Saturday, October 10, 2009

Welcome Back to a Rivalry

SAN ANGELO – It's been 12 years since a game between ACU (6-0) and Angelo State (5-1) featured two nationally ranked teams, so it's a good sign to see the No. 2-ranked Wildcats and the No. 23 Rams play a meaningful game against each other.  The weather in San Angelo is sunny, about 70 degrees and with a stiff breeze from the north; a far cry from the cold (58 degrees) and overcast weather back in Abilene.

This is Homecoming for the Rams, which may or may not be an advantage for the home team. If there's anything a football coach dislikes, it's a break in his team's routine, and Homecoming provides all kinds of distractions that can make a team's performance tires go flat in a hurry.  We'll see how this one goes.

This marks the second start for redshirt freshman QB Mitchell Gale of ACU, who enjoyed a 300-yard debut (completing 20 of 28 passes) last week up in Ada, Okla., against East Central University.  He will face the LSC's top sack-producing defense, and likely will be blitzed all night long.  Gale is an agile runner and has a wealth of receiver options, so he's not likely to accept sacks.  Still, the way to rattle a young QB is to put pressure on him, and the Rams will likely be happy to do that.

ACU offers an unusual balance this season; they are the only Lone Star Conference team to rank in the top four in total offense, scoring offense, total defense and scoring defense.  Coach Chris Thomsen's team has the second best rush defense in the nation, ranking second with just 32.3 yards per game.  ACU has the top rushing offense in the LSC averaging a little over 208 yards per game.

Both teams have common opponents.  ACU edged Texas A&M-Commerce in the Cotton Bowl, 20-14, and ASU opened it season with a 21-7 win over the Lions.  Both teams beat East Central; ACU 43-6 and the Rams 29-9.  They also share wins over pass-happy Eastern New Mexico, ACU 44-33 and ASU 47-23.  Angelo State's only loss is to Division I-AA Texas State University, 48-28

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