DCTF College Football Previews: Top 15 matchup; UTPB in for a fight

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No. 15 UIW (3-0) at No. 14 Nicholls (2-1)

When: 11 a.m. Saturday at John L. Guidry Stadium in Thibodaux, La.

Broadcast: ESPN+

The Matchup: This would have been the game of the week during nearly any other week, but this week is filled with great matchups.

Nicholls enters this game reeling after having two weeks since they were drubbed 71-17 at Sam Houston. The Colonels got off to a good start against the Bearkats but fell apart in all phases over the final three quarters.

UIW enters on a roll with an offense that is averaging 48.7 points per game this spring. The Cardinals have scored at least 42 points in each game this season. However, the UIW offense will face its most formidable challenge to date against an angry defense.

Players to Watch: 

UIW - Kevin Brown, RB, Sr, Mount Pleasant, S.C. (Wando HS)

Cameron Ward, QB, Fr, West Columbia, Texas (Columbia HS)

Isaiah Paul, LB, Fr, San Antonio, Texas (Brennan HS)

Nicholls - Julien Gums, RB, Jr, New Orleans, La. (De La Salle HS)

Dai’Jean Dixon, WR, Sr, New Orleans, La. (Edna Karr HS)

Ty’Ree Evans, LB, Sr, Waynesboro, Miss. (Southern Miss)

Key to Victory: While UIW has rolled through its first three opponents, the Colonels present a considerable challenge. The Cardinals will need to withstand the physical play of Nicholls and create holes for Kevin Brown and the running attack to take pressure off Cameron Ward in the passing game.

Prediction: Nicholls by 3


Northwestern State (0-3) at Lamar (1-3)

When: 3 p.m. Saturday at Provost Umphrey Stadium in Beaumont, Texas

Broadcast: ESPN+

The Matchup: Northwestern State enters the game winless this spring but do not allow the Demons record to fool you. They have two losses against ranked teams by a combined 10 points.

Lamar earned its first win under coach Blane Morgan against McNeese two weeks ago but was brought back to earth by a talented Sam Houston squad. The Cardinals have played a demanding schedule with three of their four opponents ranked in the top 25.

Players to Watch: 

NSU - Javon Antonio, WR, Jr, LaPlace, La. (Hinds CC)

Jomard Valsin, OLB, Jr, Port Arthur, Texas (Memorial HS)

Blake Stephenson, ILB, Sr, Deer Park, Texas (Trinity Valley CC)

Lamar - Chaz Ward, RB, So, Houma, La. (Terrebonne HS)

Anthony Ruffin, DB, Houma, La. (Terrebonne HS)

Andre Mulinax, DB, Forth Worth, Texas (Crowley HS)

Key to Victory: some will view Lamar as the favorite to win this game. How the young Cardinals handle those expectations will play a prominent role in who wins this game. Both teams have had struggles on offense this year, and the team that converts their red zone opportunities will win this game with big plays being a rarity.

Prediction: Northwestern State by 4


Northeastern State (0-0) at No. 24 Tarleton (4-2)

When: 6 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Stephenville, Texas

Broadcast: Tarleton Sports All-Access

The Matchup: Northeastern State has played two scrimmages this spring and has not kept stats against either opponent. The Riverhawks are coming off an 0-11 campaign in coach J.J. Eckert’s first season at the helm of the Division II school.

Tarleton was one of the top Division II teams in 2019 and has made its first appearance in the AFCA coaches FCS poll this week. The Texans have had a solid first season in Division I and are in the middle of a three-game homestand to end the spring season.

Players to Watch: 

NSU - Jacob Medrano, QB, So, Muskogee, Okla. (Muskogee HS)

Mark Wheeland, WR, Jr, Haskell, Okla. (Haskell HS)

Elijah Wallace, DB, So, Yukon, Okla. (Yukon HS)

TSU - Khalil Banks, RB, Sr, The Colony, Texas (The Colony HS)

J.F. Thomas, WR, Sr, Dallas, Texas (South Oak Cliff HS)

Jordan Wells, DL, Sr, Navasota, Texas (Navasota HS)

Key to Victory: Tarleton should roll through this game with ease if they take care of the football. The Texans are the more talented and physically dominant team, with the Riverhawks in the middle of a rebuild with young talent.

Prediction: Tarleton by 45


Midwestern State (1-1) at UT Permian Basin (4-0)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday at Grande Stadium in Midland, Texas

Broadcast: Lone Star Conference Digital Network

The Matchup: Here is another tasty matchup this week that could easily be a game of the week if not for a loaded schedule.

UTPB is flying high entering this game against MSU with a program-record four-game winning streak, which is also the most wins in a season and first winning season in school history.

The Falcons host MSU reeling after a tough first quarter led to a loss against former Lone Star Conference rival Tarleton. The Mustangs have a group of dynamic wide receivers that can change the game. Both teams are dealing with their share of injuries heading into the final game of the spring.

Players to Watch: 

MSU - Kylan Harrison, WR, Jr, Paris, Texas (W.T. White HS)

Derrick Ponder, QB, Sr, Wichita Falls, Texas (Jackson State)

Larry Donnell, S, FR, Mesquite, Texas (Horn HS)

UPTB - Brayden Thomas, QB, Fr, Fort Worth, Texas (Boswell HS)

MJ Link, WR, Jr, Lakeland, Fla. (Garden City CC)

Levon Barnett, DB, Jr, West Palm Beach, Fla. (William T. Dwyer HS)

Key to Victory: UTPB has been winning with a stout defense this spring and meets a Mustangs squad that typically has one of the most potent offenses in the LSC. MSU needs to find a rushing attack this week, while the Falcons will need their defense to play at the level of the last two weeks where they have allowed eight total points.

Prediction: MSU by 3


Texas Lutheran (3-1) at East Texas Baptist (2-2)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday at Ornelas Stadium in Marshall, Texas

Broadcast: ETBU Sports Net

The Matchup: TLU has had a pretty decent spring, and the Bulldogs have shown improvement each week. The Bulldogs rebounded from their only loss in their last game to send their seniors out with a big home win before enjoying a bye week.

ETBU has been a mixed bag at times this spring. The Tigers opened with two wins before dropping their final two games, including a heartbreaking loss to Mary Hardin-Baylor. ETBU has not played a game in two weeks.

Players to Watch: 

TLU - Seth Cosme, QB, So, Angleton, Texas (Angleton HS)

Mason Perkins, WR, Sr, Burleson, Texas (Arlington Martin HS)

James Bell, DB, Sr, Houston, Texas (Lamar HS)

ETBU - Jalen Blanton, WR, Jr, Rosser, Texas (West Texas A&M)

Justice Henson, LB, Sr, Shreveport, La. (Louisiana Tech)

KJ Kelley, DB, Jr, Abilene, Texas (Hardin-Simmons)

Key to Victory: The running game will be a huge key in this game. TLU has dominated teams on the ground averaging 264 yards rushing per game, while ETBU allows 158 rushing yards per game. 

Prediction: Texas Lutheran by 5


McMurry (1-3) at Louisiana College (2-2)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday at Wildcat Field in Pineville, La.

Broadcast: LC Sports Net

The Matchup: Louisiana College has enjoyed the home cooking this spring, having won both games at Wildcat Field. The Wildcats will be trying to rebound after being dominated at Mary Hardin-Baylor last week.

McMurry has lost three straight games after opening the spring with the first win under coach Jordan Neal. The ASC West Division has been brutal, but the War Hawks can gain some needed momentum for the fall with a win this week.

Players to Watch: 

McM - Jermond Lovely, WR, So, Dayton, Texas (Dayton HS)

Coryell Fillmore, DB, Fr, Temple, Texas (Temple HS)

Colton Strickland, DL, Fr, Hawley, Texas (Hawley HS)

LC - Micah Latin, DL, Jr, Gloster, La. (Captain Shreve HS)

Canaan Leon, WR, So, Breaux Bridge, La. (Lafayette HS)

Julius Johnson, LB, Sr, Abbeville, La. (Kaplan HS)

Key to Victory: Both teams have struggled with throwing interceptions this spring, with LC having thrown six picks and McMurry responsible for seven interceptions. The defensive backfields will be key this week, with the Wildcats having an edge with six interceptions while the War Hawks have not intercepted a pass this spring.

Prediction: Louisiana College by 7


Southwestern (0-4) at Sul Ross State (0-4)

When: 11 a.m. Saturday at Jackson Field in Alpine, Texas

Broadcast: SRSU Media

The Matchup: This game could not be more significant for both programs heading into a shortened offseason. Southwestern has had opportunities in most of its losses this spring but has not been able to play a complete game to get the victory.

Sul Ross has struggled against a tough schedule. The Lobos offense has been the biggest concern, being held to 14 or fewer points in three of their four games. The SRSU defense has had issues against good offenses the last two weeks.

Players to Watch: 

SU - Landry Gilpin, QB, So, Mission, Texas (Veterans Memorial HS)

Eric Ovalle, WR, Sr, Laredo, Texas (John B. Alexander HS)

Edmundo Suarez, DE, Jr, League City, Texas (Clear Springs HS)

SRSU - Ozias Wright, RB, So, Killeen, Texas (Shoemaker HS)

Eduardo Garcia, DL, So, Garland, Texas (Garland HS)

Hunter Bunch, OLB, So, Sonora, Texas (Sonora HS)

Key to Victory: Which team can give its star the most help? The Pirates need to find someone to run the ball to take some pressure off Landry Gilpin, while the Lobos need to find a passing attack to keep the defense from loading the box to stop Ozias Wright.

Prediction: Southwestern by 7


Belhaven (2-2) at Howard Payne (2-2)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday at Gordon Wood Stadium in Brownwood, Texas

Broadcast: HPU Sports

The Matchup: Belhaven lost its first two games of the spring before rebounding to win two straight, including last week on the road against Southwestern. The Blazers have played better on both sides of the ball in their previous two games.

HPU is a two-point conversion away from being an impressive 3-1. The Yellow Jackets have a dynamic and balanced offensive attack that is averaging 32 points per game. But the defense has struggled most of the spring, allowing 447 total yards per game.

Players to Watch: 

BU - Brad Foley, RB, Sr, Memphis, Tenn. (Memphis University School)

Corey Toliver, DB, Jr, Zachary, La. (Northeast HS)

Carlton Brown, DL, So, Memphis, Tenn. (Northpoint Christian School)

HPU - Billy Reagins, RB, Jr, Sugarland, Texas (Northern Colorado)

Jake Parker, WR, Sr, Whitehouse, Texas (Cisco JC)

James Jakubowski, DL, Jr, Tatum, Texas (Tatum HS)

Key to Victory: HPU will put points on the board but can the Belhaven offense averaging only 17.5 points per game keep up with the Yellow Jackets? The Blazers have been decent at running the ball this spring which has been a weakness for the Yellow Jackets defense allowing 191 yards rushing per game.

Prediction: Howard Payne by 14

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