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#CAAFB Week 9 Storylines

Oct 26, 2012, 10:31 AM 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 weekend’s five league-wide matchups.

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  • The CAA has seven teams ranked in The Sports Network top 25 poll this week for the first time in 2012 and the 20th time in the history of the league. Some have referred to the CAA as the “SEC of FCS Football”, so as a quick comparison, the SEC also had seven teams ranked in the AP Poll this week.
  • The CAA and 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. Old Dominion (No. 6/7) and James Madison (No. 9/10) are ranked inside the top 10 in both polls this week.
  • Six league squads have been ranked in the FCS Coaches poll all nine weeks the poll has been released this fall. Richmond is the fourth-leading vote-getter outside the poll’s top 25 rankings this week.
  • Stony Brook (No. 10/9) and Albany (24/20), which are set to join the league in 2013, are ranked in both the TSN and FCS Coaches polls this week.
  • After Northern Iowa dropped out of The Sports Network Poll for the first time in 106 weeks earlier this fall, CAA programs now own two of the nation’s three longest active streaks of consecutive appearances in the poll. New Hampshire leads FCS Football with 121 straight appearances dating back to 2004, while Delaware (along with Montana State) has the third-longest streak at 38 consecutive appearances.

20/16 DELAWARE (5-2, 2-2) VS. 6/7 OLD DOMINION (6-1, 3-1)

  • The Old Dominion/Delaware game will air live nationally at noon on the NBC Sports Network. This is the first time each team will appear on the network in conference play. UD faced in-state rival Delaware State on NBCSN on Sept. 8.
  • After avenging a 2011 loss to Towson last week, ODU will look to turn the trick once again on Saturday following a 27-17 setback to the Blue Hens in Newark a year ago.
  • Saturday’s matchup with ODU is the first of four straight for UD against opponents currently ranked in both national top 25 polls (Towson, Richmond, Villanova). The Hens fell to then-No. 20 New Hampshire, 34-14, in their only other matchup against a ranked squad this season.
  • ODU is currently outscoring its opponents, 326-200, in 2012 but has been outscored, 58-45, in its last two outings. The Monarchs have been especially impressive in the first quarter, outscoring opponents, 89-26, in the opening 15 minutes this season.
  • With a win on Saturday, UD would clinch a .500 or better record for the fourth-consecutive season and the ninth time in 11 years.
  • A win would also give UD head coach K.C. Keeler his 50th victory in CAA play. He has racked up a 49-37 record since taking the helm of the Hens in 2002. Only eight other CAA head coaches have ever reached this milestone, including five active coaches in Andy Talley (Villanova/117), Jimmye Laycock (William and Mary/93), Jack Cosgrove (Maine/73), Mickey Matthews (James Madison/66) and Sean McDonnell (New Hampshire/61).
  • The Monarchs lead the nation in both scoring offense (46.5 points) and total offense (575.0 yards) and rank second in passing offense (404.0 yards).
  • ODU sophomore QB Taylor Heinicke is currently 14th among active FCS quarterbacks with 49 career touchdowns and is the youngest player on this list. He has 24 touchdowns to date this season.
  • Reigning CAA Offensive Player of the Week in UD junior RB Andrew Pierce has earned the most weekly honors in league history with nine in his three-year career.

12/12 NEW HAMPSHIRE (6-2, 4-1) VS. RHODE ISLAND (0-7, 0-4)

  • After winning his 100th game as UNH head coach against Georgia State on Oct. 6, head coach Sean McDonnell returns to the site of his first head coaching win this weekend when the Wildcats visit Rhode Island’s Meade Stadium (37-14 victory on Sept. 4, 1999).
  • UNH has strung together its ninth four-game winning streak in the last 10 seasons. A win on Saturday would give the Wildcats their first five-game winning streak since opening the 2009 season 5-0.
  • Rhody fell, 31-24, to 10th-ranked UNH in 2011 after the Rams scored 18 third-quarter points to take a 24-21 lead before the Wildcats rallied back to close the game on a 10-0 run.
  • Wildcats senior linebacker Matt Evans is the FCS active tackles leader with 415 and is just 20 stops shy of breaking Steve Doig’s school record (434) set in 1981. Evans also paces the CAA with 81 tackles so far this fall.
  • With his 682 rushing yards through eight games, UNH’s leading rusher in sophomore RB Nico Steriti has outgained Rhody’s entire team (477) by 205 yards. Classmate R.J. Harris’ eight receiving scores are two more than the Rams have recorded as a team.
  • Harris, who leads the league with 94.1 receiving yards per game and is tied for tops in the conference with eight touchdown catches, is a former high school teammate of Rhody senior WR Brandon Johnson-Farrell. Harris set school records for career receptions and career touchdown catches in 2009 after Johnson-Farrell accomplished both feats two seasons before.
  • CAA Rookie of the Week Sean Goldrich made the most of his first start in six weeks for UNH this past week against Maine, with the redshirt freshman QB returning from injury to throw for four touchdowns and just shy of 300 yards as the Wildcats reeled off 28 unanswered points to best the Black Bears in the 100th annual battle of the Brice-Cowell Musket.
  • Johnson-Farrell and fellow senior WR Billy Morgan have combined to turn in at least 100 all-purpose yards eight times through seven games this season.
  • Rhody has yet to carry the same starting lineup in back-to-back weeks this fall.

MAINE (2-5, 1-3) VS. WILLIAM AND MARY (2-5, 1-3)

  • Saturday’s matchup marks the 10th meeting between two teams that share identical records. The Tribe has won seven of nine games in the series, including a 24-21 victory as the nation’s eighth-ranked team in Orono two years ago.
  • William and Mary returns to Zable Stadium for the first time in nearly a month this weekend. The Tribe, which is coming off an open week, has won two of its last three tilts. The loss during that span came in the form of a 27-26 double-overtime setback to then-No. 4/5 James Madison.
  • Maine has dropped four of its last five matchups. Its lone win came on the road against nationally-ranked Delaware to open October.
  • Black Bears junior QB Michael Wasilewski tossed three touchdown passes and junior TE Justin Perillo hauled in seven receptions for 68 yards and two scores in last week’s loss to rival New Hampshire.
  • The Tribe has won 10 of its past 13 Homecoming games, including eight by double-digit margins.
  • W&M has dropped only five double-digit decisions against FCS opponents over a four-season stretch that covers 40 games.
  • Four of the Tribe’s five losses in 2012 have come by a combined eight points (7-6 at Maryland, 20-17 at Towson, 17-14 vs. Lafayette and 27-26 at JMU).

23/25 TOWSON (3-4, 2-2) VS. 19/23 VILLANOVA (6-2, 4-1)

  • Saturday’s game will air live on two Comcast SportsNet affiliates (CSN-MA and TCN-P) and be tape-delayed on CSN-NW.
  • The two teams have met every season since 2004, with Villanova boasting a 5-3 mark during this stretch after winning four of the last five matchups. Towson came out on top, 31-10, a year ago in a game that served as both squads’ CAA-opener.
  • Nova enters the weekend tied atop the CAA standings with 12th-ranked New Hampshire.
  • Towson’s record is relatively misleading, as the Tigers’ four losses have come against two top-10 FCS opponents in James Madison and Old Dominion in addition to a pair of FBS squads in LSU and Kent State.
  • The Tigers are winless on the road this season after losses at Kent State, LSU and JMU.
  • Nova has been balanced on both sides of the ball, notching 58 first downs over its last two games while also leading the CAA with 21 sacks.
  • Towson has had little trouble controlling the clock in 2012, ranking eighth in FCS Football with a 33:22 average time of possession through seven games. The Tigers have run 478 players compared to their opponents’ 424.
  • Reigning CAA Special Teams Player of the Week in sophomore Poppy Livers is coming off a Georgia State game in which he returned the first punt for a touchdown in Andy Talley’s 28-year Wildcat head coaching career. The feat marked the program’s first punt return for a score since 1980.
  • Nova sophomore RB Kevin Monangai has recorded back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, and senior WR Norman White has secured a touchdown catch in five of Nova’s last six games.

GEORGIA STATE (1-7, 0-0) VS. 9/10 JAMES MADISON (5-2, 3-1)

  • This weekend’s meeting is the first-ever between Georgia State and James Madison.
  • Both head coaches hold Southeastern Conference ties, as JMU’s Mickey Matthews coached linebackers and defensive backs at Georgia from 1996-98, and GSU’s Bill Curry was the head coach at Alabama from 1987-89 and at Kentucky from 1990-96.
  • JMU is 61-19 (.763) under Matthews in the friendly confines of Bridgeforth Stadium, with eight of the losses during this 13-year stretch occurring during 2001 and 2002 seasons.
  • The top-10 Dukes are coming off their first FCS loss of the season following a 35-29 setback at Richmond a week ago. JMU, which is one of four teams with just one loss in CAA play, is 29-25 in games played after a loss in Matthews’ 13 years in Harrisonburg.
  • GSU is set to face its third ranked team in four weeks after falling to New Hampshire and Villanova earlier this month.
  • Matthews named freshman Michael Birdsong the Dukes’ starting QB for Saturday’s game after the rookie came in for relief for junior Justin Thorpe in last week’s loss to the Spiders. The move makes Birdsong JMU’s first true freshman QB to get the start since 2002.
  • The Panthers will play without their top rusher in senior RB Donald Russell, who was league’s leading rusher before suffering a sprained knee against Villanova this past week. Russell boasts a school record 3,378 all-purpose yards and 15 touchdowns in his illustrious career in Atlanta.
  • Wide receiver and return specialist Albert Wilson established a new GSU record with 290 all-purpose yards in last week’s loss to the Wildcats.