Top 10 Preview
West Texas A&M, CSU-Pueblo expect tests from top-25 foes
Augustana at No. 2 Minnesota State-Mankato, 2 p.m. ET Saturday
Minnesota State-Mankato (5-0, 5-0 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) returns home to play Augustana (2-3, 2-3 NSIC) in an NSIC South Division matchup. MSU-Mankato is 1-0 in the South Division; Augustana is 0-1. With its win against Concordia-St. Paul last week, MSU-Mankato has won 16 consecutive NSIC games dating to Week 1 of the 2012 season.
The game will mark the 44th time the Mavericks and the Vikings have crossed paths. The Vikings currently lead the all-time series 22-21. The Mavericks have won the past two encounters against Augustana, including a 52-14 win on the road last season. MSU-Mankato has won its past four home games against the Vikings dating to the 2004 season.
Minnesota State-Mankato has tallied 1,277 rushing yards compared to its opponents 423 yards. The Mavericks have also tallied 14 rushing touchdowns compared to two by its opponents. QB Jon Wolf leads the Maverick rushing attack with 367 yards and five touchdowns.
MSU-Mankato has posted 2,139 yards of total offense this season, compared to its opponents 1,430. So far, the Mavericks are averaging 7.5 yards per play. Wolf has thrown for 792 yards and six touchdowns.
Dajon Newell leads the Augustana rushing attack with 263 yards and a touchdown, while Trey Heid has tallied 138 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Heid has completed 83 of 142 passes for 793 yards and five touchdowns compared to six interceptions.
Central Oklahoma at No. 3 Northwest Missouri State, 2 p.m. ET Saturday
Northwest Missouri State (5-0, 4-0 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association) plays host to Central Oklahoma (0-5, 0-5). In five all-time meetings, the home team is 0-5.
One of the biggest areas to watch is the matchup between the Northwest offense and the UCO defense. The Bearcats enter the game ranked fifth in the MIAA with a 43.0 point per game average. The Broncho defense has given up a league-high 36 total touchdowns and are allowing 52.4 points per game. Two of the three highest point totals allowed this season in the MIAA have come against Central Oklahoma.
On the flip side, UCO’s offense has been tough to stop, averaging 492.6 yards per contest. The Bronchos are ranked third in the MIAA, one spot ahead of Northwest, which averages 491.8 yards per game. The MIAA-leading Bearcat defense, which allows just 306.8 yards per game, will be looking to slow down the high-powered offense.
Central Oklahoma’s Josh Birmingham has been one of the conference’s top running backs. He averages 110.2 yards per contest and has scored 10 rushing touchdowns on the season.
Northwest enters the game ranked sixth in the MIAA in red zone offense. The Bearcats have scored on 20-of-23 possessions inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. Central Oklahoma ranks last in MIAA play in red zone defense, allowing scores on 30 of 32 trips, including 27 touchdowns.
Offensively, UCO has scored on 17 of its 20 trips into the red zone, ranking seventh in MIAA play. The Bearcats have allowed just nine red zone scores and have forced
two turnovers inside the 20.
Northwest Missouri State is third in the MIAA at turnover margin at plus-7 while Central Oklahoma is 13th at minus-7.
No. 4 West Texas A&M at No. T-21 Tarleton State, 8 p.m. ET Saturday
West Texas A&M returns to Lone Star Conference play in a key clash at Tarleton State as it is a battle between the last two unbeaten teams in the league. The Buffs enter with a 5-0 record and a 2-0 mark in conference play, while Tarleton State is 4-0 and 3-0 in league play.
West Texas A&M owns a 13-9 record in the series dating to 1990. The Buffs have won eight in a row in the series, having averaged 41.5 points per game during and allowed just 17.8 during that span.
West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan was named LSC Player of the Week for the third time this season as he tallied a career-high seven touchdowns in a 72-0 win against Central State, tying the conference record for TDs in a game. He also broke the school career passing yard record held by Taylor Harris and moved into first all time in total offense, also surpassing Harris. Vaughan has 10,132 career passing yards and 10,281 yards of total offense.
The Texans have had a strong running game this season as Jerome Regal leads the team in rushing with 401 yards and a 100.2 average with three scores. He ranks third in the league in rushing and averages 6.0 yards per carry. The team averages 176 yards on the ground per game, which is fifth-best in the league.
Behind center, the Texans have split time between Jake Fenske, Aaron Doyle and Collin Strahan. Fenske is 68 of 124 for 749 yards with nine touchdowns and five interceptions, while Doyle is 23 of 38 for 246 yards and two scores. Strahan has played in three games.
The West Texas A&M defense hasn't allowed a score in six quarters and 100:47 playing minutes as the Buffs blanked Texas A&M-Kingsville in the final 10:47 of the second quarter and the second half, along with their first shutout of the season last Saturday. The Buffs are 24th nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 17.4 points per game which is tops in the league.
This is the first home game of the season for Tarleton State as it has played two neutral site games and two road games.
No. 19 Chadron State at No. 5 Colorado State-Pueblo, 2 p.m. ET Saturday
All the marbles will apparently be on the line when Chadron State (4-1) plays host to its No. 1 nemesis in recent years, Colorado State-Pueblo (5-0), for the lead in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. The Eagles and ThunderWolves are alone at the top of the RMAC standings with 3-0 records.
This will be the sixth game between Chadron State and CSU-Pueblo since the ThunderWolves revived their football program in 2008. The Eagles won the first encounter 32-0 en route to their third consecutive RMAC championship. But CSU-Pueblo ended Chadron State's 28-game RMAC winning skein 28-17 early in the 2009 season and has won the past three games. Both the 2010 game and last year's contest went into overtime.
The Eagles' 28 wins in a row that extended from 2005 through ‘08 is the conference record. CSU-Pueblo has reeled off 25 consecutive victories against RMAC foes since last losing to Nebraska-Kearney 38-24 midway in the 2010 season.
ThunderWolves quarterback Chris Bonner has completed 82 of 155 passes for 1,317 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's been intercepted three times. Tailback Cameron McDondle has carried 73 times for 585 yards for an 8.0-yard average. RMAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Darius Allen already has eight quarterback sacks.
Northeastern State at No. 6 Missouri Western State, 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Missouri Western State (5-0, 4-0 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association) celebrates its homecoming by playing host to Northeastern State (0-5, 0-5 MIAA). The Griffons lead the all-time series 3-0.
The Griffon offense has been lighting up the scoreboard as of late averaging 47 points per game, which is second in the MIAA behind Pittsburg State's 51.2. The Griffons are averaging 443.4 total yards and 249.8 yards on the ground. The Griffons lead the league in kickoff return average at 29.8 and are second in punt return average at 15.9.
The Griffon rushing attack continued to rack up the yards going for 319 yards in a 63-30 win against Central Oklahoma. Raphael Spencer rushed for 221 yards while Travis Partridge plunged in for four touchdowns.
In their first five games this season the Griffons are 24 of 26 in the red zone with 23 touchdowns.
Northeastern State is on its third starting quarterback with redshirt freshman Cory Meaders, who earned his first career start last week in a 40-12 loss against Northwest Missouri State. Meaders completed 12 of 26 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.
NSU once again is in the midst of one of the most difficult schedules of any team in the country. Of its first six opponents, five are currently ranked in the AFCA Coaches' poll.
No. 7 Indiana (Pa.) at Slippery Rock, 2 p.m. ET Saturday
Indiana (Pa.) hits the road for a tough Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West battle at Slippery Rock. The matchup pits the nation's top defense in IUP against one of Division II's best offenses in Slippery Rock. IUP enters with a 5-0 record (2-0 PSAC West) and is coming off a 62-3 win against Millersville. The Rock is 4-1 (1-1 PSAC West) on the season and is coming off a 58-10 win at Kutztown.
IUP holds the all-time series lead versus Slippery Rock with a record of 45-34-2. The Crimson Hawks are 7-3 in the past 10 meetings, including a 33-16 win last year at home. IUP has dropped each of its past two games to Slippery Rock on the road.
It's a clash of styles with IUP's top-ranked defense (6.0 ppg) going up against Slippery Rock's high-scoring offense (50.4 ppg). The Crimson Hawks have two shutouts this year and have given up just 10 points in the past four games while Slippery Rock has hit the 58-point mark on three different occasions.
The IUP defense ranks near the top of DII in several categories, including total yards per game (213.4; first), red zone defense (33.3 percent; tied for first), interceptions (12; tied for first), passing yards per game (118.2; fourth), and opponent first downs allowed per game (13.4; tied for fourth).
The Crimson Hawks have allowed opponents to reach the red zone just nine times in five games, giving up scores just three times (two TDs, one FG). IUP has not given up an offensive TD in 16 consecutive quarters, a streak that includes 51 opponent offensive drives.
Slippery Rock has one of the best offenses in Division II, ranking third in passing yards (389.6 ypg), fourth in total yards (565.4 ypg) and fourth in scoring. QB Nigel Barksdale leads the attack, averaging 374.6 total yards per game, tossing 18 TDs and adding one more on the ground. WR John Schademan leads the team with 31 catches for 658 yards and eight TDs. Four players have at least 36 carries. RB Shamar Greene leads the way with 336 yards rushing. Teddy Blakeman, who transferred from IUP, has 171 yards and five rushing TDs. SRU has fumbled 17 times this year, giving away nine with five more interceptions.
Southwestern Oklahoma State at No. 8 Henderson State, 4 p.m. ET Saturday
Henderson State (5-0, 4-1 Great American Conference) will celebrate homecoming by playing host to Southwestern Oklahoma State (3-2, 3-2 GAC). Henderson State has a 16-1 record against GAC opponents since the league was formed. The lone loss was a 17-13 setback by Southwestern Oklahoma State in 2011 which prevented the Reddies from winning the conference title.
Henderson State is coming off a subpar performance last week against Northwestern Oklahoma State despite winning 42-0. The Reddies totaled just 374 yards of offense against the Rangers, their lowest since having 348 yards against Southeastern Oklahoma State on Sept. 22, 2012. Henderson’s explosive offense averages a GAC-best 632.6 yards and 61.2 points per game.
Kevin Rodgers, a two-time National Player of the Week selection, averages 401.6 yards passing per game and has tossed 16 touchdowns. Last year against the Bulldogs, Rodgers completed 19 of 31 passes for 241 yards and four touchdowns.
Darius Davis is second in the GAC in receiving, averaging 109.0 yards per game. Robert Jordan has compiled 471 yards on 32 receptions and three scores. He needs 16 receiving yards to become HSU’s all-time leading receiver.
Ryan McDonald continues to lead the GAC in rushing, averaging 101.6 yards per game.
The Reddies lead the GAC in total defense allowing 283.0 yards per contest. Keaton Stigger is second in the GAC with 46 stops, including 6.5 for lost yardage. Ricardo Mendez follows Stigger with 34 tackles and has 5.5 tackles for loss.
Southwestern Oklahoma is coming off a 31-14 loss to the hands of Ouachita Baptist last week. Offensively, the Bulldogs are sixth in the GAC in total offense averaging 383.4 yards per game. Southwestern averages 24.2 points per contest.
Southwestern is led by quarterback Dustin Stenta. He has completed 75 of 136 passes for 1,099 yards with 10 touchdowns this season. Stenta is Southwestern Oklahoma’s all-time career passing leader with 7,612 yards.
D.C. Walker leads the team in rushing, averaging 81.2 yards per game. Walker carried the ball eight times for 20 yards last year against the Reddies.
Millersville at No. 9 Bloomsburg, 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Bloomsburg (5-0, 2-0 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East) celebrates homecoming by playing host to Millersville (0-5, 0-2 PSAC East). The Huskies are riding an eight-game home winning streak.
The Huskies lead the all-time series against the Marauders 40-30-5, including 13 in a row.
Bloomsburg has a 90.5 percent success rate when in the red zone, scoring in 19 of 21 attempts -- including 14 touchdowns. The two times the Huskies did not score occurred when running out the clock at the end of the game against Stonehill and Gannon.
Bloomsburg’s Franklyn Quiteh leads the PSAC and ranks second in the nation in rushing with 1,039 yards -- a total that is more than the combined team total for 12 of the other 15 PSAC teams.
Bloomsburg defensive end Larry Webster picked up his seventh and eighth sacks of the year last week at Gannon, enough to keep him in a tie with Shippensburg's Jake Metz for the PSAC sack lead. He currently is tied for first in the nation in sacks per game along with Metz and Darius Allen of Colorado State-Pueblo. In 17 career games, Webster has tallied 21.5 sacks. Webster and offensive lineman Brian Clarke have received spots on the 2014 Senior Bowl watch list.
The Marauders have struggled this season, being outscored 254-39. The Huskies have scored 213 points in the first five games, the highest total in school history.
No. 10 Pittsburg State at Central Missouri, 2:30 p.m. ET
Pittsburg State (5-0, 4-0 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) plays at tough-luck loser Central Missouri (2-3, 1-3 MIAA). The Mules dropped a hard-fought 21-14 decision to Missouri Southern last Saturday. UCM also dropped a three-point decision to No. 6 Missouri Western State (26-23) and a four-point decision to No. 3 Northwest Missouri State (28-24) in September.
This will be the 51st all-time meeting between the Gorillas and Mules in a series that dates to the 1916 season. Pitt State holds a decided 40-8-2 advantage in the series, including a 20-3-2 record at UCM.
The Gorillas have averaged 282.8 passing yards in their first five games with 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions. Quarterback Tony Abenoja currently ranks second in Division II with a 191.7 passer rating. He also ranks sixth nationally in completion percentage (.698) and 15th in points responsible for (18.4 ppg).
Pittsburg State running back Jeff Seybold Jr. eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the fourth time in five games in a 28-20 win against Abilene Christian last Saturday. Seybold rushed for a game-high 115 yards and three TDs.
Linebacker Tyler Disney earned MIAA Defensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts against Abilene Christian. He made 10 tackles (three solo), including a quarterback sack and three total stops behind the line of scrimmage as the Gorillas limited the Wildcats to 10 net rushing yards.
The Mules are averaging 397.2 yards per game of total offense, including 300.4 yards through the air. They are averaging 30.4 points per game, as well. Quarterback Hayden Hawk has completed 124 of 185 passes for 1,482 yards with 13 touchdowns and one interception.
Central Missouri wide receiver Ronrei Lloyd has caught 34 passes for 538 yards and five touchdowns.
Pitt State is plus-7 in turnover margin in its first five games with 12 takeaways vs. five giveaways. The Gorillas are 10-0 during head coach Tim Beck's tenure in games they are plus-2 or better in turnover margin.
Pitt State has scored on its opening possession of the game three times in 2013 and the Gorillas have scored on their opening possession of the second half in all five games.