SACRED HEART vs. CENTRAL CONNECTICUT
Location: Fairfield, CT (Campus Field)
Kickoff: 1:00 pm
The Matchup: A lot is at stake in this season’s Nutmeg State Rivalry Game. Sacred Heart certainly doesn’t want to fall to 0-2 in NEC play following a promising 5-0 start to the season. Meanwhile, Central Connecticut can force its way into the title conversation by picking up a second straight league victory. The Blue Devils pulled out a 38-29 win at home over Saint Francis in last week’s NEC opener. Both teams – CCSU’s Rob Hollomon (110.7 ypg) and SHU’s Keshaudas Spence (102.2 ypg) – feature ball carriers averaging more than 100 yards per contest. The matchup to watch in this one will be Sacred Heart’s run defense, which ranks atop the FCS leader board (78.8 ypg allowed), against Hollomon, a preseason All-American all-purpose runner whose 204.8 apy/g rank fourth amongst national leaders.
WAGNER at DUQUESNE
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Rooney Field)
Kickoff: 1:10 pm
The Matchup: The top-two teams from the NEC preseason coaches’ poll will slug it out on The Bluff this Saturday. Defending champion, and NEC preseason favorite, Wagner evened its league record at 1-1 when Bryan Maley’s 45-yard field goal with 00:04 remaining lifted the Seahawks to a 23-20 road win over previously-unbeaten Sacred Heart. Duquesne, on the other hand, has yet to play a NEC contest and should be primed for this Homecoming matchup at Rooney Field. The Dukes scored three defensive touchdowns in a wire-to-wire win over Division II West Liberty in Week 6. Duquesne rookie quarterback Dillon Buechel, who was named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List earlier this week, is averaging 290 pass yards per contest, but the Dukes are gaining only 2.4 yards per carry in their ground game. Wagner’s Dom Williams is only 48 yards away from becoming only the fifth active rusher with 4,000 career yards.
Wagner’s Bryan Maley was the subject of the #NECFB Week 7 Google+ Hangout
SAINT FRANCIS vs. Monmouth
Location: Loretto, PA (DeGol Field)
Kickoff: 12:00 pm
The Matchup: Saint Francis will look to rebound from back-to-back losses to Fordham and NEC foe Central Connecticut, but the Flash will be facing a hot team with Monmouth coming to town. The Hawks have won three in a row – over Holy Cross, Columbia and Robert Morris. Monmouth running backs KB Asante and Julian Hayes have combined for 1,148 yards rushing and eight touchdowns this season. Saint Francis counters with the nation’s leading rusher; Walter Payton Award hopeful Kyle Harbridge (932 yards) is averaging 7.5 yards per carry and has scored 10 touchdowns in five games.
BRYANT vs. Brown
Location: Smithfield, RI (Bulldog Stadium)
Kickoff: 1:00 pm
The Matchup: After suffering a road loss at the hand of a CAA member for the second time this season, Bryant hopes to have better fortunes against Ivy League member Brown. The intrastate rival Bears will invade Smithfield on Bryant’s Homecoming Weekend. The good news for Bulldogs fans is their team is 8-1 in Homecoming Games during head coach Marty Fine’s tenure. If Bryant can run the ball as well as it did two weeks ago at Wagner, then a number of opportunities could open up in the passing game for the Bulldogs’ preseason all-NEC connection of QB Mike Westerhaus and WR Jordan Harris. Getting Paul Canevari and Michael Perry going on the ground won’t be easy considering Brown is limiting opponents to just about 3.0 yards per carry.