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#CAAFB Week 8 Storylines

Oct 19, 2012, 1:43 PM EDT

As one of FCS Football’s premier conferences, CAA Football certainly has no shortage of news and notes from around the league. See below for some of the latest storylines coming out of our 11 programs heading into this weekend’s five league-wide matchups.
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·       The CAA has six teams ranked in The Sports Network Top 25 Poll this week and remains the only league in the nation to ever have six or more teams ranked in either the TSN or FCS Coaches Poll in a single week. James Madison (No. 2) and Old Dominion (No. 7) are both ranked inside the top 10.
·       Five league squads were ranked in the FCS Coaches Poll for the eighth-straight week this season. Stony Brook (No. 10) and Albany (T-22), which are set to join the league in 2013, are both ranked in the FCS Coaches Poll as well.
·       Richmond continues to receive votes in The Sports Network Poll, with Villanova following suit in the FCS Coaches Poll.
·      After Northern Iowa dropped out of The Sports Network Poll for the first time in 106 weeks on Monday, CAA programs own two of the nation’s three longest active streaks of consecutive appearances in the poll. New Hampshire leads FCS Football with 120 straight appearances dating back to 2004, while Delaware (along with Montana State) has the third-longest streak at 37 consecutive appearances.
12/14 NEW HAMPSHIRE (5-2, 3-1) VS. MAINE (2-4, 1-2)
·      The Wildcats and Black Bears will meet in Orono for the 100th annual playing of the Battle of the Musket, with the winner taking home the Brice-Cowell Musket. Maine won the first eight meetings in the series, but New Hampshire has been dominant as of late after winning eight of the last nine, including a 30-27 victory in 2011.
·      Maine head coach Jack Cosgrove and UNH head coach Sean McDonnell are both ’78 alums of their respective schools and faced one another in this same series.
·       Five of the last six games in the series have been decided by six points or fewer, which includes two overtime affairs. Thee of the last five games have had conference or division title implications as well.
·       Maine is looking for its first home win of the season after falling to Albany and Villanova in back-to-back weeks to end September. This is the Black Bears’ first home game in three weeks.
·       Coach McDonnell will name his starting quarterback on Friday. Redshirt freshman Sean Goldrich started the season’s first two games before being sidelined with a shoulder injury, with sophomore Andy Vailas then stepping in each of the last five games before suffering a hip pointer a week ago against Richmond.
·       Black Bears junior linebacker Troy Eastman recorded seven tackles and a 92-yard interception return for a touchdown last week against Towson.
·       Sophomore running back Nico Steriti made his first career start for UNH last year against Maine, rushing for 150 yards. He has rushed for more than 100 yards in four of the Wildcats’ last five games this fall.
·       Wildcats senior linebacker Matt Evans turned in a season-high 16 tackles this past week, including 15 solo stops. The reigning Buck Buchanan Award winner and FCS Football active career leader in tackles (404) needs 31 more tackles to set a new school record.
2/2 JAMES MADISON (5-1, 3-0) VS. RICHMOND (4-3, 2-2)
·       Richmond holds a slight 16-13 edge in this rivalry series, making it one of just a few series in which James Madison trails its opponent. The teams have split the last eight matchups and seven points or fewer have decided four of the last five meetings.
·       Both teams are coming off close games, as the Dukes needed two overtimes to top William and Mary, 27-26, and the Spiders could not sustain a late UNH rally in a 44-40 loss last week.
·       The Spiders’ most recent win over a ranked opponent came in a 13-10 overtime win over the Dukes in 2010.
·       JMU quarterback Justin Thorpe had a career-high 106 rushing yards to complement his efficient 14-for-20 (157 yards) afternoon through the air in last week’s win over the Tribe. The junior is 16-6 as the Dukes’ starting signal caller and has led JMU to wins in his last 14 regular-season FCS starts.
·       The Spiders return to Robins Stadium after playing four of their last five games on the road. The road treated Richmond well, as the Spiders went 3-1 away from home in that span.
·       Sophomore transfer QB Michael Strauss will get his first start for Richmond this week after senior John Laub suffered a broken ankle in Durham a week ago. Strauss should have plenty of protection, as the Spiders lead the nation with just a single sack allowed in 2012.
·       Richmond wide receiver Ben Edwards has become one of the league’s most formidable receiving threats this fall. The junior, who had his third 100-yard receiving game of the season against UNH, ranks second in the CAA with 636 receiving yards and fifth nationally with 51 receptions.
RHODE ISLAND (0-6, 0-4) VS. 25/T-22 DELAWARE (4-2, 1-2)
·      Delaware holds a 19-8 lead in a series that dates back 90 years, although it was Rhode Island that won the most recent meeting with a 38-34 victory a year ago.
·       Rhody enters the weekend winless through six games this season and ten straight overall on the road, but the Rams have beaten a ranked opponent in four of the last five seasons.
·       After winning its first four games in convincing fashion, UD has been outscored, 60-17, in its past two games prior to the open week.
·       The Blue Hens’ defense is allowing fewer than 20 points per game (19.8) and holding opponents to just 125.8 yards per game on the ground.
·       Last year’s matchup marked the first career start for Rams junior quarterback Bob Bentsen.
·       Senior wide receivers Brandon Johnson-Farrell and Billy Morgan have combined for seven games with 100 all-purpose yards for Rhody in 2012.
·       Blue Hens defensive back Tim Breaker has secured three interceptions for 28 return yards this season. The senior’s three picks are tied for tops in the CAA.
·       UD’s Sean Baner has been one of the most accurate kickers in the nation, converting all 19 of his PATs and 11 of 12 field goals this season. The junior is also scoring nearly nine points per game (8.7).
24/RV VILLANOVA (5-2, 3-1) VS. GEORGIA STATE (1-6, 0-0)
·       This weekend’s matchup marks the first meeting between the Panthers and Wildcats. GSU’s Bill Curry and Villanova’s Andy Talley have a combined 53 years of head coaching experience between them.
·       Coming off its first win of the season, Georgia State faces its second ranked opponent in three weeks on Saturday. The Panthers will likely play another pair of ranked teams in the coming two weeks, as both James Madison and Old Dominion currently sit inside the top 10.
·       The Wildcats, who enter the weekend ranked for the first time in 2012, have not played indoors since a loss to East Tennessee State in the 1996 NCAA Playoffs.
·       GSU senior running back and reigning CAA Offensive Player of the Week Donald Russell leads the league in rushing with 106.1 yards per game while also averaging 6.5 yards per carry. The Panthers’ career rushing leader finished with a school record 201 yards on the ground and three touchdowns in last week’s 41-7 win over Rhode Island.
·       CAA Rookie of the Week and National Freshman of the Week John Robertson set a new Nova QB record with 189 rushing yards to go with 151 yards through the air last week. The young yet proven dual threat has single-handedly totaled 765 yards of offense over the past two games (425 vs. Richmond; 340 vs. ODU).
·       Nova sophomore running back Kevin Monangai is also a force on the ground with three 100-yard rushing performances this season, while senior wide receiver Norman White has recorded a touchdown reception in four of the last five games.
·       Saturday’s matchup also features reigning CAA Defensive Player of the Week and College Sporting News National All-Star senior cornerback Eric Loper, who had four tackles as well as a pick and a fumble recovery to lead a Wildcats defense that limited the high-octane Monarchs to just 14 points last week.
7/8 OLD DOMINION (5-1, 2-1) VS. 18/19 TOWSON (3-3, 2-1)
·       After meeting for the first time in 2011, Towson will look for a second-straight win over Old Dominion following its thrilling 39-35 victory over the Monarchs last season. ODU looks to bounce back after suffering its first setback of the season and just its second in 10 games with a 38-14 loss to Villanova.
·       The Tigers are 3-0 at home this season and have won nine of their last 11 affairs in the friendly confines of Johnny Unitas Stadium.
·       Saturday’s game marks the first time the Monarchs will play outside the state of Virginia this season.
·       Despite its loss to visiting Villanova last week, ODU continues to lead all FCS schools in scoring offense (49.2 yards), total offense (603.5 yards) and passing offense (427.3). Sophomore quarterback Taylor Heinicke also leads the nation in total offense with 464.8 yards per game, while senior wide receiver Nick Mayers is 13th in the country with 97.5 receiving yards per game.
·       This weekend’s game pits an ODU offense that puts nearly 50 points per game on the board against a Towson defense that allows just 285.3 total yards per game.
·       The Tigers’ ability to control the clock may well prove key against the Monarchs’ high-powered offense. Towson is fourth in FCS Football with its 34:10 average time of possession through six games this season.
·       Sophomore running back Terrance West (88.8 yards) and senior quarterback Grant Enders (53.5 yards), who are both among the league’s top-10 rushers, have had great years on the ground for Towson.