VU54TheGeezer is now 55-23 for the season with his picks. Here he gives us a detailed preview of CAA Week 12:
Towson (2-5/3-7) at Rhode Island (1-6/2-8)
The Tigers trailed William & Mary at the half last week, 21-10. Five sacks by the Towson "D" held the Tribe to only 3 second half points and FR/RB Shane Simpson rushed for 202 yards (his 2nd consecutive one) and Keon Payne returned a kick for 81 yards and a TD and the Tigers went on to score 24 second half points for a 34-24 win. The Tigers are hoping to finish the season with 3 consecutive wins. They may get it. Their best win of the year was over 7-3 Northeast St. Francis, 35-28 and the William & Mary game last week. Towson averages 21ppg and gives up 27ppg, which has been improving every week. A disappointing year for the Tigers since they were picked for 6th and a winning season.
Congratulations to former Villanova assistant and now head coach at URI Jim Fleming! The Rams broke a 23 road game losing streak (last one was at Albany in 2013) and got their 1st CAA conference win last week at Elon, 44-14. The Rams scored 37 unanswered points. Well, that takes care of one of their goals for the year. The Rams average 15ppg and give up 37ppg. That simply has to improve for next year to ever be competitive in the CAA.
It's Senior Day for the Rams but Towson already knows that they must come to play as they gave URI their only CAA win in 2014 in the last game of the season and it was URI's only win for that year. Towson 28 and URI 20.
#40 Stony Brook (4-3/5-5) at Albany (3-4/6-4)
The Seawolves blew their playoff chances last week with a loss at home to Maine,27-21. What appeared as a potential playoff selection with wins over #8 Big Sky North Dakota (9-2) and #7 Richmond (8-2), Stony Brook now can only play for a winning season. They have no momentum right now having lost their last 3 games (UNH/W&M/Maine). Stony Brook seems to be stuck in mud having gone 5-5 last year, 5-7 in 2014 and 5-6 in 2013. They were picked for 8th in the CAA this year. They average 18ppg on offense and 21ppg on defense.
Albany got a huge upset win last week at New Hampshire, 36-25. UNH led at the half 22-7 but only scored 3 points the rest of the way while Albany put up 15 points in the 3rd quarter and 14 in the 4th. UNH simply could not stop SO/RB Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, who was 2 yards shy of a 300 rushing yards game. He also scored 3 of their 4 rushing TDs. Win this game this week and Albany is still very much in the playoff picture. Their best wins were over a 1-A MAC Buffalo (2-8) and Top 25 UNH away. What may hurt would be a .500 record in conference and they have lost 4 of their last 6 games before this weekend. However, one of those losses was a triple overtime loss to Richmond. Thank God Villanova would have the tie-breaker if both finish 7-4. Albany is averaging 26ppg and give up only 20ppg. They were picked for 11th in the CAA. Last year the Great Danes finished 3-8 for a very nice turnaround this year. Last year Albany lost at Stony Brook, 20-2.
After last week's stunning upset of UNH and a chance to still go to the playoffs, let's give Albany a 21-17 win.
Elon (1-6/2-8) at #5/6 JMU (7-0/9-1)
The Phoenix went 1-11 in 2014, 4-7 in 2015. They were hoping to get a .500 conference record this year after a 3-5 CAA season last year. Definitely a step backward this year. Their biggest win and only CAA win was over William & Mary on the road, 27-10. Their only other win was over Division 2 Fayetteville St. The Phoenix have now lost 6 games in-a-row and was embarrassed at home last week giving Rhode Island their only conference win. The Phoenix must improve their offense next year since they are dead last in the CAA at 12ppg. They must also improve a defense that is next-to-last in the CAA at 28ppg.
JMU will get the automatic bid for the playoffs and is hoping for a top 4 seed. Their only loss of the season was to 1-A ACC UNC (7-3), 56-28. JMU has put up 80 points in a game twice this year, 56 once and 42, 43 and 47 in 3 other games. They average 46ppg and give up 24ppg. JMU went 9-3 last year but with a 1st round loss to Colgate, 44-38. In 2014 JMU went 9-4 with a 1st round loss to Liberty, 26-21. This year will be different.
This game has the makings of another 80 point score for JMU but hopefully coach Mike Houston shows a little class by resting his starters in the 2nd half and plays all his seniors. JMU 56 and Elon 7.
#26/31 New Hampshire (5-2/6-4) at #34/38 Maine (5-2/6-4)
UNH may have shot themselves in the foot for the playoffs by losing at home to Albany last week, 36-25 after leading 22-7 at the half. They have gone to 12 consecutive playoffs, a streak that started in 2004. Last year UNH got in with a 7-4 record and lost in round one to Colgate,27-20. They really don't have any signature wins (Holy Cross, URI, W&M, Elon, Towson and Stony Brook). Lose at Maine and they are out. Win at Maine and they hang by a thread. Remember, Towson finished 7-4 last year and did not go to the playoffs. UNH averages 26ppg and gives up 22ppg.
Maine, with their 27-21 upset of Stony Brook on the road last week, is still in the playoff picture. They were picked for 9th in the CAA. Should they finish with a win this weekend and finish 7-4, what may give them an edge over similar teams/records is the fact that they played not one, but two 1-A teams and almost upset UConn (3-7) in Week #1. Maine is hot (the team, not the state). They have won 6 of their last 7 games with that only loss being to Villanova, 26-7 at home in Orono. However, like UNH, they really don't have any signature wins (Bryant, Delaware, Albany, URI, W&M and Stony Brook). However, their wins are more impressive than New Hampshire's. The Black Bears average 22ppg and give up 26.4ppg. Last year Maine lost at UNH, 22-6. For the past two years Maine has had losing seasons - 3-8 in 2015 and 5-6 in 2014. Nice job this year by 1st year coach, Joe Harasymiak.
This is a huge game and will be a real dog fight. The loser packs its equipment until the Spring and the winner sits and hopes for a call from the selection committee. Since they usually take 4 teams from the CAA, that call should be made. Going with the hot hand here and giving Maine a one point win at 21-20. It's really a coin-flip game.
#7/7 Richmond (5-2/8-2) at William & Mary (2-5/4-6)
This was supposed to be preseason #1 vs #2 playing this weekend. William & Mary would like nothing better than to beat their rival this weekend in a lost season and for some bragging rights on the recruiting trail. The Tribe's season started to unfold after their embarrassing loss at home to Elon, 27-10 in Week #4. They have lost 5 of their last 7 games and have wins over Hampton (5-4), Norfolk St.(3-7), Delaware and Stony Brook (perhaps their best win of the season since it was on the road). They average 21ppg and on defense, 25ppg. Last week they were up 21-10 at half-time but lost to Towson, 34-24.
Richmond is playing for a top 8 seed, which will give them a 1st round bye and a home game in round two. Last week they forced 4 Delaware turnovers and JR/QB Kyle Lauletta threw for 286 yards and 3 TDs in a 31-17 win at the Brick House. They also held Delaware's 3 headed monster running backs to just 155 yards rushing. Jalen Randolph went for 75 yards, Thomas Jefferson, 48 yards and Wes Hills just 20 yards. The Spiders are 2nd in offense in the CAA with 32ppg and 5th in defense, 22ppg.
Richmond has to come to play in order to secure a top 8 seed. William & Mary has nothing to lose and will be playing for their pride or Tribe. Richmond should win and let's say by 7, 31-24.
#13/15 Villanova (5-2/7-3) at Delaware (2-5/4-6)
This will be the 50th meeting between these two schools. Villanova holds a 27-21-1 advantage based on the fact that they have won 9 of the last 10 games and 4 straight. However, Delaware should have won the last 3 games but Villanova had their own personal Houdini in All-American QB John Robertson, who could save them from any situation and give the Cats the win. In 2013 the Cats came from behind with one second on the clock and kicked a field goal to win 35-34. In 2014 the Cats again came from behind and scored the winning touchdown with just 23 seconds left in the game and won, 35-28. In 2015 after a cheap late out-of-bounds hit on John Robertson, which put him out for the rest of the year and his career, R-FR/QB Zach Bednarczyk scored the winning touchdown in the Cats last possession of the game and again came from behind for a 28-21 win. Will Villanova's luck run out this year and Delaware's misfortune end? In the game that is titled "The Battle of the Blue" you can throw out all records and expect to see the unexpected. Delaware will throw their whole playbook at you in this game. You will see faked punts/field goals, Walker, the Delaware QB, throwing behind to his WR Dionte Cherry, who will throw down the field to another WR or Walker himself, who will become a receiver. On-sides kicks at unexpected times and every trick play imaginable will be utilized against our Cats. I hope they are ready for them, especially our Special Teams which has struggled at times this year. Watch for the kick-off return with the lateral boys!
Delaware absolutely hates Villanova especially with our recent success and Delaware's struggle to even make the playoffs (5 consecutive years and counting, which is unacceptable to the Blue Hen die-hards). They will also have their 2nd consecutive losing season something not seen in Newark since the late 1930s. To win at home and possibly prevent 'Nova from making the playoffs would make their year a success. This game is going to be chippy, you will see several flags for unsportsmanlike conduct on the field and several personal fouls of 15 yards, which can make or break a drive. Our boys will want to win for their coach in his (maybe) last game but can they stay focused, grounded and disciplined enough when the cheap shots come flying?
It is so important for Villanova to get out of the box at its best in order to take the charged-up crowd out of the game and not give Delaware momentum or the feeling that they aren't snake-bitten once again. This will fall on our offense which played horribly against JMU. Our O line could not protect Bednarczyk, who had a terrible game with 4 interceptions and one within the 20 yard line and the other within the 10 yard line. Our defense held a team that was averaging almost 50 points a game to just 10 but our offense gave JMU the other 10 points for their 20-7 win. I'm not sure we have the offense that can come from behind, so a quick start is important. Our Special Teams have to play their best game and we have to make every PAT and FG (within reason). Delaware has a solid defense with their line and linebackers. Their secondary can lose their man and get picked a part. Will Zach bounce back this week from the disaster of last week? Delaware is 2nd in the CAA on sacks to the opposing QB. Can our line protect him from the many blitz schemes that the Hens will throw at us? That's a big key to the game. Delaware ranks 11th in Red Zone defense in the CAA. We simply have to exploit that advantage. Delaware has come alive under interim-head coach Dennis Dottin-Carter. In Week #9 they forced 5 turnovers from Towson and won, 20-6. In Week #10 they went up to Albany (which may make the playoffs), forced another 5 turnovers and won, 33-17. Obviously, whoever wins the turnover battle will win the game. And there will be turnovers by both teams. In Week #11 Richmond's defense forced 4 Delaware turnovers and won at the Brick House, 31-17 (a lot better than we did against the Spiders). And, of course, last week JMU forced 4 Villanova turnovers in their victory.
Delaware has the 2nd best rushing offense (JMU is 1st) in the CAA. They have not one, not two, but three running backs that can give them 200 yards plus in a game. Of course, they are going against the best run defense in the league. Whoever imposes their will should win the game. Delaware ranks dead last in the CAA in passing. Unless it's a trick play they only complete short passes. We have to come out of this game with a pick or two.
The answers to these questions will determine if Villanova wins.
-Can the Villanova "D" stop the UD run, keep them from eating up the clock with time of possession?
-Can the Villanova "O" line protect Zach Bednarczyk and can he bounce back from last week's nightmare?
-Can the Villanova Special Teams not give up the big play, the fake plays and not give Delaware good field position to start their drives?
-Can Villanova be disciplined and not take those 15 yard personal fouls when the trash-talking and chippy play starts?
-Can the Villanova running backs have a better game than they did against JMU and put some points on the board?
-Can our secondary come out of the game with a pick or two and who wins the turnover score?
Now the pick. At the beginning of the year I bought in on Coach Brock's mantra that this team is ready for a playoff run and felt at Delaware that our luck will run out and Delaware would win. That was in August and September. So much rides on this game for Villanova. Will it be Talley's last game ever and if we lose we may not make the playoffs. When we've had to answer the bell this year and win that "must" game, we have done it. I have faith in you boys. Now, go out and execute and kick some Blue Hen ass. Should be a defensive game with a defensive score of 21-20, Villanova.