By Sam Partridge
The CAA Today Columnist
College Sporting News
THIS WEEK'S GAMES
ALBANY AT DELAWARE
Delaware ran into a buzzsaw up in Maine last week but looks to get back in the groove at home against a struggling Albany team. Let's face it, there are few things more reliable than the Blue Hens winning at Delaware Stadium and it's hard to see that changing against an Albany team that has really struggled since losing a couple of ugly home games against Rhode Island and Central Connecticut State. Too much physical play on both side of the ball from Coach Brock's squad should get Delaware back into the win column.
Blue Hens 38 Danes 17
RHODE ISLAND AT NEW HAMPSHIRE
This is not a great situation for Rhode Island to be walking into. It just seems like a 1-3 New Hampshire team is going to be looking to take out a whole lot of frustration on the Rams on Homecoming weekend in Durham. After being throttled by Towson, the Wildcats surely had a gut-check week of practice and will be ready to take advantage of a Rhode Island team that had a surprisingly mediocre performance against Brown in the Governor's Cup game last Saturday. Look for both ends of the two-headed quarterback combo to put up some solid production as the Wildcats embark on what they hope will be a long winning streak to get back in the playoff chase.
New Hampshire 45 Rhode Island 17
RICHMOND AT JAMES MADISON
We're just reaching the halfway point of the season, but this game already feels like a playoff elimination matchup. Both teams have made the mistake of playing just poorly enough to lose at times this season and as such find themselves desperately needing a win on Saturday in Harrisonburg. Fortunately for JMU, they have the advantage of playing at home and the Dukes usually take advantage of that. The Spiders have been a disappointment so far and seem to be missing a little something that made the difference in their surprising 2012 campaign. Look for Richmond's offense to give the Dukes some trouble, especially early, but the physical nature of the home team on both sides of the ball will eventually make the difference.
James Madison 31 Richmond 27
PENN AT WILLIAM & MARY
The Tribe plays its last non-conference game against Penn, a game that includes two coaches with more than 200 career victories. Jimmye Laycock's squad will look to bounce back from the disappointment at Villanova, something Al Bagnoli and his group experience the prior week. The Tribe took a 34-28 win on the road last year and will try to beat the Quakers again to avoid dropping back to .500 at the midway point of the season. I don't like making these kinds of leaps in football, but these teams have played two common opponents and the Tribe was roughly three touchdowns better against each. Assuming a letdown after the Villanova loss, I still think William & Mary will have enough to vanquish the Ivy League opponent.
Tribe 27 Penn 16
STONY BROOK AT COLGATE
After getting their hat handed to them by the top of the CAA, the Seawolves head to Hamilton, NY this Saturday for a non-conference game against the Red Raiders of the Patriot League. Colgate has been a modest disappointment this year, but it's still a tough place to get a win on the road. Still, I think this Stony Brook squad has enough toughness to go up there and get a win against a weaker opponent.
Seawolves 27 Raiders 24
GAME OF THE WEEK
VILLANOVA AT TOWSON
Heading into the season, this was earmarked as the game of the year in the CAA and, now that Villanova has shaken off their early struggles, this Saturday's tilt outside Baltimore could very well decide the league title. With apologies to Maine, these two teams are the class of the conference, although you wouldn't know it just by looking at their records. Towson comes in 6-0 and while they have trailed early in a couple of games, they have not really been challenged for sixty minutes yet and have physically been too much to handle for just about everyone they've played. After pounding New Hampshire for the second year in a row last week, the Tigers head into this week's game at Unitas Stadium brimming with confidence.
The Wildcats started off a surprising 0-2, but have since righted the ship and last week's gritty win over William & Mary showed that this team has a toughness to pull out close games after taking the previous couple in blowouts. Quarterback John Robertson continues to lead the team, but he has not been able to achieve a consistent level of performance in a way that was expected of him heading into the season.
I picked Towson to win the CAA crown before the season started and I haven't seen anything to change my mind. If this game was at Villanova, I would be tempted to pick the Wildcats, but I'm sure coach Ambrose has been eying this game since the schedule came out and knows what a win here would mean. It's not going to be a surprising formula for the Tigers, i.e. a lot of Terrance West with some Peter Ahrens sprinkled in while the physical defensive front harasses the Wildcat offense. Villanova will put up a heck of a fight but will ultimately head home with their backs firmly against the wall for the rest of the season.
Towson 31 Villanova 23
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