They all count, but when Wagner hosts Bryant in Week 5, the games will begin to count a little more.
Staten Island, home of the defending league champions, will provide the backdrop for the first Northeast Conference game on the 2013 season slate.
The Seahawks and Bulldogs will contest the lone league game on the Week 5 docket, and will do so before a national audience on ESPN3 beginning at 1:00 pm on September 28. The game kicks off the NEC’s five-game ESPN3 on-air package, which will feature every conference member at least once.
The start of conference play provides Wagner, Bryant and all seven NEC members the opportunity for a fresh start. Regardless of what transpires during out-of-conference competition, the NEC will award its automatic bid to the FCS playoffs to the team that performs best during league play.
Currently mired in a three-game losing streak, Wagner, which was tabbed as the NEC’s “team to beat” by the preseason coaches’ poll, may welcome the opportunity to begin working on a clean slate. The Seahawks likely wouldn’t mind a repeat of 2012 when they opened with three consecutive losses followed by nine straight victories.
Bryant, which was tabbed third in the preseason predicted order-of-finish, should enter Saturday’s Northeast Conference opener a bit fresher than Wagner. The Bulldogs were idle during Week 4, while Wagner suffered a 49-9 setback at CAA member Delaware.
Viewers following the game on ESPN3 or via the Watch ESPN app will see two of the nation’s top offensive playmakers.
Bryant senior Jordan Harris, a Walter Payton Award hopeful, is the active leading receiver in all of Division I FCS with 3,082 yards. The 6-foot-2 Harris, who is coming off a 9-catch, 182-yard performance at Maine in Week 3, needs only three more grabs to pass current Dallas Cowboy Miles Austin (150 receptions) for ninth place on the NEC’s all-time receptions list. Harris is only 383 yards away from owning the league’s all-time receiving yardage mark.
Wagner senior Dominique Williams, who earned Preseason All-America honors from College Sports Journal, logged his 23rd career 100-yard rushing day in the loss at Delaware. The all-NEC running back (3,739) ranks fifth amongst Division I FCS active leaders in career rush yards.
Following the Week 5 matchup at Wagner, the NEC’s on-air package will continue in Week 6 at Central Connecticut where the Blue Devils will host Saint Francis on October 5 at 1:00 pm.
NEC Matchups on ESPN3
You think Mike Westerhaus is ready for Bryant’s NEC opener?
Just want it to be Saturday #dawgs
— West (@WestQB) September 25, 2013