CAA preview: more FBS upsets on the horizon?

CAA preview: more FBS upsets on the horizon?
September 5, 2013, 8:30 am
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Stony Brook @ Rhode Island, Sat. 1:00 p.m.
Towson @ Holy Cross, Sat. 1:00 p.m.
Maine @ Massachusetts, Sat. 2:00 p.m.
New Hampshire @ Central Michigan, Sat. 3:00 p.m.
Delaware State @ Delaware, Sat. 3:30 p.m.
James Madison @ Akron, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
Albany @ Colgate, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
Richmond @ North Carolina State, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
Villanova @ Fordham, Sat. 6:00 p.m.
Hampton @ William & Mary, Sat. 7:00 p.m.

Matchup of the week: Maine @ Massachusetts, Sat. 2:00 p.m.

Maine heads to Gillette stadium this weekend to take on former conference-rival UMass. The Black Bears are coming off an impressive 23-6 win at Norfolk State last weekend and hope to carry that momentum into Saturday’s contest. The Bears were led by quarterback Marcus Wasilewski who had 263 total yards and a touchdown.

The Minutemen left the CAA to transition to the Mid-American Conference in the FBS. They have had a rough go of it so far, however, going only 1-11 last year. If Week 1 is any indication, there may still be some growing pains as Wisconsin trounced UMass 45-0, but UMass is still a very talented team. Maine cannot take them lightly.

On paper, both teams look to be evenly matched. The proximity of the two schools, not to mention UMass’ CAA history, ought to add a rivalry-like atmosphere to this one. Maine heads into this game hoping to carry the torch for the CAA while UMass desperately needs a statement win to justify its place in the FBS. This one stacks up to be a real intriguing matchup.

Player to watch: Andrew Pierce, RB, Senior, Delaware

Delaware gave Jacksonville a healthy dose of the run last week in their win on Saturday rushing 54 times for 373 yards. Pierce was the team’s leading rusher with 19 of those carries, 101 yards and a touchdown.

As the Blue Hens prepare for the ‘Route 1’ rivalry game with Delaware State, Pierce looks poised to carry the load again.

Delaware State ranked only 66th in the FCS last season in rush defense; they have an average defense at best. The Blue Hens had seven different players run the ball last week. Three of those players had 13 or more carries. Delaware wants to run the football and they cycle in running backs to keep their top rushers fresh. Against Delaware State, the Blue Hens should have little trouble moving the ball on the ground. That points to a big game for Pierce. Look for him to get a lot of carries for big-time yards.

Upset alert: New Hampshire @ Central Michigan, Sat. 3:00 p.m.

A whopping seven FCS teams did the unthinkable in Week 1, pulling off upsets over FBS opponents. What FBS programs used to believe were easy matchups have turned into early-season hurdles ready to trip up anyone not prepared for the early test. There’s no reason to think that trend won’t continue this Saturday as New Hampshire heads to Central Michigan.

The Chippewas were dismantled in Week 1 by Michigan 59-9 in a game that was never really in doubt. Central Michigan lost quarterback Cody Kater to a broken clavicle and running back Zurlon Tipton to a broken ankle in the first half, making the already out-matched Chippewas look downright helpless.

New Hampshire sat out Week 1, but looks poised for another strong year after earning a share of the CAA title last season. They were very weak defensively, but with two of Central Michigan’s best offensive weapons out, the defense should have an easier time keeping the Wildcats in this one.

Ultimately, this game will come down to what the Wildcats can manage offensively. New Hampshire will likely rely on junior receiver R.J. Harris who recorded 84 catches last season and nine touchdowns. If the Wildcats can get a big game out of him, there is a real chance they can steal a win in Mount Pleasant.