VU54TheGeezer is 36-9 with his predictions so far this season ... who does he have emerging victorious this week?
Friday, October 7
#30 New Hampshire (2-0/3-2) at Elon (1-1/2-3)
This game was moved up a day due to Hurricane Matthew. UNH is coming off a critical home win over William & Mary, which keeps their playoff hopes alive. New Hampshire, in their out-of-conference schedule, went 1-2 with losses to 1-A Mountain West San Diego St. (3-1) and Ivy Dartmouth (2-1). Their lone win was over Patriot Holy Cross (2-3). Their two CAA wins were over Rhode Island and W&M. They average 24ppg and give up 22 a game (3rd best in the CAA). They are 4th in the conference in rushing offense (201 yards a game) with SR/RB Dalton Crossan getting 93 yards a game for 5th best in the conference. They are struggling with their passing game being rated 8th in the CAA. They are 2nd in Red Zone Defense and 3rd in rushing defense but dead last in pass defense.
Elon is coming off a disappointing shellacking by Villanova, 42-7, after their big upset win over Top 10 W&M in Williamsburg. The Phoenix went 1-2 in their out-of-conference games with a bad loss to Big South Gardner-Webb (2-3) and a loss to 1-A C-USA Charlotte (1-4). Their lone win was over Division-2 Fayetteville St. Elon averages 16ppg and gives up almost 27 a game. UNH was picked for 5th in the conference and Elon 10th.
After watching the Villanova game, it seems Elon has some ways to go yet. Let's give UNH a 28-21 win. I'm making it a little closer because Elon can't play any worse than last week and should improve and UNH loses a day of preparation. UNH hosts JMU next weekend and Elon hosts Richmond in two weeks after a bye week.
Saturday, October 8
#6/7 Richmond (1-1/4-1) at #16/17 Albany (1-0/4-0)
The Spiders went 3-0 in their out-of-conference games. Their wins were a major upset of 1-A ACC Virginia (2-3), MEAC Norfolk St. (1-4) and Patriot Colgate (1-3). The Spiders were rated as high as #2 in the Nation before their loss at Stony Brook. Last week Richmond defeated Towson at home, 31-28. Richmond is #2 in scoring in the CAA (31ppg) and 5th in defense (24ppg). They have the best passing offense in the conference.
One has to applaud Coach Greg Gattuso and his Albany Great Danes as they were a preseason pick for next-to-last in the CAA but now find themselves as a Top 20 team in the Nation. That could all change after this weekend. Their 4 wins were over 1-A MAC Buffalo (1-3) a quality win, which got the attention of every Top 25 voter, Patriot Holy Cross (2-3), NEC St. Francis (2-3) and CAA Rhode Island (1-4). They are 3rd in the CAA in offense (30.5ppg), 1st in scoring defense (15ppg), 1st in Turnover Margin (+13 a game) and 1st in Red Zone Defense. In 2013 Albany went 1-11 in their 1st season in the CAA. Last year Albany gave Richmond quite a game losing just by a touchdown, 38-31 down in Virginia.
This should be a very revealing game for both teams. Is Albany really that good or just a product of an easy schedule? How about Richmond? In Week 3 they got blown out by Stony Brook, 42-14, in Week 4 at home Colgate gave them a scare losing just by a touchdown, 38-31 and, of course, last week Towson came VERY close to beating them losing by a FG. Can Richmond pull out of their funk and beat a Top 20 team on the road? I'm not on the Albany band wagon yet so how about a Spider victory, 31-28. Richmond hosts Villanova next week and Albany travels to Maine.
Maine (0-1/1-3) at Delaware (0-1/2-2)
Congratulations to 1st year head coach Joe Harasymiak in his 1st win ever, a 35-31 victory over NEC Bryant (2-3) last weekend. Their other two out-of-conference games were a loss to 1-A AAC UConn (a very close game) and 1-A MAC Toledo (3-1). Their CAA loss was to JMU in a rather close game (for JMU), 31-20. Maine is 8th in scoring in the CAA (20ppg) and 10th in defense (33ppg). Their best part of offense is their passing game, rated 3rd in the conference.
Delaware went 1-2 in their out-of-conference schedule with wins over MEAC Delaware St.(0-4), Patriot Lafayette (1-4) and a loss to 1-A ACC Wake Forest (4-1). Last week, in their 1st CAA game of the 2016 season, the Blue Hens were thrashed by JMU on the road trailing 40-7 in the 3rd quarter before they scored 2 meaningless touchdowns for a 43-20 defeat. The Hens are 4th in scoring in the CAA (30ppg), 2nd in rushing offense with 3 RBs in the Top 10 - JR Wes Hills (97 yards a game), SO Thomas Jefferson (79 a game) and SR Jalen Randolph (67 a game). JR/WR Diante Cherry is their best receiver but SO/QB Joe Walker struggles to get him the ball.
If Delaware is to go to the playoffs this year they must win all their home CAA games (Maine, Stony Brook, Towson and Villanova) and steal a quality road win (at Albany, at W&M, at Richmond) and may need two of those road games in the positive ledger. Maine's goal should be to get to the 3 win plateau this year and so they must get one win out of at Delaware, at URI (doable), at W&M, at Stony Brook and get a win at home vs Albany, Villanova and UNH. I have to think that they'll do it but not this weekend. Blue Hens 31 Black Bears 21. Maine hosts Albany and the Hens travel to W&M next week.
#26/28 William & Mary (0-2/2-3) at #6/7 JMU (2-0/4-1)
In the preseason this was #2 vs #3 in the conference. #2 (W&M) is in real danger of not making the playoffs suffering their 3rd loss in just 5 games last week. In their out-of-conference schedule, W&M went 2-1 with wins over MEAC Hampton (1-3) and MEAC Norfolk St. (1-4). Can you say cupcake city with those two games? Their loss was to 1-A ACC N.C. St. (3-1). Their two CAA losses were to Elon at home, 27-10 and last week up in New Hampshire, 21-12. If the Tribe doesn't make the playoffs, which seems really likely, they only have to look at their Elon tape. This game and a Tribe win would give them a real shot at stealing back their embarrassing loss to the Phoenix. One more loss and they will be skating on real thin ice, two more and they are out. They have 4 opponents that they will probably be picked to lose - at JMU, at Stony Brook, at Towson and home vs Richmond. Not looking good down in Williamsburg.
JMU right now is the class of the CAA and playing the best ball. Their out-of-conference went like this: a 80-7 win over Pioneer Morehead St.(2-3), a 56-21 thrashing of NEC Central Connecticut St. (1-3) and a 1-A loss to ACC UNC (4-1). Their two CAA wins were over Maine (away) and Delaware (home). They are 1st in scoring and rushing offense in the CAA and 4th in passing. They are 4th best in stopping the run but have to improve their defense to go really far in the playoffs. 1st year coach Mike Houston is making his A.D. look pretty smart with his pick.
JMU lost at W&M last year, 44-41. Can you say revenge and pay-back time? This should be a war because W&M has to steal a win from a quality opponent like JMU. The Dukes looked so good taking out Delaware last week that I think it will be a Duke victory over the Tribe, 35-28.
#28/31 Stony Brook (1-0/2-2) at Towson (0-2/1-3)
Out-of-conference Stony Brook has gone 1-2 with losses to 1-A AAC Temple (3-2), 38-0 and a bad loss at home when they were rated #20/24 to NEC Sacred Heart (4-1), 38-10. They have two quality wins: against then #19 Big Sky North Dakota (3-2) and their one CAA win over Top 10 Richmond at home, 42-14. They struggle on offense scoring just 16ppg and are rated 11th in rushing offense. They are 2nd in stopping the run but are giving up 25ppg. The Seawolves have a very favorable CAA schedule and with a win at Towson have a pretty good shot at an at-large selection to the playoffs.
Towson has gone 1-1 with their out-of-conference schedule and still have one to play which is next week at 2-1 Dartmouth, who has already defeated CAA UNH. They lost to 1-A AAC USF (4-1), 56-20 and beat NEC St. Francis (2-3) at home. They average 26ppg and give up 39ppg, which is last in the CAA. We all know about their great RB, Darius Victor but their QB is a little inconsistent (see Villanova game). Like Stony Brook, Towson has a favorable CAA schedule in their remaining games, but face a much steeper hill with their 3 losses in 4 games.
I see this as a coin-flip game. Towson has to win all their CAA home games (Stony Brook, Delaware, Elon and W&M) to have a chance for the post season. A loss for Stony Brook puts them in the W&M camp with 3 losses in 5 games - not good. It's only Week #6 but this game has serious playoff ramifications. Stony Brook lost at home last year to Towson, 21-14. Can they get their revenge this weekend? I'm going with a home team Towson win but don't bet the ranch on the pick. Towson 24 Stony Brook 21. I'll probably eat that pick since SB has had two weeks to prepare. Stony Brook hosts URI and Towson plays at Dartmouth.
Rhode Island (0-2/1-4) at #12/14 Villanova (2-0/4-1)
Congratulations to former Villanova assistant and Ram Head Coach Jim Fleming in getting his his 1st win of the year by beating Ivy Brown (1-2), their in-state rival, 28-13. The Rams finish 1-2 in their out-of-conference schedule with their losses to 1-A Big 12 Kansas (1-3) and Ivy Harvard (3-0). Their two CAA losses were both at home to Albany, 35-7 and UNH, 39-17. The Rams average 16ppg which is last in the conference and give up 39ppg (next-to-last). Their rushing offense is rated 9th with 139 yards a game. They are 10th in stopping the run.Their pass offense and defense are both rated 9th in the CAA. QB Zach Bednarczyk could have his hands full as Rhode Island leads the conference in sacks on the QB. The Rams are last in Red Zone Offense and 10th in Red Zone Defense. In 2012 URI went 0-12, in 2013, 3-9, in 2014, 1-11 and last year 1-11. They seem to get at least one CAA win (in the past 3 years - Albany, Towson and Delaware).
I've seen all 5 Villanova games and the two best were against Towson and last week at Elon. That Elon win was huge because it was on the road and the Phoenix were just coming off a major upset of #8 William & Mary on the road, 27-10. This URI game at home should be a win but remember URI steals one CAA win a year. Proper preparation, mental preparation and game execution should ensure a Cat victory. In their out-of-conference games the Cats went 2-1 with wins over two Patriot League teams, Lehigh (3-2) and Lafayette (1-4). Their loss was to 1-A ACC Pittsburgh (3-2), 28-7. The Cats are 5th in scoring offense in the CAA averaging 29ppg and giving up 18 a game, 2nd best in the league. Their rushing offense is rated 3rd and their rushing defense 1st. The Cats are improving in their passing offense and defense. Even their kicking game is taking a turn for the positive. Happy times at Villanova when the Cats can make their PATs and a few FGs. Javon White is in the top 10 of running backs and having SR/RB Matt Gudzak back and healthy is a real shot in the arm for the offense. JR/DB Rob Rolle is 1st in interceptions and Zach Bednarczyk keeps getting better each week.
Cats won this game last year at URI, 24-3. If the Cats are not over-looking this game for next week's opponent, then they should win, 35-10 but it could be a little closer as Coach Talley doesn't want to run up the score on his former assistant. Next week URI plays at Stony Brook and Villanova plays at Richmond.