Midwestern State vs No. 7 Texas A&M-Commerce
When: 6 p.m. Saturday at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Broadcast: www.lonestarconferencenetwork.com/tamuc/ (PPV)
The Matchup: Texas A&M-Commerce achieved a program first last week earning its first win over No. 12 Colorado State-Pueblo in three tries. The Lions won a defensive battle on the road in a gale force wind and let the country know they were serious national title contenders this year.
Midwestern State went on the road to Quincy, Ill. and departed with a 48-27 win after blowing the game open in the second half, which sets up a showdown with the Mustangs Lone Star Conference rival.
This series has been wacky of late. From 2015-2018, the total margin of victory was 11 points. That’s 11 total points in four games with the 2018 game living in each program’s lore for years to come after playing in two stadiums over two days. This year marks the first of two consecutive years playing the rivalry game at Choctaw Stadium, which is the newly renamed Globe Life Park.
Both teams have questions remaining after their season openers and very little time to fix mistakes before a critical conference game. The Lions will need the offense to produce more this week after 221 total yards against CSU-Pueblo. The Mustangs allowed 414 passing yards to Quincy last week so expect TAMU-Commerce to try and exploit the MSU secondary.
Players to Watch:
Dillon Sterling-Cole, QB, Sr, Orange, Texas (Arizona State)
Trenton Kennedy, RB, Sr, Cypress, Texas (Tyler JC)
Melik Owens, DE, Sr, Houston, Texas (Cypress Ridge HS)
Antonio Leali’ie’e, RB, Sr, Copperas Cove, Texas (Copperas Cove HS)
Amon Simon, OL, Sr, Humble, Texas (Atascocita HS)
Celestin Haba, DL, Columbia, S.C. (Scottsdale CC)
Key to Victory: Last week, I predicted special teams to be the difference for the Lions over CSU-Pueblo. That would be too easy this week despite special teams being a large factor.
The matchup to watch this week is the TAMU-Commerce defensive line against the MSU offensive line. The Lions are big, fast, and have an extreme amount of depth. The Lions deploy a 4-2-5 defense with the ability to rotate eight players along the defensive line without any decrease in production.
MSU had a couple of years with subpar offensive line play in relation to the Mustangs’ high standards. The offensive line is not an issue this season led by seniors Austan Davis, Nick Gonzalez, Caleb Brown with juniors Caleb Gill and Charles Hempstead III rounding out the starters.
Prediction: Some pundits believe the Lions will run away with this game if they can avoid costly mistakes. However, I think this game will be much closer than prognosticators expect.
Sure, the Mustangs aren’t ranked in the top 25 but they are receiving votes and the Lions have to remain focused on this game while knowing the No. 1 team in the country, and defending national champions, West Florida awaits next week.
I think the Lions win but always expect the unexpected in this series.
Texas A&M-Commerce by 6
Best of the Rest:
West Texas A&M at UT Permian Basin, 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, LoneStarConferenceNetwork.com
East Texas Baptist at No. 1 Mary Hardin-Baylor, Saturday, Sept. 11, CruAthletics.com
Other Small College Games:
Saturday, Sept. 11
Lamar at UTSA, 5 p.m., ESPN3
Fort Lewis at Tarleton, 6 p.m., ESPN+
Louisiana College at Abilene Christian, 6 p.m., ESPN+
Northern Colorado at Houston Baptist, 6 p.m., ESPN+
Texas Southern at Baylor, 6 p.m., ESPN+
Stephen F. Austin at Texas Tech, 6 p.m., ESPN+
Southeast Missouri at No. 1 Sam Houston, 6 p.m., ESPN+
Prairie View A&M at Incarnate Word, 7 p.m., ESPN3
NCAA Division II
No. 22 Angelo State at Chadron State, 2 p.m., ChadronEagles.com
Western Oregon at Texas A&M-Kingsville, 7 p.m., LoneStarConferenceNetwork.com
NCAA Division III
Austin College at Texas Lutheran, 1 p.m., TLUBulldogs.com
Howard Payne at McMurry, 1 p.m., McMurrySports.com
No. 7 Hardin-Simmons at Sul Ross State, 4 p.m., SRLobos.com
MacAlester at Trinity, 6 p.m., TrinityTigers.com
Southwestern at Belhaven, 7 p.m., Blazers.Belhaven.edu
Ottawa (Ariz.) at SAGU, 11 a.m., SAGULions.com
Wayland Baptist at Lyon, 2 p.m., LyonScots.com
Texas Wesleyan at Oklahoma Panhandle State, 3 p.m., OPSUAggies.com
Texas College at Langston, 6 p.m.
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M at No. 8 Trinity Valley, 11 a.m., TVCCSports.com
No. 14 Navarro at Tyler, 7 p.m., ApacheAthletics.com
No. 5 Kilgore at Blinn, 7 p.m., BuccaneersSports.com
Rezolution Prep at Cisco, 7 p.m.
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