Thursday, September 6, 2012

LSC Week Two Previews and Predictions

Week one is in the books and we had a pretty good week, going 6-1 on our picks, missing out on the West Texas A&M game.  Here is a quick look at last week's scores...

New Mexico Highlands 42, Eastern New Mexico 14 - Greyhounds led 14 in the second quarter
Incarnate Word 19, Texas College 12 - slim margin was surprising, but a win is a win, right?
A&M-Kingsville 35, Central Washington 7 - Javs took advantage of CWU mistakes, short field
Abilene Christian 51, McMurry 0 - Cats dominate crosstown matchup in every category
Southeastern Oklahoma 31, A&M-Commerce 6 - too many mistakes, too little offense
Angelo State 42, Western State 14 - Rams dominate RMAC Mountaineers as expected
CSU-Pueblo 44, West Texas A&M 34 - Buffs drop season opener to CSU-P for second straight year

Week 2 Matchups
Texas A&M-Commerce at Texas-San Antonio
Not much went right for the Lions, as they dropped their 9th season opener in the last 11 seasons to Southeastern Oklahoma.  New QB Deric Davis completed just 12 of 26 passes for 138 yards and 1 TD, but also had an interception returned for a SOSU TD.  As a team, the Lions were held to 185 yards on the evening, with just 47 coming on the ground.  Danny Mason was a bright spot, tallying 16 tackles to lead the defense.  UTSA rallied on the road, scoring three times in the final 9:18, to take a 33-31 victory over South Alabama.  QB Eric Soza threw for 215 yards and 3 TDs and David Glasco had 70 yards rushing to lead the Roadrunners on offense.  The hero of the game was kicker Sean Ianno, who was a perfect 3-3 on PATs and 4-4 on FGs, including the game-winning 51 yard kick with just 16 seconds to play in the ball game.  Should be a big, loud crowd in the Alamodome to watch the Roadrunners take this one.  UTSA 42-10.

Chadron State at Angelo State
The Rams face their second RMAC team in as many weeks, but Chadron State should prove to be a much tougher challenge.  CSC did not fare well at FCS Montana State, dropping a 33-6 decision, with the offense gaining just 135 total yards on the day.  Returning starting QB John McLain was just 6-19 for 21 yards.  Leading rusher Glen Clinton led the offense with 61 yards rushing on 11 carries.  In just over two seasons, the junior running back has over 1,800 yards rushing (he missed last years game with a broken hand).   Meanwhile, the Rams spotted Western State a 7-0 lead, before reeling off 35 unanswered points.  Blake Hamblin threw for 320 yards and 4 TDs, but also had two passes picked off.  Joey Knight had 111 yards receiving on 5 catches.  Jermie Calhoun had 65 yards rushing in his ASU debut.  Rush Seaver led the defense with 14 tackles.

Last year's contest between these two teams saw Angelo State rally from a 42-21 fourth quarter deficit, scoring 28 unanswered points to win 49-42 in Chadron.  Despite breaking his non-throwing hand, McLain threw for 315 yards and 3 TDs.  Hamblin also had a big game, throwing for 271 yards and 4 TDs, and the Ram defense returned two fumbles for TDs as well.

All indications are calling for another high scoring nail-biter, with the Rams enjoying a home-field advantage.   ASU wins 35-31.

Incarnate Word at Sam Houston State
The Cardinals got the expected win against NAIA Texas College, but a 19-12 final score was much closer than expected.  UIW gained just 94 yards on the ground, but new QB Zach Rhodes went 12-18 for 205 yards to pick up the slack.  They will be facing a much tougher opponent this week.  Sam Houston State is currently the #2 ranked FCS team in the nation, and finished last year as the runner-up, dropping a 17-6 decision to North Dakota State in the championship game.  The key to the offense is RB Tim Flanders.  Flanders was named to numerous All-American teams after rushing for 1,644 yards and 24 TDs, both Southland Conference records.  At the same time, you cannot overlook QB Brian Bell threw for 2,069 yards and 20 TDs last year, or Richard Sincere, a threat at WR or under center in the Wildkat formation.

If Sam Houston is clicking on all cylinders, UIW might rethink this whole Southland thing.  Kats in a romp, 56-7.

Western State at West Texas A&M
How would like to be Jas Bains this week?  Not only did the Mountaineers get soundly defeated by Angelo State, but now the WSC head coach has to try and get his team ready to face an angry West Texas A&M squad that has no margin for error the rest of the season.  Things started out well for WSC last week, as the Mountaineers took a 7-0 lead four minutes into the game.  But that was about it for the highlights, as Angelo State dominated from that point on.  WSC could manage just 175 yards of offense, with a mere 29 yards rushing.  Defensively, they did a decent job against the run (125 yards), but very poorly against the pass (320 yards and 4 TDs).

It looked like WT would get off to a quick start in Pueblo, recovering a fumble on CSU-P's first play from scrimmage, and driving down the field, until they lost the ball inside the 10 yard line.  The Thunderwolves took advantage of their second chance, going 93 yards in 12 plays to take a 7-0 lead.  The teams would trade TDs over the next four possessions, before CSU-P would take control of the game.  The Buffalo defense gave up 265 yards rushing and 222 through the air, as San Antonio native Ross Dausin hit on 20 of 24 passes.  Dustin Vaughn had a big game, hitting on 30-47 passes for 398 yards and 3 TDs.  Luke Halpin mopped up, leading WT to their final TD with 13 seconds in the game, completing 6 of 7 passes for 68 yards on the drive.  Their top two targets were Torrence Allen (9-164 1 TD) and Lance Ratliff (7-153  2 TDs).  Jordan Smith was busy in the secondary, leading WT with 15 tackles and forcing a fumble.

Look for WT to win and win big.  Buffs rout the Mountaineers 63-7.

Sul Ross State at Eastern New Mexico
Normally a matchup of a D3 vs. D2 football teams favors the D2 team heavily.  But ENMU had a rough first week, giving up 42 straight points and a 2 TD second quarter lead against New Mexico Highlands, an improving team, but not yet in the ranks of D2 elite.  Through the first 25 minutes of the ballgame, ENMU was looking good, taking advantage of good field position and leading 14-0.  But a couple of fumbles by the offense and a couple of big special teams plays by NMHU turned a close a game into a solid win for the Cowboys.  Sul Ross dropped a 54-44 decision to the other New Mexico D2 team, Western New Mexico. A.J. Springer threw for 303 yards and 4 TDs (3 Ints) and Dominque Carson added 173 yards rushing.  On the flip-side, the defense allowed 288 yards rushing and 289 passing with WNMU scoring 8 TDs.

This could be a high scoring game, with the outcome decided late in the fourth quarter.  Homefield advantage goes to ENMU, and the Greyhounds win 35-32.

#4 Midwestern State at Tarleton State
While the rest of the LSC kicked off the 2012 season last week, the Mustangs and Texans were idle.  That could be important as (cliche alert) teams show the most improvement between games one and two, and the team that makes the fewest mistakes will have a decided advantage.

The Mustangs open the season as the consensus favorite to repeat as the LSC champion.  The return the key drivers to the offense (QB Brandon Kelsey 1,951 yards passing, 967 rushing and RB Keidrick Jackson 1,044 yards, 18 TDs rushing) as well as RB Jimmy Pipkin (11.7 yards per carry!) and three starters on the offensive line.  Question marks at the WR position, where all the starters are new, and the defense which will field 7 new starters.

It is Tarleton State however that come into the season with the longest winning streak, as the Texans won their final 5 games of the season, averaging 43 points per game in the process.  Offensively, three starting linemen return, as well as the top receiver from last year (Clifton Rhodes 52-827) and 2010 (Jeken Frye 44-704 6 TDs),  Aaron Doyle is poised to take over at QB, replacing Nick Stephens who threw for almost 4,800 yards in two season.  Doyle brings more athleticism and a running threat to the position.  Defensively, eight starters return, led by LB Marquis Wadley (119 tackles) and Dashaun Phillips (7 interceptions).

This is the second straight tough season opener for Tarleton against an LSC rival (ACU last year), while Midwestern State typically eases into the season.  To have a chance in this one, the Texans will have to slow down the Mustang running game, something they were unable to do last year.  Look for the continuity in the MSU backfield to give them an edge and win this one.  Midwestern State 35-24.

Game of the Week
#24 Texas A&M-Kingsville at #9 Abilene Christian
The only bad thing about this game is that it is so early in the season - on paper, it looks like a week 10 or 11 matchup to drool over.  The winner of this game will head into Dallas next week with a lot of confidence and a leg up in the LSC title race, while the loser will have little margin for error the rest of the season.

Both teams opened the 2012 season with solid wins - ACU topped McMurry 51-0 and TAMK beat Central Washingto 35-7.  ACU's offense got on in the second quarter and took advantage of great field position (last four TD drives were a combined 117 yards) which came courtesy of Hal Mumme's decision to not punt the ball on several possessions.  Mitchell Gale did nothing to hurt his Harlon Hill chances, completing 19-28 passes for 290 yards.  Taylor Gabriel was the main benefactor, catching 7 passes for 108 yards and a TD.  Marcel Threat was the leading rusher with 88 yards and 2 TDs.  The big star was on the other side of the ball - defensive end Nick Richardson had 10 in tackles, including an incredible 6 sacks, that resulted in 53 yards of losses.

Down in Kingsville, the Javelinas started slowly on offense and did not put up huge numbers.  But they did force four turnovers and took advantage of the short field, converting them into 20 points.  Jonathan Woodson had a decent game running the ball, picking up 71 yards on 15 carries, scoring twice.  Nate Poppell completed just 14-29 passes for 151 yards, but 2 were for TDs, and no interceptions.  The defense allowed 352 yards, but tightened up in the clutch, allowing CWU to convert just 5-16 on third downs, and to go just 1-3 in the red zone.  Newcomer Steve Harris led the defense with 8 tackles, picked off a pass and returned it 51 yards to set up a scoring drive and completed a 32 yard pass on fourth down leading to a field goal.  The biggest stat for the Javelinas - plus 4 on turnovers.

This series has seen some long winning streaks - ACU has won the last 8 games, while TAMK had won the previous 20 meetings.  Overall, the Javelinas hold a 31-14 record over ACU.  Over the last three years, ACU has outscored TAMK by an average of 40-31, with Mitchell Gale throwing for over 1,100 yards with 8 TDs and no interceptions, and TAMK starting three different QB over the same period.  That continuity at the single most important position on the field could be the difference.  In a slightly lower scoring game, ACU wins 31-24.

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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