has the most sacks (5.5) and tackles for losses (9.5).  Nate Robinson is the leader in the secondary, with 4 interceptions and 9 pass breakups.

This game is likely to go to the team that minimizes their mistakes, while capitalizing on their opponents.  As we mentioned above, NSU is +6 in turnover margin, while ECU is +5.  NSU has just 9 turnovers this year, while ECU has 18.  The Riverhawks have also been much more effective in the red zone, converting 87% of the opportunities into points, while ECU is last in the LSC at just 56%.  NSU has also committed fewer penalties (61 yds per game, vs. 75 for ECU).  Everything looks for NSU to wrap up the LSC North with this one - NSU 31-21.

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