When the Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens and Rhode Island Rams last met on a football field in 2019, the result was an undisputed instant classic. Under the newly installed lights at URI’s Meade Stadium and on its brand new turf playing surface, celebrated by a capacity crowd, Delaware took the triple-overtime win to avenge its 2018 home upset loss to Rhody.
The next installation of this unlikely Colonial Athletic Association rivalry will look much different Saturday at noon eastern in Kingston, Rhode Island under the constraints of the pandemic, but remarkably, the stakes are even higher in this go-around.
Both squads enter the CAA North division bout at 2-0, making the contest the midseason decider of sole possession of first place in the division.
While both units have been impressive in their respective hot starts, they have accomplished them in vastly different fashions.
Delaware opened the spring by steamrolling Maine, which is now No. 25 in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25, 37-0. The Blue Hens followed that performance up with another dominant output, shutting down Stony Brook 31-3. Albeit, due to the postponement of March 20’s scheduled game at New Hampshire resulting from COVID-19 protocols in the UNH program, Delaware has completed only two games this spring, but its 1.5 points allowed per game is tops in the FCS.
While the No. 11 Hens cruised at home against Maine and SBU before their unexpected open date, No. 18 Rhode Island took on the role of road warrior through its first two games after its originally scheduled February season opener opposing Bryant was postponed by the Bulldogs. The retooled Rams first shocked the FCS by knocking off preseason North favorite Villanova in overtime, then proceeded to make another nationally-ranked foe and playoff contender in Albany their next overtime victim. Two weeks, two victories over opposing quarterbacks considered to be the class of the CAA at the position alongside Maine’s Joe Fagnano: Daniel Smith (Nova) and Jeff Undercuffler (UA).
URI’s historic start has been keyed by decorated FBS transfers in quarterback Kasim Hill and running back Kevin Brown Jr. The dynamic duo has made an instant impact for head coach Jim Fleming, an early CAA Coach of the Year candidate. Rhody also boasts the CAA Football Defensive Player of the Week in senior safety Coby Tippett and the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week in punter Davey Schaum-Bartocci. They will oppose Delaware’s CAA POTW recipients from this season to date, tailback Dejoun Lee and KAT linebacker Andrew Pawlowski.