Saturday, October 17, 2009

What a Difference a Year Makes

There will be plenty of sunburned faces at church Sunday morning, as the weatherman has delivered a perfect day for ACU's Homecoming football game against the Buffs from West Texas A&M in Shotwell Stadim: sunny, 66 degrees and no wind.  Some pre-game thoughts:

  • The ACU Alumni Association served bison burgers at its pre-game party in the campus mall at noon, but it remains to be seen if the Wildcats will be sporting an 8-0 record at game's end, or eating humble pie for dessert. 
  • Abilene Christian enters this game wearing the mantle of the top-ranked team in NCAA Division II, and we'll see how well it fits. The Buffs have plenty of motivation to pull the upset. At 2-5, a win would make their season. This is one of the Lone Star Conference's best rivalries in recent years, with two teams who respect but don't like either very much. And WT is still stinging from an entertaining and record-setting but embarrassing 93-68 loss here in Shotwell last fall in the NCAA playoffs.
  • Stars from last year's two games between ACU and WT are earning paychecks in the NFL this weekend: former Wildcats Bernard Scott (running back, Cincinnati Bengals) and Johnny Knox (wide receiver and kick returner, Chicago Bears) and former WT QB Keith Null (St. Louis Rams). They leave quite a legacy on their respective campuses.
  • Redshirt freshman Mitchell Gale starts his third college game as QB of the Wildcats. Can he continue to impress with his strong arm and calm decision-making ability?
  • Will the frantic pace of WT's offense be the undoing again of its defense, which is sure to spend a lot of time on the field, thanks to ACU's strong running game and ball-control offense?
  • Can ACU's large and talented offensive line continue to power its running game, and slow down the WT rush, which has registered 16 sacks the past four contests?
  • How much animosity lingers from last year's 93-68 win for ACU that ended WT's season? Against their coaches' directions, a couple of Wildcats tried to run back the final play of the game – a kickoff return – for a TD, with some in the crowd urging them to try to score 100 points. ACU head coach Chris Thomsen apologized for it afterward. WR Edmund Gates was one of the players who participated in the final play laterals; will the Buffs find a way to remind him of it today?
  • Will Homecoming for ACU have an effect on the Wildcats' play, positively or negatively? Last week in San Angelo, nationally ranked Angelo State laid an egg of sorts before a big alumni crowd. ACU has not always played well at this big event in recent years. This is a big crowd today Shotwell, energized by the new No. 1 national ranking. Will the Wildcats be as well?

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