Ryan Brown

Week 9 Column...Wait, week 9? How did we get here so fast?

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Where did the time go? Remember when we were all pulling out our hair in August hoping for any sign of football? Now there is just three weeks left for most of the SAC teams? Unbelievable! But at least we are going to have so much to play for. Isn't is great to see five SAC teams in the top ten? And even for those teams that will be home for the holidays, they get to play spoiler. Saturday puts all five games in North Carolina for the only time this season. Let's go!

In order of time:

Carson-Newman (5-2, 2-2 SAC) @ Brevard (1-7, 0-4 SAC)
1 p.m. - Brevard, N.C.
SAC Members Picks = C-N (9) over BC (0)
Spread = C-N (-24)
Last meeting (@C-N, 2011) = Carson-Newman 27, Brevard 24

Even though the Tornados nearly won at Burke-Tarr last year, it won't be as close in 2012. Too much on the line for the Eagles. Brevard missed out on likely their only chance for another win here in 2012 against NGU. They had just SIX yards of offense at halftime, yet led 3-0. They only managed two possessions in fourth, missing a huge opportunity. Carson-Newman rolled over UNCP and are playing their best football at the right time. All three units are clicking and that's bad news for the Tornados. I know it's mostly computer generated and C-N's schedule strength takes a hit but the Eagles need to be impressive. They need to leave no doubt, send a message and to keep confidence heading into the final two weeks.

Prediction: Carson-Newman 38, Brevard 10

(2-6, 1-3 SAC) @ Mars Hill (5-3, 4-1 SAC)
1 p.m. - Mars Hill, N.C.
SAC Members Picks = MHC (8) over TC (1)
Spread = MHC (-14)
Last meeting (@TC, 2011) = Mars Hill 47, Tusculum 37

I can imagine the Lions had a hard time getting out of bed Sunday morning. Had to be a brutally tough loss. Defense played well enough to win that game but just a shocking 4 minute period cost them a loss to the Bears for the second straight year. The good news is the regional rankings came out with Mars Hill at 2. They get Tusculum this week at home and then have a bye. Same story with Mars Hill like the Eagles. Need to be impressive and prove their worth at the two spot. I wouldn't be surprised if they drop even with a win this week or during by week. The more I look at it, it goes back to the SAC having two teams come playoff time. The Lions have to finish better. Three straight weeks of faltering down the stretch. The LR game was the first time it cost them. Tusculum will have three shots to spoil someone's season over next three weeks. Lions, Eagles, and Bulldogs all have a shot and the Pioneers can salvage something out of this season. They started the season in shootouts but the offense has worn down and needs to find the endzone much more efficiently to be able to hang with the Lions.

Prediction: Mars Hill 35, Tusculum 17

(5-2, 3-1 SAC) @ Wingate (5-3, 4-1 SAC)
1:30 p.m. - Wingate, N.C.
SAC Members Picks = LRU (7) over WU (2)
Spread = WU (-2.5)
Last meeting (@LR, 2011) = Lenoir-Rhyne 52, Wingate 28

Lenoir-Rhyne and Wingate meet for the second straight year at 3-1 and 4-1 in SAC play respectively. It was a four point Bear lead in 2011 at half and they blew it open in the second half to win by 24. It seems so unlikely that the seasons can be mirror images from 2011 but sure enough they are for WU, MH, and LR. And once again this matchup will determine who keeps championship and playoff hopes alive. The Bulldogs went on to lose two more to finish the season 5-6. You have to believe that is in the back of their minds and they obviously need this one to avoid starting down that path again. The Bears have equal motivation after being denied a playoff spot in 2011. They needed help after winning out last year but they didn't get it. This year they win out, they make it. If they don't get a major injury in week one, this LRU team could be undefeated. The game comes down to turnovers and third down. Lenoir-Rhyne owns the best rushing attack and Wingate the best passing attack. Whichever offense can protect the football and convert on third down to keep the opposing attack off the field wins the game. It seems simple but it means the most for these two teams.

Prediction: None (calling game)

North Greenville (2-6, No Conference) @ Catawba (3-5, 1-4 SAC)
1:30 p.m. - Salisbury, N.C.
SAC Members Picks = CC (7) over NGU (2)
Spread = CC (-13)
Last meeting (@NGU, 2011) = North Greenville 25, Catawb
a 7

Catawba nearly pulled off the upset at Wingate even after being dominated on the stat sheet. The Indians were able to run the ball effectively even with injuries. The passing game struggled at times and this will be a good week to get back on track. The Indians still have a chance to finish with a winning record and take momentum into the offseason. You never want to look ahead to that but the Indians have a good bit of youth and I think the future is bright for them. They have lost four, one touchdown games this year which has to have a lot with being a younger team. The Crusaders did just enough against Brevard to eke out a win. They still haven't played well on the road this season and there is no reason to believe that changes this week in Salisbury.

Prediction: Catawba 28, North Greenville 7

(5-3, 3-2 SAC) @ UNC Pembroke (5-3, IND)
2 p.m. - Pembroke, N.C.
SAC Members Picks = NC (5) over UNCP (4)
Spread = NC (+3)
Last meeting (@NC, 2011) = UNC Pembroke 23, Newberry 20

As seen in the regional rankings and most of us capable beings can figure out, the loser of this game will have their season end on the 10th. Both teams have a top 8 win and can pick up another worthy victory this weekend while some of the top ten can not. And to add to the excitement, the winner clinches a winning season. Newberry stopped their three game skid at Tusculum in a show me what you're made of road trip. The Wolves needed that one for many reasons outside of regional implications, including for their coach. Like I said last week, if this game is played a few weeks back I would favor the Braves. But they seem to be on their heels after consecutive losses. This is easily the toughest game to pick for myself and the voters. The Newberry defense has played pretty well all season and they'll need to do it again. The Wolves seem to be too one-dimensional right now on offense and if they can get the running game going, they can get the job done. If they get past the Braves, then the Bears come to town for another chance to make moves in the region. Newberry needs a LR win over WU, then to beat the Bears to put them in a prime spot. We shall see if they are looking ahead.

Prediction: Newberry 24, UNC Pembroke 21

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Updated 10-26-2012 at 12:23 AM by Ryan Brown

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