Friday, November 26, 2010

Game Previews and Predictions - NCAA Playoffs Round 2

Central Missouri proved to be rude hosts to their guests last week, jumping all over West Texas A&M, and grabbing their first ever playoff win. The Mules scored touchdowns on six of their first seven possessions, building up a 42-7 lead early in the third quarter. At that point, the game was essentially over, with UCM holding a 407-229 advantage in yardage as well as the 35 point lead. Harlon Hill finalist Eric Czerniewski completed 33-42 passes for 368 with 4 TDs and no interceptions. Running back Anthony Stewart was a dual threat, leading UCM with 10 receptions for 131 yards and a TD and rushing for 112 yards and another 2 TDs.

Meanwhile, over in Maryville, the defending national champions found themselves trailing Missouri Western (whom the trounced 42-0 back in October) at the half, 17-0. But the Bearcats used a 46 yard TD run on a fake punt to get back in the game. They used that momentum swing to outscore the Griffons 28-7 in the second half, and escape with a 28-24 opening round win. Blake Bolles threw for 242 yards and a TD, with Josh Baker his favorite receiver (8-74 TD). NW also had 170 yards rushing and 3 TDs. The defense clamped down in the second half, allowing just one sustained drive, picking off a pass, and forcing 3 three and out possessions.

This Week's Games
#3 Northwest Missouri at #4 Texas A&M-Kingsville

A rematch of the season opener for both teams, which the Javelins won 16-7. The Javelinas opened a lot of eyes with the victory, but much has changed since then.

NWMSU Game Notes
TAMK Game Notes
Watch the game Here
Listen Online Here
Live Stats

Since everyone is familiar with the Javelinas, we'll just take a close up look at NWMSU. The Bearcat offense rebounded from that game, reeling off 7 straight games of 40+ points and the defense assumed its customary spot at the top of the MIAA defensive charts. Overall, NW averages 36 points a game, with 156 yards rushing and 285 passing. Blake Bolles has throwin for 3,099 yards with 23 TDs and just 8 Ints. Jake Soy remains his favorite target, with 61 receptions for 1,015 yards and 10 TDs. Josh Baker has emerged as a big target as well, with 54 catches for 710 yards and 7 TDs, and was huge last week as mentioned above. Jordan Simmons is the leading rusher, with 613 yards and 8 TDs on the ground. Kelvin Austin added 499 yards and 8 TDs. Up front, 2 first team and 1 second team All-MIAA selection provide protection and clear the running lanes.

The defense is allowing 20 points and 354 yards per game, with opponents picking up 125 rushing and 229 passing. Five Bearcats were selected the All-MIAA first team, as well as one second team selection, and three honorable mentions. Up front, Josh Lorenson, Roberto Davis and Shayne Shade lead the way - they combined for 138 tackles, with 17 for losses and 11 sacks. Linebackers Chad Kilgore, Willie Horn, and Billy Baudler were the team's top three tacklers combining for 230 tackles, 19 for losses, 9 sacks, 2 interceptions and 8 passes broken up. Ryan Jones, Justin Welch and Aldwin Foster-Rettig headline the secondary - the trio had 149 tackles, 7 interceptions, and 24 passes broken up.

When NW has to punt the ball, Michael Stadler averages 41.4 per punt, but has had 2 blocked. Todd Adolf is 5-9 on field goals with a long of 45 yards, and 52-53 on PATs. Jordan Simmons is the leading returner, averaging 22.2 yards on 19 kick returns and 15.9 yards on 16 punt returns.

Despite the changes that each team has seen since game one, we think the rematch should play out similar to the season opener - hard hitting defensive game, with the winner taking advantage of the few opportunities that arise. We were surprised as anyone when the Javelinas won on the road in the opener, but they have shown that they are a very solid team, despite the losses of key starters on both sides of the ball. Of course NW is no slouch - no team with their playoff success the past several seasons can be overlooked - and they will be ready to play Saturday night. We look for the Javelinas defense to slow down the NW running game, but give up a couple of big pass plays. Offensively, they will try to run the ball and keep the NW defense on the field. It could pay off in the fourth quarter, where the Javelinas have a 55-7 scoring advantage (taking out the SWO and SOSU games when the Javelinas went deep into their bench). TAMK in a close one 24-17.

#8 Central Missouri at #2 Abilene Christian
For a more in-depth look at Central Missouri, see last weeks preview.

UCM Game Notes
ACU Game Notes

Watch the game online here
Listen Live
Live Stats.

Tale of the tape - Both teams can score, as evidenced by ACU's 43.5 average per game and UCM's 40.6.  Both teams can move the ball through the air well (ACU 313.8, UCM 385.2).  ACU does have the advantage running the ball (162.5 for ACU, 104.9 for UCM).  Defensively, UCM gives up 26 points per game, while ACU allows just 18.5.  UCM also gives up more yardage, 401 per game, 148 rushing, 253 passing.  ACU meanwhile allows 303 yards, 223 passing and just 80 rushing.

Don't expect the Mules to jump out to a big lead this weekend, like they did against the Buffaloes. The Wildcats are outscoring opponents 142-30 in the first quarter and 269-72 over the first half of this year's games. In fact, the Mules have been outscored 83-77 in the opening quarter this year, 83-56 if you take out last week's impressive start. Look for ACU to take the lead in a tentative first half, and then the offenses to open it up in the second. ACU holds on for a 31-24 win.

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