No. 20 UCA Bears (2-3) vs. Nebraska-Kearney Lopers (1-4)
First Security Field at Estes Stadium, Conway, Saturday, 3 p.m.
Media: Audio ucasports.com. Live stats, sidearmstats.com. Live video, UCA showcase
CENTURY MARK: UCA coach Clint Conque made it a perfect 100 victories as head coach of the Bears with the 17-13 win over Missouri State on Sept 21.
His teams have won at least eight games eight times, including an 11-3 mark in 2005, which tied the school record for victories. The Bears have recorded back-to-back nine-win seasons over the past two years, advancing to the second round of the FCS Playoffs both years.
Conque, in his 14th season. is the winningest coach in UCA football history. He has beaten 43 different teams from 18 states. The most is eight victories against Henderson State. Fifty-six of those wins were at the Division I level and 44 at the D-II level.
Only two coaches in Arkansas collegiate history have won 100 games; Frank Broyles won 144 in 19 seasons at Arkansas. The percentage of active Division I coaches with 100 or more wins at their current school is just 9.1 percent.
The Bears have scored an average of 39.8 points and allowed an average of 18.4 in the 100 wins, for an average margin of victory of 21.3 points. UCA has scored at least 50 points 18 times and has posted shutouts six times. The Bears have won 47 games by at least three touchdowns. UCA has three overtime victories during that span, as well as three one-point victories, including the McNeese State game in 2012.
THE SERIES: The Bears and Lopers have never met on the football field.
LAST WEEK: The Bears piled up a whopping 644 yards of total offense and 33 first downs but three turnovers and a disastrous second quarter doomed them in a 59-28 loss to McNeese State on "The Stripes."
UCA had the game tied at 21-21 with 6:21 left in the first half but the Cowboys scored three touchdowns in the final four minutes to gake a commanding 42-21 lead at the break.
McNeese finished with 595 yards of offense, including 272 rushing yards. UCA threw for 498, with senior QB Wynrick Smothers completing 35 of 65 for 484 yards, with 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions.
Senior TE Chase Dixon caught a career-high 9 passes for 149 yards and a TD, while sophomore WR Courtney Whitehead hauled in 8 for 108. Sophomore LB D.J. Holland had a career-high 10 tackles (2 for loss) and forced a fumble.
ODDS & ENDS: UCA ran a school-record 106 offensive plays last week, accounting for 644 total yards. The Bears had a game’s worth of offense at halftime (64 pays, 496 yards) but still trailed 42-21… The teams combined for 1,239 yards of offense. McNeese averaged 9.2 yards per play, UCA averaged 6.1… TE Chase Dixon caught a career-high 9 catches for 149 yards, one of the top performances by a TE in school history… Senior QB Wynrick Smothers threw a school-record 65 passes and finished with a school record 524 yards of total offense, breaking the single-game mark held by current QB coach Nathan Brown (490, vs. Presbyterian, 2005)… Dixon now has 8 TDs in 28 career catches after grabbing a 12-yarder against UTM, an 11-yarder against CU, an 8-yarder vs. MSU and a 3-yard last week vs. McNeese… UCA is No. 2 in the Southland in passing offense at 353.4 yards per game. However, the Bears are last in rushing offense (95.8) and only sixth in total offense (449.2)… The Bears are still allowing just 1.0 yards per punt return this season… UCA is No. 1 in red-zone defense (8 of 12, 66.7%) allowing 6 TDs and 2 FGs… UCA had its second 85+ yard kickoff return of the season against the Buffs when sophomore Dillion Winfrey returned one 88 yards. Jatavious Wilson had a 93-yarder for a TD in the opener… The crowd of 35,168 at Colorado was the third largest crowd to ever watch the Bears. Ole Miss drew 50,544 in 2012 and Hawaii had 35,751 in 2009…
NATIONAL NUMBERS: Senior QB Wynrick Smothers is first in the nation in completions per game (33), fourth in passing yards per game (327.8) and sixth in total passing yards (1,639). Freshman Jatavious Wilson is second in KO return yards average (37.0), while senior DE Markeith Gaines and sophomore CB Dillion Winfrey are tied for eighth in forced fumbles (2).
UCA is eighth in the country in forced fumbles (7) and fourth in kickoff returns (28.2). The Bears are fourth in passing offense (353.4) and sixth in punt return defense (1.0). UCA is 10th in red-zone defense and 11th in tackles for loss (46, -148 yds).
INJURY BUG: The Bears have beenn bitten heavily by the injury bug this season. UCA has lost three players for the season on the defensive side of the ball. Senior cornerback Dominique Brown will miss the remainder of the season after a knee injury in the Colorado game. Redshirt freshman linebacker Aum’Arie Wallace is also out after breaking his ankle against the Buffaloes.
Senior safety Karl Brady injured his knee at Missouri State and is out for the remainder of the season.
Also missing time due to injuries are freshman RB Danzel Williams, offensive linemen Kyle Stouffer, Lance Kloker and Bryan Manley, WR Dezmin Lewis, safety Jestin Love and others.
MISSING IN ACTION: The Bears had five players suspended to begin the 2013 season, including starting running back Willie Matthews for the opening game against UIW.
Matthews missed the season opener, but returned for the Colorado game. Junior offensive lineman C.J. Simon, junior receiver Jacoby Walker, junior offensive lineman Jordan Kersh and redshirt freshman receiver Wyatt Hikins missed the first two games of the season. Senior LB Justin Heard is currently suspended beginning with the Missouri State game on Sept. 21. Heard returned to practice this week and will be eligible to play next week against Lamar.
All are due to violation of team rules, according to head coach Clint Conque.