Small College Preview: No. 21 TAMUC faces another daunting road game; No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor with tricky test

Courtesy of Texas A&M-Commerce Football

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GAME: No. 21 Texas A&M-Commerce (9-2) at No. 7 Colorado School of Mines (12-0)

WHEN: Saturday at 1 p.m. at Marv Kay Stadium at Campbell Field in Golden, Colo. NCAA Division II Second Round playoff game.

WHY IT MATTERS: Texas A&M-Commerce shocked NCAA Division II last week as they did what many felt was near impossible: beat No. 3 Tarleton on the Texans' home field.

The Lions reward for defeating their rival? A trip to snow-covered Golden, Colo. and a game against another undefeated team in Colorado School of Mines.

This road is nothing new to the Lions as they have appeared in the second round of the DII playoffs for four consecutive years and their first three games were on the road during their 2016 national championship run.

While head coach David Bailiff and some of his players are experiencing the DII playoffs for the first time, there are plenty of returning players leading the way for the new guys.

“This is the expectation. It was just business as usual at practice,” Bailiff said following the Lions win over Tarleton. “We weren’t overly enthused. It was more of a business approach to get better and play the game on Saturday.”

The elevation in Golden, Colo. will also not be unfamiliar to this Lions team as they played at Colorado State-Pueblo earlier this season.

The challenge will be finding a way to slow down another efficient offense. Mines quarterback John Matocha has completed 73.7 percent of his passes this season. His favorite receiver is Josh Johnston who has 901 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.

Kader Kohou is likely to get the call to cover Johnston. Kohou met the challenge last week as he held one of the best receivers in the country to 87 yards and no touchdowns on five receptions.

One clear advantage the Lions have this week is in special teams, something they have become accustomed to over the last five years.

Kicker Jake Viquez has made 14-of-19 field goals including 8-of-8 from over 40 yards. His counterpart at Mines, Scott Marshall, has struggled at times as he has made 4-of-8 field goals and is only 1-of-5 on attempts over 30 yards.

However, Marshall did make a 23-yard field goal with three seconds remaining last week to send Mines to a 24-21 win over Sioux Falls.

INSIDE THE STATS: The Lions won a defensive battle last week and they will need to play a high level of defense once again this week.

Mines also brings in a very stingy defense that is based on being in the right position and making the first tackle.

Both defenses are very close statistically heading into this game as the Lions have allowed 0.286 points per play and 4.5 yards per play this season while Mines has only allowed 0.263 points per play and 4.4 yards per play.

COMPUTER PREDICTION: Colorado School of Mines 33, Texas A&M-Commerce 24

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