No. 9 UIW at Abilene Christian
When: 7 p.m. Saturday at Anthony Field at Wildcat Stadium in Abilene
The Matchup: Abilene Christian coach Keith Patterson isn’t trying to downplay how big Saturday’s game against UIW is for the Wildcats program. The Cardinals enter the contest ranked No. 9 in the AFCA Coaches Poll and fresh off an appearance in the FCS semifinals last season.
“It’s a great litmus test to see where we are as a football program,” Patterson said. “It’s a big game for us. We have a goal every year to go undefeated at home. It’s also a big game in terms of FCS playoffs with the success (the UIW) program has had over the last five or six years.”
Saturday’s game is the first time since ACU transitioned to FCS in 2013 that a regular season non-conference game has had such high stakes. Both programs expect to compete for the automatic berth within their respective conferences, but the winner of this contest will boost its resume for a possible at-large berth.
“(ACU) is a good football team,” UIW coach Clint Killough said. “They have playoff aspirations this year and are playing at a high level right now. We have to come ready to play. Hopefully, it’s a playoff atmosphere.”
The quarterback matchup on Saturday is tremendous, with Maverick McIvor and Zach Calzada posting superb numbers through the season's first two games. McIvor, a transfer from Texas Tech, completed 65 percent of his passes with 533 yards and five touchdowns during ACU’s first two games.
“This is truly the first time he’s gone through spring football, summer, and fall camp in his career because he’s always battled injuries,” Patterson said. “He’s in a comfort zone this year and has better command of what we’re trying to do.”
Calzada, who transferred to UIW after stops at Texas A&M and Auburn, has been equally impressive through the first two weeks, completing 65 percent of his pass attempts for 500 yards and four touchdowns.
“He’s been performing at a high level,” Killough said. “He’s started to mesh with his receivers and is finding his rhythm with them. Our offensive line has protected very well against some good pass rushers, which has helped Zach’s comfort level.”
X-Factor: UIW will need its offensive line to be solid against an improved ACU defensive line.
“They have some tremendous guys talent-wise, and they’re big up front,” Killough said. “Obviously, a lot of football games are won in the trenches, and they present a challenge on both sides of the ball. They do some things schematically that puts the opposition in a bind, and they’re executing at a high level.”
“Both the d-line and o-line are excited about the cooler weather this week,” Patterson said. “It’s going to be a hard-fought contest between two teams competing at a very high level, and it’s great for FCS football in the state of Texas.”
Prediction: UIW by 4
Best of the Rest:
No. 4 Wisconsin-Whitewater at No. 19 Mary Hardin-Baylor
When: Noon Saturday at Crusader Stadium in Belton
Prediction: UW-Whitewater by 7
No. 3 Kilgore at No. 10 New Mexico Military Institute
When: 5 p.m. Saturday at the Wool Bowl in Roswell, N.M.
Broadcast: KSVP TV YouTube channel
Prediction: Kilgore by 3
Midwestern State at West Texas A&M
When: 7 p.m. Saturday at Bain-Schaeffer Buffalo Stadium in Canyon
Broadcast: Lone Star Conference Digital Network
Prediction: WT by 4
Other Texas sub-FBS Games:
Friday, September 15
TWA College at Blinn, 7 p.m.
Saturday, September 16
Lamar at South Dakota, 1 p.m.
Prairie View A&M at SMU, 6 p.m.
Stephen F. Austin at Northwestern State, 6 p.m.
Texas Southern at Rice, 6 p.m.
Houston Christian at UT Martin, 6 p.m.
Tarleton at Texas Tech, 6 p.m.
UTPB at Southwest Baptist, 1 p.m.
No. 21 Texas A&M-Kingsville at Western New Mexico
No. 6 Trinity at Birmingham-Southern, 11 a.m.
Wayland Baptist at Sul Ross State, Noon
Southwestern at Hendrix, 1 p.m.
Lyon College at Howard Payne, 1 p.m.
No. 23 Wisconsin-Oshkosh at East Texas Baptist, 1 p.m.
Ave Maria (Fla.) at Texas Lutheran, 6 p.m.
No. 22 Ottawa (Ariz) at Texas College, 6 p.m.
SAGU at Arkansas Baptist, 6 p.m.
Oklahoma Panhandle State at No. 13 Texas Wesleyan, 7 p.m.
Navarro at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, 11 a.m.
Mexico Academy at Cisco, 6 p.m.
No. 15 Tyler at No. 5 Trinity Valley, 7 p.m.
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