The 2016 schedule is out and the season looks to be full of changes and different foes from the years past. We are meeting 4 teams for the first time ever and of course have some familiar foes on the list as well. So, lets rank them from least difficult to most difficult.
11. College of Faith Florida Glory Eagles-We have this game at home, against a team that has never won a game in program history. We have to play this game because we have to play someone before facing off against a very tough Delta State team the next week. This game could get ugly, as what we saw against ETBU in 2014. No doubts here that all players that suit up will play in this one.
10. Western New Mexico Mustangs-This game will be played almost 1,000 miles from Commerce, but it will be against a very weak team in a very pleasant area to play. The area in western New Mexico is not like taking trips to Angelo and Canyon where you have the wind and terrible elements. This team struggled against Adams State, a team the Lions disposed of in quick order.
9. Tarleton State Texans-Having this one at home and it being Senior night, you are looking at a class that is going to want to go 4 for 4 in President Cup games, and Tarleton will be rebuilding, and much of the defense that put a big fat ZERO on the scoreboard for the Lions return. I don’t see 63-0 but I see something closer, or maybe something worse if the Purple Cowboys have not improved much by that time in the season.
8. UT-Permian Basin Falcons-This is a brand new NCAA program playing its first season ever. Ever. They will fight and heading down to Odessa will not be easy, so I believe that gives UTPB some help there, but overall I do not feel this game will be that much of a challenge, but having a school like UTPB in the conference helps immensely, give it time, but not right this second.
7. Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelinas-It is a rivalry, and they fired their head coach halfway through the season last year, but this one is in Commerce for the first time since 2012. Its a trophy cup game and while the Hoggies will be better, they still have major issues on pass defense. Not really worried too much about this one.
6. West Texas A&M Buffalos-The Homecoming game will be a tough one, and WT will be no pushover. We may be the better team next year, but with all the acrimony between those on the South Plains and the Blackland Prairies, this game will be very physical, and the WT fans want so badly to be Carthel and beat him badly, and guess what, we want to knuckle up agains them as well.
5. Oklahoma Panhandle State Aggies-The Aggies can be scary. Do not write this team off. They were a tough out for a lot of teams last year and beat down some teams last year, and the very small but odd stadium is full of game day passion according to those who have made the trip to the OKLA panhandle. This game will be tough and we are playing a team that is athletic in an environment we have never played in. Tough road game awaits.
4. Angelo State-Kyle Washington is gone, thank the Good Lord above, but we still have to play against a Will Wagner coached team. I have a ton of respect for the ASU program, they are always a tough out and they have developed a great home field advantage. The lost a lot, but then again, we did too, the top two QB’s in the conference played for us and them, but with this being in San Angelo, this will be a tough game for sure.
3. Delta State-We have to travel to a miserably humid area of Mississippi and play a team that can beat just about any team in the nation at any time. Oh yeah, and it is the second game of the season, right after we play the weakest team by far on the schedule. DSU has played a game of big plays against us even though we are 1-1 against them the past 3 seasons, but the Lions head into a hard place to win against a traditionally good team and passionate fans.
2. Eastern New Mexico-Another QB that was tough to stop is gone in Jeremy Burrma, however ENMU will continue to be a tough team to play with style they play on offense. Trying to scout against a team that runs a triple option/Wishbone is tough and having to scout against a team that is polar opposite of what you do will be a challenge. Oh yeah, they will be playing in their brand new stadium on campus. The fans showed up for the games at Blackwater Draw, expect them show up at a brand new state of the art stadium on campus with a good team to boot. Very tough.
1. Midwestern State Mustangs-Let me start off by saying this. I have no idea why, but MSU is a team that just has our number. We have played them 4 times in the Carthel era and have only beaten them once, they have edged out wins against us twice when were ahead. The read-option is going to be tough to defend, but this one in Commerce, and MSU travels well, and they will be there. This will probably be the conference championship game once again. Thankfully, all we have to do is beat them once. Hopefully that is not too tall an order.