This week Red features the not so longstanding rivalry between Mary Hardin-Baylor and Hardin-Simmons at Shelton Stadium in Abilene.
The third ranked MHB Crusaders come into this matchup on a hot roll with butter having won all 7 games this season. And not just winning – the Crusaders have put an old-fashioned butt whipping on every opponent so far. The closest game was last week’s 48-20 blowout of Texas Lutheran. This is nothing new in Belton, as MHB has only lost one conference game in the last 10 seasons. This year the Crusaders are averaging just over 53 points a game.
The thirteenth ranked Hardin-Simmons Cowboys will have taken a backseat to no one either. HS is also 7-0 and pretty much destroying the competition – except for a 35-27 close call against Texas Lutheran which would be undefeated except for playing these two juggernauts. HS is not scoring points at the same incredible rate as MHB, but it may have a better defense.
There is nothing unusual about the American Southwest Conference championship coming down to this game. For all but two seasons the conference crown has passed back and forth between these two powerhouses. But this year’s playoff stakes are unlike any other. With the departure of Mississippi College and Texas Lutheran after the 2012 season, the ASC dropped below the seven-team threshold for an automatic qualifying bid. There was a two-year grace period, and two provisional programs have since been added, but the conference has been pushed into the Pool B grouping, where 13 teams are fighting for one bid. The winner of this one is probably in, but the loser may be left in the cold despite having had an otherwise exceptional season. Red calls it for Hardin-Simmons 59-53.
Photo of Shelton Stadium from http://www.hsuathletics.com.