Record crowd expected as Tarleton welcomes Midwestern State in Homecoming Classic

TSU Sports Information

The Texans are going all out for this year's homecoming game with their 15K Initiative.

The goal is to get 15,000 fans in the doors to witness one of the best rivalries in Texas football – Tarleton vs. Midwestern State.

Tarleton is aiming to get 15,000 fans in the doors to witness one of the best rivalries in Texas football – Tarleton vs. Midwestern State – for its homecoming game on Saturday.

The game, set for 6 p.m. CT at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, will be broadcast on ESPN+, with John Liddle and Richard Bartel on the call. The game can be heard on Tarleton Sports Network at 90.5 FM in Stephenville and surrounding areas, with Byron Anderson, Kyle Masters, Cody Vanoy and Keltin Wiens leading the broadcast.

Texas State House of Representative DeWayne Burns will be a part of the coin toss at 6:02 p.m.

ABOUT THE MATCHUP

This will be the 37th all-time meeting between Tarleton and Midwestern State. Only McMurry has faced Tarleton more all-time (39 times). With this game, Midwestern will become TSU's second-most common opponent(currently tied with Angelo State, 36 meetings).

Tarleton has won three straight against Midwestern, tied for the second-longest winning streak by either team in the series. Only TSU's seven-game run from 2001-09 has seen more consecutive wins.

At 5-1, MSU is ranked No. 19 in the AFCA Division II Coaches' Top 25 Poll. The Mustangs have scored 30+ in all six games.

QUICK HITS

With its 41-20 win over Dixie State, Tarleton is now 50-1 under head coach Todd Whitten when scoring 40+ points.

Texan Alley Tailgate will open at 9 a.m. in Lot A. For maps of the area and complete tailgating policies, visit TarletonSports.com/TexanAlley. Non-tailgating lots will open at 2 p.m., while the stadium gates will open at 4 p.m. At4:30 p.m. at Texan Alley, the Tarleton Game Day Radio Show will begin live from onsite.

The Texans are 2-0 at Memorial Stadium this season, outscoring their opponents 94-28 (33.0 average margin of victory). They've won their last two home games against Midwestern by a combined score of 99-28 (35.5avg.).

This marks back-to-back seasons the Texans are hosting the Mustangs for their homecoming game. Tarleton has won four consecutive homecoming games, last losing in 2016.

WR J.F. Thomas and K Adrian Guzman were named WAC Offensive and Special Teams Players of the Week, respectively, for their games at Dixie State. Thomas had six catches, 169 yards, 1 TD. Guzman had 2 FGM, 5/5XP.

In the last game, Devin Hafford had an interception, marking his sixth takeaway of the season (4 INT, 2 FR). That's tied for the most takeaways across NCAA Division I football, tied with Illinois' Kerby Joseph (3 INT, 3FR) out of the FBS, and Western Illinois' Michael Lawson (4 INT, 2 FR) out of the FCS.

With nine more tackles, Ronnell Wilson (331 tackles) will surpass Robert Ivey (339 tackles, 1985-88) for second on Tarleton's all-time tackles leaderboard. Tally Neal (1975-78) is first in Tarleton history at 613.

HOME SWEET HOMECOMING

There's no energy at a football game that can quite match the vibe at a homecoming game, besides maybe a playoff contest. For this homecoming, Tarleton is planning on making it extra special – enter the 15K Initiative. The mission is simple; host 15,000 loud and proud fans at Memorial Stadium for the game. The Texans are bringing in extra seating, increasing capacity to 16,500, in anticipation of reaching their goal, which would be a new Tarleton attendance record. Special events throughout the day include the best pregame event in the history of Tarleton – yes, it's a surprise – 2,000 rally towels and hats for students, and a postgame fireworks show.

This marks back-to-back seasons the Texans are hosting Midwestern State for their homecoming game, winning in the spring 33-21.

Steven Duncan threw three touchdowns, including two to Tariq Bitson, who totaled six catchesand 83 yards. Two Texans had 100+ yard games on the ground, with Khalil Banks totaling 135 rushing yards and a touchdown, and Ryheem Skinner recording 102 yards and a TD.

Zach Strong had 1.5 sacks. The Texans have won four straight homecoming games, last losing in 2016.

Overall at Memorial Stadium, this is the first game of a three-game homestand for TSU. Tarleton has won two straight in Stephenville, five of its last six. At home this season, Tarleton has outscored opponents 94-28, an average of 33.0 points per game. In just two home games, the Texans have scored 12 touchdowns, nine of them on the ground.

OFFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS

On Saturday at Dixie State, the Tarleton offense exploded in the first half, with Steven Duncan throwing for 275 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone. On each of Duncan's first three drives of the game, Tarleton drove down the field and scored a touchdown, drives of 75 yards, 80 yards and 67 yards. For the game, J.F. Thomas

had six catches, 169 yards and a touchdown, recording four catches of 30+ yards each. Tarleton has already scored 40+ points three times this year after just one such occurrence last season.

Across the WAC, Tarleton is averaging the second-most total yards per game (424.5) and the third-most rushing yards per game (192.7). If not for reclassification, the Texans would be averaging the 27th most yards per game in the FCS, and the 26th most rushing yards per game. It helps when you have two of the most efficient running backs in the league, with Jayy McDonald averaging a would-be 16th most yards per carry in the FCS at 6.47 YPC,and Daniel Wright Jr. averaging a would-be 22nd most in the FCS at 6.06 yards per carry. WR Tariq Bitson has the most yards on the team though at 460 on the year. Tarleton has the highest red zone percentage in the conference at 90 percent, scoring on 26-of-29 trips inside the 20. Of those 29 trips, 19 of those scores were touchdowns, giving them the second highest redzone touchdown percentage at 66 percent. They also have the fewest number of fumbles lost in the conference (two)

DEFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS

The Texan defense has been strong once again this season. Opponents have had an even rougher time when it comes to second halves in particular. When defensive coordinator Marcus Patton and his staff have gotten a chance to see the opposition's game plan, the Texans have made their adjustments in the locker room and played lockdown D in the second half. The Texan defense has allowed just one touchdown scored in the second half over the past three games, and across the season, they've only allowed four touchdowns in second halves, two of which were scored by Southern Utah on Sept. 18. That's three touchdown-less second half performances in six games by theTexan D.

Defensively, Tarleton has allowed 19.3 points per game (as 12 points were scored by the opposing defenses on turnover returns). As a team, the Texans' are allowing 21.3 points per game, third fewest in the WAC. Defensively,the Texans have only had one not-up-to-standard performance, their matchup against Southern Utah in which they allowed 40 points. Outside of that, no team has scored more than 21 points, with Fort Lewis managing just seven.The Texans have forced 12 turnovers (seven interceptions, four fumble recoveries and a safety).

LOOKING TO GO OVER .500

With wins in their next two, TSU would bring its senior college era record over .500 for the first time since 1961. In 1961 under head Johnny Dunn, Tarleton won its first-ever game as a senior college. Tarleton lost its next three and had a chance to bring its all time record to .500 again in the season finale, but lost to East Central and had not reached the .500 mark as a four-year program again until defeating Northeastern State in their second to last game of 2020. East Central spoiled it again. The Texans are currently at 312-313-3 in their senior college history.

UP NEXT FOR TARLETON

Get ready for a clash between two WAC opponents as the reigning champion Sam Houston Bearkats come to town. Sam Houston won the FCS national championship last season and is currently 5-0 this year. The game will be in Stephenville next Saturday, Oct. 30, at 6 p.m. CT at Memorial Stadium. It's also the Texans' Pink Out game, so wear your pink and help us spread breast cancer awareness.