No. 8 Texas A&M-Commerce at No. 12 Colorado State-Pueblo
When: 7 p.m. Thursday at Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl in Pueblo, Colo.
The Matchup: Two perennial NCAA Division II powers with national title hopes this year collide in the opening week of the season. Both teams boast national championship trophies with CSU-Pueblo winning in 2014 and TAMUC winning in 2017. The teams also share the distinction of having not played a football game in more than 600 days.
The Lions received some bad news in the offseason with a knee injury to quarterback Miklo Smalls. Smalls was the catalyst to the Lions’ 2019 run to the quarterfinals and could return later this season. TAMUC will likely turn to Louisiana transfer Jaiave Magalei to manage the offense.
No matter who lines up at quarterback, they will have a solid offensive line led by returning Lone Star Conference Lineman of the Year, Amon Simon. The Lions have three running backs who have each saw significant time over the last three seasons while the receiver corps has been bolstered by multiple transfers.
The Thunderwolves have touted a strong rushing attack and this year is no exception. Gunnar Lamphere is expected to be the starting quarterback but running back D.J. Penick leads a bevy of talented rushers. CSU-Pueblo will feature a pro-style offense with a passing game dependent on weather conditions.
Players to Watch:
TAMUC - Jaiave Magalei, QB, Jr, Tacoma, Wash. (Louisiana)
Dominique Ramsey, DB, Sr, Converse, Texas (Judson HS)
Amon Simon, OL, Sr, Humble, Texas (Atascocita HS)
CSU-Pueblo - D.J. Penick, RB, Sr, Evanston, Ill (Highland Park HS)
Gunnar Lamphere, QB, Jr, Aurora, Colo. (Grandview HS)
Trevor Philio, LB, Sr, Denver, Colo. (Cherry Creek HS)
Key to Victory: When two programs that have developed a winning tradition collide, the game is often determined by the turnovers, penalties, and special teams play. With both teams having over 600 days between games, turnovers and penalties will be a focus for both coaching staffs. Lions coach David Bailiff has focused on reducing penalties during fall camp. The difference in this game lies in the special teams with the Lions having a distinct advantage with dynamic return specialist Dominique Ramsey and “Mr. Reliable” Jake Viquez at kicker.
Prediction: Commerce by 3
Best of the rest
Prairie View A&M at Texas Southern, 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, ESPN+
Tarleton at Stephen F. Austin, 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, ESPN+
Texas Lutheran at Howard Payne, Saturday, Sept. 4
Other small college games:
Thursday, Sept. 2nd
UIW at Youngstown State, 6 p.m., ESPN+
North American at Lamar, 6 P.M., ESPN+
No. 1 Sam Houston at Northern Arizona, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Houston Baptist at New Mexico, 7 p.m., GoLobos.com
Texas College at West Texas A&M, 7 p.m., LoneStarConferenceNetwork.com
Angelo State at No. 21 Lindenwood, 7 p.m., GLVCSN.com
East Texas Baptist at Wisconsin-Platteville, 6 p.m., LetsGoPioneers.com
Saturday, Sept. 4
Abilene Christian at SMU, 5 p.m., ESPN+
UT Permian Basin at Southwest Baptist, noon, GLVCSN.com
Midwestern State at Quincy, 1 p.m., GLVCSN.com
Texas A&M-Kingsville at Saginaw Valley State, 6 p.m., SVSUCardinals.com
Austin College at Hendrix, 1 p.m., ACRoos.com
Simpson at No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor, 6 p.m., CruAthletics.com
Wayland Baptist at No. 7 Hardin-Simmons, 6 p.m., HSUAthletics.com
McMurry at Trinity University, 6 p.m., TrinityTigers.com
Southwestern at Cal Lutheran, 9 p.m., CLUSports.com
No. 15 Arizona Christian at Texas Wesleyan, noon, RamSports.net
Southwestern Assemblies of God at Louisiana College, 6 p.m., LCWildcats.net
ASA-Miami at No. 8 Trinity Valley, 1 p.m., SHN Sports Network
Navarro at Cisco, 7 p.m.
No. 6 Kilgore at Tyler, 7 p.m., ApacheAthletics.com
Southern-Shreveport at Blinn, 7 p.m.
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