No. 15 Incarnate Word at No. 1 Sam Houston
When: 2 p.m. Saturday at Elliott T. Bowers Stadium in Huntsville, Texas
The Matchup: This is a great time to be a fan of FCS football in Texas. Sam Houston has been the best FCS team in this great state for quite some time. But the number of challengers to the Bearkats throne is quickly growing.
However, neither of these teams would be satisfied simply being the champion of Texas but the path to the FCS title goes through this state once again with the Bearkats earning the top seed in the country.
These teams have met in each of the last nine seasons with Sam Houston winning eight of those contests, including a 42-14 road win last April.
UIW’s lone win was a 43-26 home victory in 2018, which was the first year for coach Eric Morris at UIW and marked the first Southland title for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals have stars aplenty on offense led by sophomore quarterback Cameron Ward, who was named Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Wide receiver Taylor Grimes had three touchdown receptions last week and needs only one more touchdown to set the UIW career record for receiving touchdowns in his FIRST year in San Antonio.
Sam Houston’s biggest strength is its depth. Any player on the two-deep roster is capable of playing for nearly any team in the country at any level. The Kats have a plethora of talent that should have a shot at the NFL when their collegiate careers are complete.
Players to Watch:
Cameron Ward, QB, Soph, West Columbia, Texas (Columbia HS)
Marcus Cooper, RB, Gr, Altair, Texas (Rice Consolidated HS)
Taylor Grimes, WR, Jr, Godly, Texas (Godly HS)
Kelechi Anyalebechi, LB, Sr, Pearland, Texas (Shadow Creek HS)
Brandon Bowen, DL, Gr, Trophy Club, Texas (Byron Nelson HS)
Elliott Davison, DB, Soph, Flint, Texas (Tyler Lee HS)
Eric Schmid, QB, Jr, The Woodlands, Texas (The Woodlands HS)
Ramon Jefferson, RB, Jr, Bronx, N.Y. (Maine)
Cody Chrest, WR, Gr, Houston, Texas (Cy Fair HS)
Trevor Williams, LB, Jr, College Station, Texas (A&M Consolidated HS)
Jahari Kay, DL, Sr, Berkeley, Calif. (Laney College)
Zyon McCollum, DB, Sr, Galveston, Texas (Ball HS)
Key to Victory: Those of you expecting to see the typical stat breakdown in this section will be disappointed. Certainly, creating and limiting turnovers will be a big factor in the game.
However, how UIW manages to play at Bowers Stadium will be the key to this game. The Bearkats are really good at home. Really, really good. SHSU has won 12 straight games at home.
The home field advantage is even greater for the Kats in the playoffs, with SHSU being 16-0 all-time in playoff games at Bowers Stadium. Need another stat? K.C. Keeler is 30-0 all-time at home in playoff games.
Prediction: If this game was at a neutral site or at UIW, the Cardinals would be a trendy selection. This UIW team is a strong, talented, and resilient squad. However, they are 4-2 on the road this year and have scored 11.1 fewer points per game on the road.
Sam Houston by 9
Best of the Rest:
Saturday, Dec. 4
Angelo State at No. 9 Colorado School of Mines, 1 p.m., RMAC Network
No. 7 Linfield at No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor, noon, CruAthletics.com
Prairie View A&M at Jackson State (SWAC Championship), 3 p.m., ESPN2
No. 15 Tyler at No. 11 Coffeyville (Heart of Texas Bowl), 4:05 p.m., ESPNU
Other Small College Games:
Saturday, Dec. 4
NCAA Division II
Oklahoma Baptist vs UT Permian Basin (Heritage Bowl), noon, MY 30 KWWT
Navarro at No. 12 Gardin City (Scooter’s Coffee Bowl), 2 p.m.
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