The Week 1 slate in the MIAA did not disappoint as three games were decided by six points or less. With six teams getting their crack at home openers this weekend, be wary of “home-field advantage.” Home teams were just 2-4 in Week 1 and more upsets could be in store Thursday and Saturday.
Nebraska-Kearney (0-1) at Washburn (0-1)
These two teams were both on the losing end of Week 1 tilts, but in quite opposite fashion. The Lopers were shutout at home in a 31-0 defeat to No. 4 Northwest Missouri State, while a touchdown with 23 seconds to play handed the Ichabods a six-point loss at Lindenwood. In Kearney, the Lopers started the game with a 68-yard completion but finished with just 244 yards of offense against a relatively young Bearcats team. The Lopers never got anything going on offense, completing just two third-down conversions and finding themselves in the red zone just once.
The difference will be made in the air, though, as North Dakota State transfer Derek McGinnis was 19 of 30 under center for the ‘Bods last week, racking up 250 yards and two touchdowns.
UNK allowed the Bearcats’ Brady Bolles to go 20 of 32 for 211 yards, a number McGinnis should be able to surpass.
Last year’s matchup resulted in a 10-7 victory by the Ichabods.
Prediction: The game remains respectful at half, but Washburn takes this one 24-7.
Missouri Southern (0-1) at No. 4 Northwest Missouri State (1-0)
The Lions were outscored 21-10 in the second half and allowed an 88-yard punt return early in the second half of a 38-20 Week 1 loss. On the other hand, the Bearcats cruised to a 31-0 victory in Kearney, Neb.
The Bearcats have won 20 straight games against the Lions. Northwest has an average margin of victory of 33 points since 1998.
Prediction: The Bearcats match the average margin of victory with a 40-7 win at home to move to 2-0.
Central Missouri (1-0) at Emporia State (1-0)
The Mules and Hornets face off in one of two matchups of 1-0 teams in Week 2. The Mules scored a go-ahead touchdown with under 4 minutes remaining against Missouri Western to open the season while the Hornets handled Missouri Southern fairly easily.
In one of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend, the Mules’ ball hawkers will be put to the test against Emporia’s senior quarterback Brent Wilson, one of the most prolific passers in the league. Wilson threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns at a 69.4 percent clip, though he did give up two interceptions. The Mules were carved up for 313 passing yards by Missouri Western in Week 1 but forced two interceptions as well.
If the Mules can develop a running game. things should open in the passing game and give them their first 2-0 start since ‘09.
Prediction: Wilson battles with the Central Missouri secondary, who makes one too many plays and comes up with another close victory, 35-27.
Central Oklahoma (0-1) at Missouri Western (0-1)
In a Saturday afternoon battle of two teams picked in the preseason to finish in the top half of the MIAA, one team will leave St. Joseph, Mo., with an uphill battle after an 0-2 start.
Not only did both teams lose their openers but each lost by just one point. The Bronchos lost on a Fort Hays field goal as time expired while Missouri Western lost the turnover battle, 2-0, as UCM scored a touchdown with under 4 minutes to play. Besides tossing two interceptions, the Griffons managed just 37 rushing yards against a stout Mules defense. Other than those stats, the numbers leaned toward a Griffons win.
Chas Stallard followed up his MIAA Freshman of the Year honor with 281 yards through the air and 75 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. The Bronchos won last year’s battle at home, 26-17.
Prediction: UCO heads home 0-2 with a 21-17 loss.
Lindenwood (1-0) at No. 5 Pittsburg State (1-0)
The final game on the MIAA slate welcomes Lindenwood to Pittsburg for a Saturday nightcap of the second matchup of 1-0 teams.
The first two plays from scrimmage in Week 1 resulted in Gorilla touchdowns on 36- and 39-yard rushes by freshman John Roderique, a transfer from Sam Houston State who collected 122 passing yards and 91 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Sophomore running back Michael Rose exploded for 127 yards and two touchdowns. The Pittsburg defense accumulated three turnovers.
While Lindenwood was fairly even with Washburn in Week 1, an interception taken 45 yards to the house was a deciding factor in Lindenwood’s victory. Arizona transfer QB Jesse Scroggins was 17 of 32 for 186 yards and one touchdown against Washburn.
Pitt State handled Lindenwood with a 38-7 road victory last season and, despite improvement, should be able to welcome Washburn in Week 3 with a record of 2-0.
Prediction: Roderique plays more than 25 plays and leads the Gorillas to a 35-14 victory.