New Hampshire dangerous opponent

Yes, the University of New Hampshire is a Division I-AA team, or as I-AA teams are now known as, Football Championship Subdivision.But don't expect Army to walk over New Hampshire at Michie Stadium this weekend. The Black Knights, coming off an embarrassing 35-7 season-opening loss to Temple last week, will have a fight on their hands.

New Hampshire isn't your run of the mill Division I-AA whipping boy. The Wildcats, a I-AA power, have won their last three games over Football Bowl Subdivision teams, which Army is a part of. All three conquests of New Hampshire's I-A conquests have come on the road.

New Hampshire won at Rutgers (35-24) in 2004, at Northwestern (34-17) in 2005 and at Marshall (48-35) last season.

It should be noted that those wins came with star quarterback Ricky Santos leading the Wildcats. Santos signed a free agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs this spring and now plays for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. Sophomore R.J. Toman replaces Santos and, while he doesn't have the same credentials as Santos, he has potential.

Last year, Toman was thrown into the fire, beating I-AA power Delaware in relief of Santos, adding a win over Iona. Meanwhile, Army could be facing a quarterback controversy just a week into the season. Army coach Stan Brock almost pulled quarterback Carson Williams at halftime of the Temple game in favor of Chip Bowden.

It didn't happen, but don't think Williams isn't looking over his shoulder. His shaky confidence taking another hit. Before the season, armysports.com included New Hampshire on its list of must-have wins this season. Now, it's a must win situation for the Black Knights.

Another 0-2 start, including one to a I-AA team, formidable or not, would put the Black Knights in a huge hole. New Hampshire is a much better team than Rhode Island, which Army squeezed by 14-7 last season. Army trailed Rhode Island 7-0 at halftime, a 25-yard touchdown pass from Williams to tight end Justin Larson staved off what would have been a heartbreaking defeat.Rhode Island finished 3-8 last season.

Meanwhile, head coach Sean McDonnell has built a program at New Hampshire. In 10 years, he's 60-46 (.566).

The Wildcats are ranked 16th in the nation in the Sports Network's Football Championship Subdivision preseason poll. The program has been ranked in the top 25 since the beginning of the 2004 season. New Hampshire posted a 7-5 record last season, qualifying for the FCS playoffs. The Wildcats lost its opening round game at Northern Iowa 38-35. Still, New Hampshire's season included a victory versus Delaware, which advanced to the FCS Subdivision title game, losing to Appalachian State, which upset Michigan last season.

New Hampshire boasted one of the FCS' top offense's a year ago, ranking 13th in the nation in passing (277.25 yds/game), 29th in total offense (407.25 yds/game) and 14th in scoring offense (35.75 pts/game). Defensively, the 2007 Wildcats allowed 443.42 yards and 29.33 points per game.

It doesn't matter if it's LSU vs. Troy State or Army vs. New Hampshire, the pressure is always on the I-A team. This is a must win for the Black Knights, but not only that, it's a win they should be proud of if they pull it off.

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