Teams in the Colonial Athletic Association are battling each other to reach eight victories and keep their playoff hopes alive
By Terence Thomas
CAA Today Columnist
Last week I talked about needing eight FCS victories to secure a playoff spot. During the weekend, several teams became one game closer.
CAA coaches believe that a conference team with at least a 7-4 record also should draw playoff consideration. I, too, agree with that thinking, but the problem becomes how many CAA teams with said record will the committee select?
As you'll see below, the contenders group has gotten a little smaller, while the ìbubbleî teams have grown.
Delaware, Villanova and William & Mary continue to lead the CAA and can reach that magic number of eight within the next few weeks.
After a bye week, Delaware returns to action Nov. 6 at home against Towson.
In years past, some schools could put a "W" next to Towson at the beginning of the season, however, the Tigers have been a work in progress and have improved. The Blue Hens cannot take this team for granted.
After that, the Blue Hens travel to Amherst to take on Massachusetts, who will be fighting for its playoff lives.
In their season finale, the Blue Hens take on rival Villanova for the Battle for the Blue trophy. Delaware must find a way to scratch out two wins in these three remaining games. Should the Blue Hens finish at 7-3 (FCS Record), they would still be deserving of a playoff spot based on their strength of schedule and having defeated — at the time they played them — three top 10-ranked teams (No. 9 South Dakota State, No. 5 Richmond, No. 3 James Madison).
The possibility exists that those three teams might not be ranked by the end of the season, which could reduce the impression of Delawareís schedule strength.
By winning two of their next three, the Blue Hens should take all of the guesswork out of the equation. Should the Blue Hens win all three, they just might be the 2010 CAA champion and receive the automatic playoff bid.
William & Mary also needs two victories out of its remaining four games to reach eight and secure a spot in the playoffs. However, the Tribe has a tougher road to travel.
Their next three games are all on the road beginning with FBS North Carolina. Following the UNC game, the Tribe must travel to current No. 10 New Hampshire, followed by in-state rival and No. 15 James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va., before ending their season at home against current No. 14 Richmond.
All three CAA teams will be fighting for their playoff lives and the sense of urgency will be seen on both sides of the ball.
If the Tribe were to win their remaining CAA games, they would win at least a share of the 2010 CAA championship by virtue of their victories over Delaware and Villanova receive the auto bid.
Should the Tribe end the regular season at 7-4, this would be another team worthy of playoff consideration based on its strength of schedule as it has beaten two top 10-ranked FCS teams (No. 1 Villanova in week five and No. 2 Delaware in week eight).
The defending national champion Villanova Wildcats have to reach a little farther if it wants to repeat in 2010.
With four games remaining, the Wildcats need to win three to reach eight victories, and they will likely need to win them all to have a shot at the conference crown.
Villanova also will need a little help from one of the Tribe's remaining CAA opponents as the Tribe holds the tie-breaker for the auto bid Teams left on Villanova's schedule are: Richmond at home, Rhode Island in Kingston, R.I., New Hampshire at home, and their season finale in Newark, De,, against the Blue Hens.
VU is used to this type of adversity going 7-1 in CAA play in 2009, then having to go 3-0 against fellow CAA teams a second time in the FCS playoffs. The question is, do the Wildcats have enough will in them to repeat in 2010?
ON THE BUBBLE
Massachusetts has slid from the contenders section to being on the bubble. UMASS needs to win its remaining four games to reach eight, and that might be a tall order.
The Minutemen are in Harrisonburg this weekend to take on James Madison, then they return home to play Maine, followed by Delaware. They end the season in Kingston against Rhode Island.
UMass ran into two top-ranked teams in Richmond and New Hampshire and came away winless as its offense self-destructed against a pair of tenacious defenses.
The Minutemen hold their own fate. If they hope to make the playoffs, they will have to earn it. If they could win at least three, they would have one win against a top 25 opponent this year.
New Hampshire gets to enjoy a bye week after its win over Massachusetts last Saturday. UNH hosts William & Mary next week. Following that contest, the Wildcats travels to the Main Line to take on Villanova before ending the regular season at home against Towson.
UNH would need to win all three to safely secure a playoff spot. Should UNH finish at 7-4, it can claim victories over four top 25-ranked FCS teams. However, the question remains as to how many 7-4 teams from the CAA — if any — the committee will select?
James Madison is 4-3 with four games remaining. The Dukes probably need to win all of them to qualify for the playoffs.
If JMU falls to 7-4, even the FBS win over Virginia Tech might not be enough, especially if it's competing with other CAA teams that have the same 7-4 record and the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The games remaining on JMU's schedule are home against Massachusetts, Richmond away, home to William & Mary, and a trip to Maine. This Duke team has been depleted by injuries and has struggled on offense.
Like JMU, Richmond has also been depleted by injuries and has struggled on offense, but the Spiders refuse to quit.
The Spiders also sport a 4-3 record with four games remaining. The Spiders need to win all four to reach eight wins, and they have to depend on a freshman at quarterback to get the job done.
Standing in the Spiders' way are games against Villanova on the Main Line, home against JMU, home against Rhode Island before finishing the regular season in Williamsburg, Va., against the Tribe.
The Spiders already have two top-10 wins under their belt in defeating then No. 7-ranked Elon, and then No. 8-ranked Massachusetts. Should the Spiders finish at 7-4, they would have at least two more top-ranked team wins to lay claim. It might be enough to push them into the playoffs.
There are seven CAA teams still alive for the playoffs. Some are hanging on by a thread. As you can see from the above won/loss records and teams remaining on individual schedules, at least two teams will reach eight wins.
The possibility of three teams reaching eight is there, but in this writerís opinion one of those three will finish with seven victories.
There are four teams in the bubble grouping and all with a chance to reach eight wins, but realistically, you're probably looking at a couple of teams reaching 7-4 and some not reaching seven wins at all.
So, I'll leave the question out there: How many 7-4 teams from the CAA will the committee select?
CONTENDERS NO MORE
The Maine Black Bears, the Rhode Island Rams and the Towson Tigers will play the role of spoiler and continue the education of their younger players for the remainder of the season.
Maine 28, Rhode Island 23
In Kingston, R.I., 4,625 fans came out to Meade Stadium to watch the Rhode Island Rams host the Maine Black Bears on homecoming. In the CAA, a team can travel with 56 players; Maine was only able to suit up 50, due to injuries.
URI kick returner Travis Hurd returned the opening kick 49 yards to the Maine 41. URI QB Steve Probst drove the team 41 yards in eight plays, scoring himself from two yards out to put the Rams up 7-0 with just under 11 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
URI's defense forced Maine to punt on its opening series after five plays. Probst, starting at the URI 9, took his team 75 yards in 14 plays, consuming 5:33. URI settled for a Louis Feinstein field goal attempt, but his kick from 33 yards out missed wide left.
On its second offensive attempt, Maine quarterback Warren Smith was able to take his team 80 yards in eight plays, hitting running back Pushaun Brown on a 45-yard catch and run play for a touchdown, knotting the score at 7-7 early in the second quarter.
It was Maineís turn to stiffen as it forced URI to punt after three plays. This time, Smith took his team 58 yards in nine plays, and ran in himself from three yards out to give the Black Bears a 14-7 lead with a little more than nine minutes left in the half. Neither team would score in the remainder of the half.
On their first possession of the second half, Probst took the Rams 55 yards in nine plays and settled for a Feinstien 24-yard field goal to cut the score to 14-10 Maine.
With about four minutes remaining in the third quarter and facing a first-and-10 from the 14, Smith handed off to redshirt freshman and backup runningback Terrel Walker, who found a crease up the middle and sprinted 86 yards to extend Maine's lead to 21-10.
URI responded on the following drive as Probst took his team 64 yards in eight plays, hitting wide receiver Ramadan Abdullah on a 14-yard touchdown pass to cut Maine's lead to 21 ñ 17.
With 11 minutes remaining, URI tried a trick play with WR Anthony Baskerville attempting to throw a pass, however, Maine sniffed it out as linebacker, Vinson Givans intercepted and ran it back 33 yards to the URI two. Brown would run the ball in from there pushing Maine's lead up to 28-17.
On Rhodyís next possession, Probst would take the team 50 yards in four plays. URI runningback Anthony Ferrer (West Greenwich, R.I.) ran in from 17 yards out to make the score 28-23. Rhodyís try for two failed.
Rhode Island was able to get to the Maine eight. Probst attempted a pass to tight end Joe Migliarese, but that pass fell incomplete.
With eight seconds remaining, Probst ran for seven yards to the Maine 1 and called timeout with one second remaining. On the last play, Probst was tackled for an 11-yard loss and fumbled in the process, securing the win for Maine.
Rhode Island coach Joe Trainer stated his team is a work in progress, and he truly believes the team is playing a lot better than it has in previous years. The Rams are just a few mistakes away from having a winning record.
The Rams travel to Towson Saturday for a game with the Towson Tigers.
Maine coach Jack Cosgrove said he was pleased with the reduction in penalties from the last several games. Untimely penalties cost the Black Bears some games this season.
Maine will enjoy the win and the bye as the Black Bear players and coaches get much-needed rest.
Richmond 28, Towson 6
At E. Robbins Stadium, it was dedication day and Homecoming for the Richmond Spiders who hosted the Towson Tigers.
A sold-out crowd of 8,700 packed the stadium to see the Spiders clad in their alternate red jerseys with navy blue trim and white numbers and navy pants play the Tigers, who wore their road white jerseys with gold trim and black numbering along with black pants with gold trim.
The Spiders won, 28-6, using physical play from their offensive and defensive lines. The Spider defense forced four turnovers and sacked Tiger QBs five times. On offense, the Spiders rushed for 237 yards on 50 carries averaging 4.7 yards per carry. True freshman QB Montel White was 6-of-10 passing for 73 yards and one touchdown.
The bright spots for Towson: The Tigers led in first downs, 17-16, and they led in total yards gained (314-310). Both teams were missing many starters due to injuries, but penalties, turnovers and simply the size and physicality of Richmond was the undoing of the Tigers.
Next up for the Tigers is a home game against the Rhode Island Rams, and the Spiders will travel up I-95 to take on the Villanova Wildcats.
New Hampshire 39, Massachusetts 13
It was deemed the Colonial Clash, the annual rivalry game between the New Hampshire Wildcats and the Massachusetts Minutemen. A crowd of 32,848 showed up at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., to witness the 73rd edition of this matchup.
The Wildcats won 39-13 behind the physical and opportunistic play of their defense and a good sound running game. UMass entered this game second in the CAA in rushing offense averaging 198 yards per game.
The Wildcats held the Minutemen to 43 net yards rushing. I asked UNH coach Sean McDonnell what did they do in preparation for the UMass run game, and he replied the team just focused on tackling.
The Cats were led on defense by sophomore LB Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.) with 13 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception.
After suffering early turnovers and falling behind 29-0, UMass was forced to air the ball out. In doing so, senior QB Kyle Havens (Concord, Calif.) amassed 450 passing yards, which set a school record. However, the Minutemen could only muster 13 points.
Conversely, UNH, which ranks ninth in the CAA in rushing offense with an average of 124 yards per game entering the contest was able to churn out 171 yards on the ground. Up to this point, UMass was only allowing an average of 153 rushing yards per game, placing it ninth in the CAA in this category.
UMass hoped this season to bring the fight to all their opponents this season. This week, the Cats brought the fight to it. UMass coach Kevin Morris stated his team will have to get back to the way it played at the beginning of the season, finishing plays, finishing drives and finishing games.
Up next for the Minutemen is a trip to Harrisonburg to take on James Madison.
New Hampshire will enjoy a bye week before hosting William & Mary on Nov. 6.
Villanova 14, James Madison 7
It was homecoming on the Main Line, and 9,217 faithful came out to see the defending national champion and sixth-ranked Villanova Wildcats host No. 11 James Madison. The Wildcats entered this game with a 21-1 home record in their last 22 games and had won 13 straight.
Its last home loss came at the hands of JMU on Oct 25, 2008, on a Hail Mary pass as time expired giving the Dukes a 23-19 win.
During halftime, the Wildcats honored their 1985 team, which was the first team under head coach Andy Talley when Villanova revived the football program. On this day, senior RB Aaron Ball would rush for 55 yards and become Villanovaís second all-time leading rusher in Wildcat history with 2,571 yards.
Last week, I discussed execution and discipline. This game exemplified those terms in a variety of ways. To begin with, both teams are dealing with injuries and have to play true freshmen in vital roles. Most coaches would prefer to redshirt their freshmen. In general, the players learn the discipline of the game as they wait for their opportunities to contribute.
JMU coach Mickey Matthews stated he had to travel with 50 players as his team was limited by the injury bug, and he had to suit up kids who would have otherwise redshirted this year and play them on the defensive line.
Matthews and his staff closed practice in the week leading up to the Nova game to go over some new schemes. In his Monday morning teleconference, Matthews explained that the new plays were not blocked right. This is where youth and inexperience will lead to execution errors.
On the opposite side of the ball, Villanova senior linebacker Marquis Kirkland (Syracuse, N.Y.) stated that JMU came out in different looks in an attempt to get Nova to overpursue, but Kirkland and his fellow linebackers keyed on the backs and made defensive stops, limiting the Dukes to 87 net yards rushing. Before this game, JMU was fourth in the CAA in rushing offense, averaging 178 yards per game.
Villanova scored twice in the second quarter. The first was a 13-yard pass from QB Chris Whitney to receiver Norman White. The second was a 54-yard catch and run as Whitney hit WR Mikey Reynolds as Reynolds was racing down the right (home-team side) sideline and caught the pass over his left shoulder and outran the JMU defender to the end zone.
Whitney mentioned in the post-game news conference that he had missed Reynolds earlier in the game on the exact same throw. Villanova led at halftime 14-0, and did not score for the remainder of the game.
Prior to the two touchdown throws, Nova and JMU missed makeable field goals, kicking toward the west end zone (same end zone where the scoreboard stands). The flags on the goal post just hung lifelessly, but the flags on top of the stadium stand were blowing feverishly.
Afterward, I asked coach Andy Talley if the conditions on the field were windy. Talley stated the wind could have caused both of those kicks to just miss to the left.
In the fourth quarter, up 14-7, Talley elected to go for a touchdown with fourth-and-one from the JMU 2. By that time, Nova's kicker had missed his second field goal going into the same end zone, and Talley wanted to keep the ball in Whitney's hands. The Dukes stiffened on the play and forced Whitney to fumble.
In the beginning of the third quarter, JMU received and marched 73 yards in nine plays with redshirt freshman QB Kevin Seaton taking the snap and running around left end for the 2-yard yard touchdown to narrow the score to 14-7 Wildcats.
After the goal-line stop of Whitney in the fourth quarter, JMU got the ball back with 1:38 left. Memories of 2008 ran through all who watched. It was homecoming in 2008 when JMU QB Rodney Landers worked his magic with Bosco Williams.
Only this time, neither of them were around nor was it raining. JMU QB Drew Dudzik got his team to the Nova 36 (Landers' pass to Williams was 38 yards) with time for only one play.
Dudzik rolled right and threw with everything he had. Just like in '08, the ball came down toward a waiting Wildcat. Only this time, CB James Pitts made the interception to end the game.
JMU came out throwing in this game, primarily because Nova was shutting down its running game, but also because Matthews knew his team would have to do something a little different to generate offense.
Dukes threw for 213 yards and did not turn the ball over until the end of the game. Coming into this contest, JMU was 10th in the CAA in pass offense as it had averaged only 133 passing yards a game.
Coming into this game, JMU had been averaging 312 yards of total offense and was able to get 300 yards in this game. Iím sure that it will return to practice and emphasize what it liked and polish what needs tweaking.
Going forward, JMU will produce a more balanced rushing and passing attack. Aside from player health and availability, its biggest concern is time. With four games remaining, the Dukes do not have a lot of time left to get things right.
The Dukes will host Massachusetts Saturday as the Wildcats will host the Spiders.
William & Mary 17, Delaware 16
In Williamsburg, it was homecoming and Zable Stadium was sold out as 12,259 fans witnessed William & Mary host Delaware.
The Hens were ranked No. 2 in the country, but Delaware head coach, K.C. Keeler said his team had not yet been tested. The Tribe was ranked No. 4/5 coming into this game and was well rested coming off their bye week. The Tribe had won five straight games and nine in a row at home.
I titled this weekís column "The race for eight," focusing on the teams battling for playoff position. I could just have easily used the cliched theme of defense wins championships as in each of the games this past weekend, the winner had a strong defensive stand that helped them win.
In the Tribe-Blue Hen game, it was all about the defenses. Delaware came into this game fourth in the CAA in scoring offense averaging 26.3 points per game, whereas the Tribe was second in the CAA in scoring offense averaging 28.3 points per game.
Delaware was first in the CAA in rushing offense averaging 207 yards per game. The Tribe held it to 47 net yards rushing. In their first six games, the Tribe only had four sacks.
Against Delaware, the Tribe registered five sacks eating into the UD rushing yardage. The Tribe had been averaging 133 rushing yards per game, but they were held to just 85 net yards by the Blue Hens.
Both teams' defenses came to play, they came to hit, to stop the run and pressure the opposing quarterback and this game plan seemed to be the formula for success.
Aided by a personal foul (discipline) call on the Blue Hens, and on the strength of QB Mike Paulus' arm, the Tribe drew first blood as they scored on a 39-yard field goal by kicker Drake Kuhn.
The Blue Hens started on their 42 after the kickoff, and QB Pat Devlin was able to pass his way to the Tribe eight.
Watching the drive on TV, I thought the Tribe DBs were going to struggle against the much taller Blue Hen receivers. In fact, UD was aided by a Pass Interference call, which I had a hard time seeing even on replay.
Three times, the Hens would try to run it in, and three times the Tribe would stop them. The Hens settled for a field goal by kicker Mike Perry to tie the score at 3-3.
The Tribe fumbled on its next possession giving UD the ball at the Tribe 43. Devlin, with his passing, brought the Blue Hens to the Tribe 2. With third and goal, the Blue Hens would rush the ball twice and come up empty both times turning the ball back over to the Tribe.
With 4:33 remaining in the half, Devlin took his team 66 yards in four plays, capping it off with a 51-yard touchdown pass to WR Nihja White (Wayne, Pa.) taking the lead 10-3.
With 2:25 remaining in the half, Paulus mounted a drive that went 44 yards in nine plays, but Kuhnís 42-yard field goal try missed.
There was 1:04 remaining in the half, and that was all the time Devlin needed to get his team in field goal position. Perryís try from 40 was good, and the Blue Hens had a 13-3 halftime lead.
Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock stated in his post-game news conference that his team seemed out of it, and the timing appeared to be off, thus he inserted QB Mike Callahan who had been nursing a sore ankle in to direct the offense.
With 7:19 remaining in the third quarter, and on his first offensive series, Callahan took the Tribe 70 yards in seven plays, going 3-for-3 for 52 yards and a touchdown. Callahan connected with TE Alex Gottlieb for a 15-yard touchdown pass to narrow the score to 13-10 Blue Hens. The third quarter ended with the same score.
Delaware scored early in the fourth quarter on a 20-yard field goal by Perry, increasing its lead to 16-10.
With 10:49 remaining in the game, on the ensuing drive, Callahan took his team 71 yards in nine plays, taking 4:24 off the clock. With second and goal from the Blue Hen six,
Tribe running back Jonathan Grimes executed a halfback option to perfection, hitting WR Chase Hill for the go-ahead touchdown, giving the Tribe a 17-16 lead.
There was 6:25 remaining. The Blue Hens had two chances to try and win the game. On their last chance, Perry's kick from the right hash missed wide left from 42 yards out. The Tribe ran the clock out to seal their 17-16 victory.
On the day, Callahan was 7-of-10 passing for 93 yards and a touchdown.
The following is a quote from an e-mail I received from Delaware alumnus Pat Cannon who describes himself as a middle-age former linebacker:
"Truly a disappointing day for the Blue Hens. It really could have gone either way. ... but I have to give William & Mary credit. They wanted it more."
Laycock echoed the same thing, that the game could have gone either way in his post-game news conference.
In his Monday morning teleconference call, Keeler said he liked the way his team played on both sides of the ball. Delaware left points on the field, and had a meltdown at one of the guard spots.
Delaware will focus on its red zone offense and short yardage offense during the bye week, besides going out to different states in the south for recruitment purposes. Keeler is appreciative of the bye week as he thinks his team needs a rest for some of his players to get healthy.
Rhode Island (2-5, 1-3 CAA) at Towson (1-6, 0-4 CAA), 3:30 p.m.
Series: Tied 5-5
The last time these teams met was in October 2009, with Towson winning 36-28 in Kingston. URI's last win came back in October 2004, where URI won 28-16 at Towson.
This will be Towson's homecoming game, with the Tigers holding a 30-12 homecoming record. This game will be the fourth time Towson has hosted Rhode Island for homecoming.
The Rams are 0-4 on the road, but has put up more than 28 points the last two times it has played Towson. The Rams are the only team in the CAA that has lost three games by seven points or less.
The Tigers are 1-2 at home, and this game marks the first conference game that Towson is playing and its opponent is not a nationally ranked team. Towson is second in the CAA in pass defense only allowing 158.9 yard per game. The Tigers will try to slow down the Rhody passing attack as URI is seventh in the CAA in pass offense averaging 170.3 yards per game.
Turnovers and penalties have been the undoing of both teams. Whatever team commits the fewest errors will win. Road games have been tough for Rhody. Both Sagarin and the GPI has URI as the favorite.
The Tigers need a victory, and on homecoming, not much else could be sweeter. It will be close, but the Tigers prevail. Tigers 28-Rams 27. Upset Meter .
No. 18 Massachusetts (4-3, 2-2 CAA) at No. 15 James Madison (4-3, 1-3 CAA), 3:30 p.m.
Series: Massachusetts leads 7-6-1
Both teams enter this matchup having lost two straight. Both need the victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. UMass is 2-4 in games played at Bridgeforth Stadium. JMU won the last meeting up in McGuirk Stadium 17-14 in 2009.
UMass last won in 2005, 10-7 in Amherst. UMass last won in Harrisonburg back in 2002, 14-7.
JMU is 2nd in the CAA in scoring defense only allowing 13.4 points per game. UMass is fifth in the CAA in scoring offense averaging 24.4 points per game. In UMass' last two outings, it was held to 10 points by Richmond and 13 by New Hampshire.
Coach Morris stated his team must get back to playing the way it was playing at the beginning of the year if it wants to be successful in the CAA.
JMU is tied for seventh in the CAA with Rhode Island in scoring offense averaging 18.1 points per game, whereas UMass is ranked seventh in the CAA in scoring defense allowing 22.4 points per game.
The Dukes showed signs of bolstering their offense last week against Villanova. The question before them is will they have enough healthy players to execute that offense.
UMass finds itself in a slump and needs to figure a way out if it wants to be playing in the postseason. UMass has yet to show it could win the close games. JMU 17, Minutemen 14. Upset Meter [----5---]
No. 14 Richmond (4-3, 2-2 CAA) at No. 5 Villanova (5-2, 3-1 CAA) at noon
Series: Villanova leads 20-9
The last time these two teams met, Villanova won 21-20 in 2009 as the Spiders missed a game-winning field goal wide left as time expired. The Spiders last won in 2007 (35-27) in Richmond in a see-saw battle. Since 2007, the Spiders are 19-4 away from home, but 0 ñ 3 in their last three trips to Villanova.
Villanova is first in the CAA in scoring offense averaging 30 points per game. Richmond is sixth in the CAA in scoring defense yielding 20 points per game.
The Spiders are sixth in the CAA in scoring offense averaging 19 points per game. The Wildcats are third in the CAA in scoring defense only allowing 14.9 points per game.
The Wildcats are first in the CAA in run defense only allowing teams 84 yards per game.
In their last two games, the Spiders have had to rely on the play of freshman QB Montel White, and they devised a game plan that focused on running the ball.
In the Monday morning teleconference, I asked Richmond coach Latrell Scott who was starting at QB, and he confirmed White was starting. I also asked who was backing White up, and he said that would be a game-time decision.
I asked if John Laub or Nick Hicks would be available to play if needed, and Scott replied that it would be a game-day decision if either of them would be able to back White up.
When Villanova's Talley came on the phone, I asked if Nova would try to stack the box and force White to beat Nova with his arm. Talley replied that Nova was built to stop the run, thatís what it tries to do to everyone it plays.
The Wildcats will attempt to apply pressure on White and hopefully force him into making a mistake. Talley further stated health wise, Senior LB Terry Thomas is nursing a groin injury suffered in the JMU game and his status is questionable for Richmond.
The Spider defense has been valiant thus far this season and has truly carried this team to four victories. Young Montel White is quickly learning the Spider system and getting ever more confident with each passing week. Against the defending national champions, he might come up against a learning curve.
Villanova is a seasoned veteran team. The defensive line has had to grow up while playing under the leadership of its seniors beginning with NG Thomas Weaver, Linebackers Thomas, Kirkland and Anthony Johnson, and DBs Fred Maldonado, and team captain, John Dempsey.
The offense might be without all-purpose back, Matt Szczur again (high ankle sprain), as they continue to lean on Whitney, Ball, Angelo Babbaro and that ever impressive offensive line with Ben Ijalana, Brant Clouser and company.
The Spiders will fight to the end, but the current of the Wildcats will be too much for them to bear. Wildcats 27, Spiders 13. Upset Meter [--3--]
No. 3/4 William & Mary (6-1, 4-1 CAA) at North Carolina (4 -3, 2-2 ACC) at 3:30 p.m.
Series: North Carolina leads 12-0-2
The last time these two teams met, the Heels rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half to win 49-38. The Tribe is on a six-game winning streak and will try to make it seven in a row.
The Tribe also is going for a second consecutive FBS victory, having defeated UVA in 2009.
The Tribe is second in the CAA in scoring offense averaging 26.7 points per game. The Tribe is fifth in the CAA in scoring defense only allowing 16 points per game. In total offense, the Tribe ranks fifth in the CAA with an average of 357.9 yards per game. Coach Laycock announced in his post-game news conference that Callahan would start against UNC.
The Heels are 74th among FBS schools in total offense averaging 364.3 yards per game, and scoring 26 points per game. The Heels rank 42nd in scoring defense allowing 21.3 points per game.
The Heels have been depleted by NCAA suspensions but have won against Rutgers on the road 17-13, East Carolina at home 42-17, Clemson at home 21-16, and UVA in Charlottesville 44-10. UNC is coming off a loss last Saturday to Miami 33-10.
Coach Laycock expressed how impressed he and his coaching staff was with the Tar Heels after watching them on tape. The Heels will undoubtedly look even more impressive in person in Chapel Hill. The Size and speed of the Heels will overtake the Tribe. Tar Heels 42, Tribe 13. Upset Meter [--2---]
As always you can e-mail your thoughts and comments to CAATODAY@YAHOO.COM
This is the CAA TODAY signing off.