An epic rivalry continues to grow between ACU and West Texas A&M, and the Homecoming game Saturday afternoon will not do anything to eliminate bad blood.
A lot of pressure will fall on red-shirt freshman quarterback Mitchell Gale, in a week already full of distractions. Gale will be starting in his first game at Shotwell Stadium in front of a large Homecoming crowd Saturday. If that was not enough, the Wildcats are now ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division II. This is the first time the Wildcats have been No. 1 since they entered Division II. Being the top-ranked team may give the Wildcats bragging rights, but it only paints a bigger target on their backs.
Gale will not be alone in his efforts; the overpowering Wildcat rushing attack will be there to back him up. Daryl Richardson has stepped up this season, rushing for 237 yards and scoring seven touchdowns in the last two games. The offense is averaging 36.4 points per game as a whole.
The defense has continued to play well, allowing only 15 points per game. Junior linebacker Fred Thompson, for instance, was recognized as the Lone Star Conference South Division Player of the Week for his performance against Angelo State last week. Thompson had a forced fumble, a blocked field goal and two sacks for the game.
West Texas A&M should not be overlooked, despite its poor 2-5 record. The Buffalos are coming off their biggest win of the season against Eastern New Mexico last week, when they defeated the Greyhounds 34-24.
The Wildcats are heavily favored on paper in Saturday’s matchup, but judging from history, when these two teams play against each other, rankings and statistics go out the window. The Buffalos will be looking for revenge for last season, when the Wildcats defeated them 52-35 in Canyon. The Wildcats added to West Texas A&M’s frustration by knocking them out of the playoffs with a 93-68 victory. Tempers flared after the game, and a shoving match broke out. It will be up to the Wildcats to put the past aside and focus on the game – and the victory.