Last Saturday was “Senior Day” for the five home teams. At Villanova, the parents stood in line alphabetically to be introduced as escorts to their son as the seniors marched onto the field. Standing in line with the Szczurs, Weavers and Whitneys, we couldn’t help but lament on how fast these last four years flew by. Standing in ear shot, assistant head coach Mark Ferrante extended a firm hand shake, a friendly smile and echoed the same thing.
Football is a team sport that engenders a lot of camaraderie among teammates. Bonds are forged among players, and some will last a lifetime. The parents, meanwhile, of these players have followed their children to every practice and every game from the time their son started playing. Along the way, bonds were forged with parents of teammates, too. On Saturday, the sun will set on some of these relationships, too.
There is still football left to be played. Some teams from the CAA will join the playoff field of 20 in pursuit of the 2010 national championship, but many will begin their transition to life after college football or life after football. If you have an opportunity, and see a senior from your respective football program or that of a competitor extend a handshake - if not a hug - and let them know that you enjoyed watching them play during their tenure at said university.
Delaware............ 6 1 - 9 1
William and Mary.... 5 2 - 7 3
Villanova........... 4 3 - 6 4
Massachusetts....... 4 3 - 6 4
New Hampshire....... 4 3 - 6 4
Richmond............ 4 3 - 6 4
Maine............... 3 4 - 4 6
Rhode Island........ 3 4 - 4 6
James Madison....... 2 5 - 5 5
Towson.............. 0 7 - 1 9
One thing we know for sure is that Delaware is safely in the playoff picture. It is this writer’s humble opinion that we can include William & Mary in the playoff mix as well. What remains pertinent to these two teams are seedings in order to have home games, gaining a first-round bye and trying to remain healthy for their playoff run.
On The Bubble:
Last week, this group was reduced to two teams. This week, it has swollen to include Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Richmond and Villanova. Believe it or not, there might be an outside possibility James Madison could get back into the mix.
Contenders No More:
For now, I’m going to continue to maintain that James Madison is no longer a candidate for post-season play. I also will go on record and offer my opinion that I don’t think a 6-5 team should be allowed in the playoffs. However, the paraphrased rules of the NCAA selection committee states a team with less than seven Division I victories may (key word is “may”) not make the playoff field. With an expanded playoff field of 20, there might not be enough teams with seven D1 victories to complete the field. This begs the question do we really need 20 teams in the playoffs?
Should the CAA teams with 6-4 records lose this upcoming weekend, and teams around the country with similar records do the same, you could look at one or two spots that need to be filled by a 6-5 team. Should this "perfect storm" of events transpire, drum roll, please, as I ask the million dollar question: Who’s the prettiest 6-5 team in the country?
Certainly, the picture of JMU head coach Mickey Matthews with his Southern grin, white visor, clad in purple with gold trim and a Duke icon on his left chest, has to pop into your head. JMU’s argument is that it beat an FBS ranked Virginia Tech on the road, and it beat the No. 1 FCS team in the country, William & Mary. The fact that it would be 3-5 in the CAA just goes to show how dominant the conference is. Again, I do not advocate for a 6-5 team making the playoffs, but the potential is there for that to happen.
The Black Bears, who also are in this group, will endeavor to do their best to make sure JMU does not have that argument to make while Rhode Island and Towson will try to have the sun set on their opponents this week as well.
At Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas Stadium, the Towson Tigers outplayed the Maine Black Bears for most of the game, but they fell 28-18 before a crowd of 5,347. The Tigers led in first downs 21-14, Total offensive yards (304 – 248), third- and fourth-down conversions (8/19 vs. 3/11), but had 12 penalties for 107 yards and two costly turnovers. Maine also was guilty of committing 10 penalties for 122 yards, but it was Maine’s defense that saved the day.
At halftime, the Tigers led 7-6. The Tigers received to start the third quarter. Starting on the Tiger 31, the Tigers were able to move to the Black Bear 17 in four plays. The Tigers were aided by two personal foul calls, and an unsportsmenlike conduct call (42 yards in penalties). On second and 15 at the Black Bears 17, the Tigers went to the air, but the pass was picked off by LB, Mark Masterson (Williamstown, N.J.), who raced 82 yards to the Tiger 2. From there, Maine RB Pushaun Brown (North Brunswick, N.J.) scored to give Maine the lead 13-7.
Trailing 19-10 in the fourth quarter, the Tiger defense forced a Maine fumble. However, on the next play, Maine FS Trevor Coston (Greenlawn, N.Y.) stepped in front of the pass and ran it back 33 yards for the score to give Maine a 26-10 lead.
The Tigers next drive would culminate with a 1-yard TD run by RB Tremayne Dameron (King George, Va.) and the two-point try was successful to bring the Tigers to within a touchdown at 26-18 with 2:16 remaining.
Maine recovered the onside kick at the TU 43 and forced Towson to use all three timeouts before punting back to Towson. Towson’s drive started on its 3-yard line with 1:51 remaining, but a holding call in the end zone resulted into two more points for Maine, giving the Black Bears a 28-18 victory.
Up next for the Black Bears is a home game against the Dukes. The Tigers will travel to Durham, N.H., to conclude their 2010 season.
In the regular-season finale at Robins Stadium, 8,136 fans showed their appreciation to their outgoing seniors and witnessed a defensive battle between the home team, Richmond Spiders and the visiting Rhode Island Rams.
The two teams combined for 12 turnovers. Both QBs threw four interceptions. URI led in first downs (18 – 7), net yards rushing (163 – 101), net yards passing (195 – 146), total offensive yards (358 – 247), possession time (38:15 to 21:45), third-down conversions (5/16 – 2/12). Two important stats that URI did not lead in were turnovers, URI was -2, and the final score, Spiders 15, Rams 6.
Richmond head coach Latrell Scott stated that his defense made adjustments at halftime as the Spiders trailed 6-3 at the half, and hegave credit to LB Patrick Weldon (New Albany, Ohio) as being the “brains of the defense.” Weldon led the Spiders with 18 tackles and two interceptions. Weldon’s teammate, LB Eric McBride (Richmond, Va.) had 13 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and one interception. He was named the CAA Defensive Player of the Week.
The funny thing about all of these turnovers is only one of them led to points. The Rams fumbled and threw two interceptions in the first quarter. The second interception the Spiders were able to convert a 29-yard field goal by PK Will Kamin (Weddington, N.C.) for a 3-0 lead.
On the Rams' ensuing drive, QB Steve Probst (North Massapequa, N.Y.) drove the team 62 yards in eight plays finishing with a 1-yard TD run by RB Anthony Ferrer (West Greenwich, R.I.) to give the Rams a 6-3 lead. The PAT was missed.
With seven minutes remaining and still trailing 6-3, the Spiders were facing a first and 10 at their 23 following a URI punt. Spider QB John Laub (Coplay, Pa.) found WR Donte Boston (Richmond, Va.) running a post pattern and hit Boston for a 77-yard TD pass. The PAT was blocked, but the Spiders led 9-6. After another Ram punt, Laub drove his team 80 yards in six plays, and RB Kendall Gaskins (Burlington, N.J.) ran it in over the right side from two yards out to give the Spiders the 15-6 final margin of victory.
The last Ram turnover came as Probst tried to bring his team back. With about a half-minute remaining, and first and 10 at the Spider 27, Weldon came up with his second interception to seal the game.
The Spiders will try to play their way into the playoffs as they visit William & Mary Saturday. The Rams return home and look to try and end the regular season 4-4 in CAA play.
Due to the end of daylight savings, sunset arrives a little earlier. On the Main Line, the New Hampshire Wildcats descended upon the Villanova Wildcats with the hope of keeping their playoff hopes alive while pushing the Villanova Wildcats playoff hopes further into the night.
The final regular-season home game of the season saw 7,103 fans bid farewell to the graduating class from Nova. While sharing a few moments with Marc and Kathleen Szczur, I asked if Matt would be well enough to play in the Delaware game, and Kathleen replied she did not know. I also asked which sport would she prefer Matt play, smiling she responded "baseball." Kathleen thanked me for the content in the weekly columns because it helps the mothers out there who read the column understand what’s going on, on a weekly basis.
Nova began the game much like it has in weeks prior, turning the ball over and spotting the visiting Wildcats a 10-point lead in the first quarter. Villanova Wildcat head coach Andy Talley stated in his Monday morning teleconference that he couldn’t quite put his finger on why. Talley believes that this team is not emotional enough or that it just might be too battered. From this writer’s perspective, the team appeared to be out on its feet in the last two games, much like a tired boxer who does not know when to throw in the towel.
Unlike the 2009 season, Nova has been unable to avoid the injury bug and has played valiantly throughout 2010 with several injuries. However, the mask of invincibility has fallen off and opponents are beginning to realize that Nova can be had.
Early on, two of the three starting defensive linemen went down for Nova. Plus, all three starting linebackers are battling injuries. One of the starting safeties has battled back injuries all season. Nova’s lost three games by the identical score of 31-24. Add in the URI game, one common theme in all of those games was each of those teams was able to run on Nova. Temple had 122 net rushing yards, William & Mary had 148, Rhode Island had 167 and UNH had 210. As the season wore on, the rushing yards increased. Several teams had no passing game, and Nova was able to load the box to take away their run game. Teams even or ahead stayed with their game plan to run the ball and were effective. Teams that fell behind early abandoned their run game and tried to play catch up in the air. Those teams were unsuccessful.
With a 10-point lead, New Hampshire gashed Nova repeatedly on the ground. UNH RB Dontra Peters (Annapolis, Md.) ran 12 times for 157 yards and a touchdown. Peters had long runs of 51, 33, 12, 29 and 12 yards, respectively. UNH QB R.J. Toman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) rushed 14 times for 32 yards and a TD to go along with passing 11-22-1 for 158 yards and two TDs. Give all the credit in the world to the UNH coaching staff for having the perfect game plan and the fortitude to stick with it.
Nova’s lumbering, aged, injured boxer appearance kept loading up for the big blow and was within a 31-24 score with 14:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, but it could not land that final blow. Nova had three possessions in that final 14 minutes and came up empty on all three. On the final drive with the aid of a pass interference call, Nova was on the UNH 5 with 26 seconds and first and goal. On first down, the UNH rush forced QB Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) to throw out the back of the end zone. On second down, Whitney was sandwiched by DTs Brian McNally (Cornwall, N.Y.) and Steve Young (Rochester, N.H.) causing Whitney to fumble. UNH ran out the clock to end the game.
Talley stated in his post-game news conference that Nova isn’t built to play "catch up" or “come from behind” football. All four losses reflect that statement.
After the news conference, I ran into Nova LG Brant Clouser (Altoona, Pa.), as he was emerging from the locker rooms. After exchanging hugs and kind words, I remembered on one play, he moved to LT and asked him why. Clouser had been playing with his right arm bandaged with protective wrapping and he told me his knee also was injured and that was a pull play. He knew he would not be able to get out on the pull. As the play was unsuccessful, Clouser decided to do his best to try and get out there on pulls for the remainder of the game. These kids have the heart of champions, but father time is catching up with their 21/22-year-old bodies. That night after the game, the lights were turned out at Villanova Stadium, perhaps for the last time in 2010.
Both Wildcats need to play their way into the playoffs this weekend. UNH will host the Towson Tigers while the Villanova Wildcats will visit the unfriendly confines of Delaware Stadium.
In Amherst, 10,057 fans observed the flight of the Delaware Blue Hens as they settled into McGuirk Stadium to take on the home team, Massachusetts Minuteman. These two top-ranked teams put on an offensive show, leaving the defenses gasping for and clutching at air. The Blue Hens had 510 yards of total offense while the Minutemen had 424. While the offensive execution was pretty good by both squads, there were several missed tackles for both that helped the offense achieve such numbers. UD had nearly an 11-minute advantage in time of possession and was 11-of-17 on third-down conversion as well as being perfect inside the red zone, PATs and FGs.
UMass was 5-of-17 on third- and fourth-down conversions and 0-for-3 on FG attempts. The Minutemen had to feel like they were snake-bitten. Their first two drives in the first quarter ended up in missed field goals. The Blue Hens converted the first missed FG into a touchdown by driving 77 yards in six plays in 2:10, culminating in a 10-yard TD pass from QB Pat Devlin (Dowingtown, Pa.) to WR Rob Jones (Thonotosassa, Fla.) who had lined up in the right slot and ran a slant route behind the LBs for a 7-0 lead. The Blue Hens fumbled away the second opportunity.
UMass took advantage of the fumble and field position and executed a flea flicker where QB Kyle Havens (Concordia, Calif.) handed off to RB Jonathan Hernandez (Leominster, Mass.) who ran toward the left side of the line, turned and flipped the ball back to Havens, who threw to WR Julian Talley (Winslow, N.J.) just before getting hit. Talley was running down the center of the field, and had to come inside and wait for the ball catching it at the 3 and carrying two Blue Hen defenders with him as he crossed the goal line to knot the score at 7-7.
The Blue Hens regained the lead after a 19-yard FG by PK Mike Perry (Thorofare, N.J.) gave the Hens a 10-7 lead. UMass' next possession ended by missing its third FG. UMass head coach Kevin Morris stated later that after the third miss he had made up his mind not to try any more FGs. The Blue Hens didn't benefit as they threw an interception on their next drive.
In this game of giveaway, UMass fumbled right back to the Blue Hens. While Havens was barking out his signals, the snap from center flew to Havens right as he was barking out signals and looking left. The Blue Hens made the Minutemen pay for that mistake. Devlin lined up in his customary position five yards behind the center with RB Andrew Pierce (Bridgeton, N.J.) to his right. Devlin faked the handoff to Pierce, who ran left in front of Devlin then up through the left side of the line. Devlin rolled to his right and hit Pierce running down the left sideline (UD sidelines) for the 31-yard TD reception to give the Hens a 17-7 lead.
On the next UMass drive, Havens took his team 85 yards in eight plays and hit TE Rob Blanchflower (Leominster, Mass.) with a 5-yard TD pass. Blanchflower was facing right, but had to reach behind him and snag the ball out of the air with one hand to close the scoring to 17-14. In case you lost count, up to this point, the Minutemen had six possessions, three missed FGs, two TDs and one turnover while deep into UD territory. This was only the second quarter.
The Blue Hens didn’t blink. After the ensuing kickoff, Devlin moved his team 60 yards in five plays. Lined up at the UMass 44, with WR Jones slightly split out on the right, and WR Philip Thaxton (Yorktown, Va.) lined up as a wing to the right or Jones, Devlin took the shotgun snap and dropped back while Thaxton crossed underneath Jones running left and caught Devlin’s pass at the UMass 40 and raced away from UMass defenders for the score increasing the Blue Hen lead to 24-14 at the half.
In the second half, UD scored on three of its first four possessions, and its defense allowed two more UMass TDs before it stiffened to secure the win 45-27. Devlin, who was named CAA offensive player of the Week, was 16-22-1 for 240 yards and four TDs. Devlin also rushed eight times for 55 yards. Leading the way in rushing was RB David Hayes (Howell, N.J.) who ran 15 times for 107 yards and one TD.
For UMass, John Griffin (Westminster, Mass.) ran 12 times for 145 yards, Havens was 17-31-1 for 228 yards and four TDs. Talley had five receptions for 81 yards and two TDs. Morris expressed his disappointment with the kicking game and the penalties. UMass incurred nine for 110 yards.
This win clinches a share of the CAA crown for the Blue Hens, and they can win the CAA outright with a win against visiting Villanova. UMass has to play its way into the playoffs by going to Kingston and defeating Rhode Island at Meade Stadium.
Photo credit Mark Campbell, College Sporting News and UD Athletics Media Relations Photos.
In Harrisonburg, 16,733 fans filled the house at Bridgeforth Stadium. After the sun set on this game, construction will begin in the near future to increase the capacity at the stadium. Last Saturday’s fans came out to pay tribute to their graduating seniors and watch their James Madison Dukes host the No. 1 team in the country, the William & Mary Tribe.
Coming into this game, the Dukes had been on a four-game losing streak. The Tribe had defeated a highly ranked New Hampshire team on the road and had been voted the No. 1 team in the polls. These two teams appeared to be headed in different directions. Not surprisingly the Tribe jumped out to a 10 – 0 lead after a 3-yard pass from QB Mike Callahan (Mountville, Pa.) to TE Alex Gotlieb (Delray Beach, Fla.), and a 22-yard FG by PK Drake Kuhn (Williamsburg, Va.).
James Madison had made a change at QB. In his Monday morning teleconference call, JMU head coach Mickey Matthews commented that this is something they should have done several weeks prior. If JMU had made the switch, Matthews believes JMU would have a couple of more wins. Redshirt freshman Dae’Quan Scott (Staunton, Va.), led the Dukes at QB, and utilized the Wildcat formation a good deal. When asked whether this look caught the Tribe off-guard, Tribe head coach Jimmye Laycocke stated it wasn’t anything his players hadn’t seen before, the Tribe just did not play well on defense.
On JMU’s fourth possession with 4:26 remaining in the half, Scott led the Dukes on a seven play, 67-yard drive, using 3:26 to score on a 16-yard TD run to close the scoring to 10-7 Tribe.
The Tribe’s next drive lost six yards in three plays, and the attempted punt was blocked by LB Josh Roach (Lynchburg, Va.). The ball was picked up by DE D.J. Bryant (Baltimore, Md.) and stepped into the end zone to give the Dukes a 14-10 lead at the half. Roach was named CAA special teams player of the week.
The Dukes took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and marched 71 yards in 14 plays, using 8:25 and scoring on a Scott 3-yard TD run to extend their lead to 21-10.
The Tribe responded with an eight-play, 59-yard drive and settled for a Kuhn 31-yard FG to close the margin to 21-13 Dukes. The Tribe then executed a perfect onside kick and B.W. Webb (Newport News, Va.) recovered for the Tribe. As the third quarter expired and the fourth quarter began, Callahan took his team 58 yards in eight plays and hit WR Ryan Moody (Ashburn, Va.) for a 17-yard TD pass and D.J. Mangas (Chantilly, Va.) for the two-point conversion to knot the score at 21 each.
On the legs of Scott, RBs Jamal Sullivan (Ruther Glen, Va.) and Scott Noble (Baltimore, Md.), the Dukes rushed five times for 70 yards with Scott scoring from 30 yards out to give JMU a 28-21 lead with 12:09 remaining. Scott was named CAA rookie of the Week. The Dukes defense prevailed in the final quarter yielding only a FG and forcing a safety to give the Dukes their final margin of victory of 30-24.
The Tribe heads home to host Richmond in Williamsburg while the Dukes travel to Orono with the faintest hope of playing for a playoff spot.
Another 3-2 week puts me at 40-21 on the year for an accuracy rate of 66%. At the end of the day, I guess two out of three right isn’t all that bad. In the beginning of the season, I thought the 2010 defenses would not be as strong as 2009. In fact, I expected scoring to be up in the CAA as none of the teams appeared to have dominant defenses. In 2009, the scoring offense average was 24.4 points per game. Thus far in 2010, the average is 21.7 ppg. Total Offense in 2009 was 339.6 yards per game, whereas the average in 2010 is 338.3. The difference is negligible. The scoring defense average in 2009 was 22.6 points allowed per game, and in 2010 the average is 19.9 ppg. The total defense average in 2009 was 324, and the 2010 average is 324.1. As you can see the yards are almost identical from 2009 to 2010, but offensive scoring and points allowed are down which in this writer’s opinion is surprising. You have to wonder whetherHofstra and Northeastern had kept those programs running, how different would the averages be, and how different would this final weekend look.
James Madison (5-5, 2-5 CAA) at Maine (4-6, 3-4 CAA) at noon
Series: James Madison leads 9-4
JMU enjoys a four-game win streak over the Black Bears. The Dukes last won in 2009, 22-14 at Bridgeforth Stadium. Both teams won last week and will try to end the season on a winning note. Coach Matthews believes if his team can move the ball, it has a chance to win. If the team cannot move the ball, it will not win. Matthews also stated that a team would need to have seven wins to qualify for the playoffs, but it might come down to strength of schedule and someone within the CAA could be home for the playoffs with seven wins.
The Dukes have reached into their bag of tricks and pulled out something new in the past two weeks. You have to wonder what the Dukes will show you this week. Coach Cosgrove can only review what he has tape on and hope his team is disciplined and protects the ball. Maine will honor 12 seniors prior to the game.
JMU is 1-2 on the road thus far in the CAA, and Maine is 1-2 at home in the CAA this year. JMU is sixth in the CAA in penalties with a total of 64 for 586 yards for an average of 58.6 yards per game. Maine is 10th in the same category with a total of 74 for 748 yards for an average of 74.8 yards per game. Yes, there are four teams in the CAA that are penalized more than JMU.
Look for the Black Bears to break the four-game JMU win streak and flush the notion that JMU might qualify for a playoff bid.
Black Bears 24, Dukes 21. Upset Meter [----5----]
No. 19 Massachusetts (6-4, 4-3 CAA) at Rhode Island (4-6, 3-4 CAA) at 12:30
Series: Massachusetts leads 47-35-2
The Minutemen have won 19 of the last 24 meetings between the two schools. UMass has faced URI more than any other opponent. UMass won in '09 at McGuirk Stadium 30-10. URI last won in '07 in Kingston 12-6. URI is fourth in the CAA in rushing defense only allowing 125.7 ypg. UMass is fourth in rushing offense averaging 171.9 ypg. URI is seventh in total defense (351 ypg), whereas UMass is eighth in the same category (351.6 ypg). UMass is doing slightly better on offense as it is third in the CAA in scoring offense (25.8 ppg), whereas URI is eighth in the same category (18 ppg).
As Coach Morris stated, his team will have to play better on defense and finish when it gets into the red zone if it expecs to be playing after this weekend.
For Coach Trainer, they would like to end the season with a conference record of 4-4 going into 2011. In order to accomplish this, the Rams will have to protect the ball better than they did last week and continue the stingy play on defense. Look for the Rams to prevail on Senior Day and eliminate the Minutemen from playoff considerations.
Rams 21, Minutemen 20. Upset Meter [----10].
Towson (1-9, 0-7 CAA) at No. 14/13 New Hampshire (6-4, 4-3 CAA) at 12
Series: New Hampshire leads 6-0
The Wildcats return home to honor their seniors and to play their way into the playoffs for a seventh consecutive year. Playing the role of spoiler will be the Towson Tigers.
The Tigers have been plagued by turnovers this year, and they're last in the CAA in turnover margin (-11). The Tigers are nineth in red zone offense, scoring 70.8 percent of the time. In red zone defense, the Tigers are 10th, allowing their opponents to score 46 out of 47 times.
The Wildcats are led by R.J. Toman, who’s leading the CAA in total offense with 234 yards per game average, and one of Toman’s favorite targets is WR Terrance Fox, who’s leading the CAA in receptions per game (5.8). On defense, Brian McNally is leading the CAA in sacks with nine, and Matt Evans is the leading tackler in the CAA with an average of 12.8 a game.
Look for the Wildcats to punch their ticket to the playoffs.
Wildcats 31, Tigers 7. Upset Meter .
No. 18/20 Richmond (6-4, 4-3 CAA) at No. 6 William & Mary (7-3, 5-2 CAA) at 3:30
Series: William & Mary leads 59-55-5
This contest will mark the 120th meeting between the schools and is the oldest rivalry in the South. UR has won the last five meetings. UR won 13-10 in '09 in Richmond. The Tribe is fifth in the CAA and eighth nationally in scoring defense allowing an average of 16.6 ppg. The Spiders are right behind the Tribe, sixth in the CAA with an 18.5 average. On offense is where the two teams differ. Both have had to play four QBs throughout the season. The Tribe was able to play more games with the first and second string QBs. The Tribe is fourth in scoring offense averaging 24.1 ppg, and the Spiders are ninth averaging 16.8 ppg.
The Tribe can feel somewhat secure in the knowledge that they should make the playoff field as they honor their seniors on Senior Day. A Tribe win and a Delaware loss would give the Tribe a share of the CAA crown. A Tribe win also would help them toward gaining a potential seed and securing home games for the playoffs.
The Spiders are trying to play their way into the playoffs. A Spider win would give them their third win over a nationally ranked opponent. It also would make this senior class the winningest class in school history (42).
Look for a low-scoring affair as the defenses will dominate, but the Tribe has just a little more offense than the Spiders. The sun will set on the Spiders' playoff hopes in Williamsburg.
Tribe 20, Spiders 10. Upset Meter [---5---].
No. 15 Villanova (6-4, 4-3 CAA) at No 1 Delaware (9-1, 6-1 CAA) at 12
Series: Villanova leads 22-20-1
A year ago when these two teams met, they had the exact opposite records. As we all know, Nova won that game convincingly and went on to win its first national championship. The Blue Hens would like nothing better than to return the favor and repeat the feat.
A win for the Blue Hens would give them the CAA championship outright and probably the No. 1 seed in the FCS playoffs, ensuring them home games throughout until they get to Frisco, Texas, for the championship game.
Nova has beaten the Blue Hens four years in a row. The current class of seniors do not know what it feels like to defeat a Nova team. The Blue Hens have every reason to want to exact revenge on the Wildcats. The question is, at what cost? A share of the CAA championship is in the bag and a playoff selection is in the bag. Even with a loss, a seed (probably three or four) is in the bag. The big picture is a national championship win. How long will UD leave its starters in this game?
During the post-game news conference, I asked MLB Marquis Kirkland (Syracuse, N.Y.) and Whitney how much does the Nova/UD rivalry means to them. They replied that the rivalry existed before they got to Nova, and each of them has grown to understand what it means to their teammates and the fans of Villanova. It’s also another game that the Wildcats need and want to win. Injuries aside, they will play with full vigor to try and play their way into the playoffs.
On Saturday, the Wildcats will suit up for battle; Their wounded will join the fray. Szczur might even limp into action to motivate his fellow teammates. If you know the story of the “Battle of Thermopylae,” picture the Villanova Wildcats as the Spartans blocking the road of the Persian Army played by the Delaware Blue Hens. The Blue Hens are faster, stronger, have more depth, endurance and are healthy. The Wildcats' heads are bloodied but unbowed; they are the captains of their fates, and the masters of their souls. The Wildcats are cornered, and will battle to the end. At sunset, the Wildcats might fall, but the Blue Hens will know they were in a game.
Blue Hens 31 Wildcats 24. Upset Meter 
As always you can e-mail your thoughts and comments to CAATODAY@YAHOO.COM
This is the CAA TODAY signing off.