There are three NCAA college football programs that are undefeated in the state of Texas. Two of them just completed their regular season and are looking forward to the playoffs. You may be able to name Division I’s Texas Christian University, but do you know the other two?
If you named Division III’s Trinity University and Division II’s Angelo State University, you know your football. But you may not know how these teams ran the table. TCU, ranked #4 nationally as of the writing of this article, could still lose in the regular season, which would mean exclusion from the College Football Playoff. The two smaller schools are already headed to the lower division playoffs. Here’s how they got there.
Out of San Antonio, the Trinity Tigers are a DIII program that competes in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA). The Tigers are ranked No. 5 and 6 according to the American Football Coaches Association and D3football.com respectively.
With a 38-0 Senior Day shutout against Sewanee, Trinity (10-0) completed their 10th undefeated regular season in program history and their first 10-win season since 2011. On top of that, the Tigers extend their regular season winning streak to 20 games dating back to the final game of their 2021 Spring season.
Offensively, the Tigers average 37.3 points per game, gaining 422.9 yards per game, which is good for first and second in the conference respectively.
The defense, however, proves to be the Tigers’ bread and butter this season. Trinity’s defense has allowed 10.6 points per game, which is not only the best in the conference, but it is good enough for 10th best in DIII. The most points allowed in a game this season was against Birmingham Southern, the team that finished second in the SAA, whom Trinity defeated 24-20.
The Tigers’ offense surrounded senior quarterback Tucker Horn. He has completed 190 of his 280 passes (67.9%) for 2,376 yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the year. All of which lead the conference. Senior Ryan Merrifield is the team’s top receiver with 43 receptions for 675 yards and six touchdowns.
Trinity’s rushing attack offers variety as there are three different players who prove a threat to run the ball. The team’s leading rusher is senior running back Justin Carmouche who has rushed for 452 yards and scored five touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Legend Grigsby is the touchdown leader as he has scored eight on the ground on 382 yards. The third threat is junior running back Winston Hutchison, who has rushed for 239 yards and two touchdowns in the nine games he has appeared in.
On the top 10 defense, it all starts with their linebackers, Seniors Caleb Harmel and Mac Douglas as well as junior James Ogunrin leading the team in tackles with 154 total tackles between all of them. Senior Michael Jewett is the team’s sack leader with five. Senior Jacob Munoz and junior Carson Byrd are tied for second with 4.5 sacks each.
The back-to-back SAA champions will host Hardin-Simmons (9-1) in the first round of Division III playoffs on Nov. 19 with a 12 pm CST scheduled kickoff.
Angelo State University
The No. 2 Angelo State Rams took their success and deep playoff run from last season and came into this season on fire. Winning their first outright Lone Star Conference championship since 1984.
The Rams rode a five-game regular season winning streak and a playoff quarterfinal finish into 2022 and have not looked back. After shutting out Chadron State to start the season, ASU gets its revenge on the Colorado School of Mines, who defeated them in the playoffs the previous year, in week two. Then on Homecoming night, the team took down Texas A&M – Kingsville to be the last undefeated DII team in Texas.
Similar to Trinity, defense proved to be the X-factor for the Rams as they allow 11.73 points per game and 217 yards per game, good for fourth and second in Division II respectively. The Rams have made it their mission to intercept footballs this season as they are second in the nation with 18 on the season, four of which have been taken back for points.
The offense has been no slouch themselves as they boast the best output in the Lone Star Conference, scoring 32.7 points per game and averaging 427.6 yards per game; 194.2 on the ground & 233.5 through the air.
Running the football is in the DNA of the Rams’ offense led by junior Nate Omayebu III, who is the team’s leading rusher at 1,065 yards on the season and scoring seven touchdowns. Sophomore Kason Phillips has contributed 667 yards and six touchdowns of his own this season. Senior Zach Bronkhorst has kept opposing defenses honest with his 2,508 yards and 21 touchdowns through the air, three of which go to his favorite target, graduate student Noah Massey who has 540 yards receiving this year
For the fourth-best defense in DII, Micah Flowers and Eric Rascoe lead the team in tackles with 61 each as Daron Allman is the team’s leader in tackles for loss (12.5) and sacks (seven). In the secondary, Deshaun Douglas leads the team in interceptions among active players with four as Flowers and Rascoe have each contributed two each.
The Rams’ effort has earned them the No. 1 seed in Super Region 4 plus, a first-round bye in the DII Playoffs. They will await the winner of No. 4 seed Bemidji State and Winona State and will play them at LeGrand Stadium on Nov. 26.