WEEKLY PREVIEW: ASUN-WAC Alliance Football, Week of 9/11/2021

Western Athletic Conference Game of the Week

GAME PREVIEW: #10 Weber State at Dixie State
When: Saturday, September 11 at 8p.m. PST
Where: Greater Zion Stadium; St. George, Utah
TV/Streaming: ESPN+

Jay Hill is in his eighth season as the head coach of the Wildcats. Hill has transformed the Weber State program and has led Weber State to four straight Big Sky Conference titles and five straight trips to the FCS Playoffs. The Wildcats have been ranked as high as second in the nation, the highest in school history. After seven seasons, Hill has a career record of 52-32 at Weber State. The 52 wins leaves him just short of the school record, entering the 2021 season and his .619 winning percentage is the second-highest winning percentage in Weber State history. 

Paul Peterson begins his third season at the helm of the Dixie State Trailblazers in 2021 – the Trailblazers are in their first full season as an NCAA Division I FCS program. This past spring, Peterson led the Blazers to a 2-3 overall record, which included a 26-14 upset win at the-No. 22 Tarleton State Texans in Dixie State’s FCS debut game on Feb. 27, 2021.  During his first year on the Dixie State sideline, Peterson led the Trailblazers to an 8-3 record in 2019, marking the most successful season of the program’s 14-year NCAA Division II era. 

Weber State Wildcats (0-1, 0-0 in Big Sky) 

Weber State returned to fall football for the first time in two years and had the lead early against the nationally ranked Utah Utes. But the ‘Cats had to handle a long weather delay and the 24th ranked Utes as Utah defeated Weber State 40-17 last Thursday night at the newly renovated Rice-Eccles Stadium. The Wildcats had 270 yards of total offense – 213 passing and just 57 yards rushing. Quarterback Bronson Barron was 21-of-33 passing for 213 yards and one touchdown. Tight end Justin Malone led the Wildcat receivers with five catches for 50 yards and wide receiver Ty MacPherson had five catches for 48 yards. Running back Dontae McMillan had seven carries for 39 yards and running back Josh Davis had seven carries for 17 yards. 

Dixie State Trailblazers (0-1, 0-0 in WAC) 

Dixie State opened its 2021 fall season on a sour note after a 19-7 loss to Sacramento State last Saturday night inside Greater Zion Stadium.  The Trailblazer defense was stout in its season debut despite playing nearly 38 minutes on the night. After surrendering 225 yards in the opening half, the Blazers held Sacramento State to 176 second-half yards.  Quarterback Kody Wilstead finished 15-of-31 passing for 158 yards, which included the junior’s first interception in nearly two full years.  Dixie State was also held to just 55 yards rushing on 24 attempts, with freshman running back Quali Conley picking up 26 of those yards on eight carries.  

Fearless Prediction

The Weber State Wildcats have won four straight Big Sky championships while the Dixie State Trailblazers are new to Division I as they become full-fledged members of the WAC in 2022.

Weber State 34 Dixie State 13

Other games of interest

Lamar at University of Texas-San Antonio

UTSA head coach Jeff Traylor led the Roadrunners to a 37-30 upset victory over Illinois last week – it was just the second victory against a Power Five opponent in program history.  Lamar dominated a non-Division I opponent last week, taking down Houston-based North American University 47-3.  

UTSA 42 Lamar 13

Stephen F. Austin at Texas Tech

SFA rallied to defeat Tarleton State 20-10 in its season opener.  Texas Tech scored 31 unanswered points to take down Houston 38-21 last Saturday night inside NRG Stadium.

Texas Tech 48 SFA 10

Southeast Missouri State at #1 Sam Houston

The Redhawks dropped their season opener at home 47-21 to nationally ranked Southern Illinois. The Bearkats compiled 591 yards of total offense in their 42-16 win over Northern Arizona inside the Walkup Skydome last week. 

Sam Houston 35 SE MO 20

Louisiana College at Abilene Christian

ACU opened its first season in the Western Athletic Conference last Saturday evening with a 56-9 loss to the SMU Mustangs in Dallas.  The Wildcats hung with SMU in the first quarter before the Mustangs pulled away.

ACU 66 Louisiana College 0

Fort Lewis at Tarleton

The Tarleton Texans opened their game against Stephen F. Austin with all the excitement and energy needed in a season opener.  But the Lumberjacks won it 20-10 despite the Texans’ stout defense.  

Tarleton 49 Fort Lewis 3