No matchups between ranked teams this week - Nathan Wright, San Angelo Standard Times
With the regular season nearing its end, there weren’t any surprising results in last weekend’s Lone Star Conference South Division matchups.
What might have been surprising, however, were the final scores.
It seems like every week, the schedule includes a contest between two nationally ranked teams, and last Saturday was no different.
West Texas A&M met Midwestern State, both ranked in the Top 15 in last week’s American Football Coaches Association Division II poll, with the Buffaloes coming away with a 42-29 victory.
ASU FOOTBALL: Rivalry returns - Joey Richards, Special to San Angelo Standard Times
When it comes to rivalries, Abilene Christian and Angelo State go way back — like 1965, eight years before the Wildcats joined the Lone Star Conference. It’s been an intense rivalry, and today’s 47th meeting between the two football teams at Shotwell Stadium won’t be any different — even with one team struggling while another is playing like a contender for a national championship.
“I understand the rivalry,” sixth-year ACU coach Chris Thomsen said. “I understand what it’s all about — the close proximity and all the great games down throughout the years. I have great respect for the rivalry and the program. Anytime ACU and Angelo hook up, it’s going to be a great game.”
Angelo State quarterback Josh Neiswander also appreciates the rivalry, although the senior isn’t sure the Rams have made it much of a rivalry the last few years — losing four straight, all by three or more touchdowns.
“I know it’s been a long-standing rivalry between ACU and ASU for a long time,” Neiswander said. “I know since we’ve been here, we haven’t won a game. So I don’t know how much of a rivalry it can be, if one team is always winning. But based on the history of the two schools, it’s always been a great rivalry.”
ACU football preview: Wildcats aim to stymie upset-minded Rams - Joey Richards, Abilene Reporter News
What’s riding on this game: The Wildcats are trying to remain in sole possession of first place in the Lone Star Conference. Texas A&M-Kingsville is a game back, and ACU already has beaten the Javelinas. If ACU continues to remain unbeaten, the Wildcats likely will be ranked No. 1 in Super Regional Four. The No. 1 team gets a first-round bye in the playoffs and home-field advantage through the region finals. The first region rankings come out next week. Angelo State leads the series 27-18-1, but ACU has won the last four games in dominating fashion and seven of the last eight.
Joey D. Richards’ pick: ACU 52, Angelo State 21
Javelinas hoping for fast start against Southwestern - George Vondracek, Corpus Christi Caller Times
The intent remains the same every week for Texas A&M-Kingsville’s fifth-ranked football team. The Javelinas are continually trying to find a way to come out of the gates strong and maintain that level throughout the course of a ballgame.
It has transpired that way infrequently this season for the Javelinas, who still have fashioned a 7-1 record in the process. Last week was another stumble off the starting blocks before they came around and beat Tarleton State 13-10 on Christian Brom’s 41-yard field goal with 21 seconds remaining.
Saturday afternoon, it certainly would behoove them to rise early and often against a capricious Southwestern (Okla.) State team that is salivating at the chance to stain the Javelinas’ season-long aspirations.
“Our objective is to get all of the guys playing fast and physical consistently snap in, down in, down out, regardless of the opponent,” A&M-Kingsville coach Bo Atterberry said. “We’ve been in some positions this year where some guys have learned some lessons like, ‘If I don’t do that, I can’t produce at the level I’d like to.’ So you’re always learning, figuring things out.
“We’ve got such a great opportunity in front of us you’d hate to think anybody is thinking anything other than step on the accelerator.”
Fowler: Win over Midwestern would be huge step forward
By BRAD KEITH
One on hand, Tarleton State is brimming with confidence after posting a come-from-behind win on the road then almost upsetting a top 10 opponent at home.
On the other hand, the Texans continue reeling, as last week's loss guaranteed their streak of winning seasons that dates back to 1999, will end this year.
Whichever side of Tarleton shows up in Wichita Falls Saturday, taking on No. 22 Midwestern State in its homecoming game at Memorial Stadium is no small task.
Kickoff in Saturday's Lone Star Conference showdown is set for 7 p.m.
After suffering its second loss of the season in a 42-29 defeat at West Texas A&M last week, MSU (6-2 overall, 5-2 LSC, 2-2 LSC South) is in playoff mode the rest of the way.
But the Mustangs haven't defeated Tarleton State since 2000, and have never done so under head coach Bill Maskill.
"I know they want us, and I know they probably think this is the year to get us," Tarleton head coach Cary Fowler said. "But we've come a long way the last few weeks, from getting our first win against Angelo State, to going on the road and coming from behind at (Texas A&M-Commerce) and coming so close against (Texas A&M-Kingsville). We're getting better each week, and if we can reach the intensity level I hope to see for a full 60 minutes, we'll have a chance to pick up a big win Saturday."
Several of Midwestern's seniors are players Fowler recruited before leaving MSU for Tarleton in 2008. He was the Mustangs' defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator from 2001-07.
None of those players stands out more than quarterback Zack Eskridge, who was a finalist for the Harlon Hill Trophy, the Division II version of the Heisman, last year.
Eskridge's numbers are down slightly this fall - he has completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,729 yards and 15 touchdowns while tossing just six interceptions - but Fowler says that's mostly because the Mustangs have done so well running the ball.
"Marcus Mathis (82-507, 4 TDs) is the only guy you see among the conference leaders, but their depth in the backfield is incredible," Fowler said. "They have like six good running backs."
Midwestern leads the league in rushing by a wide margin. The Mustangs average 218.8 yards per game on the ground, 45.6 yards more than Southeastern Oklahoma State in second.
"They run the ball out of the spread and they have great backs who fit their system perfectly," Fowler said.
Tarleton's defense allows 141.2 rushing yards per game, and held No. 5 A&M-Kingsville to 135 yards on 42 attempts last week. That's when the Texans unveiled a 3-4 defense Fowler says they will employ again during the stretch run of the season.
"It's really not much different than what we have been doing," he said. "We just stood Jacob Rowe up so he could move around and do some different things both against the run and in pass coverage."
Rowe and inside linebacker Damian Perkins each had 14 tackles last week, and Rowe also had a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a sack and a pass break up.
"We'll use four down linemen sometimes and three down linemen sometimes," Fowler said. "We want to mix it up and not give good quarterbacks like (Eskridge or A&M-Kingsville's Nate Poppel) the same look over and over."
Offensively, Tarleton is averaging just 317.4 yards per game and will be challenging a MSU defense that allows just 349.
"They do a lot of the same things defensively that they did when I was there," Fowler said.
That could be an advantage for Tarleton, which is led by quarterback Nick Stephens. The junior has passed for 1,205 yards and seven scores in just five games.
"We've been getting healthier offensively, and as we have, we've gotten better," Fowler said. "But there's still a lot of things execution-wise we can improve on, and if we do that, we'll be in good shape Saturday."
Fowler knows a win would be huge for his program.
"First we just needed a win, and now we have a couple of those," he said. "Now we need to beat a big-time opponent, and we came up just short last week. Getting a win against a team like Midwestern would be a big boost for us going into our last two games and then off-season."
(No football stories from Times Record News or Amarillo Globe as of yet).