MIAA Review Week Two

September 15th, 2019 12:00am

MIAA Review Week Two

Week 2 Review

Three teams are undefeated, three more are winless and the rest are 1-1 after two weeks of play. The biggest surprise is Fort Hays starting the year off 0-2. The Tigers were the co-favorites to win the MIAA this season, but that is a severe longshot now.


I will begin doing power rankings after next week. I need just a little more information before I try to sort out the teams in the MIAA. I will say that Northwest Missouri, Central Missouri and Pittsburg State all look like playoff contenders at this point. I also would not be surprised if Missouri Western stayed in the playoff hunt, especially after how they looked Thursday night in Hays. 


Lincoln and Northeastern State are the clear bottom dwellers of the conference. But the middle of the MIAA looks improved from past years. Should make for excellent matchups week in and week out.


Thursday Games

Missouri Western 28 #22 Fort Hays 17

What a performance by Missouri Western. The Griffons were able to clean up the mistakes that cost them a win against Northwest Missouri last week and look at the result. A road win at #22 Fort Hays. 


The Tigers had won 12 straight home MIAA games. A streak that stretched all the way back to November 5, 2016 in a 28-7 loss to Northwest Missouri. Fort Hays looked overmatched at the line of scrimmage in this game. Only 14 yards rushing on 22 attempts for the Tigers. The ineffectiveness of the running game put way too much pressure on Chance Fuller to carry the offense. Fuller went 23 of 49 for 333 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Fort Hays has to find a running game, otherwise the Tigers will struggle on offense all year long. 


The Griffons did a great job of being balanced on offense. Missouri Western used the ground game to control the clock and utilized the vertical passing game to gain big chunk plays. Wyatt Steigerwald is an absolute baller and made big play after big play. Why the coaching staff ever takes him out of the game for Anthony Vespo, I will never understand. The one-two punch of Markel Smith and Shamar Griffith is a fun backfield to watch.


Missouri Western is definitely in contention for the playoffs right now. If the Griffons can beat Central Missouri next Saturday, the Griffons will be in great shape for the rest of the season. This is a team no one wants to face right now.


Fort Hays is all but eliminated from the playoffs after two losses to open the year. The Tigers would have to run the table the rest of the way and get help to make the playoffs. That is not likely with the Tigers still having to play Northwest Missouri, Pittsburg State, Central Oklahoma and Emporia State. Best case scenario for Fort Hays is a bowl game appearance. 


#20 Central Missouri 70 Northeastern State 7

The Mules are good, the Riverhawks are not. End of story. 


This game was over before it even started. Central Missouri can steamroll teams that cannot keep up with Brook Bolles and the rest of the Mules offense.


That a whole lot can be taken away from games like this.


Central Missouri has another huge test next week as the Mules travel to St. Joseph to take on a tough Missouri Western squad.


Missouri Southern 38 Lincoln 14

The Lions get their first MIAA road win since October 1, 2016 (24-14 win at Nebraska-Kearney). Missouri Southern had lost their last 13 MIAA road games. The Lions jumped out to a commanding 21-0 lead in the first half. Lincoln recorded just two first downs in the first half. 


The Blue Tigers pulled with a touchdown by outscoring the Lions 14-0 in the 3rd quarter. Missouri Southern responded well and dominated the 4th quarter 17-0. 


The question is can Missouri Southern perform like this against anyone not named Lincoln and Northeastern State?


Central Oklahoma 28 Nebraska-Kearney 17

I loved what the Lopers did through the first three quarters. Held the Bronchos to only seven points and were in complete control of the game. Then Central Oklahoma made their charge. The Bronchos then scored 21 unanswered points take the lead. Second week in a row that Central Oklahoma fell behind early and then stormed back to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. This time they were able to hold on to the lead and win the game. The Lopers were able to score again and nearly recovered the onside kick.


Great performance by the Lopers despite coming away with the loss. Unfortunately for the Lopers, it will not get easier from here. Nebraska-Kearney plays at Emporia State and hosts Pittsburg State over the next couple of weeks.


For Central Oklahoma, the slow starts have to stop. It’s great to have the ability to comeback and erase double digit deficits. However, it is dangerous to rely on that week in, week out. Especially in the MIAA.


Saturday Games

#6 Northwest Missouri 38 Washburn 17

Washburn gave the Bearcats all they could handle in the first half. The Ichabods started the game 10 of 12 on third down conversions. Many of those conversions were on third and long as well. Mitch Schurig played much better this week and made a lot of accurate throws. I am not sure why Washburn tried to establish the running game. The Ichabods were killing the Bearcats through the air and averaged only 2.8 yards per carry on the ground. 


The Bearcat offense struggled with consistency in the first half, with both play calling and execution. Too much sideline the sideline action, not enough downhill running and vertical passing game. Wright throws a nice intermediate to deep ball and he displayed that ability in the second half. We will see if Northwest Missouri will learn from this game and put Wright in better position to be successful. I am cautiously optimistic. 


The Bearcats depth of talent was on display Saturday as they wore down the Ichabods in the second half. The Bearcats are vulnerable this year, but as of right now they are the favorites to win the MIAA.


#23 Pittsburg State 47 Emporia State 23

Pittsburg State used a 24 point outburst in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory over the Hornets. Good win over a solid Emporia State team, but Pittsburg State is still holding themselves back.


The veer is not sustainable against better teams in the MIAA. Northwest Missouri has a strong history of shutting down the veer under Rich Wright. Missouri Western is good enough upfront to limit the veer and explosive enough offensively to outscore it. Central Missouri is too dynamic on offense for Pittsburg State to score with the Mules. 


I believe there is enough evidence after two games against solid competition that Mak Sexton should be the starting quarterback over Brandon Mlekus. The spread offense with Sexton is more explosive and consistent than the veer with Mlekus. The Gorillas would be 0-2 right now if Sexton had not come in to both games and jump started the offense. 


For Emporia State, Dakota Cowan got his first look at a real defense. Northeastern State does not count. Cowan was under constant pressure and was sacked five times. Cowan only threw for 174 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. He did bring Emporia State back and tied the score at 23 at the beginning of the fourth, but then the Hornets did nothing the rest of the game. A bright spot for the Hornets is running back Carlos Grace. Grace ran for 135 yards and a touchdown in the loss.