Notebook: CIAA Clash
Oct. 13, 2009
Watch Virginia Union vs. Virginia State Live at 8pm ET on Thurs. Oct. 15
By Amy Farnum
BATTLING FOR POSITION: As the season progresses every game becomes a bit more meaningful as team is battle for a spot in the top six in its respective region, and one of the premier match-ups of the week will be in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association as No. 14 Central Missouri travels to No. 15 Missouri Western State on Oct. 17.
Missouri Western will be facing its fourth ranked foe in the last five weeks as the Griffons attempt to maintain their No. 4 position in the Super Regional Four rankings. The Mules are coming off a resounding 48-3 win over Fort Hays State which put them in a tie with Western for second place in the MIAA standings.
Central Missouri is No. 7 in the Super Regional Four rankings and has lost six straight to the Griffons. The last time the Mules won in the series was in 2002, also the last time they advanced to the NCAA playoffs.
Missouri Western ranks fourth in the nation in scoring with 42.4 points per game, but the Mules have been stubborn on defense, allowing just 16.86 points per game through seven contests.
EFFICIENT EXPECTATIONS: When No. 7 Texas A&M-Kingsville travels to No. 22 Midwestern State for a Lone Star Conference tilt on Oct. 17, two of the most efficient quarterbacks in the nation will be calling the signals for their respective squads.
TAMUK senior Billy Garza is coming off a school-record 31 pass completions in a 35-34 win over Texas A&M-Commerce in which he passed for 308 yards and three touchdowns. In the fourth quarter, the native of Brownsville, Texas, connected on 9-of-10 passes for 89 yards and two scores, earning LSC South Division Offensive Player of the Week for his performance. Collectively in the final quarter this season, Garza is 31-of-37 for 359 yards, four TDs and no interceptions as he has the Javelinas off to a 7-0 start for the first time since 2004.
The Mustangs have lost two of their last three games after starting the season 4-0, but will attempt to keep their playoff hopes alive by knocking off the unbeaten Javelinas. Junior quarterback Zack Eskridge is the nation’s leader in pass efficiency with a 183.00 rating, and ranks 22nd in total offense with 266.9 yards per game.
A TOUGH TEST: The University of Findlay’s first contest as a nationally-ranked team since 2002 will be an interesting test on Saturday as the Oilers head to mighty Grand Valley State, which is coming off its first loss against a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference squad in 45 games. The Lakers fell 27-24 to Hillsdale last weekend, knocking them from No. 1 to No. 8 in the AFCA Division II Top 25.
Findlay, ranked seventh in the region, looks to jockey for position in the GLIAC in the standings with a win over GVSU. The two teams, along with Northern Michigan, are in a three-way tie for first place in the league.
The Oilers are surrendering just 14 points per game, but the offensive-minded Lakers will be looking rebound in what will most likely be a sold out stadium in Allendale, Mich. GVSU enters the contest averaging 459.14 yards per game, which ranks ninth in Division II total offense. When Findlay has the ball, there is sure to be a battle in the trenches as the Oilers have rushed for over 180 yards per game, while the Lakers’ defense has given up over 100 yards rushing in just twice in seven games.
NOTABLE: Virginia State hosts Virginia State for a nationally-televised Thursday night Division II broadcast on Oct. 15. The contest between the two Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association rivals will kickoff at 8 p.m. and be seen live on CBS College Sports … Top-ranked Abilene Christian may be taking the field for the first time as a No. 1 team on Saturday, but it will not be the first time the Wildcats’ opponent West Texas A&M will meet one. The Buffaloes fell to then-No. 1 Grand Valley State 37-23 in their season opener … After starting the season with a flawless 7-0 mark Central Washington moved up to No. 3 in the latest AFCA Division II Top 25 – the highest ranking in the program’s 11-year history. The Wildcats have won 13 straight regular season games and look to stay perfect on the year against Western Oregon in the Battle in Seattle VII on Oct. 17 … Another battle between nationally-ranked foes will be in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as No. 19 Tuskegee takes on No. 10 Albany State on Oct. 17. ASU is perfect in conference play, while Tuskegee has one loss.