Nov 2, 2012, 12:00 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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- CAA Football has seven teams ranked in The Sports Network top 25 poll this week for the second straight week and the 21st time in the history of the league. Some have referred to the CAA as the “SEC of FCS Football”, so as a quick comparison, the SEC also had seven teams ranked in the AP Poll this week.
- All seven nationally-ranked CAA squads remain in contention for a coveted FCS playoff spot.
- The CAA remains the only league in FCS Football to have ever had six or more teams ranked in either the TSN or FCS Coaches polls in a single week. Old Dominion (No. 5/5) and James Madison (No. 10/10) are ranked inside the top 10 in both polls this week, while New Hampshire sit just outside at No. 11/11. The Monarchs are receiving a pair of first-place votes in the TSN poll.
- With five teams ranked in the FCS Coaches poll, this is the first of 10 weeks this fall that fewer than six league squads have been ranked in the poll. Richmond and Villanova are the second-leading vote-getters outside the poll’s top 25 this week.
- Stony Brook (No. 9/9) and Albany (20/18), which are set to join the league in 2013, are ranked in both the TSN and FCS Coaches polls again this week. The Seawolves received four first-place votes in the TSN poll.
- After Northern Iowa dropped out of The Sports Network Poll for the first time in 106 weeks earlier this fall, CAA programs now own two of the nation’s three longest active streaks of consecutive appearances in the poll. New Hampshire leads FCS Football with 122 straight appearances dating back to 2004, while Delaware (along with Montana State) has the third-longest streak at 39 consecutive appearances.
19/22 TOWSON (4-4, 3-2) VS. 23/20 DELAWARE (5-3, 2-3)
- Delaware has won five straight games and nine of 13 overall in its series with Towson. The Blue Hens, who have won six of the eight intra-conference contests between the two teams, hold a 24.6-point average margin of victory in their nine wins over the Tigers.
- The Hens escaped with a five-point win a year ago after blanking Towson, 48-0, in 2010.
- UD has won 19 of its last 22 home games and four of its last five. Of head coach K.C. Keeler’s 18 home losses in 11 years at the helm of the Hens program, seven have come by six points or less or in overtime.
- With a win this weekend, UD would secure a .500 or better record for the fourth-straight season and the ninth in 11 seasons under Keeler. In fact, the Hens have registered a .500 or better record in all but four seasons since 1984 and all but five since 1968.
- Playing what few would doubt is one of the nation’s toughest 2012 schedules, preseason favorite Towson will look to keep its playoff hopes alive with a second-straight road win over a ranked opponent this weekend. The Tigers have won five of their last six conference road contests.
- Reigning CAA Offensive Player of the Week Grant Enders was lights out in last week’s 49-35 win at Villanova, completing 16-of-28 passes for 269 yards and a career-best four scores in addition to running 12 times for a career-high 122 yards and a 40-yard touchdown that capped his 391-yard afternoon effort.
- 200 yards rushing has proven to be an important plateau for the Tigers, who have surpassed this mark 13 times in their last 20 games for a 12-1 clip in these 13 contests.
- The name Terrance West has become synonymous with any mention of Towson’s ground game, as the sophomore All-American and second-leading rusher in the CAA (677 yards) already ranks sixth in the program record books with 1,976 yards in just 18 games and needs only 24 yards to become the fifth Tiger to rush for 2,000 career yards.
- Classmate Monte Gaddis has also emerged as a formidable force for Towson, entering the weekend with a team-high 10.5 tackles for loss and 62 overall stops that rank second and seventh in the CAA, respectively, after leading the Tigers with 12 tackles and 3.0 TFL in the Villanova victory.
- Senior LB Paul Worrilow and sophomore QB Trent Hurley and are set to play again for the Hens this week after playing through injuries last week against Old Dominion. After missing his first career game in UD’s contest vs. Rhody on Oct. 27, Worrilow (knee) tallied 13 tackles to help the Hens hold the nation’s top-scoring team to well below its season average. Hurley (foot) also missed the Rhody game but returned to the field to finish 12-for-20 for 134 yards and two touchdowns against the Monarchs.
- In just his first year in the collegiate ranks, Blue Hens rookie LB Jeff Williams currently leads the league with 12.0 tackles for loss. He also paces UD with 6.5 sacks for a loss of 61 yards and ranks second on the squad with 51 total tackles.
- Williams was one of four Hens to record double-digit tackles last week against ODU. He and Worrilow both had 13 stops, while senior DB Tim Breaker and junior DB Jake Giusti each finished with 11.
WILLIAM AND MARY (2-6, 1-4) VS. 11/11 NEW HAMPSHIRE (7-2, 5-1)
- William and Mary has undoubtedly had New Hampshire’s number in this series, as the Tribe owns a 13-2 all-time edge and has nabbed nine straight after last year’s 24-10 win in Williamsburg. The majority of these matchups have been close, however, as seven of the last nine meetings have been decided by 10 or fewer points. As is the case again this year, the Wildcats have also been ranked in the last seven meetings.
- The Tribe is the only team that UNH has not topped since head coach Sean McDonnell arrived in Durham in 1999. The Wildcats’ last victory over W&M was a two-point triumph in 1998 when UNH senior RB Jerry Azumah set the NCAA I-AA (now FCS) career rushing record following a 33 carry, 235-yard performance before ending his Hall of Fame career with 6,193 rushing yards.
- The Wildcats are an impressive 23-2 at Cowell Stadium since Nov. 17, 2007, but coincidentally both losses have come at the hands of the Tribe. The second loss was suffered in 2010 and snapped the program’s school-record 12-game home winning streak. A win this weekend would be UNH’s 10th straight in “The Dungeon.”
- The Tribe’s record is relatively misleading, as four of the squad’s six losses this season have come by a combined eight points.
- UNH is riding its first five-game winning streak since opening the 2009 season with a 5-0 record. A win over the Tribe would give the Wildcats their third winning streak of at least six games in the Coach McDonnell era and the team’s longest since a seven-game stretch in 2005.
- The Wildcats went 4-0 in October to tally their first unbeaten October since 2007. They now remain at home for the rest of the season.
- UNH is the first of three ranked opponents the Tribe will face to close out the 2012 season.
- W&M enters the weekend as the nation’s fourth-least penalized team, averaging just 4.0 flags per game, and also ranks sixth nationally in fewest penalty yards per contest (36.0).
- UNH senior LB Matt Evans is FCS Football’s active leader with 427 career tackles and is just eight stops shy of breaking a the program record set by Steve Doig in 1981. Evans also leads the league with 93 stops this season.
- Wildcats WR R.J. Harris is currently ninth on UNH’s all-time single-season list with 884 receiving yards. The sophomore needs just 116 yards to become only the fifth player in program history, and the first since 2008, to have a 1,000-yard season. With a CAA-best 61 receptions this fall, Harris is only six catches short of the ninth spot on the school’s all-time single-season list.
- Another must-see sophomore receiver featured in this matchup is W&M’s Tre McBride, who ranks third in the CAA with 83.5 receiving yards per game and in the league’s top 10 in receptions per game (5.4), yards per catch (15.5) and all-purpose yards per game (105.2). McBride has found the end zone three times over the last three games.
10/10 JAMES MADISON (6-2, 4-1) VS. MAINE (3-5, 2-3)
- Maine came away with a 25-24 overtime victory in 2011 in a series that James Madison has recently dominated with wins in five of the last six games, including the last three on the road, with four contests during this six-game stretch being decided by six or fewer points.
- A playoff berth is a major focus for all seven CAA teams that remain in postseason contention to this point, including a JMU squad that faces one of the league’s toughest schedules down the stretch. After playing in Orono, the Dukes travel to nationally-ranked Villanova before hosting (now) No. 5 Old Dominion.
- The Dukes have played three of their last four games in the friendly confines of Bridgeforth Stadium. Both of their losses (vs. West Virginia, at Richmond) have come away from Harrisonburg.
- Saturday’s game is the fifth in six weeks in which the Black Bears will face a team currently ranked in the nation’s top 25. They are 1-4 so far in this stretch.
- The Dukes have continued their long-standing tradition of defensive dominance, as they currently lead the league and rank 17th nationally in allowing just 18.88 points per game. This creates quite the matchup, then, as the Black Bears sit second in the league in scoring defense with 21.4 points per game. JMU (330.5) and Maine (362.2) rank second and fourth, respectively, in total defense.
- After helping the Dukes stage a near come-from-behind win on the road at Richmond two weeks ago, freshman QB Michael Birdsong earned his first starting role, going 11-for-23 for 119 yards with one touchdown and an interception last week against Georgia State.
- Dukes junior TB Dae’Quan Scott ranks among the league’s top three with 138.2 all-purpose yards per game and 95.7 rushing yards per game. He has had three 100-yard rushing games thus far this fall.
- Maine QB Marcus Wasilewski is one of just two CAA signal callers to throw for more than 400 yards in a single game this season after his 409-yard showing against Villanova on Sept. 29. The junior passed for 191 yards and three scores in last week’s 24-10 win over W&M.
- With his 295 career tackles, senior LB Donte Dennis is on pace to become the first player to lead the Black Bears in tackles for three straight seasons since standout Stephen Cooper (2000-02).
5/5 OLD DOMINION (7-1, 4-1) VS. GEORGIA STATE (1-8, 0-0)
- Saturday’s matchup marks the final home affair for Georgia State head coach Bill Curry, who will close out his 20-year head coaching tenure at the conclusion of the 2012 season to become a special assistant to Director of Athletics Cheryl Levick and President Mark Becker.
- The game features a pair of teams in their final year as CAA Football members, with the Monarchs and Panthers bound for Conference USA and the Sun Belt, respectively, next year.
- ODU has knocked off two straight ranked opponents after suffering its first setback of the season to Villanova on Oct. 13.
- GSU will face its fourth ranked opponent in five weeks when it welcomes the fifth-ranked Monarchs to the Georgia Dome this weekend.
- The Panthers tallied two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes as their fourth-quarter rally fell just short in a 28-21 loss on the road at James Madison last week.
- ODU leads all FCS Football in scoring offense (44.6 points) and total offense (565.5 yards), while sophomore QB Taylor Heinicke paces the nation in total offense with 436.2 yards per game.
- Heinicke rushed for a career-high three rushing touchdowns in last week’s 31-26 Oyster Bowl win over Delaware, but failed to toss a touchdown pass for the first time this season and the second time in his career.
- Classmate Tyree Lee ran for a career-high 128 yards in last week’s win over the Blue Hens. It is the sophomore’s second 100-yard game of the season after going fo 113 yards on the ground in the season-opener against Duquesne.
- GSU senior TE Emmanuel Ogbuehi turned in a career-high six receptions against the Dukes. He is the Panthers’ second-leading receiver with 22 catches for 174 yards and three touchdowns this season.
- In the absence of top rusher Donald Russell, junior RB Travis Evans finished with a career-high 98 yards on 18 carries and three catches for 23 yards against JMU. He ranks third in the program annals with 931 rushing yards.
RHODE ISLAND (0-8, 0-5) VS. 22/RV RICHMOND (5-3, 3-2)
- Richmond has dominated the series with Rhode Island recently, winning four of the last five and seven of nine overall matchups at home. The Spiders won, 15-6, the last time out despite five turnovers forced by the Rhody defense.
- After playing four of their last six games on the road, the Spiders now remain in the state of Virginia for the rest of the season. Rhody is in the midst of playing three of four on the road before returning to Kingston for its season-finale against Maine.
- Richmond’s magic number continues to be 30, with the squad going 41-6 since 2005 and 4-2 this season when scoring 30 or more points. Its losses came in the season-opener at Virginia and in a 44-40 shootout on the road with New Hampshire.
- The Spiders field a stalwart offensive line, which leads the nation in sacks allowed after having only given up one against top-five Old Dominion on Sept. 29. They have not allowed a single sack in their last three games.
- After senior starting QB John Laub went down to injury, sophomore Michael Strauss rose to the occasion as his replacement, completing 27-of-43 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start.
- Richmond has been difficult to contain in the air and on the ground, as evidenced in the JMU win when sophomore WR Stephen Barnette set career highs with nine receptions for 144 yards and a score while senior FB Kendall Gaskins rushed for a career-high 106 yards and his 10th touchdown of the season.
- Rhody junior QB Bob Bentsen is the most accurate passer in school history among signal callers with at least 100 attempts after his 24-of-38, season-high 266-yard performance against the Wildcats this past week. In his career, Bentsen has completed 59.4 percent of his throws (230-of-387).
- Senior WR Brandon Johnson-Farrell became the second-leading receiver in Rhody history with 193 receptions after hauling in nine catches for 91 yards last week against UNH. The Rams’ top all-time kick return, Johnson-Farrell leads the league with 28 kick returns and 571 kick return yards while also ranking among the CAA’s top five with 47 receptions, 5.88 receptions per game and 131.8 all-purpose yards per game.
- Rams WR Billy Morgan ranks third in the league with 22.6 yards per kick return with Johnson-Farrell just behind with 20.4 yards per return. The dynamic duo has Rhody on pace to potentially break the program record of 1,296 total kick return yards in a season set in 2009. The Rams have 1,006 return yards as a team through eight games.
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