Small College Preview: Huge games in Southland and Lone Star Conference

Texas A&M-Commerce

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GAME: Houston Baptist (4-2, 1-1) at Abilene Christian (2-4, 1-3)

WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m. at Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium in Abilene. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

WHY IT MATTERS: This is a huge Southland Conference game for both teams and features two of the best junior quarterbacks in the country. The HBU offense is led by Bailey Zappe, who has completed 71.6 percent of his passes for 2,207 yards with 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions in six games. ACU is led by Luke Anthony who will return from injury this week. Anthony has completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 1,365 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions in five starts. Both teams are coming off tough losses and need a win this week to keep pace in the conference race. The Wildcats record is not indicative of how well they have played as they have lost three conference games by a total of 11 points.

INSIDE THE STATS: HBU has the best offense in the conference and the advanced stats love the Huskies. HBU averages an incredible 0.581 points per possession (PPP) along with 6.7 yards per play while the Huskies defense continues to improve allowing 0.396 PPP and 5.7 yards per play. ACU also has a good offense that averages 0.431 PPP and 5.9 yards per play this season while the Wildcats defense allows 0.366 PPP and 5.3 yards per play.

COMPUTER PREDICTION: Abilene Christian 33, Houston Baptist 30


GAME: Midwestern State (3-2, 1-2) at No. 20 Texas A&M-Commerce (3-1, 2-0)

WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m. at Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

WHY IT MATTERS: This has become one of the best rivalries in all of college football over the last six years. The Mustangs hold a 4-2 edge over that period, but the Lions ended a three-game MSU winning streak with a wild 20-19 win. Last year’s game made national headlines as it began in Wichita Falls, Texas on Saturday night but had to be postponed at halftime due to lightning. The teams met on Sunday afternoon to play the second half at the University of North Texas. Two of the last three meetings between these teams have been decided by one point and neither team has won by more than five points in the last four meetings. TAMUC needs this game to keep pace atop the Lone Star Conference while MSU needs to rebound after two tough losses.

INSIDE THE STATS: MSU has been very inconsistent on offense this season as they have averaged only 0.309 points per possession (PPP) and 4.9 yards per play while the Mustangs defense has been very solid allowing 0.254 PPP and only 4.8 yards per play. TAMUC has been exceptional on offense as they have averaged 0.561 PPP and 6.4 yards per play while the Lions defense has also been solid allowing 0.309 PPP and 4.2 yards per play.

COMPUTER PREDICTION: Texas A&M-Commerce 31, Midwestern State 25


GAME: Southwestern (2-2, 1-2) at Belhaven (1-4, 1-3)

WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m. at Belhaven Bowl Stadium in Jackson, Miss.

WHY IT MATTERS: This is a huge game for both teams as both teams need a positive result at this point in the season. The triple-option of Southwestern was rolling through its first two games as they totaled 97 points in their two wins. However, the Pirates offense has stalled in the last two weeks as they only have nine total points in their last two losses. Belhaven is no longer the easy win in the American Southwest Conference as they have been close in many games despite their record. The Blazers have not lost an ASC game by more than 11 points and were only defeated 23-13 on the road by No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor on Sept. 21. The winner of this game will earn valuable momentum as each team faces a tough challenge next week.

INSIDE THE STATS: This game has the look of a defensive battle. Southwestern has averaged 0.375 points per possession (PPP) and 5.1 yards per play while only allowing 0.251 PPP and 4.7 yards per play on defense. Belhaven has also struggled on offense averaging 0.289 PPP and 4.9 yards per play while the Blazers defense has only allowed 0.338 PPP and 4.7 yards per play.

COMPUTER PREDICTION: Southwestern 31, Belhaven 24


GAME: Cisco College (4-2, 2-2) at No. 20 Blinn College (4-2, 2-2)

WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m. at Cub Stadium in Brenham, Texas.

WHY IT MATTERS: The SWJCFC is a brutal conference as each team from top to bottom is capable of winning in any given week. This week is huge for both teams as there are only three weeks remaining to qualify for the conference playoffs. Both teams are currently in a three-way tie with Northeastern Oklahoma A&M for third place. The winner of this game will gain a huge advantage towards earning a spot in the playoffs while the loser will be in a do or die situation for the last two weeks. Blinn is trying to rebound from a 42-12 loss on the road to NEO last week while Cisco is trying to build off its 20-0 victory at home over New Mexico Military Institute.

INSIDE THE STATS: Cisco brings an impressive defense into this game that has only allowed 22.3 points per game. The Wranglers offense has been outstanding running the ball as they average 182.5 rushing yards and 36.5 points per game. Blinn is led by a potent offense that has averaged 486.8 total yards per game and 36.3 points while the defense has struggled at times allowing 403.3 yards per game, but the Buccaneers are holding their opponents to only 20.3 points per game.

MY PICK: Blinn by 6



No. 24 Sam Houston State 36, Lamar 24

No. 25 Southeastern La. 37, Incarnate Word 27

Texas Southern 34, Missouri S&T 28

Southern 32, Prairie View A&M 28

Angelo State 40, Western New Mexico 21

West Texas A&M 29, UT Permian Basin 27

Western Oregon 30, Texas A&M-Kingsville 29

No. 4 Tarleton 33, Eastern New Mexico 27

No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor 41, East Texas Baptist 22

Texas Lutheran 38, Louisiana College 23

Millsaps 25, Austin College 23

Lyon by 5 over Southwestern Assemblies of God

No.18 Ottawa (Ariz) by 45 over Texas College

Oklahoma Panhandle State by 10 over Texas Wesleyan

Navarro by 15 over New Mexico Military Institute

No. 11 Trinity Valley by 30 over Rezolution Prep Academy

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M by 10 over Tyler

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