Start Time: 6 P.M, the only acceptable time zone on earth, CST
Location: Bobcat Stadium, San Marcos, Texas
Radio: 103.1 FM (Austin), 89.9 FM KTSW (San Marcos), 930 AM (San Antonio)
Series Record: Texas State leads 11-2.
Last meeting: Texas State 28, PVAMU 3 (2013)
Live Stats: Here
Betting Line: Texas State -29, Over/Under 73 (5Dimes)
The Opponent: Prairie View A&M will likely be as outmatched in this game as the Texas State Bobcats were at Florida State. But unlike last year's FCS sacrificial lamb of UAPB, the Panthers have a pulse and deserve some respect. PVAMU might have made an excellent hire in Alcorn State offensive coordinator/guru Willie Simmons, as he's directed an already powerful Panther offense to a 38 point, 500+ yard performance over in-state rival Texas Southern.
Senior running backs Johntá Hebert and Courtney Brown appear to be a powerful one-two answer to Texas State's Robert Lowe and Chris Nutall, and quarterback Trey Green is also very much a running threat. The three of them combined for 224 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns against TSU, and they'll be relied upon heavily to test a Texas State front six that may have been exposed in Tallahassee.
Although the redshirt junior quarterback Green is an elusive, he's far from proven as a passer. Last Saturday he completed 13 of his 27 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. That's enough to get the job done in a run first, run second offense against many SWAC opponents. But that low accuracy rate isn't going to scare a Texas State secondary that should have the athletes to stay with PVAMU's egalitarian receiving corps.
PVAMU's special teams are, to put it nicely, not great. The Panthers are gonna have to rely on their offense to win the field position battle more often than not.
A suspect defense that had given up 37 to TSU a year ago smothered the Tigers last Saturday by turning in a 4 sack, two interception performance to hold their nearby rivals to under 300 yards and 11 points. Stinger Jalan Coleman and defensive end Akeem Barton could test Texas State's o-line as they both racked up sacks against TSU. However, this unit is still very much a work in progress, and could be vulnerable to getting boatraced if Texas State opens up the playbook.
Texas State Outlook:
Speaking of opening up the playbook, many fans and observers (myself included) believe that Dennis Franchione needs to start sending Texas State's receivers downfield to boost Tyler Jones's confidence after he clearly had some jitters at FSU. He threw behind open receivers and prematurely left the pocket on multiple occasions despite adequate protection, which echoed the problems he's faced with his game in previous seasons.
Bucking tradition and giving Jones and his running backs more than a vanilla playbook to work with could help build everyone's confidence going into a much tougher game against a suddenly resurgent Southern Miss team the following week. The wide receivers, who were completely smothered by an FSU defense waiting to pounce on short routes and screens, could use a chance to get into rhythm as well.
PVAMU's defense stopped the run better than the pass against TSU, but Lowe and Nutall should get theirs. Expect a bit more option with Jones and quite a few rushing yards, although whether the receivers will get a chance to prove themselves or not is in question as always.
The defense has quite a bit to prove after a second half shellacking in Tallahassee, and the front six in particular will be under the microscope for Bobcat fans. Texas State needs to find some playmakers at linebacker before the slate of games against G5 teams begins, otherwise we can expect poor outside run defense and poor short-mid range pass coverage over the middle for the forseeable future. The defensive line also needs to show it can cause disruption against an o-line it should be able to beat on multiple occasions.
Ultimately this game should provide some utility in determining Texas State's depth at each position. Namely, if a single Bobcat is getting consistently abused at their position, then their poor performance at FSU wasn't a fluke and they're probably not ready for FBS play. Having a few playmakers step up and gain confidence is also an optimal goal.
It'd be nice to see young players with high potential such as WR Kwamane Bowens and DT Cedric Gambrell get some solid playing time. Given the sheer number of players Dennis Franchione used at FSU, that's certainly not out of the question. Finally, limiting penalties and turnovers as they did at FSU should also remain a key goal for the 'Cats.
Prediction: This is an opportunity for an angry Texas State team to show how far it has come in terms of program depth since its FCS days, as this is Franchione's first year working with a roster of FBS players that he recruited. Expect the Bobcats to make the most of it.
PVAMU's opening win over Texas Southern and the defensive improvement showed therein was impressive, but the offensive trio of Tyler Jones, Robert Lowe, and Chris Nutall along with Texas State's o-line are a big step up in talent from the Tigers' personnel. Johnta Hebert and the Panthers may be able to take advantage of Texas State's suspect front six for a few touchdowns, but Green's suspect accuracy should keep their offense one dimensional. After a while, loading 7-8 in the box should overwhelm the Panthers' o-line while Jones and company should wear down an improved but overmatched FCS defense.
The Marching Storm should win the battle of the bands at halftime as always, but nothing less than a Bobcat blowout should be expected on the field in San Marcos.
Texas State 55, Prairie View A&M 17