The CAA has its champion. James Madison handily defeated Richmond and claimed the outright CAA title. Joining the Dukes in the playoffs should be Villanova, Albany and Towson who each have seven division one wins on the season. Maine appears to be the only other team with a playoff chance. A win by the Black Bears would put them at seven wins and in position for a berth, but could keep out anyway depending on what else happens around the country. Albany and Towson would be well served to pick up wins this week and get to eight to make sure they solidify their standing. A win for Villanova puts them on the cusp of a seed, but theyre most likely playing round one.
Conference Game of the Week:
Maine (6-5, 4-3) at New Hampshire (5-5, 4-3)
Where: Wildcat Stadium, Durham, NH
When: Saturday November 23, 1:00 PM
TV/Streaming: NBC Sports Boston, FLO Sports ($$/subscription req’d)
Maine Black Bears
Left for dead at 2-5, the Black Bears have rattled off four straight wins. A fifth puts them 7-5 and on the playoff bubble. The defending CAA champions are hoping that will be enough to get them in. But it wont be easy to go to New Hampshire – a place the Wildcats have not lost this seasons – and beat them, especially in the biggest game of the year against their rivals. Maine is averaging 36.5 points per game on offense over their four game win streak. They probably wont get to that mark this week, so the defense will need to tighten up to get the win. Last week, the Black Bears almost stubbed their toe at home against Rhode Island before potential CAA Offensive Player of the Year Earnest Edwards scored the game winning points with just over thirty second left on the clock.
Key Player: Maine intended to lean on Chris Ferguson, their junior quarterback to return them to the playoffs and, hopefully, get a step or two farther in the playoffs. But Ferguson went down with an injury against Richmond, a game after which Maine sat at 2-4. Enter Freshman Joe Fagnano. All he has done since is throw for 1650 yards, 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions while leading Maine to a 4-1 record. The lone loss came to FBS Liberty. One has to wonder if the committee will take the Black Bears over another bubble team based on how they played recently if they win this game.
New Hampshire Wildcats
A few short weeks ago, New Hampshire looked like a sure playoff team. They beat Villanova and had three games left where two wins would get them in. Unfortunately, the Wildcats laid an egg at James Madison getting blown out. They followed that up by losing at Albany. Now even with a win, New Hampshire will be on the outside looking in at 6-5. They decided not to schedule the 12th game, which may wind up biting them.
No matter what happens this week, a tip of the cap to Ricky Santos for filling in as the interim head coach. All of us here at College Sports Journal wish Coach Sean McDonnell a healthy and speedy recovery in his fight against cancer. Not that the winner of the Brice-Cowell Musket is as important as that, but it’s easy to see a lot of extra emotion on the New Hampshire side.
Key Player: Max Brosmer and been a typical freshman quarterback with hints of stardom, and hints of struggle. Where Brosmer has had the most trouble is keeping away from the interception. He has 11 on the season, a stat that will need to improve as he progresses through his college career. With an offense that lags behind others in the conference, New Hampshire cant give away possessions. Brosmer will be put to the test against a good Maine defense this week. How he fares will go a long way to the result.
Fearless Prediction: Maine is on a roll and will finish the season on a five game win streak. And then they wait. Maine 28, New Hampshire 19
Fearless predictions for the rest of the slate
James Madison (10-1, 7-0) at Rhode Island (2-9, 0-7), Saturday November 23rd, 12:00 PM, Meade Stadium, Kingston, RI, FLO Sports ($$/subscription req’d)
James Madison will leave no doubt that they are the 2 seed for the playoffs (at worst). This team has visions of Frisco. Rhody may hang with them early, but the Dukes roll. James Madison 51, Rhode Island 13
William & Mary (4-7, 2-5) at Richmond (5-6, 4-3), Saturday November 23rd, 12:00 PM, Robins Stadium, Richmond, VA, FLO Sports ($$/subscription req’d)
The South’s Oldest Rivalry features two teams who are much improved over last year and are looking for that one last building block going into the off season. Richmond wins a close, entertaining home game. Richmond 31, William & Mary 30
Delaware (5-6, 3-4) at Villanova (8-3 4-3), Saturday November 23rd, 1:00 PM, Villanova Stadium, Villanova, PA, FLO Sports ($$/subscription req’d)
Villanova spoiled Delaware’s chance at a potential seed last year in the last game of the year. Delaware will try to do the same thing this year. But it wont happen. Villanova rolls. Villanova 41, Delaware 20
Albany (7-4, 5-2) at Stony Brook (5-6, 2-5), Saturday November 23rd, 2:00 PM, LaValle Stadium, Stony Brook, NY, SNY, FLO Sports ($$/subscription req’d)
The wind absolutely came out of Stony Brook’s sails after their overtime loss to James Madison. We are also done doubting the Great Danes. Albany 31, Stony Brook 27
Elon (4-6, 3-4) at Towson (7-4, 4-3), Saturday November 23rd, 2:00 PM, Unitas Stadium, Towson, MD, FLO Sports ($$/subscription req’d)
Towson will finish the season with a win. They’ll make the playoffs, but they better be ready this year. They were embarrassed by an NEC team last year and may get a better NEC team in the first round this year. Towson 33, Elon 17
Jamie is a proud 2002 graduate of James Madison University. He’s witnessed the growth of the program from no one in the stands in 1998, to the hiring of Mickey Matthews, to the 2004 National Championship, to the 2008 team, to the struggles in the early 2010s, and finally the rebuild under Mike Houston. He also allegedly really enjoys Washington, DC-based Stanley Cup winners.
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