To borrow from the title of the 2003 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, “Something's Gotta Give”.
The top offense in the Lone Star Conference and the best defense in the Gulf South Conference are set to butt heads in this week's GSC-TV Game of the Week Thursday at Tiger Stadium on the University of West Alabama campus. Kickoff is set for 6:35 p.m.
UWA leads the GSC in total defense (254.6), rushing defense (114.0), pass defense (140.6) and pass efficiency defense (82.2). Conversely, Midwestern State is tops in the LSC in scoring offense (42.3), total offense (496.3) and rushing offense (314.3).
West Alabama comes into the game 4-1 and ranked No. 8 in this week's D2Football.com Media Poll and 18th in the AFCA Top 25. Midwestern (Texas) State is 3-1 and ranked 14th by the media and No. 13 by the coaches. This is the first-ever meeting between the Tigers and the Mustangs.
“This is a big-time Division II matchup,” UWA head coach Will Hall said. “To put it into context that folks who don't follow D-II football as closely can understand, this is a matchup in the vein of Alabama and Texas.”
The game will be shown live by CSS, Mediacom, TV-24 and ESPN3, and on a tape-delay basis by CoxSports (Oct. 5 at Noon) and the Alabama Cable Network (Oct. 6 at 7:00 pm).
The Mustangs bring some gaudy rushing numbers into the game, but UWA has run the football quite efficiently as well lately, averaging 332.7 yards on the ground over the last three games, while allowing just 114 per game over the course of the season.
“We have to be disciplined on defense,” Tiger linebacker Ben Brooks said about Midwestern's up-tempo running game. “(Defensive coordinator) Coach (Robert) Henry has put together a great plan, and if we do what coach tells us to do we have a chance to win this game.
“They run the ball really well,” said Brooks, who leads UWA defenders with 31 total tackles, “but if we do what we are coached to do, then our linebackers can have a great night.”
West Alabama leads the GSC in rushing defense, and the Tigers are also seventh nationally in total and pass defense, second in passing efficiency defense and lead Division II with 12 interceptions.
Junior cornerback Malcolm Butler, the current NCAA Division II and GSC Defensive Player of the Week, shares the team interception lead with strong safety Otha Foster. Both have four picks.
UWA has been splitting time between sophomore Kyle Caldwell and junior Gary Johnston at quarterback, with Caldwell starting the first five games. Hall said that Johnston will start against Midwestern.
MSU running back Keidrick Jackson is No. 1 in the LSC in rushing (82.7) and scoring (12.0).