VUSports legendary poster, VU54TheGeezer breaks down all the week four football action across the CAA. He was 7-2 last week on his predictions and is now 27-5 overall.
CAA WEEK 4 PREVIEW:
#21/23 Colgate (1-1) at #7/9 Richmond (2-1)
The Raiders were a preseason pick for 1st place in the Patriot League this year. In 2012 the Raiders went 8-4 but then suffered two down years in 2013 (4-8) and 2014 (5-7). Last year they recovered nicely with a 9-5 record beating #20 New Hampshire in the 1st round of the FCS playoffs, 27-20 and then took out #5 JMU, 44-38 before losing to Sam Houston St., 48-21 in the Quarterfinals. They opened this season with a loss to Power 5, ACC Syracuse, 33-7. After a bye week, Colgate got its 1st win of the season at Yale, 55-13. That's a very impressive win as Yale is a pretty decent team and went 6-4 last year. The Raiders are averaging 31ppg and giving up 23 a game. They are 5th in the League for rushing offense but 1st in rushing defense. They are struggling with their passing game and defending the pass as well.
The Spiders proved how tough it is to win on the road in the CAA losing last week to Stony Brook, 42-14. That's quite a beat-down for the best team in the CAA. The Spiders opened with a great upset of Power 5, ACC Virginia, 37-20. In Week 2 they beat MEAC Norfolk St., 34-0. They are struggling with their running game right now placing 9th in the Conference with just an average of 118 yards a game. However, they have the #1 pass offense in the CAA with 321 yards a game. Both their rushing defense and pass "D" are ranked 3rd in the Conference.
I'm going with at least a two touchdown win for the Spiders, 35-21. Colgate hosts Cornell next week and Richmond hosts Towson.
Sacred Heart (3-0) at #20/24 Stony Brook (2-1)
The Pioneers were picked to finish in 2nd in the Northeast Conference behind the leadership of their QB, SR R.J.Noel, a three time all NEC honoree with a 25-11 career record. They opened up at Stetson and won, 18-14. In Week 2 they beat Valparaiso, 42-14 and last week, Marist, 31-6. Since their 2-9 season in 2012 they have gone 10-3, 9-3 and 6-5 last year.
The Seawolves have two nice upsets of Top 20 teams on their resume so far with an upset of #19 Big Sky North Dakota, 13-9 and last week of #2 Richmond, 42-14. In Week 2 Stony Brook lost to Temple, 38-0. Stony Brook still struggles with their offense as they are ranked 11th in rushing offense and 9th in passing offense. Their bread and butter has always been their defense ranking 1st in stopping the run giving up only 90 yards a game. They have trouble protecting the QB as they are ranked 9th in the CAA in giving up sacks.
Let's give the Seawolves a 28-14 win in New York this week. Sacred Heart plays at Wagner next week and after a bye week the Seawolves travel to Towson.
St. Francis (1-2) at #22/23 Albany (3-0)
The Red Flash were picked for 3rd in the Northeast Conference. After three consecutive seasons at 5-6 St. Francis went 6-4 last year. They opened at Big Sky Montana and lost, 41-31, a very respectable score against one of the stronger programs in the FCS. At Towson in Week 2 they gave the Tigers all they could handle before losing, 35-28. Last week at Columbia the Red Flash got their 1st win, 13-9. How do you play two quality opponents so well and then against a weak-sister (Columbia was 2-8 in 2015) only win by 4?
There have been many surprises in the CAA this year but the biggest one is the preseason 11th place team jumping into the Top 25 and upsetting 1-A in MAC Buffalo, 22-16. In Week 2 the Great Danes defeated Rhode Island, 35-7 and last week it was Holy Cross, 45-28. OK, so their schedule hasn't been too demanding yet (even Buffalo was a sub .500 team last year) so let's see how they do in their next 3 games - Richmond, at Maine and then at Villanova. The Great Danes are 4th in the CAA in rushing offense but 11th in passing. They are struggling on defense being ranked 9th in stopping the run and 8th defending the pass.
The Red Flash should play Albany tough based on their first two games but the Great Danes should win, 35-24. St. Francis hosts D-2 Malone next week and Albany hosts Richmond after a bye week.
#8/11 JMU (2-1) at Maine (0-2)
After starting with two cupcakes (Morehead St. and Central Connecticut St.) JMU played their 1-A team and lost to Power 5, ACC UNC, 56-28. Their run offense is ranked 1st with almost 400 yards rushing a game and 4th in passing offense with 200 yards a game. Their rushing defense is keeping teams under 100 yards a game but their pass defense is rated 10th in the Conference.
Maine has played two 1-A teams - UConn (almost an upset win) but a loss at 24-21. In Week 2 it was a lost to 1-A MAC Toledo (they'll get a Bowl game this year), 45-3. Last week was a deserved bye week to heal their wounds. If Stony Brook can upset Richmond at home, can Maine do the same with JMU? Statistics may not mean much for Maine, having played two 1-A games. They average 12ppg and give up 34.5 a game.
Everyone in the CAA would love to see the Black Bears take out JMU but I don't think it will happen. Let's give the Dukes a 35-21 win up in Orono. Maine hosts Bryant and JMU hosts Delaware next week.
New Hampshire (0-0/1-2) at Rhode Island (0-1/0-3)
The UNH Wildcats fell out of the Top 25 with their loss at Dartmouth last week, 22-21. The Big Green rallied to beat UNH with a TD with 1:40 to play. UNH opened with a 31-0 loss at 1-A San Diego St. of the Mountain West. In Week 2 UNH defeated Holy Cross, 39-28.Their biggest problem is their O line and protecting their QB as they have given up 12 sacks already. Their rushing defense is average but their passing D is ranked dead last in the CAA.
The Rams are coming off two consecutive one win seasons and this week won't be their 1st win. Their rushing and pass defense are ranked next-to-last in the CAA and they only average 11.3ppg while giving up 47.
Last year UNH could only muster a 3 point win, 20-17. Look for a bigger margin this year and let's go with a 31-10 UNH win. UNH hosts William & Mary next week and URI hosts Ivy Brown.
Elon (0-0/1-2) at #8 Wiiliam & Mary (0-0/2-1)
The Phoenix opened with a disappointing home loss to Gardner-Webb, 31-6. In Week 2 Elon lost to 1-A C-USA Charlotte, 47-14 but last last week got their 1st win (although a D-2 team) over Fayetteville St., 26-3. Elon's rushing offense is rated 10th in the conference (only 113 yards a game) and their rushing defense defense 10th. Their passing game is rated 3rd and their pass defense 2nd. Last year they lost to the Tribe, 34-13.
The Tribe opened at Power 5, ACC N.C. St. and lost, 48-14. In Week 2 they beat Hampton, 24-14 and last week, Norfolk St., 35-10. Their statistics aren't overly strong - 6th in rushing, 5th in passing, 8th in rushing defense but 4th in passing D.
The preseason pick for 2nd should beat rather easily the 10th rated Conference team at home and will to the tune of 38-17. W&M plays at UNH next week and Elon hosts Villanova.
#15/19 Villanova (2-1) at Lafayette (1-2)
Lafayette was a preseason pick for 6th in the 7 team Patriot League. Since 2009 (their last winning season at 8-3) the Leopards have gone 2-9 (2010), 4-7 (2011), 5-6 (2012), 5-7 (2013), 5-6 (2014) and 1-10 in 2015. Their only win last year was against Wagner from the Northeast Conference, 35-24. Wagner was also a 1-10 team in 2015, beating only Central Connecticut St., 28-7. This year the Leopards opened up with a win against Central Connecticut St., 24-10. In Week 2 Lafayette hosted CAA Delaware and lost, 24-6. Last week the Leopards took on Ivy Princeton and lost, 35-31. Princeton was a 5-5 team last year. The game was tied at half, 21-21, before Princeton pulled away. In that game the Leopards threw for 356 yards but had two interceptions. They only got 60 yards rushing on the ground. Lafayette usually schedules one CAA team each year and for the past 4 years it was against William & Mary. In 2012, the 1st year of the 4 year contract, Lafayette upset W&M, 17-14. The next 3 years all went to W&M, 34-6, 33-19 and 34-7 last year. Frank Tavani, the Head Coach, is in his 17th season at Lafayette and has a 82-98 record.
The Cats played almost a perfect game last week (it never will be perfect with our kicking game) and executed the game plan to almost perfection, coming away with a 40-21 win over Towson. Ah, how sweet revenge is. QB Zack Bednarczyk threw two pick 6s last year and the Cats lost to Towson inspite of out-playing them. Bednarczyk threw for 3 touchdowns and 230 yards passing and ran for another 37 yards. The Cats finally got a quality, solid game from JR/WR Taurus Phillips, something Villanova fans have been waiting for in the past two years. Hopefully, Taurus can deliver that type of game every week now. He had 2 TD catches and 110 yards. The Cats kept Towson off-balance as 8 different receivers all had catches. The O line finally gave Bednarczyk enough time to find his receivers. Quality job by the O line. The D line also came up big especially SR/DL Tanoh Kpassagnon.The Cat secondary had 2 interceptions and JR/DB Rob Rolle was the CAA Defensive Player of the week with his pick and returning it 100 plus yards for a TD. The Cats are now 3rd in rushing offense in the CAA but still have to improve their ranking of 9 in pass offense. The Cat rushing defense ranks 4th and their pass defense, 7th. They must improve in the sack department as we are next-to-last with 11 sacks on Bednarczyk.
Hopefully, the Cats did the necessary preparation and not have a let-down game after a big win as they did last year with Penn. This would be a good game to pad some statistics for us. Let's give the Cats a 35 - 14 win up in Easton this Saturday. Lafayette hosts Holy Cross and Villanova travels to Elon next Saturday.