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#CAAFB Week 12 Storylines

Nov 16, 2012, 12:41 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 Saturday’s five regular-season finale matchups.

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  • This is the seventh week this season that CAA Football has had six teams in both The Sports Network and FCS Coaches polls. Two CAA squads in 4/4 Old Dominion and 7/7 New Hampshire are also ranked in each poll’s top 10 and both are receiving at least one first-place vote in the TSN poll.
  • 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.
  • All six nationally-ranked CAA squads remain in contention for one of only 20 coveted FCS playoff spots.
  • UNH leads FCS Football with 124 straight appearances in the TSN poll dating back to 2004.
  • CAA Football’s automatic qualifier tiebreaker scenarios are among the most complex in league history. More on those can be found here.

MAINE (4-6, 3-4) VS. RHODE ISLAND (0-10, 0-7)

  • Last year’s contest in Orono was a close one as Maine took a 21-0 lead and held on for a 27-21 win over the Rams.
  • The Black Bears’ 12 seniors have been a part of a pair of playoff appearances (2008, 2011) and a No. 8 final national ranking last season.
  • Maine’s defense will look to present lots of problems for a Rhody squad that already ranks last in the league in pass offense (166.3 ypg). The Black Bears rank second in the CAA and 26th nationally in pass defense (181.7) and 14th in the nation in pass efficiency defense (109.5).
  • Junior RB Rickey Stevens was selected CAA Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after rushing for 179 yards and a score in Maine’s 51-7 thumping of Georgia State. RB Nigel Jones earned Rookie of the Week honors following his two-touchdown performance against the Panthers.
  • Senior LB Donte Dennis has recorded 86 tackles this season and could become the first Black Bear in history to total 100 tackles in three consecutive seasons since Stephen Cooper completed the feat from 2000-02.
  • After his 14-yard touchdown pass to senior WR Brandon Johnson-Farrell this past week, junior QB Bob Bentsen is now tied for 10th all-time at Rhody with 16 career TD passes.
  • Speaking of Johnson-Farrell, the senior standout posted 106 all-purpose yards against the Spiders, marking the seventh time this season he has gone for at least 100 yards in a game.

19/16 TOWSON (6-4, 5-2) VS. 7/7 NEW HAMPSHIRE (8-2, 6-1)

  • Saturday’s game will air live on CSN-MA/WBIN/CSN-P at noon and be tape-delayed on CSN-NE (3:30) and CSN-NW.
  • New Hampshire will claim CAA Football’s autobid and its first outright conference crown with a win over defending league-champion and preseason favorite Towson. The Wildcats are already assured at least a share of the CAA title for the first time since 2005.
  • If the Wildcats fall on Saturday, a complex set of tiebreaker scenarios come into effect that include a potential Tiger autobid.
  • UNH holds a commanding 7-1 lead in the all-time series, but Towson took last year’s game in a 56-42 shootout at Unitas Stadium. The teams combined for 1,128 total yards in the affair.
  • The Wildcats are 8-5 in the Sean McDonnell Era in games following a regular-season open week. They topped Towson, 62-21, on the road following a bye in 2005.
  • UNH will ride its first six-game winning streak since the 2005 season into this weekend’s matchup.
  • The Tigers have won 12 of their last 15 conference contests, including six of seven on the road. They have never won at Cowell Stadium, where the Wildcats are 29-3 since 2007 and have secured 10 straight wins.
  • The rushing game is key to Towson, which has run for more than 200 yards in 14 times over the last two seasons, going 13-1 in these games.
  • UNH senior LB and reigning Buck Buchanan Award winner Matt Evans is FCS Football’s active leader in career tackles with 437 stops. Evans, who leads the league with 103 stops this fall, became the school’s all-time tackles leader in the William and Mary game on Nov. 3.
  • Sophomore WR R.J. Harris needs just 39 yards to become the Wildcats’ first 1,000-yard receiver since 2008 and only the fifth ever player in school history to ever reach the milestone.
  • As just a sophomore, RB Terrance West already holds the Tiger record with 41 rushing touchdowns and needs seven scores to tie the team’s career TD mark of 49. The second-year standout has recorded 10 100-yard rushing games in his 20 collegiate games played.

20/20 RICHMOND (7-3, 5-2) VS. WILLIAM AND MARY (2-8, 1-6)

  • This will be the 122nd annual edition of what has traditionally been called the “Oldest Rivalry in the South”, a series that William and Mary leads 61-55-5 since the teams first met in 1898.
  • W&M has claimed the Commonwealth Cup two years running, with Richmond searching for its first win in Williamsburg since a 23-20 overtime triumph in 2008.
  • Five of the Tribe’s six losses in 2012 have come by a combined 11 points. The team dropped a hard-fought 41-31 decision to Old Dominion this past week.
  • This will be just the second home game for W&M since the close of September. Richmond will be the Tribe’s fourth ranked opponent during this grueling six-game season-ending stretch.
  • W&M enters the weekend as the nation’s fourth-least penalized team, averaging just 3.9 flags per game. The  Tribe also ranks fifth nationally in fewest penalty yards per contest (37.0).
  • The Spiders are also among the nation’s best in several key statistical categories, leading FCS Football in turnover margin (+20) and interceptions (23) while tying for second nationally in fewest sacks allowed (4) and third in fewest turnovers (8).
  • Richmond is currently amidst the fourth-best turnaround in the FCS this season given its four-win improvement from a year ago.
  • The Spiders forced an impressive five turnovers in last week’s pivotal 23-17 win over Delaware. Senior DB Darryl Hamilton picked off a pair of passes for five total interceptions on the season and his 15 passes defended are tied for the second-best nationally.
  • Following an injury-plagued season to its signal-calling corps, junior QB Michael Graham stepped in to throw for 353 yards and four touchdowns against the Monarchs last week. Graham’s performance was the 16th-best in Tribe history.
  • FB Kendall Gaskins has racked up a CAA-best 14 touchdowns in a senior season in which he’s scoring 8.4 points per game.

16/21 VILLANOVA (7-3, 5-2) VS. rv/- DELAWARE (5-5, 2-5)

  • Saturday’s Villanova/Delaware game will air live on TCN-P at 3:30 p.m.
  • Villanova enters this weekend’s Battle of the Blue game holding a narrow 23-21-1 all-time series lead over Delaware.
  • The Wildcats have won five of the last six games in the series and three straight at Delaware Stadium, but it was the Blue Hens who came out on top with a 26-16 win in 2011.
  • Nova enters the weekend with a great deal of momentum after winning three of its last four matchups, which includes wins over a pair of top-10 teams (No. 3/3 ODU, No. 9/9 JMU).
  • The Blue Hens are on the hunt for their first win over a ranked opponent this season after failing to convert in four previous tries this fall.
  • Delaware’s three-game winless streak is the team’s longest since 2008.
  • The Blue Hens’ last three losses have come by a combined 18 points and were all against nationally-ranked foes.
  • Nova has eclipsed 300 yards rushing in three of its last four games in large part due to sophomore RB Kevin Monangai, who surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark (1,044) on Sautrday, has rushed for a CAA-best 104.4 yards per game this fall.
  • Classmate Joey Harmon was selected CAA Defensive Player of the Week, doing his seniors proud with a pair of sacks for safeties in last week’s win over the Dukes.
  • The Blue Hens’ Jeff Williams was recently added to the national 20-member Jerry Rice Watch List after racking up 13 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks to lead the league in both categories this season. The rookie LB also ranks second on the squad behind veteran Paul Worrilow with 58 total tackles.

4/4 OLD DOMINION (9-1, 6-1) VS. 13/14 JAMES MADISON (7-3, 5-2)

  • Saturday’s game will air live nationally on NBC Sports Network at 7 p.m.
  • This is only the second-ever meeting between James Madison and Old Dominion after the Monarchs came away with a closely-contested 23-20 win in Norfolk a year ago.
  • Old Dominion has won four straight games since suffering its first loss of the season to Villanova on Oct. 13. The Monarchs prevailed, 41-31,  in last week’s Battle for the Silver Mace against William and Mary.
  • ODU has enjoyed a top-10 national ranking every week this season. JMU dropped out of the top 10 for the first time this fall after last week’s 35-20 loss at Villanova.
  • The Dukes would be happy to have history on their side on Saturday, as they are 30-19 in November under head coach Mickey Matthews, including a 13-3 clip since 2008, and 18-10 in regular-season games after a loss since 2004.
  • The Monarchs lead FCS Football in total offense (556.8 ypg) and rank second in both passing offense (384.5) and scoring offense (45.1 ppg).
  • ODU QB Taylor Heinicke leads the nation with 418.8 yards of total offense per game, 31 touchdown passes and 3,801 passing yards. The sophomore has four 4-plus TD passing games after throwing for four scores against the Tribe on Saturday.
  • Sophomore RB Tyree Lee became the first Monarch to rush for more than 100 yards in three straight games after going for a career-high 166 yards on a career-best 28 carries this past week.
  • JMU’s Stephon Robertson was added to the national 20-member Buck Buchanan Watch List this week. The junior LB, who has started all 33 games in which he has played, has notched the league’s third-most tackles (92) and led the Dukes in stops in six of 10 games in 2012.
  • Dukes sophomore RB Dae’Quan Scott has rushed for 740 yards on 137 carries (5.4 ypc) and eight scores in eight games heading into the regular-season finale. He ranks second in the CAA and 36th nationally with 92.5 rushing yards per game.