The Call: USF at Upper Iowa; Concordia at Augustana

Upper Iowa was headed towards its best season at the D2 level (well, technically, this is still their best year at the D2 level), but with two straight losses, their morale may not be the greatest this week against USF.
USF is obviously coming off a very big home win over Augustana, but unlike last year, when the Cougars could build off the rivalry win by honing in on a playoff berth, this year the players probably know that the biggest game of their season is behind them.
To be fair, they’re still alive for the NSIC South title, and could be in the Mineral Water Bowl picture, but either way, a trip to Fayette could make them ripe for a letdown.

On the one hand, UIU has an explosive offense, and the last two times USF faced an explosive offense they gave up over 40 points.
On the other, the Cougars beat Augie without too much trouble, and the Vikings hammered the Peacocks two weeks ago. And of course, a USF defense that was much better than this one gave up 666 yards and 41 points to UIU last year at the Bob.
Cole Jaeschke averages 304 yards passing per game, and he threw for 606 against USF last year. Keaton Hosch, who is just the Peacocks’ second-leading receiver this year, had 14 catches for 281 yards in the game. Chris Smith, who has rushed for 1,259 yards in eight games this year, didn’t play last year, and we saw a month ago in Marshall what can happen to USF when they go up against an offense with a prolific QB, RB and WRs.

I expect Carrington Hanna to be back under center, and to stay there as long as the MWB and the South title are theoretically in reach, and he should have a better game this week, as Augie caused him some problems at times, pressuring him and forcing him to make mistakes.

I’ll take the Cougars, but if their defense doesn’t continue to build on two solid performances in a row, they’ll very likely come back for the home finale at 5-4.

Prediction: Cougars 38, Peacocks 35

Concordia-St. Paul has been a tough team to peg this year. They got off to a good start, but have lately been bogged down by injuries to their defense, and offensive consistency has been a problem.
I picked them to beat USF a couple weeks ago (in fairness to me, I didn’t know Carrington Hanna was going to start that game at QB, and if I had known, I would have taken the Cougars), and they lost 47-7.
Last week they bounced back to nip Wayne State.

And while Augustana is coming off a deflating and potentially embarrassing loss to USF, all signs point to this being a winnable game that can help the Vikings get back on track and keep their chances for a winning season alive.
Due in part to the injuries, CSP’s defense hasn’t been outstanding, and the Vikings did seem to get Dajon Newell and CJ Ham going a little bit last week, partly by using them in the short passing game. And Trey Heid came very close to hitting some deep balls against the Cougars that could’ve changed the game.

More importantly, the Vikings defense continued playing well against USF even if the stats didn’t completely bear that out, and if Concordia was only able to muster 35 points in their last two games against USF and Wayne State, it seems likely that they’ll struggle to score points at the K-O.
For as much negativity as there is amongst some Viking fans, they are 3-1 at home, and just a couple plays away from being 4-0 at home and 5-3 overall.
I’ll be surprised if they don’t extend their winning streak over Concordia to six games.

Prediction: Vikings 24, Golden Bears 13