Thursday, September 1, 2016

LSC Scoop Game Previews and Pick 'ems

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Coward ready for final run as MSU's No. 1 guy - J. Scott Russell, Times Record News
WT loses its third straight football season opener - Kale Steed, Amarillo Globe News

Rams Fall to McKendree
Cass and Tucker Top Century Mark as Gridiron Hounds Open 2016 at Southwest Baptist
No. 9 Lions roll to a 62-0 win over University of Faith (exhibition) in 2016 opener
Azusa Pacific downs WT 28-10 in Season Opener


The 2016 football season looks to get off to a very good start.  Several LSC schools are traveling to FCS schools, including 2 in the top 10 FCS preseason poll.  Several others are traveling to GLVC schools in regional matchups that will help determine strength of schedule come playoff time.

Here are this week's matchups, and our expert panel of pundits picks are below.

#RV Angelo State at #RV McKendree (Thursday night)
Can ASU replace Kyle Washington and the DL?  They look good elsewhere, especially at WR and the secondary.  McKendree was 8-2 last, losing to Indianapolis and Missouri S&T. but has to replace their dual threat QB, Isaac Fisher.

ENMU at Southwest Baptist (Thursday night)
The Greyhounds have a similar hole at QB, but return the top 1-2 rushing duo in Kamal Cass and D'Maujeric Tucker.  SBU (4-6 last year, but played GVSU and Indy tough) offense returns most skill players, including Texas native Trent Edwards II at QB (2,304 yds, 21 TDs passing, 479 yds, 8 TDs rushing), while defense played the run (123 yds per game) better than the pass (281 yds per game).  

#RV WTAM at #RV Azusa Pacific (Thursday night)
It's feast or famine for the Buffs as far as returning starters.  The OL, LB and secondary each return 3 starters, but no skill players other than QB Ethan Brinkley.  This could put extra pressure on him to improve on last year's numbers.   The Cougars were 6-4 last year, with one of those wins coming at WT's expense.   The offense returns their playmakers and was very balanced (2,165 yds rushing, 2,161 yds passing), while the defense allowed just 134 yds weekly.  Buffaloes repay APU with a tight road win, WT 24-16


OPSU at (#2 FCS) Sam Houston State 
The Aggies bring back an experienced offense, with Shane Truelove returning at QB along with a veteran receiving corps and 3 starters from last year's offensive line.  The defensive line has some experience with 5 players who have started at some point for OPSU, but the LBs and secondary only return two starters.  OPSU was 0-4 against LSC teams last year, but nearly knocked off both WTAM and Tarleton in the final two weeks.  The Bearkats are primed for another deep playoff run (2 national championship runner-ups, 2 semifinal appearances in last five seasons). 

Tarleton State at (#9 FCS) McNeese State
You could excuse Todd Whitten if he wanted to ease into the season against cupcake.  After the tough season Tarleton State had last year, a confidence building opener would seem to be in order.  Instead, they travel to extremely hostile territory to face FCS power McNeese State.  The Cowboys went 10-0 in the regular season, before dropping a first round playoff game to Sam Houston State 34-29.  The Texans should be good on offense again, but if they hope to improve on last year's 3-7 record, their defense has to improve drastically.  We likely won't know if they have made progress after week one.  

#RV Texas A&M Kingsville at Incarnate Word 
TAMK Game Notes     UIW Game Notes
Javelinas almost beat UIW in Coach Wilkinson's debut game, an outcome (close but no cigar) repeated throughout the season.  With 9 returning starters on offense, and 6 on defense, those close losses could flip to the W column this year.  UIW went 6-5 last year, but the 6 wins all were against teams with losing records (17-46-2).  They have 18 starters slated to return.  (Side note - UIW has had just 4 games with attendance of more than 5,000.  Their first ever game against Monterrey Tech, and the 3 games they have hosted the Javelinas.)

Sul Ross at UT Permian Basin 
UTPB Game Notes     Sul Ross Game Notes
The Falcons will be setting records left and right this week as they host their first ever football game.  Caden Coots and Kameron Mathis look to have the edge at QB, but the rest of the starting lineup is unknown at this time.  Sul Ross is coming off a 3-7 season and has won 6 games over the last three seasons. 

#14 Midwestern State at Truman State 
MSU Game Notes     Truman State Game Notes
Dante Taylor looks to rebound from a down year and lead the Mustangs always formidable rushing attack.  The defense returns just 4 starter and will miss Marqui Christian and Dan Laudermilk.  The Bulldogs went 5-6 last year, including a 31-3 loss at Midwestern State.  They return 16 starters, including 9 on a defense that gave up 330 yads and 20 points per game.  

WNMU at San Diego
WNMU Game Preview
The Torreros have beaten WNMU the last five seasons, but 3 of the games were a one score margin.  Last year, USD went 9-2, losing by 1 to Pioneer League Champion Dayton and FBS San Diego State.  The Mustangs don't have a lot of experience at QB, but whoever it is will be trying to get the ball in Xavier Ayers hands (1,356 yds 5 tds receiving).  The Mustangs defense has allowed more than 32 points per game in each of the last 4 seasons.  

#5 Colorado State Pueblo at #18 Colorado Mines
What a way to kick off the season - a matchup of nationally ranked teams, with playoff implications in week one.  CSU-Pueblo has emerged as THE power of the RMAC, winning five straight RMAC championships and the 2014 national title.  RB Bernard McDondle (1,439 yds, 17 TDs) and QB A J Thompson headline 5 returning starters on offenes.  The defense is the strength of the team, giving up just 15.8 pts and 309 yards per game.

Justin Dvorak was a Harlon Hill finalist last year, when he threw for 3,684 yards and 38 TDs (8,882 yds, 81 TDs for his career).  Sam Seeton will need another productive year running the ball to keep defenses honest.  The defense was good last year (26.2 points, 407 yds), but not CSUP's caliber.

Other Games of Prominence, but not included in our picks
#13 Humboldt State at #RV Carson Newman - Watch ESPN 9/1 at 2:30 CDT
#23 Sioux Falls at St. Cloud State
#1 Northwest Missouri at #24  Emporia State
#20 Central Missouri at #RV Pittsburg State
#22 Catawba at #2West Georgia


Adam Ostrow picks
Adam Ostrow is the sports director for Newschannel 6 (KAUZ TV) in Wichita Falls, where he has been employed since 2009.  Follow him on Twitter  @AdamKAUZsports

Angelo State at McKendree: without knowing much of what McKendree brings back, I know Angelo lost a good deal last year and McK was good. With the game in Illinois, I'll take the Bearcats.

ENMU at Southwest Baptist: Baptist wasn't great last year, Eastern is tough, though having them to start the year makes it a bit easier to gameplan. Again, I'll go with the home team

WT at Azusa Pacific: Pacific beat WT in Canyon last year, but it was close and WT actually led most of the way. With a bunch of changes on the WT coaching staff, I think the Buffs can surprise the Cougars so I'll take the mild road upset.

OPSU at Sam Houston, Tarleton at McNeese, TAMUK at UIW: I'll take all 3 D1 teams, easilyWNMU at USD falls under that, too

UTPB vs Sul Ross: this is the toughest one, since we don't know much about Permian Basin. I think they'll have enough talent to beat a bad D3 even in their first game, which is of course why they scheduled it.

MSU at Truman State: the Mustangs cruised past the Bulldogs at home a year ago. Truman shook up their offensive staff after being awful on that side of the ball last year. I think they keep it closer early this time, but MSU is just too good for them.

Don't know enough about RMAC to make a good pick there, but I know CSUP looked very good against MSU last year in the playoffs


J. Scott Russell's picks
J. Scott covers MSU football (among many other duties) for the Times Record News in Wichita Falls.  He has been with the TRN since 1990.  Follow him on Twitter @JScottRussell 

Angelo State at McKendree -- Bearcats return a lot on defense, while Rams must replace QB Kyle Washington... McKendree 21-14

ENMU at Southwest Baptist -- The return of All-American Kamal Cass will make a big difference for the Greyhounds, not to mention how hard it is to prepare for ENMU's offense...ENMU 40-35

WTAM and Azusa Pacific -- Cougar overcame a 21-0 deficit on the road last year and return a large part of their defense this year. Buffs have QB but must find receivers. ... Azusa 27-21

OPSU at Sam Houston -- Bearkats can name the score... Sam Houston 56-7

Tarleton at McNeese State -- Cowboys roll... McNeese State 55-27

Kingsville at Incarnate Word -- Should be good game for both teams to see where they are -- Javelinas as they rebuild and Cardinals as they continue move into D-I. Not sure which one has improved the most so... Incarnate Word 21-20

Sul Ross at UTPB -- After 18 months undefeated, Falcons will face their first test... UTPB 42-35

Midwestern State at Truman State -- Mustangs 31-10

WNMU at San Diego -- San Diego 21-14

CS-Pueblo at Colorado Mines -- A Classic offense (Mines) vs. defense (Pueblo) battle. The Thunderwolves, however, may have more offense to go with its D. Should be at the end of the season, not the opener...
Thunderwolves 39-31.


Lee Baker's Picks
Lee is a long time Amarillo sports anchor, starting at KFDA in 1983 and joining KVII ABC 7 in 1988.

Angelo State over McKendree-matchup of teams that had winning records last season…Rams win a close one

ENMU over Southwest Baptist—first meeting between two schools..Hounds ground game the difference

WTAMU over Azusa Pacific—Buffs should have won last year--this is iffy at best

Sam Houston State over OPSU---Aggies in trouble against Bearkats who made the FCS semi-finals last year

McNeese over Tarleton St.—McNeese lost to Sam Houston in Round 2 of FCS playoffs

Incarnate Word over A&M Kingsville

Sul Ross over UT Permian Basin

Midwestern State over Truman State—Ranked Mustangs open with a road win

San Diego over W. New Mexico—SD won last year…

CSU-Pueblo over Colorado Mines—Twolves make it 6 straight over Orediggers


Charles Bryce's Picks
Charles has been with the San Angelo Standard-Times since 1989, covering Angelo State and local high school teams.

Angelo State: Rams have won seven straight openers
ENMU: Greyhounds RB Kamal Cass has a big day
Azusa Pacific: Cougars win another close one
Sam Houston State: Bearkats way too powerful

McNeese State: Cowboys flex their muscles
Incarnate Word: Javs can't hang with D-I Cardinals
Sul Ross: Falcons will have growing pains in inaugural season
Midwestern State: 14th-ranked Mustangs as good as advertised
San Diego: Toreros open with win at home
CSU-Pueblo: Thunderwolves survive Top 25 showdown


Joe Price's Picks
Joe currently writes the LSC column for  He got his start there in 2013.

Angelo State at McKendree - The LSC's Angelo proves to be too much for GLVC's McKendree

ENMU at Southwest Baptist - Long trip for Hounds; but, Kass takes care of business

WTAM at Azusa Pacific - Tight game, Buffs go in down at halftime; obtain momentum in 2nd half to pull out win

OPSU at Sam Houston State - Blowout! I hope the Aggies get good money from this game and stay injury-free.

Tarleton State at McNeese State - Texans are rebuilding; McNeese was 10-1 in 2015; not a good combination for TSU

Texas A&M Kingsville at Incarnate Word - Javelinas are improved; they don't let this game slip away, like last season

Sul Ross at UT Permian Basin - Good Game. I think UTPB is just a marginally better. Are they the next CSUP?

Midwestern State at Truman State - Mustangs roll with ease. Get a lead and sustain through 2nd half.

WNMU at San Diego - No way WNMU can hang with San Diego, fall behind early and cannot dig out.
CSU-Pueblo at Colorado Mines (winner has the inside track on running the table and #1 SR4 seed) 
- Morgan Fox and Cameron McDondle are gone. Bernard McDondle takes the reins. Mines Senior QB Justin Dvorak finally has his chance to get one on the Thunderwolves and does.


Mark Haslett's Picks
Mark is the News Director at KETR in Commerce and a former journalist at the Amarillo Globe News.  Which gives him an interesting perspective on two LSC universities.  (Mark's picks were emailed on time, and as you can see, he got Thursdays games wrong anyway, putting him in excellent company).

Angelo State at McKendree
Meet me in St. Louis...and then cross over to the Illinois side and head east until you get to Lebanon, Ill., where McKendree University is home of the Bearcats. Lone Star Conference teams tend to do well in non-conference matchups and there's no obvious reason why this shouldn't follow that pattern.
Angelo State 45, McKendree 24
ENMU at Southwest Baptist
What's with all the purple Bearcats? First McKendree, now Southwest Baptist. These guys are from Bolivar, Mo. Is there something about purple Bearcats in the Midwest? Is it an invasive species issue? Anyway, we'll look for Eastern to put on the dog in Missouri.
ENMU 51, Southwest Baptist 20
WTAMU at Azusa Pacific
"If we could just get off of this L.A. Freeway without getting killed or caught." Provided the Buffs don't get lost and end up in Rancho Cucamonga, they should be able to hold their own against a surf-tested Azusa Pacific squad and bring a victory home to Canyon.
WTAMU 23, Azusa Pacific 21.
OPSU at Sam Houston State
We expect the Aggies to be a competitive force in the Lone Star Conference, but it's asking way too much of a work-in-progress Division II program to do anything surprising down in the pines of Huntsville. Hopefully Panhandle State will pick up some useful experience and stay healthy.
Sam Houston State 54, OPSU 13
Tarleton State at McNeese State
How 'bout them Cowboys! Nobody tell Jerry Jones that there are some more Cowboys to the east, because McNeese State doesn't need a multibillion-dollar stadium and they definitely don't need Greg Hardy. Tarleton should have a bit more spirit in its step this season, but look for McNeese to defend its home turf against the Texans.
McNeese State 41, Tarleton State 19
Texas A&M Kingsville at Incarnate Word
Say, don't I know you from somewhere? These Incarnate Word fellows thought they were too big-time for Division II. Kingsville misses them most of all, because it was nice to have another LSC team comparatively close by. Look for the Piggies to put up a fight, but fall just short.
Incarnate Word 35, Texas A&M-Kingsville 31 (OT)
Sul Ross State at UT Permian Basin
These schools are familiar foes in other sports, but this is the first time the Falcons have faced the Lobos - or anyone else - in football. UTPB has been recruiting well and from all accounts they're doing everything right, but the Lobos have been playing football since Dan Blocker ("Hoss" from Bonanza) donned the scarlet and gray. Slight edge to Los Lobos.
Sul Ross State 45, UTPB 41
Midwestern State at Truman State
The Evil Empire heads up to northeastern Missouri to face the children of the corn. And soybeans. Lots and lots of soybeans. Expect the Mustangs to pillage and loot and return laden with heavy sacks full of tofu and textured vegetable protein.
Midwestern State 38, Truman State 10
WNMU at San Diego
The Mustangs of old Western New Mexico are being forced to endure a free trip to San Diego. Fortunately, WNMU will soon be making trips to Portales and Odessa, so in a few weeks, they'll have recovered from the trauma induced by gently waving palms and flowering vines. San Diego's Dave Dravecky and Garry Templeton could make the difference in this one.
San Diego 35, Western New Mexico 27
CSU-Pueblo at Colorado Mines
Two of the better teams in Division II are featured here, and it's hard to pick a winner. We'll stick with conventional wisdom, which gives a slight edge to the Howling Thunderwolves.
CSU-Pueblo 24, Colorado Mines 21


LSC Scoop Picks

Angelo State pulls away to a 35-21 win.

SBU could be a team on the rise, but ENMU should take this one, 35-21.

Buffaloes repay APU with a tight road win, WT 24-16

Look for SHSU to get out quickly and get some playing time for one of their four freshman backup QBs.  SHSU 49-10

McNeese names their score 56-17

As long as Dr. Agnese doesn't give the UIW football a pep talk, look for UIW to win another close one, UIW 21-17.

Not a whole lot of info to go on with this one, but UTPB has a few transfers with experience and that might be enough for a Falcons win 17-14.

Mustangs storm out of the gate, 42-14.

USD 35-21.

Each team really only has two serious threats the rest of the way - Colorado Mesa for both teams and WTAM for CSU-Pueblo and Azusa Pacific for Colorado Mines.  We were going to take Mines in an upset, but just can't after re-reading what we just wrote.  CSUP 28-24.

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