In the 15-team CAA Football conference, time is of the essence. Although Saturday will just be the conclusion of September, numerous CAA teams are set for games that could determine the meaning of their October schedules, let alone November.
In this size of a league, the sooner a squad can reach seven D1 wins for bubble consideration, the better, especially in light of the CAA’s diminished national reputation and varying conference strength-of-schedules from team to team.
No. 14 New Hampshire, No. 24 Rhode Island, and receiving-votes UAlbany, Campbell, and Elon are 2-2. To pick up a third loss before October gets underway would spell trouble for FCS playoff hopes. Another 2-2 CAA Football member, Richmond, already has its warts with a home loss to Morgan State and a one-point win at winless Stony Brook on its resume.
Place College Football Wagers at BetMGM
UNH entertains Towson on Saturday after the Wildcats dropped a close contest at Delaware last week. New Hampshire led 18-0 before the Blue Hens mounted their come-from-behind 29-25 win. While UNH was successful through the air despite heavy wind and later rain, as quarterback Max Brosmer wrapped up 34-of-58 passing for 389 yards and two touchdowns, the Wildcats were not able to spring all-purpose phenom Dylan Laube on offense — Laube finished with eight carries for a net of eight yards despite unleashing a 100-yard kickoff-return touchdown in the third quarter.
New Hampshire has the chance to “get right” back at home versus a Towson team with deficiencies. The 1-3 Tigers are coming off a 21-14 home loss to Norfolk State in which the Spartans racked up 350 rushing yards at 6.5 per attempt. This gettable rush defense tees up UNH for a favorable matchup and a flush of the ’Cats’ deflation in Newark, DE. New Hampshire will have ranked-win opportunities, as it stands now, when the Wildcats face Rhody and Villanova in back-to-back games to close October and open November.
Rhode Island remains ranked in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 despite being handled by Nova in a 35-9 Rams loss. URI gets an in-state and future conference matchup this week in the form of Bryant. The Bulldogs are riding the high of defeating Princeton 16-13 in overtime. Rhode Island’s offense will seek to get back on track Saturday after being stifled at Villanova, which limited the Rams to 60 rushing yards and forced two Rhody turnovers.
If URI rights the ship against Bryant and follows that up with business taken care of at Brown, the Rams’ postseason probability will be more stable before their fate is decided in large part by consecutive games at UAlbany and versus New Hampshire to end October.
UAlbany has both a test and momentous opportunity as it hosts Villanova on Saturday. The Great Danes impressed in two competitive FBS losses (at Marshall and Hawaii) and then eked out a double-overtime triumph at Morgan State last week. Back in Week 0, UAlbany put itself on something of a radar with its 34-13 win over preseason Patriot League No. 2 Fordham. To overcome Nova would be the Danes’ best performance, though, far and away. Taking advantage of home field against VU also looms large as UAlbany must travel to UNH for an Oct. 14 game. The Great Danes’ two losses are FBS ones, but there needs to be a quality conference win attained somewhere in the mix that includes contests hosting Rhody and William & Mary.
After playing each other last week, Campbell and Elon each have a nationally-ranked foe scheduled for Saturday. The Phoenix is in search of a third straight win when it welcomes William & Mary. The No. 5 Tribe is 4-0 but had lacked in style points until it smothered Maine 28-3 in Williamsburg, VA last week. Running back Bronson Yoder’s injury status puts him firmly in question for Saturday, when W&M will have to deal with an opposing star tailback in Elon’s Jalen Hampton, whose 122 rushing YPG lead the CAA.
Meanwhile, Campbell is slated to visit No. 15 North Carolina Central on Saturday. The Camels have acquitted themselves nicely thus far in conference play, pacing the CAA in scoring (37.3 PPG through four overall games) with a win at Monmouth and a four-point loss to Elon last time out. Stepping out of league action will be no easy task at NC Central, but if Campbell can avoid a third FCS loss before October (and before its November appearance at FBS North Carolina), the Camels could be a darkhorse at-large playoff contender. Campbell’s most difficult remaining CAA game is at home versus Delaware in the penultimate week of the regular season.
In the near term, though, this applies to every 2-2 CAA team: Win in Week 5 or risk being behind the pack (possibly for good) in an ever-jumbled CAA middle tier, let alone the current upper tier consisting of William & Mary, Delaware, and Villanova.