First, lets get to polls. In the AFCA national rankings, the Lions stayed at 9th in the country. In the Region 4 polls, they moved up into a playoff slot with a 7th place ranking. I have a feeling that a lot will change in 2 weeks. Good enough to get to host another playoff game? Maybe, maybe not. Like I said a lot can happen in that time. Winning out gets us what we need and maybe what we want.
On to UTPB. The Falcons are having a tough time right now. A lot of talk about how they led the nation in fan attendance last year but that has really dwindled down quite a bit. However, they have two wins this year so far, a blowout win over Quincy 42-7, and a 41-32 win over Western New Mexico. They played Eastern New Mexico to a 3 point game in Portales, so again, this is NOT a team to overlook. Last Saturday they did get pummeled, but at this point in the season attrition takes a leading role in how your season ends up, and when you are not quite up to the playing field as other schools, that can be a problem.
Kameron Mathis pulls the trigger for the UTPB offense. The 6’2 185 LB Sophomore from Bushland, TX is one of those guys that would probably get a bit more press if his team was having more success. He has thrown for 1,525 yards to go with 10 TD passes. He is just a Sophomore but from the film I have watched, if he gets time, he can make you pay with his arm. The Falcons are not going to be tossing it around as often as the Lions do, but still have some playmaking ability. Mitchell Leonard, a Junior Wideout from Marshall, TX is the go to guy has he leads the Falcons with 568 REC yards to with 36 catches.
The Falcons like balance and if you look at their total offensive stats, they are the epitome of balance. They have thrown the ball 292 times for 1,919 yards and have 12 passing TD’s. They have also rushed for 1,257 yards on 354 attempts. Justin Carrigan, UTPB’s head coach was the offensive coordinator at Tarleton from 2013-2015 so Lion fans have an indication of what to expect. Balance is what the Falcons are looking for.
UTPB was 2-9 last year, and more than likely they will be about the same this year. They got their first LSC conference win this year, and they are improving despite a setback here or there. Having them improve is what I am rooting for because it makes the Lone Star Conference a better football conference. I would LOVE to see Ratliff Stadium packed with orange and black clad fans. The more kind of environments the LSC can create the better the conference will be, and that benefits all teams involved.