Oct. 6, 2009

By Amy Farnum

DOUBLE FEATURE:  With five nationally-ranked teams in the Lone Star Conference, every weekend seems to feature a key match-up, and this Saturday will offer two contests between Top 25 teams as No. 23 Angelo State hosts second-ranked and unbeaten Abilene Christian and No. 18 Midwestern State visits No. 15 Tarleton State in a pair of South Division battles.  The two games are the lone match-ups between ranked teams this week.

Angelo State earned a spot in the AFCA Division II Top 25 for the first time since 2005 after remaining unbeaten in LSC action as the Rams downed the top offense in Division II with a 47-23 win over Eastern New Mexico.  The Rams moved to 4-0 in LSC play for the first time since 2001 following a 400-yard passing performance by junior quarterback Josh Neiswander.

With both teams in this week's national rankings, Saturday's game between the Wildcats and Rams marks the first time the game has featured two nationally ranked teams since Oct. 18, 1997, when the fourth-ranked Rams beat No. 19 ACU, 42-10, in San Angelo.

Tarleton State will look to regroup following a loss against Texas A&M-Kingsville in which the Texans committed six turnovers.  Midwestern State, the second-highest scoring team in the league (37.3 ppg), is fresh off a defeat of West Texas A&M that was sparked by Andy Tanner’s third straight 100-plus yard receiving game.  It will be a tough match-up for the Mustangs as the Texans top the LSC in total defense (233.5 ypg) and pass defense (137.8 ypg).

RING THE BELL:  Wayne State (Mich.) improved to 5-1 for the first time since 1976 behind senior running back Joique Bell’s explosive six-touchdown performance as the Warriors knocked off Ashland, 47-40, last weekend.

Bell ran for a school-record five scores, and caught a 45-yard TD pass, which proved to be the game-winning score.  He climbed to 15th on the all-time NCAA scoring list (all divisions) after his 36-point outburst, moving past Walter Payton (Jackson State, 1971-74) and Ricky Williams (Texas, 1995-98).  Bell is also now 14th on the NCAA Division II all-time rushing list with 5,806 yards.  He was named Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his outstanding play.

The native of Benton Harbor, Mich., leads the nation in rushing yards per game at 193.67 and all-purpose yards per game (213.00).  He has 186 carries for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns in six games with 1,278 all-purpose yards (includes 116 receiving).

The Warriors moved up three spots in the Top 25 to No. 19, and in a three-way tie for second place in the GLIAC standings with Findlay and Northern Michigan.  WSU visits Northern Michigan on Oct. 10. 

RANKINGS RELEASED:  The NCAA Division II Football Committee released its first set of Super Regional rankings and the top four teams all boast perfect 6-0 marks.  Super Regional One – Bloomsburg; Super Regional Two – North Alabama; Super Regional Three – Minnesota Mankato; and Super Regional Four – Abilene Christian.  Factors such as win-loss records and strength of schedule determine the rankings that influence the selection of the 24-team championship field.

The full list of rankings can be accessed here:  http://www.ncaa.com/auto_pdf/p_hotos/s_chools/ncaa/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/10509FBRankings

FIRST-TIMERS: UNC Pembroke made its’ first-ever appearance in the AFCA Division II Top 25 at No. 25 this week after moving to 5-1 with a convincing 30-3 victory over Webber International.  UNCP accomplished the feat in its third season sponsoring collegiate football.

The Braves have won 10 straight home games, but will finish the 2009 season on a four-game road trip beginning at Fairmont State (W.V.) on Oct. 10.

QUICK HITS:  North Alabama senior quarterback Harrison Beck picked up his second Gulf South Conference Player of the Year award after setting single-game school records for passing yards (431) and TD passes (5) in a 42-17 win over Arkansas Tech … Nebraska-Kearney sophomore quarterback Jake Spitzlberger tossed a career-best four touchdowns, all over 60 yards, as the Lopers beat CSU-Pueblo for their eighth straight home victory.  He was named Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.  UNK remained perfect in RMAC play at 4-0, and cracked the national rankings for the first time since 2005 at No. 21 … Minnesota State, Mankato has started 6-0 for the first time since 1926 after topping Augustana last weekend.  The No. 7 Mavericks are the top team in Super Region Three.