Friday, October 12, 2012

LSC Scoop Game Previews and Predictions Week 7

Not the best of weeks, 4 right and 2 misses, both of them LSC/GSC matchups and both with big interceptions late in the games figuring into the decisions.

Midwestern State 42, West Alabama 27 - Keidrick Jackson and Brandon Kelsey combined for 310 yards and 6 TDs rushing and Mustangs dominated second half 28-3.
Prediction MSU 35-28

Abilene Christian 59, Eastern New Mexico 17 - Special teams and defense outscored Greyhounds..
Prediction ACU 35-17

Incarnate Word 31, Texas A&M Commerce 9 - Lions came back to earth with a thud.
Prediction UIW 17-14

North Alabama 21, Texas A&M Kingsville 16 - Holding call negates Javelina TD run, 3 plays later UNA returns interception 93 yards for game winning TD.
Prediction TAMK 28-24

Delta State 38, Tarleton State 35 - Another late interception turns into game winning score for the visiting GSC team.
Prediction TSU 28-24

West Texas A&M 34, Angelo State 9 - 3 ASU turnovers turn into 3 WT scores, including interceptions on back to back drives.
Prediction WTAM 35-21

Mithchell Gale - Needs 361 yards to reach 11,000 passing yards for his career.
Keidrick Jackson - surpassed 2,000 career rushing yards last weekend and is fifth in MSU's record book.
Dakarai Pecikonis - needs 46 receiving yards to hit 2,000 for his career.
Nate Poppell - needs 183 passing yards to become the sixth Javelina to reach the 5,000 mark.

Regional Rankings
This is our take on Super Region Four.  We use a combination of a teams winning record and strength of schedule to come up with a mathematical ranking.  To prevent a great deal of fluctuation, the SOS is calculated for the entire season, not just opponents played to date.  We are also eliminating any team with 3 or more losses, b/c they have no realistic chance to make the playoffs.  Still lots of H2H match ups down the road to thin the list out.  Below are the teams, along with regionally ranked opponents (blue win, red loss) and upcoming games against regionally ranked teams.  Some have an easy path (Ashland especially), while most still have tough games ahead (Michigan Tech and Hillsdale ?!?!?!? Yikes! ).

  1. CSU-Pueblo (6-0) - WTAM, Adams State, Chadron - upcoming Colorado Mines, NMHU
  2. New Mexico Highlands (5-0) - Colorado Mines - upcoming Adams State, Chadron, CSU-Pueblo
  3. Saginaw Valley (5-1) - Findlay, Ferris State, Northwood, Wayne State - upcoming Hillsdale, Michigan Tech, Grand Valley
  4. Michigan Tech (4-1) - Findlay, Grand Valley - upcoming Northwood, Ferris State, Saginaw Valley, Hillsdale, Wayne State
  5. Ashland (6-0) - Indianapolis, Wayne State, Ferris State - upcoming Findlay, 
  6. Grand Valley (5-1) - Michigan Tech, Ferris State - upcoming Northwood, Hillsdale, Wayne State, Saginaw Valley
  7. Chadron State (4-1) Adams State, CSU-Pueblo - upcoming NMHU, Colorado Mines 
  8. Indianapolis (4-1) - Ashland, Missouri S&T - upcoming Urbana
  9. West Texas A&M (5-1) - CSU-Pueblo - upcoming ACU, MSU
  10. Wayne State (4-1) - Ashland, Northwood, Hillsdale, Saginaw Valley - upcoming Ferris State, Grand Valley, Michigan Tech
  11. Midwestern State (4-1) - upcoming ACU, WTAM
  12. Hillsdale (4-2) - Wayne State - upcoming Ferris State, Saginaw Valley, Grand Valley, Michigan Tech, Northwood
  13. Ferris State (3-2) - Ashland, Saginaw Valley, Grand Valley - upcoming Hillsdale, Michigan Tech, Wayne State, Northwood
  14. Findlay (4-1) - Saginaw Valley, Michigan Tech - upcoming Ashland
  15. Missouri S&T (5-1) - Indianapolis - upcoming Urbana
  16. Abilene Christian (4-2) - upcoming WTAM, MSU
  17. Northwood (4-2) - Wayne State, Saginaw Valley - upcoming Michigan Tech, Grand Valley, Ferris State, Hillsdale
  18. Colorado Mines (4-2) - NMHU - upcoming CSU-Pueblo, Adams State, Chadron
  19. Adams State (3-2)CSU-Pueblo, Chadron State  - upcoming NMHU, Colorado Mines 
  20. Urbana (4-2) - upcoming Missouri S&T, Indianapolis

New statistical metrics
One of the normal measures of a teams offense is yards gained - more is better right?  Well not always.  Some teams do more with fewer yards than others, while others move the ball well until they hit the red zone.  Penalties and turnovers are two big factors that can alter expectations.  On the flip-side, some teams give up more yards, but get the big stop or turnovers at critical times.

We will be looking at what we are calling offensive/defensive efficiency (points as a percentage of yardage) and red zone efficiency (points scored/allowed per red zone trip) in this week's games to help us with our predictions.

This week's games
Tarleton State at Texas A&M-Commerce -
Offensively Tarleton is third in yards gained, but fifth in scoring - Offensive efficiency 6.32% (6th in LSC)
Offensively Commerce is last in yards gained and scoring - Offensive efficiency 5.34% (8th in LSC)
Defensively Tarleton is seventh in yards allowed and scoring - Defensive efficiency 7.84% (6th in LSC)
Defensively Commerce is sxth in yards allowed, but eighth in scoring - Defensive efficiency 8.98% (last)
Redzone - Tarleton 4.00 avg on offense (5th), 4.43 on defense (6th)
Redzone - Commerce 3.50 avg on offense (7th), 3.79 on defense (3rd)

Middle to bottom of the pack in most effeiency categories, with one puzzling split (TAMC last in Defensive efficiency, but third in red zone defense).

While the Texans have not been very efficient offensively, they should continue to create enough opportunities to win this game.  A productive ground game and limiting turnovers would help.  TSU 28-14.

Incarnate Word at Texas A&M-Kingsville -
A quick glance at common opponents could indicate a close game favoring the Cardinals.  The defense held LSC leaders WT and MSU to below average nights and they defeated a Commerce team that beat the Javelinas the week before.  Meanwhile, the Javelinas are reeling, losing four in a row, the last two in excruciating manner.

Offensive efficiency - TAMK 5.39% (7th), UIW 5.33% (last)
Defensive efficiency - TAMK 7.08% (4th), UIW 7.61% (5th)
Red Zone offense - TAMK 2.87 pts (last), 3.00 (8th)
Red Zone defense - TAMK 4.67 (8th), UIW 4.26 (6th)

Not much to separate the two teams. The Javelinas are scoring 5.1 more points per game, due to 44% more red zone trips.

The Javelinas need to get out to a quicker start - their opponents have scored first in every game since the season opener - and put some distance between themselves and UIW.  If UIW can hang around, there's a good chance they could steal their only trip to Javelina Stadium.  TAMK gets back into the win column 28-17.

Angelo State at Midwestern State -
The Mustangs look to be getting stronger as the season progresses.  With ACU and WT coming up over the next three weeks, that is a good thing.  First things first - Angelo State is no walkover, and could seriously mess things up for MSU if they don't come ready to play.

Offensive efficiency - MSU 8.73% (2nd), ASU 6.39% (5th)
Defensive efficiency - MSU 5.44% (3rd), ASU 8.04% (7th)
Red Zone offense - MSU 5.00 (1st), ASU 3.95% (6th)
Red Zone defense - MSU 3.40 (2nd), ASU 4.05 (5th)

Not only do the efficiency stats favor MSU, but they also have allowed 25% fewer red zone opportunities for their opponents than ASU.

Assuming that they retain their form they have displayed since the opening game loss to Tarleton State, MSU should take this fairly comfortably.  MSU 38-17.

Game of the Week
Abilene Christian at West Texas A&M -
The top LSC rivalry over the past seven years is sadly coming to an end.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that both of these teams are heading in the right direction in a game that has not only LSC title implications, but also will hurt or virtually eliminate one of these team's playoff chances.

The Wildcats have won the last two games by a combined 93-45 score, after splitting their first four contests and showing uncharacteristic inconsistency.  Of course those two teams are a combined 3-7 against D2 competition.  Meanwhile, the Buffs are on a five game winning streak, with the defense showing that 2011 was no fluke.  Some concern though in that two of the last three wins have seen the offense below par - against UIW and ASU, WT failed to gain 400 yards and average 29.5 points.  Good for most teams, but below average for the Buffs.

Offensive efficiency - WTAM 8.11% (3rd), ACU 10.43% (1st)
Defensive efficiency -  WTAM 5.42% (2nd), ACU 4.81% (1st)
Red Zone offense - WTAM 4.30 (4th), ACU 4.86 (2nd)
Red Zone defense - WTAM 3.86 (4th), ACU 3.00 (1st)

ACU has taken advantage of turnovers and special teams play to easily lead the LSC in our offensive efficiency rating.  WT has not been bad by any stretch, and actually outscores ACU (with a 132 ypg advantage).  Defensively, both teams do well, with ACU again benefitting from timely turnovers to thwart teams scoring (3rd in pts allowed), despite allowing 416 yards per game (8th in LSC).  WT is just limiting teams in yards allowed (2nd) as well as scoring (1st).

In the red zone, WT has been good both offensively and defensively, but again ACU has been opportunistic.  They have also been more dependent on red zone scoring as 66% of their scoring has come from red zone trips while WT has scored 43% of their points from red zone possessions.  Defensively, ACU is allowing fewer points per trip, but has allowed opponents into the red zone 24 times, while WT's defense has only allowed opponents 14 trips into the red zone.

So what does it mean?  If ACU can keep the game close, they could steal a road win.  But with Khiry Robinson giving WT some balance and the WT defense playing well, it shouldn't come down to that.  WT wins at home, 35-24.

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