No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders (9-0, 8-0)
Last Week: UMHB used a mix of its amazing defense combined with an efficient offense to earn a big 41-3 win at home over Texas Lutheran. Jase Hammack completed 11-of-16 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown while Marquis Duncan gained 100 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Jonel Reed had another outstanding game at wide receiver with 103 yards and a touchdown on four catches. Linebacker Tevin Jones was an incredible force for the Cru defense with 21 tackles, 10 solo, and two tackles for loss in the win.
The Verdict: The Cru clinched at least a share of their 17th American Southwest Conference title an impressive 15 consecutive ASC titles. While the Cru has greater aspirations than just a conference title, they know this is the first step. UMHB will ride its defense through the playoffs but still need more from its offense to repeat as national champs.
This Week: UMHB travels to play Sul Ross State on Saturday at noon.
Texas Lutheran Bulldogs (7-2, 7-1)
Last Week: TLU put up a good fight against a tough team before losing 41-3 on the road to No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor. Wade Freeman completed 26-of-38 passes for 278 yards with three interceptions and added 15 yards rushing on 17 carries. Charles Robinson Jr. led the receivers with 83 yards on nine receptions. Sam Guzman led the Bulldogs defense with 11 tackles, six solo.
The Verdict: The Bulldogs have an impressive young quarterback in Wade Freeman who played the best defense he’s seen in his career last week. Freeman will learn from this and TLU should be able to end the season on a high note this week. TLU should be in the mix for an at-large playoff bid but seem to be on the outside looking in right now.
This Week: TLU returns home to play McMurry at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
Trinity University (Tex.) Tigers (7-2, 6-1)
Last Week: Trinity shut down one of the top offenses in the country last week as they earned an impressive 20-10 win at home over Birmingham Southern. Wyatt Messex completed 14-of-22 passes for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Austin Bertness led the receivers with 60 yards and a touchdown on four catches. Linebacker Caleb Harmel led the defense with 15 tackles, one-half tackle for loss, two quarterback hurries and forced a fumble while defensive back Nic Hover and linebacker Michael Jewett each had 13 tackles for the Tigers.
The Verdict: The Tigers earned a huge win and have won six straight games. Trinity has a great chance to earn its seventh straight win to end the season and could be SAA champion and earn an automatic bid to the playoffs if Austin College defeats Berry.
This Week: Trinity travels to play Rhodes on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
No. 13 Hardin-Simmons Cowboys (7-2, 6-2)
Last Week: HSU was dominant once again last Saturday as they earned a convincing 45-0 win over East Texas Baptist. Quarterback Kyle Jones was outstanding as he completed 15-of-17 passes for 232 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Kevi Evans led the receivers with 135 yards and a touchdown on four catches while Bryson Hammonds led the rushing attack with 95 yards on 17 carries. Blake Johnston led the HSU defense with 10 tackles, six solo, and one-half tackle for loss.
The Verdict: The Cowboys continue to dominate their opponents as they are trying to make an impression, they hope is good enough to earn an at-large bid to the playoffs. The odds seem unlikely they earn a playoff spot, but the Cowboys will not give up on their season.
This Week: HSU will host Southwestern at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
East Texas Baptist Tigers (5-4, 5-3)
Last Week: ETBU had a tough day against a determined team last Saturday as they lost 45-0 at home to No. 14 Hardin-Simmons. Quarterback Brian Baca completed 18-of-33 passes for 169 yards. Justin Ward led the rushing attack with 64 yards on 20 carries while Davion Carter was the leading Tigers receiver with 52 yards on three catches. Defensive back KJ Kelley had a huge game with 17 tackles, 10 solo for ETBU.
The Verdict: The Tigers met a team that remains angry and determined to try and earn a playoff spot. While ETBU is a good team, they are not on the level of the top teams in the conference this season. The Tigers have a chance to finish with a nice win this week.
This Week: ETBU travels to play Louisiana College on Saturday at noon.
Austin College Kangaroos (5-4, 4-3)
Last Week: Austin College ran out to a 29-point lead in the third quarter but had to hold on for dear life to defeat Rhodes 35-28 last Saturday. Quarterback Colt Collins had another great performance in his final game at home as he completed 24-of-31 passes for 272 yards and a touchdown while adding 103 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Evan Powell added a rushing touchdown and Kai Brinkerhoff added a receiving touchdown for the ‘Roos. Linebacker Connor Carnes had 11 tackles, six solo and a quarterback hurry for the defense.
The Verdict: The ‘Roos have had a good season and while they may not make the playoffs, they can help determine who will win the Southern Athletic Association title and an automatic playoff berth with a win this week. A win would be a fitting tribute to a great quarterback in Colt Collins.
This Week: Austin College travels to play No. 20 Berry at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
Southwestern University Pirates (4-5, 3-5)
Last Week: Five turnovers proved costly for Southwestern last week as they were defeated 24-16 by Howard Payne at home. Austin Emery completed 4-of-8 passes for 55 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while adding 125 yards on 25 carries. Elijah Smith added 117 yards on 19 carries. Peyton Ludemann led the Pirates defense with nine tackles, eight solo, one tackle for loss and broke up a pass.
The Verdict: The Pirates were able to overcome eight lost fumbles a few weeks ago and still win but the turnovers cost the Pirates a win this week. Southwestern has been overcoming adversity and injuries all season but will need an almost perfect performance to avoid a three-game losing streak to end the season.
This Week: Southwestern travels to play No. 13 Hardin-Simmons on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
Sul Ross State Lobos (3-6, 3-5)
Last Week: A slow start was too much for Sul Ross to overcome last week as they were defeated 25-6 on the road to Belhaven. Quarterback Trey Johns completed 19-of-40 passes for 233 yards and an interception. Running back Williton Grear struggled again last week with 48 yards rushing on 16 carries. De’Andre Bergen led the receivers with 75 yards on four catches while Dre’Chon Moody added 73 yards on seven receptions. Jaylen Bussey led the Lobos defense with eight tackles, seven solo, two tackles for loss and forced a fumble.
The Verdict: The Lobos have a very young team who has struggled to move the ball as teams have stacked the box to keep Williton Grear from running the ball. SRSU will need to have an incredible game this week to avoid a four-game losing streak to end the season.
This Week: Sul Ross State will host No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor at noon on Saturday.
McMurry War Hawks (0-9, 0-8)
Last Week: A 21-point second quarter was too much for McMurry to overcome as they lost 49-36 at home to Louisiana College last Saturday. Carlos Garibay completed 22-of-37 passes for 273 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Dee Robinson gained 90 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries while Kevin Hurley caught six passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Josh Smith and Dakota Russell-Davis each recorded nine tackles as Russell-David had one tackle for loss, one quarterback hurry and broke up a pass.
The Verdict: The War Hawks have played very competitive this year and their players and coaches deserve plenty of credit for continuing to fight each week. McMurry will have one last tough game on the road before turning its focus to recruiting and continuing to build the program.
This Week: McMurry travels to play Texas Lutheran at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
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