MSU vs. ACU: New schedule spot, same importance - J. Scott Russell, Times Record News
For the past six years the Midwestern State-Abilene Christian game has been the last one on the schedule.
And one or both teams has been in the hunt for a spot in the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
It’s too early to start playoff talk this season, but when the two teams meet today it will be a matchup of two Top 10 teams.
The Mustangs bring a No. 8 ranking into the 2 p.m. contest at Shotwell Stadium, while the Wildcats are No. 5.
The two teams met twice last year. The Mustangs won in the regular-season finale (15-13), but a week later on the same Memorial Stadium turf, ACU took a 24-21 win in the first round of the playoffs.
“They’ve been good as long as Chris (Thomsen) has been there,” MSU head coach Bill Maskill said. “It has also developed into a good rivalry game. In 2004, ’06, ’07 and ’09 the games had playoff implications.
“We haven’t play our best game or a complete game yet. We’re going to have to rise to the occasion and play a complete game — and we’re capable of that. In our last two games we’ve been down in the fourth quarter and came back and won the game. Those were both pressure situations and we responded in both of them. We’ll need that again.
No. 5 ACU, No. 8 Midwestern tangle once again - Joey Richards, Abilene Reporter News
Zack Eskridge knows what’s riding on today’s game.
The Midwestern State quarterback remembers all too well the two brutal, physical games the Mustangs last season played against Abilene Christian on back-to-back weekends, including a heart-wrenching 24-21 loss to the Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Want to win a national championship? Then go undefeated in the regular season and hope your team get that first-round bye in the playoffs. That’s what Eskridge is hoping for as the two unbeaten and top-10 ranked teams square off at 2 p.m. today in a Lone Star Conference battle at Shotwell Stadium.
“The key for anybody in our conference to go to the national championship is to get a first-round bye, because we have so many good teams in our conference who just pound on each other every week,” the senior said.
ACU football preview: Another top-10 showdown for 'Cats
Javelinas look to bounce back against Angelo State - George Vondracek, Corpus Christi Caller
There probably are as many positives as there are negatives that Texas A&M-Kingsville can siphon from last week's loss against Abilene Christian. There is one morsel that is readily apparent as the 10th-ranked Javelinas prepare for Saturday night's Lone Star Conference South Division game at Angelo State.
"We're not going to be able to play like that and win a championship because we weren't able to play like that and win a regular-season game. That's pretty obvious to me," A&M-Kingsville coach Bo Atterberry said. "But I think it may have shown our guys that we've got what it takes to be a championship football team.
"Now whether or not we decide to come together and do that has yet to be seen."
One marquee matchup down, more to come - Nathan Wright, San Angelo Standard Times
Last week’s first matchup of Top 10 teams in the Lone Star Conference South Division didn’t disappoint as No. 5 Abilene Christian and No. 6 Texas A&M-Kingsville went down to the wire.
Against the top-rated Division II defense in the country, ACU sophomore quarterback Mitchell Gale guided a 440-yard offensive night and the Wildcats held off TAMUK 31-24 in front of 15,550 people in Kingsville.
The Wildcats led 31-10 before the Javelinas rallied to cut it to 31-24 late in the fourth quarter. TAMUK had two possessions after that to tie the game or take the lead but were unsuccessful.
“It was a tremendous effort on both teams, really. Kingsville, a huge effort to get back, they made some plays in the kicking game that got them right back into it,” Abilene Christian coach Chris Thomsen said.
“Credit them for fighting all the way through it, and credit our guys for fighting at the end. It was everything I thought it’d be. It worked out a little different than I thought it would but it was a battle.”
“It was a classic dogfight. Two talented teams, a lot of talent on both ends of the field,” said Javelinas quarterback Nate Poppell, who threw for 279 yards and two scores. “It was a heavyweight matchup, and it lived up to the hype. It was a good one to be a part of.”
Rugged terrain - Nathan Wright, San Angelo Standard Times
The Angelo State University football team was supposed to get a reprieve last week from a portion of its schedule that featured four games against ranked teams in six weeks.
However, the Rams failed to put away unranked and then-winless Tarleton State last week and now sit 0-2 in Lone Star Conference South Division play with No. 10 Texas A&M-Kingsville visiting tonight.
Beginning with the game against the Javelinas, the Rams still face three Top 10 teams in their next four contests.
A win against the Javelinas could spark a run through the remainder of divisional play. It is all the Rams can hope for now after starting South action in an 0-2 hole.
“I think we’re doing a lot of things right,” ASU head coach Dale Carr said. “We’re still learning, we’re still improving, and really where we’re at now is those guys need more game experience to take it to the next level and continue to improve each week. That’s a good place to be with that many inexperienced players out there.”
Hounds nose guard delivers despite distractions - Dave Wagner, Clovis News Journal
Not many Eastern New Mexico University football players had good games in last week’s 21-10 Lone Star Conference North loss at Southwestern Oklahoma.
Certainly, sophomore Ian Ogando wasn’t in that category.
With his fiancée expecting to deliver a baby during ENMU’s bye week two weeks ago, the 6-foot-1, 340-pound nose guard from the Houston suburb of La Porte returned home to be with her.
There were problems and Ogando stayed until last week, when she had a daughter, Anaya, by Cesarean section on Sept. 30.
Ogando made it to Weatherford, Okla., in time for the game and, without practicing for two weeks, was in on a career-high nine tackles.
“It was tough,” Ogando said. “I only got in about three days of running and pretty much got thrown into the game.
“But I did have some fresh legs. I didn’t know what to expect.”
Maroon and White Zone - Amarillo Globe News
1st and goal: The Texans got their first win under first-year head coach Cary Fowler last week, 37-34, over Angelo State. TSU outscored ASU, 17-0, in the fourth quarter. TSU QB Nick Stephens, a transfer who started six games at Tennessee, was 22-of-39 for 392 yards and two TDs with a pick against ASU. Stephens has missed four games with an injury. With the Vols, Stephens threw 106 straight passes without an interception, the fifth-best streak in UT history. Much like the injuries that plagued the Buffs last season, TSU has had 16 starters miss time this season. "(TSU) is comparable to where we were last year," WT head coach Don Carthel said.
Getting personal with ... Shad Baichtal - Amarillo Globe News
(Senior linebacker from Mission Viejo, Calif., was named the LSC South Division Defensive Player of the Week and the D2football.com National Defensive Player of the Week after last week's win over Northeastern State.
Was last week's game (13 solo tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery) the best game of your life? "Statistically, it was the best game I've ever had. Definitely, it was one of the most fun games I've ever had. I had three interceptions in a game in junior college, but this topped that one."
Were you just in a zone or what? "The defensive calls we were making worked. We had a good scheme. Ten other guys were working their butts off."
You come from Orange County, Calif. How good a surfer are you? "I surf a little bit. I'm decent, nothing to start a career over."
How big was the culture shock for the Cali boy coming to Canyon? "Culture shock is an appropriate word. Once I got here, I was taken back a little. I heard stories about how Texas was. Now that I've been here awhile, I've grown to love the people around me."
Coach speak - Amarillo Globe News
Tarleton State head coach Cary Fowler
Fowler is in his first season as head coach at TSU, 1-4.
Fowler picked up his first win as a head coach last week, beating Angelo State, 37-34.
Fowler, TSU's former defensive coordinator for two seasons, succeeds Sam McElroy, now the defensive line coach at Texas Tech.
"They key for us is to slow down their offense. They are able to control the ball with the screen pass and then go over the top. It will be a matchup of our DBs against their wide receivers. The other big thing is to protect our quarterback."
West Texas A&M head coach Don Carthel
Carthel needs 13 wins to tie Joe E. Kerbel for No. 1 in all-time WT coaching victories (68).
Since taking over at WT, Carthel is 5-0 against TSU, with two of those wins coming by a combined nine points.
Since a season-opening 34-31 loss to No. 1 Grand Valley State, the Buffs have won four in a row.
"Our defense has to stop a great quarterback (TSU's Nick Stephens), and our offensive line has to slow down their pass rush and make sure (WT QB) Taylor (Harris) is protected."