Wednesday, September 12, 2012

LSC Scoop Game Previews and Predictions Week 3

Hmm, that didn't go so well.  After a 6-1 opening weekend, we slipped to 4-3 last weekend.  More surprising than the actual results, was the manner in which those three mis-picks (new word) played out.

Eastern New Mexico 38, Sul Ross State 35 - Game went down to the wire, ENMU getting the go-ahead score with just over a minute to play.  Defense still gave up 447 yards. 
Prediction 35-32

West Texas A&M 57, Western State 20 - At the half, WT was on a 68-0, 900 yard pace, and Western State could muster no offense until they trailed 48-0.
Prediction 63-7

Sam Houston State 54, Incarnate Word 7 - Just about hit this on the head.  UIW's RB trio of Rios, Wright and Sadler combined for 1 yard on just 7 carries.  Cardinals had just 88 yards of offense all night.
Prediction 56-7

UT-San Antonio 27, Texas A&M Commerce 16 - At the half, this looked like the blowout we envisioned.  But a funny thing happened over the final 30 minutes as TAMC outscored UTSA 13-3, silencing the crowd that must have been having flashbacks of the McMurry game from last year. 
Prediction 42-10

Chadron State 19, Angelo State 7 - Neither team was able to get a lot going offensively, but Chadron made the most of their opportunities, while the Rams had 2 of 3 drives of 60+ yards end with no points.
Prediction ASU 35-31

Tarleton State 20, Midwestern State 17 - "To have a chance in this one, the Texans will have to slow down the Mustangs running game..." and they did, limiting MSU to just 146 yards.  In fact, Jerome Regal outgained them with 152 yards and 2 TDs.  New QB Aaron Doyle passes his first test, completing 18-26 passes and adding 46 rushing yards as well.
Prediction MSU 35-24

Texas A&M Kingsville 16, Abilene Christian 13 - If we told you one of the QBs would complete 33-50 passes for 372 yards and no interceptions, and the other would go 13-31 for 137 yards with no TDs and an interception, how many of you would have picked Nate Poppell for the former and Mitchell Gale for the latter?  And that is not a slight to Poppell, nor a slam at Gale.  In truth, it is a testament to a defensive performance that has not been seen around these parts in a while. 
Prediction ACU 31-24

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For those of you that have been living under a rock, this is the week of the Lone Star Football Fesitval.  Last year was the first year and exceeded all expectations for the one day tripleheader involving 5 LSC teams and one from the GSC.  This year's festival has been stretched out over three days, with a nationally televised game Thursday night, a doubleheader on Friday that will include two of the more decorated high school programs in Texas and another Saturday tripleheader with all three game featuring nationally ranked teams.

(Read our interview with LSC commissioner Stan Wagnon)

If you are a fan of LSC football, scratch that, if you are a fan of great college and high school football, you cannot afford to miss this.  First of all, the venue - Cowboy Stadium - is the top football facility in the world bar none.  Second, ticket prices are very affordable - $20 for Thursday's game, $25 for either Friday or Saturday, and if you want the best bargain, just $35 for a three day pass.  You will not find a better deal anywhere.

Every LSC team will be participating (game matchups below) as well as another GSC team, (Valdosta State).  High school fans can watch the first meeting between 8 time state champion Southlake Carroll and 2 time champion (5 time runner-up) Temple.

If you can make it out to the festival, please do so.  You will not regret it.



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#16 Midwestern State vs. Texas A&M-Commerce - If your are a Mustang fan, it's not time to panic.  Consider this - last year MSU's lowest rushing output came in week one (78 yards below their average for the remainder of the season), add in the expected improvement after the first game and things don't look so bleak.  Things don't look so bad for the Lions either, as they played much better at UTSA after a very disappointing season opener.  The offense still has a way to go, but the defense was able to keep the FBS Roadrunners out of the endzone in the second half.

Despite MSU's struggles and TAMC's improvement, this is still a game the Mustangs should win comfortabley.  MSU 38-14.


Eastern New Mexico vs. Incarnate Word - This is not the marquee matchup of the festival, but it does look like a pretty even match, and should prove quite entertaining.   A week after struggling offensively, the Greyhounds surpassed the 400 yard mark, and were able to put together TD drives on three of their final four possessions, overcoming an 11 point second half deficit, and pulling out a thrilling 38-35 win.  It was shades of the old days, with ENMU rushing for 301 yards.  But Wesley Woods also has the passing game covered, as he completed 13-15 passes for 128 yards and a TD.  The running game for UIW was expected to be stronger this year, but Trent Rios and Marcus Wright have yet to get untracked, with the duo combining for just 96 yards through two games.  QB Zach Rhodes is completing 62% of his passes so far, and is on pace to break UIW's modest single season passing records.

This is likely the best chance for an LSC win for teams.  The Greyhounds have shown better offensive balance so far, so we'll take ENMU 31-24.


Angelo State vs. #18 Valdosta State - The Blazers come into the game with a 1-1 record, having dropped a tough opener at nationally ranked Saginaw Valley 24-28 and blowing out Fort Valley State 62-14.  Offensively they are averaging 195.5 yards rushing and 281.5 passing, while the defense is giving up 126 on the ground and 294 through the air.  Sophomore QB Graham Craig, a Murray State transfer, threw for 314 yards and 5 TDs last week, despite completing just 10-22 passes, with 2 interceptions.  His top two targets have been Gerald Ford (10-221 3 TDs) and Seantavious Jones (6-172  2 TDs).  Their two leading running backs are both freshmen, Austin Scott has 138 yards rushing in two games, while Cedric O'Neal has 131, all in last week's game.  Up front, three linemen were picked as preseason All-GSC.  The defense features four pre-season All-GSC picks - Tyler Josey and Lawrence Virgil up front, LB Chris Pope (team high 20 tackles this year) and CB Matt Pierce (3 Ints in 2012).  Pope and Pierce were also first team All-GSC last season.

The Rams followed up a nice season opener with a disappointing effort against Chadron State.  Jermie Calhoun was productive (96 yards on 24 carries), but has not had a break-out performance yet.  Blake Hamblin hit on 20-33 passes, but was intercepted on the opening Ram drive inside the red zone, thwarting what would have been a nice early statement had they put it in the end zone.  The defense has played well, allowing 175 and 278 yards in the first two weeks, but they will be facing a much better offense than they have seen to-date.

The Rams will need to keep the Blazers offense off the field as much as possible, chew up some clock, and win the turnover battle.  Look for the GSC to go to 2-0 at the LSFF, Valdosta wins 42-21.


Game of the week Part I
#20 Abilene Christian vs. Tarleton State - How will Mitchell Gale respond to an off-week?  There's no recent history to look back to because he hasn't had a game like last week's since his freshman season.  Ironically, that bad game came against Tarleton State (16-41 with 2 interceptions) and the next week was Texas A&M Kingsville.  And he did indeed bounce back, hitting on 24-34 passes for 289 yards and 2 TDs with no picks.  But ACU will have to run the ball better too - they had just 87 yards total, with 65 of that coming on one run.  The defense did a nice job against the run, limiting the Javelinas to just 48 yards a year after getting torched in Kingsville.  Pass defense was another story, as Nate Poppell had a career high 372 yards and team-record 33 completions, despite several dropped passes.

Can the Texans defense repeat last week's performance?  TSU was able to accomplish in week one, what no team could do last year, hold the Mustang running game to under 250 yards.  And not just barely, as MSU could muster just 146 yards on the ground, with last year's leading LSC rusher held to 32 yards on 13 carries.  The pass defense was just as stout, holding Brandon Kelsey to just 16-32 passing, and picking off passes on the first and last MSU drives of the game.  Marquis Wadley (12 tackles, game clinching interception) and Dashaun Phillips (interception) picked up where they left off last year.  For the offense, Jerome Regal was huge, running for 152 yards and 2 TDs, taking pressure off of Aaron Doyle, taking over at QB this year.  Doyle was effective, 18-26 for 137 yards, and also had 46 yards rushing.

Can lightning strike twice?  Things don't line up exactly as they did last week.  The two areas that Tarleton excelled out last week (run offense and run defense) appear to be neutralized somewhat this week, as ACU has been stellar against the run and much more of a pass-oriented team than Midwestern State.  That and our belief that Mitchell Gale will rebound, has us picking ACU 35-31.


Game of the week Part II
#14 Texas A&M Kingsville vs. West Texas A&M - Coming into the game 2-0, natioanlly ranked, with a solid win over Central Washington and a dominating defensive performance in week two, the Javelinas are riding high.  Just like last year.  Last year?  The narrative is similar, but this year's Javelina team seems a bit different than last year's.  For starter's, last week's performance at Abilene Christian is much more impressive than last year's 19-7 win over Minot State.  That is not to say there isn't room for improvement.  The offense needs to finish off drives - last week, they were held to one TD despite gaining 420 yards, and the running game has yet to get going - 81 yards per game, 2.3 per carry vs. 169 per game, 4.6 per carry last year.

The Buffaloes' season bears a resemblance to last year, as they dropped their season opener to Colorado State-Pueblo again.  The Thunderwolves stole last year's game, but won this year's game fairly convincingly. Offensively, WT is what you expect from the Buffs - big time passing (487 yards per game thru two weeks) and a complimentary running game.  Defensively, the team has yet to show the same performance that we saw in 2011.  CSU-P gouged the run defense for 265 yards and added 222 more passing.  Last week was better, with Western State held to 278 total yards for the game, and most of that coming after WT had a 48-0 lead.

With last week's results, the winner of this game will have an early leg up in the LSC race, especially of our ACU-TSU prediction pans out.  The Javelinas will need a similar performance to their 2010 matchup with WT, pressuring Dustin Vaughn and chewing up the clock.  The Buffs will try to keep TAMK's running game in check and put on their typical offensive fireworks.  We may be putting too much stock into last week's game, but we're taking the Javelinas 31-24.

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