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CAA Football: Week 7 Preview

VU54TheGeezer is back with his preview and picks for week 7 in the CAA ...

VU54The Geezer moved his record to 40-11 with his picks during week 6 - now he sets his sights on week 7:

Saturday, October 15

#17/19 Albany (1-1/4-1) at Maine (1-1/2-3)

The Great Danes suffered their first defeat of the season last week at home in triple overtime to Richmond, 36-30. Although they have a win over 1-A MAC Buffalo (1-4), I think the way they played Richmond makes them a legitimate Top 25 team. According to the Sagarin ratings, Albany is rated 159 in Division One football with a schedule ranked #211. The other three Albany wins were over Holy Cross (2-4), St. Francis (3-3) and URI (1-5). Albany averages 30 points a game (3rd best in the CAA) and gives up 19ppg (2nd best). Their offense mainly comes from SO/RB Elijah Ibitokun-Hank, who averages 117 yards a game (3rd best in the CAA).

Maine got a huge upset win on the road last week at Delaware, 28-21. Sagarin has them rated at 172 with a strength of schedule at 123 (the toughest in the CAA) based on their two 1-A games, UConn (3-3) and Toledo  (4-1) both losses. The Black Bears also lost to JMU at home in a close game, 31-20. The other Maine victory was over Bryant (2-3). The Black Bears average 21ppg and give up 30ppg (somewhat misleading with their strength of schedule. In reality they do have a good defense especially their D line. They won't hurt you too much on the ground but have a solid passing attack (3rd best in the CAA), with perhaps the 2nd best QB in the conference SR Dan Collins and the 4th best receiver JR/WR Jaleel Reed.

Maine won this game at Albany last year, 39-7. Looks like another coin-flip outcome of a game. If Albany wants to go to the playoffs, this is a must win. Let's give the Great Danes a 28-24 win in Orono. I may eat this prediction because usually the team with a stronger QB wins. Albany plays at Villanova next week and Maine has URI on the road.

 

#6/7 JMU (3-0/5-1) at #25/26 New Hampshire (3-0/4-2)

The JMU Dukes avenged their 44-41 loss at William & Mary last year with a 31-24 win over the Tribe in Harrisonburg last week. Sagarin has JMU rated 101 (best in the CAA) and a schedule rated 207 at this point of the season. The only JMU loss was to 1-A ACC UNC (4-2). They beat two weak-sisters out-of-conference and also have wins over Maine and Delaware. JMU averages a CAA best of 45ppg and is 6th in defense with 25ppg. They are first in rushing offense with Khalid Abdullah SR/RB ranked 1st and SO/RB Tyler Gray ranked 6th in the conference. JR/QB Bryan Schor may be the 3rd best in the CAA.

UNH has won 3 games in-a-row since their upset loss at Dartmouth, 22-21. Sagarin has them rated 160 in D-1 football with a schedule rank of 206. They average 22ppg and give up 20ppg (3rd best in the CAA). They have a nice blend of running and passing. UNH has put themselves right back into the playoff picture and a win this week would almost guarantee an at-large berth in the post season.

With a lot riding on this game for UNH and the fact that they just don't lose at home, let's go with a 35-31 win up in Durham. This game could come down to who has the ball last. JMU hosts URI in two weeks and UNH plays at Towson next weekend.

 

Towson (0-3/1-4) at Dartmouth (0-2 in the Ivy/2-2)

Towson may be the best 1-4 team in 1-AA. Sagarin may agree as he has their schedule rated 135 and Towson rated at 174. The three CAA losses were to Villanova and Richmond on the road and Stony Brook last week at home, 27-20. Looks like they may be playing the rest of the season without their All-American Candidate RB Darius Victor with a leg injury. Towson averages 25ppg and gives up 36.4 a game. 

Dartmouth already has one CAA notch on their belt this year beating UNH, 22-21. They also beat Holy Cross (2-4) and are 0-2 in the Ivy League with losses to Penn, 37-24 and (1-3) Yale, 21-13. Dartmouth was picked for 3rd in the Ivy League just ahead of Yale. In the last two years they have gone 17-3. Sagarin has Dartmouth rated 177 with a schedule rank of 208.

With Towson's schedule they have a shot at a 5-6 record but it has to start this weekend. It's hard to go with Towson since the Big Green already has defeated UNH and Towson will be without the services of RB Darius Victor. However, I'm going out on a limb and pick Towson to win, 24-21. QB Ellis Knudson has to have a good game for Towson for this to happen. The Big Green plays at Ivy Columbia next week and Towson has to play at New Hampshire.

 

Delaware (0-2/2-3) at William & Mary (0-3/2-4)

The Blue Hens really hurt their playoff chances with a loss at home to Maine last week, 28-21 in spite of JR/RB Wes Hills rushing for 242 yards and holding Maine to just 68 rushing yards. Blown coverage by their secondary, a lack of a passing game, an O Line that struggles to protect its QB and a rare missed FG all contributed to the loss. What seemed like a promising season for the Hens has turned south on them. Sagarin rates the Hens at 162 and a schedule rank of 183. The other CAA loss was at JMU, 43-20.

The Tribe now has a 3 game losing streak with their 31-24 loss at JMU last week. Their other two CAA losses were to Elon at home (ouch!) and at UNH two weeks ago. Sagarin has them rated at 176 (very low for the 2nd best team in the CAA in the preseason) and a schedule rank of 189. The Tribe averages 20ppg to Delaware's 28 a game. The Tribe gives up 25.2ppg to Delaware's 25.8. They are 6th in rushing offense to Delaware's 2nd best in the conference. However, Delaware ranks last in passing offense to the Tribe's 5th in the CAA. 

With Delaware's schedule (at W&M, SB, Towson, at Albany, at Richmond, Villanova) they must get 5 wins out of that group in order to have a chance at the playoffs. This is a must win for the Hens. This is also a must-win for the Tribe, in fact, they probably have to run the table in their remaining games. One more CAA loss and the coffin is closed with their playoff aspirations. Whoever doesn't win it will be a 4th loss in-a-row for that team. After leading the whole game last year, the Tribe lost in the last second on  a made Delaware FG, 24-23. The Tribe gets its revenge this year/weekend with a 28-21 win over the Hens. The Tribe hosts Maine in 2 weeks and the Blue Hens host Stony Brook next week.

 

Rhode Island (0-3/1-5) at #26/27 Stony Brook (2-0/3-2)

The Rams will want to destroy their tape of the Villanova game where they could only muster 6 first downs and 60 yards on the ground and lost, 35-0. Just the week before, the Rams got their 1st win of the season against their in-state rival Brown, 28-13. Their other two CAA losses were to Albany and New Hampshire. Sagarin has them rated at 229 and a schedule rank of 161. They average 13 points on offense and 38 on defense (both dead last in the CAA). They are looking to get one conference win and their last 2 games (Towson at home and Elon on the road) are their only hope and neither looks promising.

Stony Brook is coming off a solid road victory at Towson from last week, 27-20. Their other CAA win was over Richmond at home. Sagarin has them rated at 170 and a schedule rank of 154. The Seawolves average 18 ppg and give up 24 a game (4th best in the CAA). At this point in the season and with their schedule, they are in the driver seat for the playoffs. This weekend won't present any road bumps to its mission.

Let's give the Seawolves a 31-7 win over the Rams. The Rams host Maine and SB travels to Delaware next week.

#11/13 Villanova (3-0/5-1) at #6/7 Richmond (2-1/5-1)

First, let's look at Richmond's schedule this year. They opened at 1-A ACC Virginia (2-3) and upset them, 37-20. With that win they were ranked #2 in the FCS nation. In Week 2 the Spiders beat MEAC Norfolk St. (1-4), 34-0. In Week 3 Richmond lost at Stony Brook, 42-14. In Week 4 the Spiders (now rated #7/9) beat Patriot Colgate (1-4) at home, 38-31. In Week 5 Richmond beat Towson (1-4) at home, 31-28. In Week 6 the Spiders got a very tough triple overtime win over a Top 20 on the road, Albany (4-1), 36-30. In the Stony Brook game QB Kyle Lauletta threw 3 interceptions. Richmond had only 32 yards rushing to Stony Brook's 221 yards. However, Richmond had 411 yards receiving to Stony Brook's 155. In the Towson win (by just 3 points) Towson rushed for 226 yards to Richmond's 187. However, Richmond had 233 yards receiving to Towson's 105. In the Albany game both QB had 2 interceptions thrown. The Spiders had 184 yards rushing to Albany's 83 yards. Richmond had 249 yards receiving and Albany 207. QB Kyle Lauletta also had a fumble for 3 turnovers. 

Let's look at the Richmond personnel. They entered the season with the preseason Offensive Player of the Year in JR/QB Kyle Lauletta. He is ranked 1st in passing yardage with 292 a game.  He has thrown more passes (204) than any other QB in the CAA. Richmond also entered the season with the preseason Defensive Player of the Year in SR/DB David Jones. Unfortunately for Richmond and Jones, he broke his arm last week and may be out for the season. Richmond also put 5 players on the preseason All-Conference Team with 2 of them on the O Line. The other 3 were Sr/FB James Pavik, QB Kyle Lauletta and All-American SR/WR Brian Brown, who leads the CAA in receptions per game, yards per game and TDs per game for all receivers. Richmond also put 2 players on the preseason All-Conference Defensive Team, Jones (out with his broken arm) and SR/LB Omar Howard. That's 7 All-Conference players!

Now for the team. Richmond averages 31.7ppg (2nd in the CAA) and give up 25.2ppg. They are 8th in rushing offense with 146.8 yards per game. Fortunately for Villanova the Spiders best rusher FR/RB Xavier Goodall just tore his ACL and is out for the rest of the season. Richmond is 1st in pass offense with almost 300 yards per game and lead the CAA in passing TDs. Richmond is also 1st in pass defense. They are 11th in punt average but 2nd in 3rd down conversions. They are tied for 1st in the CAA in sacking the QB. Believe it or not but they actually are penalized more than Villanova. They llead the league in time of possession and are 1st in Red Zone Offense.

Let's look at the Cats schedule. A 28-7 loss to 1-A ACC Pitt (4-2), a home win over Patriot Lehigh (4-2), a home win over Towson (1-4), 40-21, a road win over Patriot Lafayette (1-5), 31-14, a road win over Elon (2-4), 42-7 and, finally, a home win over URI (1-5), 35-0.

Now for the team. the Cats average 30.2ppg (Richmond, 31.7). The Cats give up 15.2ppg (1st in the CAA) to Richmond's 25.2ppg. The Cats are 3rd in rushing offense with 239 yards a game to Richmond's 146.8. The Cats are 8th in pass offense and Richmond 1st. Villanova is 3rd in pass defense and Richmond 1st. Villanova is 5th in 3rd down conversions to Richmond's 2nd. The Cats are last in getting to the QB for sacks and Richmond is 1st. The kicking game obviously goes to Richmond. Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta is the best in the conference and Bednarczyk around 6th.

Sagarin has Richmond rated 122 with a schedule rank of 179. Sagarin has Villanova rated 108 with a schedule rank of 205. In last year's game, a 21-20 win for the Cats at home, the Spiders won the battle but lost the war. They are out for revenge. Richmond is 3-0 at home this year and was a perfect 6-0 at home last year. They are 18-4 at home since 2012. The last time we played there with our All-American Player of the Year John Robertson, we lost 10-9.

Now the pick. Richmond isn't playing at the JMU level right now, struggling in their last 4 games. They are beatable. However, rarely do they lose at home. Cats are better in stopping the run and Richmond is better at stopping the pass. The Cats run it better but Richmond blows you away with their passing attack. The Cats have to play a near perfect (turnover free game) in order to win. There will be a lot of pressure on Zack Bednarczyk, our young QB. The Cats are in a groove now but must step it up against a team like Richmond. With the revenge factor, playing at home and the best QB and WR in the conference, I'm going with a Richmond 24-21 win. I hope I get to eat my pick. Cats host Albany next week and Richmond travels to Elon.


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