It is that time of year again, the big cross state rivalry between the Buffs of the West and the Lions of the Northeast. This is still a big time rivalry full of raw emotions and the desire of both teams and fanbases to beat the pulp out of the other. It never gets old, and you can throw the records out the window when these kind of games are played. Colby Carthel says that about just about every big rival, but this one is always personal. The rivalry was was pretty lukewarm half a decade ago, but that has all changed with the ascent of the Lions and the descent of the Buffs. Polar opposite programs in every way, shape and form.
West Texas is having a rough time transitioning from their previous coach Mike Nesbitt. While Nesbitt threw it all over the yard, new head coach Hunter Hughes is a running coach. He believes in the old school beliefs of running the football and playing tough defense to win games. That is the polar opposite what had been going on in Canyon the past decade when Nesbitt and The Carthel family was there. It is always tough to make a transition from one coach to the next, but it is even tougher when the identity is completely different.
I said in one of the previous posts that WT is Bi-Polar. They are. They started the year out 2-1 with a win over a top ten team in Colorado State-Pueblo, and almost beat a ranked Azusa Pacific team, only to be routed by a struggling Texas A&M-Kingsville team 3 weeks later and get bombed by Midwestern State 45-3. This team can play when it wants to, and that requires the Lions to be ready when they walk into Kimbrough Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
The Buffs are pretty weak on offense. As I said earlier, they have completely revamped their offense and run the ball nearly twice as much as they throw. Running Back Warren Witherspoon leads the team with 460 yards on 93 carries and a touchdown. When it comes to passing, Justin Houghtaling is completing just under half his passing attempts, but the Buffs offense sputters and is very inconsistent. Only averaging 14.6 points per game has hurt the Buffs, so the Lions need to look at getting stops early and often to put the game away.
The Buffalo defense is not a bad unit. They have played some very good teams and only allow 25 PPG. That may seem like a lot, but look at who they have played. Their schedule strength is no doubt the toughest in the entire conference. This is a team that can play defense pretty well, and they love to attack and blitz. They are however very suseptible to a strong passing attack as we saw last week against Midwestern. They blitz a lot, but they get burned a lot also. Just something to keep in mind.