Friday, November 4, 2011

LSC Scoop Game Previews and Picks

Joey had a perfect week and maintains a one point lead heading into week 10.  We also got all 5 games correct, leaving us in sole possession of second place.

Season Standings
36 - Joey Richards (LW 5 correct picks)
35 - LSC Scoop (5)
34 - Brad Keith (4)
32 - Randy Ward (3)

Joey's Picks
Tarleton 55, Millsaps 17 -- Texans have fun against a 4-4 Division III team.
TAMC 28, ENMU 24 -- Lions finally end a long, long losing streak.
Angelo 38, UIW 20 -- Scrappy Cards losing steam after playing hard, but getting little in return early in the season
ACU 31, Kingsville 24 -- Offense was shaky last week against Commerce, coming on heels of 70-28 loss the previous week at Midwestern. ACU better get it together this week, or it's going to be a long ride home.
MSU 45, WT 28 -- Both teams have a lot riding on this game, but the Mustangs just have too much horsepower. Buffs must hang with them early, or they'll be watching MSU celebrate an outright LSC title Saturday in Wichita Falls.

Brad's Picks
Millsaps College at Tarleton State - Tarleton has suddenly won three straight and should have no problem making it four. Quarterback Nick Stephens has eight TDs and no picks the last two weeks and should torch D3 Millsaps', which is 4-4 in non-scolly land including dropping its homecoming last week. Tarleton 52, Millsaps 7
Eastern New Mexico at A&M-Commerce - Tough, tough times at Commerce and only slightly better in Portales. I'll go with the Greyhounds to continue being slightly better Saturday.  Eastern 31, A&M-Commerce 27
Angelo State at Incarnate Word - UIW moved the ball well in the first half at Tarleton, but turned it over three times inside the Texan 35. Cardinal QB Eric Massoni - replacing injured Paden Lynch - can't afford those same mistakes again with ASU looking to put behind last week's tough overtime loss. The Rams should cruise.  Angelo 34, Incarnate Word 17

Abilene Christian at A&M-Kingsville - The Wildcats lost big to Midwestern then didn't exactly rout A&M-Commerce the way I thought they would. Like WT, they know they're playoff spot is far from in the bag, and I feel they'll come together and perform well, even with the tough road trip.  ACU 42, A&M-Kingsville 27
West Texas A&M at Midwestern State  - I think Dustin Vaughan and the Buff offense can put up big numbers. Heck, ACU put up big numbers. But in the end, I believe Brandon Kelsey and MSU are just too good out of what Tarleton coach Cary Fowler labeled a "wishbone offense out of the shotgun."  I'd call it even closer if the game was in Canyon.  Midwestern 52, West Texas 35

Randy's Picks 
Millsaps 12, Tarleton State 30
ENMU 37, Commerce 21
Angelo State 24, Incarnate Word 10
Abilene Christian 33, Kingsville 28
WT 21, Midwestern 38

Milestones this week
Mitchell Gale - (7,886 yds) should easily pass Derek Maupin and Rex Lamberti on the LSC career passing charts, and has an outside chance at Steve Kelly and Josh Neiswander with a big game.
Brandon Kelsey - (187.51 pass efficiency) is challenging Billy Malone (189.66) for top mark in recent history.
JJ Harp - (7,541 yds) can move past John Mayes (270 yards), Loyal Proffitt (284 yards), Dalton Bell (301 yards) and Ned Cox (303 yards).
Wesley Woods - (6,245) is 30 yards behind JJ Harp in ENMU's record book and 356 from the top spot held by Kevin Kott.
Nick Stephens - (4,127) joins the 4K club for career passing yards.
Brittan Golden - (2,696 yds) is closing in on Darron Johnson (2,711), Johnathan Haggerty (2,726), Dwight Harrison (2,784) and Don Burrell (2,798).
Darian Dale - (2,564) has Wes Smith (2,652) and Brad Bailey (2,677) directly ahead of him on th charts.
David Little - (2,063) has joind the 2K club.  Needs 5 receptions to become MSU's all-time leader.
Damian Couthren - (1,494) needs 6 receiving yards to reach 1,500.
Jonathan Woodson - (1,824) is 176 all-purpose yards shy of 2K for the season, and 285 shy of 4K for his career.
Darryl Richardson - (2,005) joined the 2K club for rushing yards.  He is 198 yards short of 3,000 career all-purpose yards.

LSC Scoop Game Previews
D3 Millsaps College (4-4) at Tarleton State (4-5)
Who is Millsaps, and what will they bring to Saturday's game in Stephenville ?  They are the Majors, a memeber of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (Trinity and Austin College are also members), and located in Jackson, Mississippi.  Since 2006, they have compiled a 44-17 record, including an 11-1 season in 2008 in which they advanced to second round of the playoffs, losing 35-20 to Washington and Jeffereson.  They are 4-4 in 2011, with wins over LaGrange College, University of the South, Austin College and Rhodes College, while the losses have come to Mississippi College, Louisiana College, Trinity University and Centre College.  Offensively, they average 21.8 points and 333.8 yards per game (101.4 rushing, 232.4 passing).  On defense, they have allowed 26.6 points and 320.9 yards per game (142.8 rushing, and 178.1 passing).

Tarleton is on a roll, winners of three straight, with the offense averaging 459 yards and 48 points over that span.  Last week against Incarnate Word, the Texan defense got into the act, forcing turnovers on the Cardinals first three drives (all deep in TSU territory), and then just shutting them down untill the game was 38-0 in the third quarter.  Nick Stephens eclipsed the 4,000 yard career passing mark last week, and is moving up the single season yardage chart at a quick pace.  The running game has helped open things up - in their four wins, Tarleton averages 143 yards, in thier five losses just 72.

It's a shame that the Texans got off to such a slow start, because they are playing  like playoff contenders right now.  But they perservered, and have a shot of ending the season with a 5 game winning streak and a winning record.  They won't slip up this week, TSU 42-14.

Eastern New Mexico (2-7) at A&M-Commerce (0-8)
Give the Greyhounds some credit, they played Midwestern State tougher than Tarleton, Angelo State or Abilene Christian (3 teams ahead of them in the LSC standings).  In fact, they trailed 21-20 midway through the second quarter, before MSU took advantage of great field position, running off 29 straight points over the next 20 minutes, putting the game out of reach.  Wesley Wood had a very nice game, throwing for 299 yards and 4 TDs, and rushing for 61 yards and the other ENMU TD.   Wesley Wood needs 31 yards to pass JJ Harp and 357 to take the top spot from Kevin Kott on ENMU's career pasing chart.  He is also two TD passes behind Kott.

Speaking of Harp, he has now started 4 games for the Lions, and has completed 61% of his passes for 1,139 yards and 6 TDs, but also 8 Ints during that span.  The Lions have started slowly in all four games, trailing by a 90-23 margin and committing 10 turnovers in the first halves of those games.  Last week, the Lions fell behind ACU by 23 at the break, unable to capitalize on four ACU turnovers (1 TD only), while committing four themselves (which ACU turned into 3 TDs).

If the Lions want to avoid their first winless season since going 0-6-1 back in 1929 (otherwise known as the Great Depression), they better do it this week.  Something tells me, WT will not be accomodating next week.  ENMU gets road win #3, Greyhounds 35-24.

Angelo State (4-5) at Incarnate Word (2-6)
How many times does a team win the turnover battle 7-1 and not win the game?  Without bothering to do any research, it is probably safe to say "Not very often".  So how do you not win the game?  Obviously, by not converting them into enough points.  Four of TAMK's turnovers came inside their own 25 yard line (3 inside their 15), but the Rams had to settle for 3 FGs and one TD.  A week after dissecting TAMC's defense(?), Jake Strickler struggled, completing just 10-28 passes for 130 yards.  The defense played well most of the game, holding the Javelinas to 251 yards over the first 54 minutes of the ball game, in addition to the turnovers.  But over the final six minutes the allowed scoring drives of 68 and 63 yards as well as two TDs in overtime.

For the Cardinals, they ended a tumultuous two weeks, dropping a 48-10 game to Tarleton State in Todd Ivicic's debut as interim head coach. The Cardinal offense was able to move the ball early on, but turnovers at the Tarleton 9, 28 (Int returned for TD), and 35 took the wind out of UIW's sails, and the Cardinals found themselves down 38-0 at the 11:03 mark of the third quarter.  Eric Massoni struggled in his second start, completing 15-34 passes for 172 yards and 2 Ints.  Meanwhile the LSC's team leader in Ints, were unable to coax one from Nick Stephens.  In fact, the defense gave up 500+ yards for the second straight week, and third time in four weeks.

Wow, after reading that, its hard to make a case for either team to win this week.  But we'll go Angelo State has shown the ability to beat teams they are supposed to (with the ENMU game an exception).  Rams take it, but probably not easily, 28-24.

#16 Abilene Christian (6-2) at A&M-Kingsville (5-4)
Had they been playing anyone other than Texas A&M-Commerce last week, ACU might have 3 losses coming into this game.  The Wildcats turned the ball over 4 times in the first half (5 for the game), but the Lions could not take advantage, going three and out, turning the ball back over twice, before finally converting a TO into a touchdown just ahead of halftime.  They were busy turning the ball over themselves, four times in the first half and five times overall.  ACU did take advantage, scoring three TDs, including a 46 yard Int pick six.  Darryl Richardson had 146 yards and 2 TDs on his first 5 carries, on his way to a career high 170 yards rushing.  The defense played well most of the game, but gave up yards and scores making the score closer than it should have been. In taking a 33-7 lead, TAMC gained just 157 yards, but in the final 22:33, Commerce gained 230 yards and outscored ACU 21-7.  Not the strong finish that you'd like to see.

Texas A&M-Kingsville closed strong, scoring the final 10 points in regulation, and two TDs in three OT possessions.  They needed to finish strong to overcome 6 turnovers in regulation and another in OT.  Once again, they started out slow, turning the ball over on their first three possessions, but this time, they only fell behind by a six points in the first quarter. So how bad have turnovers been for the Javelinas?  Over the past five games, they are a negative 14 in turnover margin (19-5) and have been outscored 71-24 on possesions immediately following turnovers or on returns of the turnovers themselves.  Somewhat lost in the shuffle, Jonathan Woodson is leading the nation in all-purpose yards with 202.7 per game, a pace exceeded this decade by only Bernard Scott.

There is game this Saturday that will decide who the LSC champion will be.  This was supposed to be that game, but the season has not played out the way we predicted prior to the season.  ACU's destiny is in their hands - win out and they will make the playoffs and start with a clean slate.  TAMK is simply playing spoiler, while holding out some hope for a Kanza bowl invitation.  They have just been too mistake-prone, and while they likely won't commit seven turnovers this week, they probably won't play clean enough to beat the Wildcats.  ACU 35-24.

#20 West Texas A&M (6-2) at #5 Midwestern State (8-0)
The Buffaloes have bounced back from a two game offensive slump, scoring 101 points the last two weeks.  Dustin Vaughn (3rd in the nation in passing yards per game) continues to play very well, completing 63% of his passes for 2,533 yards, with 21 TDs.  Equally important, he has just two Ints over the last 7 games (250 pass attempts).  Brittan Golden was huge last week, with 9 receptions for 170 yards and 3 TDs - his last 7 receptions were all good for first downs, including the 3 TDs.  If MSU can cover him (a big if), 7 other Buffs have double digit receptions.  Golden, Lance Ratliff, and Jeremy Watson are all in the top 10 for receiving yards per game.  Defensively, WT's run defense faces their biggest challenge of the year.  The Buffs are second in the LSC, giving up just 103.6 yards per game, and just three per rushing attempt.  The pass defense has been good, 2nd in pass defense effiency, and they are 3rd in the LSC with 10 interceptions.

Meanwhile, the MSU machine continues to roll on.  ENMU did hang with MSU for a while (much as they hung with NWMSU early on), but then before you knew it, MSU had scored 29 straight points and put the game out of reach.  The running game continues to impress - 335 yards per game, 7.5 yards per carry, and the top three rushers in the LSC (and #10 as well).  Branond Kelsey done a great job directing the offense, leading the nation in passing efficiency, and averaging more than 10 yards on every play that he either passes or carries the ball.  As a team, Midwestern State averages 8.4 yards per play, with Northwest Missouri second at 7.7.  The key to the offense, however, is the offensive line, anchored by All-American Amini Silatolu.  Not only have they done an outstanding job with the run game, the pass protection has been solid as well - just 6 sacks and 12 quarterback hurries so far this year.  One last offensive statistic - red zone offense.  So far this season, MSU has entered the opponents red zone 43 times.  They have scored all 43 times - 40 TDs and 3 FGs.  The MSU defense is overlooked, due to the offense.  But they have done their part as well this year, allowing 20.5 points and 358 yards per game.  The pass defense leads the LSC in efficiency, but will have their hands full this week.  They have just 6 interceptions and only 13 sacks, which is an area of concern against WT.

This the game of the week, and potentially, the game of the year.  The top two LSC teams in scoring, scoring defense and yards gained, while #2 and #3 in yards allowed. Two things that could decide this game. 1. Can the Buffs slow down the Pony Express and put more pressure on Kelsey's passing game.  Some of his success this year passing the ball has arisen from the running game's effectiveness - he simply has not been in a situation where he had to throw the ball to move the ball downfield.  2. Can the Mustangs get pressure on Vaughn, and not let him pick apart their pass defense.  ENMU was matching MSU stride for stride midway through the second quarter last week, and WT is a much more complete offense.  Look for MSU to get a couple more stops on defense than WT, and win a hard-fought game.  MSU 42-31.

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Lone Star Conference

Angelo State University

Cameron University

Eastern New Mexico University

Texas A&M-Commerce

Tarleton State University

Texas A&M-Kingsville

Texas Woman's College

University of Texas of the Permian Basin

West Texas A&M University

Western New Mexico