East Central (1-0) at Tarleton (5-2)
When: 6 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Stadium in Stephenville, Texas
Broadcast: Tarleton Athletics
The Matchup: The Texans will play the final game of an eight-game spring schedule. Playing eight games this spring is an impressive feat considering the pandemic that has ravaged schedules across all sports for the past year.
Tarleton is on a four-game winning streak and has not scored less than 33 points in a game since a 26-14 turnover plagued loss at home to Dixie State. The Texans defense has been equally impressive, allowing 12.5 points over their last four games and pitched a shutout last week.
East Central is playing the second of a three-game schedule this spring and enters with nearly three weeks off after the Tigers 35-28 win over Southern Nazarene. The Tigers have been a program struggling in recent years, posting a total of 10 wins since their last winning season in 2015.
The Texans have made a loud statement in their first season of FCS football. Tarleton enters this week ranked No. 21 in the American Football Coaches Association poll. The Texans have put the nation on alert they will be a playoff contender at the end of their four-year transition period.
Players to Watch:
ECU - Ontario Douglas, RB, Jr, Lawton, Okla. (Eisenhower HS)
Jackson McFarlane, WR, Jr, Ada, Okla. (Ada HS)
Calvin Baker, ILB, So, The Colony, Texas (The Colony HS)
TSU - Steven Duncan, QB, Jr, Charleston, S.C. (Ashley Ridge HS)
Jordan Wells, DL, Sr, Navasota, Texas (Navasota HS)
Kaylon Horton, DB, So, Houston, Texas (Cy Ridge HS)
Key to Victory: Keeping the same theme from last week, Tarleton should once again be able to name their score in this game. However, should is not a certainty in any game.
The Texans will need to avoid overlooking an overmatched opponent, and that includes taking care of the football. Tarleton had five turnovers in its last loss of the spring and have had a total of five turnovers during their current four-game winning streak.
Prediction: Tarleton by 28
Lamar (2-3) at No. 22 Southeastern La. (2-2)
When: 6 p.m. Saturday at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond, La.
The Matchup: Lamar has a roster filled with young talent and is in the beginning phases of a major rebuild, but that has not stopped the Cardinals from being competitive this spring.
The Cardinals have also been a resilient group whose two wins have followed what would have been devastating blowouts for most teams. Lamar was outscored 97-20 in its first two losses before winning on the road against McNeese.
Lamar followed a tough 62-7 home loss to Sam Houston with an impressive 31-23 win over Northwestern State last week. The Cardinals are playing their sixth game in the previous six weeks and are the only Southland Conference team to not have a bye this spring.
Southeastern Louisiana has been an interesting case study this spring. The Lions entered with hopes of a playoff berth. Those hopes are hanging by a thread entering their final two games.
Three of the Lions games have been decided by five points or less, and SLU is the only team to have challenged Sam Houston to this point of the season. AT TIMES, the SLU defense has been an issue, allowing 99 points in the Lions two losses but only allowed 44 points in their two wins.
Players to Watch:
LU - Jalen Dummett, QB, Jr, Oakland, Calif. (Feather River College)
Dallas Martin, ILB, Sr, Murrieta, Calif. (City College of San Francisco)
Anthony Ruffin, DB, Houma, La. (Terrebonne HS)
SLU - Cole Kelley, QB, Sr, Lafayette, La. (Arkansas)
CJ Turner, WR, Jr, LaPlace, La. (East St. John HS)
Alexis Ramos, LB, Sr, Salinas, Calif. (Hartnell College)
Key to Victory: Lamar will need to play a complete game in all three phases this week. The Cardinals jumped out to a 28-0 lead last week after a special teams touchdown but had to hold on in the fourth quarter to earn the win.
While SLU has not had an “easy” win this spring, the Lions are capable of running away from the Cardinals if Lamar loses focus. I will take Lamar quarterback Jalen Dummett if the game is close late, but I think the Lions having two weeks to prepare will be the difference.
Prediction: Southeastern La. by 10
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