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4/17/2014 1:05 PM(et)
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 968 RAYS
4/17/2014 7:10 PM(et)
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Kelso Sturgeon has been a professional handicapper for 40 years and has a deep understanding of all facets of the game, be it football, basketball, baseball or horse racing. He's worked as a football scout in the SEC and studied under Hall of Fame coaches like Alabama's Bear Bryant, winner of five national titles and Hank Stram of the Kansas City Chiefs, who won the 1970 Super Bowl. He's been a Regional Sports Editor for the Associated Press, worked as a successful jockey agent and authored several books teaching people how to be a handicapper, including the bestseller, THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO SPORTS BETTING. Kelso also understands that to be a successful handicapper means knowing the business of gambling, and to that end he is personal friends with most of the big linesmakers in Las Vegas and gets the daily scoop on what is happening on the other side of the counter. There is no one better qualifed to be your personal handicapper than Kelso Sturgeon.

Contact us or call 1-800-755-2255 to get Kelso Sturgeon as your personal handicapper. Enter here to get today's free pick!

Around FCS: Top 25 Previews

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Here are the top 25 games and other selected match ups for week seven. All times are eastern standard time.


No. 23 Colgate (5-0) at Princeton (1-2), 7 p.m.

In 2003, Colgate defeated Princeton 30-3 to give the Raiders a six-game winning streak to start the season. That Colgate squad went on to win 15 in a row before losing to Delaware in the national championship game.

The Raiders will look to start 6-0 for the first time since then when they play Princeton again in a non-conference matchup, televised nationally on ESPNU.

Princeton, meanwhile, is trying to find itself defensively after allowing 38 points twice in losses to The Citadel and Columbia.

Colgate jumped two spots in the national rankings this week with a big 45-23 win over Cornell. The nation's leading rushing attack features standout running back Nate Eachus (268 yards rushing, 6.9 average, six TDs in two games), who returned from a broken rib suffered against Monmouth.

Jordan McCord (530 yards rushing, 5.0 average, four TDs) carried the load in Eachus' absence. The offensive line deserves much credit and has allowed just two sacks so far.

The Raiders running game has opened up the passing attack, with quarterback Greg Sullivan passing for 862 yards and 11 TDs, while wide receiver Pat Simonds has grabbed 26 passes for a 16.5 average and six TDs. Sullivan also is a key component in the rushing attack with 440 yards rushing.

Defense has also been a strong point for Colgate, who allow only 92 yards per game on the ground. Defensive tackle Carlton Walker (14 tackles, three tackles for loss) leads the defensive line, while an improving secondary is paced by cornerback Coree Moses (14 tackles, three pass breakups) and safety Vinnie Nicosia (23 tackles, three pass breakups).

Princeton will try to beat Colgate for the first time since a 27-26 overtime win in 2006. The Tigers dropped a 27-24 decision to the Raiders last season.

Tommy Wornham (577 yards of total offense, four TDs) is a run-oriented quarterback and needs to become more comfortable passing (45% completion rate) in order for the Tigers to compete in the Ivy League.

With Ivy League offensive player of the year Jordan Culbreath (92 yards rushing) out again at running back due to knee injury, look for freshman Akil Sharp and junior Meko McCray to split carries.

The Tigers defense has allowed 38 points twice and has struggled stopping pass, allowing over 200 yards passing in every game so far. Linebacker Scott Britton (33 tackles), cornerback Glenn Wakam (14 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss) and defensive tackle Joel Karacozoff (eight tackles, two sacks) are key performers on a unit that hasn't received a lot of help.

Princeton leads the all-time series 26-23-1, but Colgate's rushing attack could overwhelm the Tigers struggling defense.



No. 1 Richmond (4-0, 2-0) at No. 13 James Madison (2-2, 0-1), Noon

Richmond hasn't lost a game since last year's wild game against then-top-ranked James Madison. The Spiders led that contest 31-23 with a minute to play, but allowed two touchdowns to JMU, the final one coming on Scotty McGee's 69-yard punt return on the final play for a 38-31 victory for the Dukes.

The Spiders won nine straight elimination games the rest of the season to earn their first national championship and have extended their winning streak to 13 in a row.

In its last game, Richmond let VMI climb back into the game before eventually taking the contest 38-28 behind the efforts of quarterback Eric Ward (949 yards passing, 67%, eight TDs), who now ranks eighth nationally in passing efficiency, and running back Justin Forte (152 yards rushing against VMI).

Wide receiver Tre Gray (19 catches, 12.5 average, two TDs) hauled in six balls for 112 yards and a touchdown to keep the Spiders offense alive against the Keydets. All-American guard Matt McCracken leads one of the best offensive lines in FCS.

The defense for Richmond is one of the stingiest in the nation, allowing just 286 yards and 14 points per game. Patrick Weldon (27 tackles) has helped keep the middle of the field covered, while defensive end Nicholas Battle (13 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss) has helped the defensive line tally an average of two sacks per game.

Richmond's secondary has been the weak point of the defense, allowing 211 passing yards on average. Buchanan Award candidate Justin Rogers (eight tackles, three pass breakups) has yet to copy last year's production, while freshman strong safety Darryl Hamilton (12 tackles) is still learning.

JMU is coming off a tough road loss to Hofstra last week (24-17), in which the offense managed a season-low 17 points (averages 30 points), losing to the Pride for the first time in 10 years. That and a tough overtime loss to Maryland has the Dukes in almost the same situation as Richmond faced after losing to JMU last year.

With a bunch of tough games on the horizon, James Madison is in an almost must- win situation.

Quarterback Drew Dudzik (404 yards passing, five TDs) passed for a season-low 19 yards against Hofstra, but the team managed just 136 yards rushing against the Pride, down from their 213-yard average.

Freshman quarterback Justin Thorpe (414 yards of total offense, three TDs) tried to pick up for Dudzik, rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown and was 3- of-3 for 37 yards passing, but JMU did little else offensively.

Wide receiver Rockeed McCarter (14 catches, 16.6 average, two TDs) leads the Dukes receiving corps.

The JMU defense allowed just 287 yards against Hofstra, but gave up three red zone scores. The unit is still very capable of shutting down opponents with Arthur Moats (31 tackles, nine tackles for loss) coming on as one of the top defensive ends in the country.

Linebacker Pat Williams (29 tackles, three tackles for loss) and safety Jon Williams (29 tackles, two pass breakups) have been among the other contributors.

McGee (40.4 kickoff return average) continues to give the JMU offense good field position, but has yet to break a return for a touchdown this season as teams have been more cautious with him. McGee has six careers kickoff and punt returns for scores.

Richmond leads the all-time series 14-12. JMU needs this win more to keep pace in the CAA, but Richmond is the more balanced team and has had an extra week to prepare.


No. 3 Northern Iowa (4-1, 2-0) at North Dakota State (1-4, 0-2), 4:07 p.m.

North Dakota State entered the Missouri Valley Football Conference last year as the preseason title favorite, but the Bison program has fallen on hard times. NDSU ended up a disappointing 6-5 last season and has dropped four of five this year.

Northern Iowa, meanwhile, shared the MVFC title last year and has established itself as one of the top teams in the country again in 2009.

The Panthers come into this contest with third best offense and fifth best rushing attack in FCS after four straight wins culminating in a 62-7 beat down of Indiana State.

Running back Derrick Law (301 yards rushing, 6.0 average, three TDs) has been the main factor on the ground for the Panthers since missing the opener due to injury.

Quarterback Pat Grace (1,241 yards passing, 68% completion percentage) ranks second nationally in passing efficiency and leads a UNI passing attack that is 14th in the country. Wideouts D.P. Eyman (19 catches, 17.2 average, three TDs) and D.J. Hord (18 catches, 17.2 average, three TDs) have been Grace's top targets.

UNI's ranks second nationally in total defense and first in scoring defense, allowing just 211 yards and eight points per game, but the Panthers haven't yet faced the heart of the MFVC. Buchanan Award nominee James Ruffin (20 tackles, 4.5 sacks) is the team's top pass rusher, while freshmen, cornerbacks Terrell McBride (19 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss) and James Conley (17 tackles) pace a young, but effective secondary.

North Dakota State is coming off of consecutive conference loses against Southern Illinois (24-14) and Illinois State (27-24), but has stayed close in games with the nation's leading rusher, Pat Paschall (754 yards rushing, 7.5 average, five TDs) pacing the nation's second-ranked rushing offense.

Quarterback Nick Mertens (903 yards passing, six TDs) has been solid, but has completed just 51% of his passes and has tossed an interception in six of his last seven games dating back to 2008. Sophomore wideout Warren Holloway (16 catches, 13.4 average) is Mertens' top target, but has yet to haul in more than five balls in a game.

Unfortunately, it's NDSU's defense that has kept the team from performing up to potential. The unit ranks 102nd in the country in total offense and 107th in pass defense. Linebacker Preston Evans (41 tackles, three tackles for loss), safety Kyle Belmont (24 tackles, two pass breakups) and defensive tackle Coulter Boyer (20 tackles, two sacks) have all performed well for this struggling unit.

UNI upended the then 16th-ranked Bison 23-13 last season and holds a 22-19 advantage in the all-time series. The Panthers have played sound football and are one of the best teams in FCS, and possess an offense that NDSU should have trouble against.


Illinois State (2-3, 1-1) at No. 6 Southern Illinois (3-1, 2-0), 3 p.m.

Illinois State rekindled some hope last week in a 27-24 victory MVFC victory over North Dakota State. Now the rebuilding Redbirds take a step up in competition against one of the top programs in FCS, Southern Illinois.

Freshman quarterback Matt Brown (1,047 yards passing, 64% completion rate, five TDs) leads a ISU passing attack ranked 15th in the country. Wide receiver Eyad Salem (38 catches, 10.8, average, three TDs) is Brown's top target and caught a career-high 14 catches for 172 yards last week.

The Redbirds rushing attack has been outgained by almost 700 yards so far. Senior running back Geno Blow (250 yards rushing) leads the unit, but has yet to eclipse 100 yards.

ISU's defense has given up 798 yards the past two weeks and has struggled equally stopping the pass and the run. Safety Kelvyn Hemphill (33 tackles, five tackles for loss) has tried to make up for the lacking pass rush and is joined on the unit by defensive end Doni Phelps (20 tackles, two sacks) and cornerback-returnman E.J. Jones (18 tackles, three interceptions).

Southern Illinois has won three straight since falling to Marshall, including a 30-10 win over Western Illinois.

The Salukis feature a solid rushing attack that ranks eighth nationally, led by running back Deji Karim (561 yards rushing, 8.4 average, five TDs). Karim is second in the country in all-purpose yards (207 per game) and is first in kickoff returns (40.6 average).

Southern Illinois's passing attack has diminished over the past few weeks, but does feature quarterback Chris Dieker (789 yards passing, seven TDs) and quarterback-turned-wide receiver Joe Allaria (19 catches, 16.8 average, two TDs).

Allowing just 24 points the past two weeks, SIU's defense has stepped up with the consistent play of Buchanan Award nominee Brandin Jordan (28 tackles, three tackles for loss), linebacker Kyle Walker (four sacks), All-American cornerback Korey Lindsey (24 tackles, three interceptions) and defensive end Kyle Russo (three sacks).

Southern Illinois leads this historic rivalry dating back to 1929 36-32-3 and has won the past two meetings. The more talented and balanced Salukis are likely to extend that advantage on Saturday.


No. 7 McNeese State (3-1, 0-0) at Stephen F. Austin (3-1, 0-0), 7 p.m.

McNeese State and Stephen F. Austin have taken different routes to 3-1 starts this season as they prepare for their Southland Conference opener.

McNeese has challenged itself against a top-flight schedule. After the Cowboys' big 40-35 win over Appalachian State, McNeese State suffered a heartbreaking loss to Tulane, 42-32.

The Cowboys rank fourth nationally in total offense with a combination of a dangerous rushing attack and solid air strike.

MSU's Payton Award nominee Todd Pendland (570 yards rushing, 7.0 average, seven TDs) has rushed for over 100 yards in eight straight games dating back to last season. Pendland is also the team's leading receiver (18 catches, 9.5 average, two TDs).

Quarterback Derrick Fourroux (899 yards passing, 67%, eight TDs) is just as effective on the ground, rushing for 102 yards on 20 carries against Tulane.

Defense has been McNeese State's biggest problem. The defense hasn't be able to stop the run or the pass, giving up 362 yards per game. Defensive end Joshua Ellison (12 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss) has leads a defensive line that has tallied six sacks in four games.

The Cowboys have improved in the secondary, ranking 34th nationally and feature cornerback Seth Thomas (12 tackles, two interceptions) and freshman safety Malcolm Bronson (26 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss).

Stephen F. Austin has earned its three wins against Texas College, Western Illinois and North Dakota, who have a combined three victories this season. The Jacks offense does rank first in the country, but 92 points came against Texas College, an awful NAIA school.

Quarterback Jeremy Moses (1,309 yards passing, 66% completion rate, 16 TDs) ranks third nationally in total offense. He is joined on the explosive unit by running back Vincent Pervis (375 yards rushing, 6.8 average) and wide receivers Aaron Rhea (22 catches, 17.2 average, five TDs) and Duane Brooks (28 catches, 13.0 average, three TDs).

Wide receiver-returnman Contrevious Parks (24.8 average) leads the nation in punt returns for the Jacks.

SFA's defense is ninth nationally, but hasn't yet faced an FCS team with a winning record. All-American defensive end Tim Knicky (10 tackles, 5.5 sacks) paces this unit, along with safety Cory Barlow (20 tackles, three interceptions) and linebacker Devin Ducote (25 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss). Linebacker Jabara Williams (211 career tackles) is a Buchanan Award candidate.

McNeese State took last year's meeting 42-31 and holds a 16-10-2 series advantage. These two squads can definitely put up points, but the Cowboys' defense has been challenged more in 2009 and is fresher coming off of a bye week.


No. 8 William & Mary (4-1, 1-1) at Northeastern (0-5, 0-2), 1 p.m.

William & Mary looks to rebuild its confidence after last week's 28-17 loss to No. 2 Villanova and gets a break in playing a Northeastern squad still searching for its first win in this CAA contest.

The Tribe are coming off of a tough loss 28-17 loss to Villanova with the offense performing well led by quarterback R.J. Archer (1,133 yards passing, nine TDs) and wide receiver D.J. McAulay (25 catches, 13.1 average, three TDs).

Running backs Jonathan Grimes (392 yards rushing, 4.2 average, two TDs) and Cortland Mariner (128 yards rushing, 4.9 average) pace a William & Mary rushing attack that has been consistent.

Defense has been the Tribe's strong suit. William & Mary ranks seventh nationally in rushing defense and 14th in sacks. Buchanan Award nominee Adrian Tracy (28 tackles, five tackles for loss) and defensive tackle Sean Lissemore (26 tackles, seven tackles for loss) have been key performers up front.

The Tribe passing defense has also improved with freshman B.W. Webb (11 tackles, three interceptions) and safety David Caldwell (23 tackles).

Northeastern extended its losing streak over two years to 11 games after falling to Holy Cross, 42-21.

Quarterback Alex Dulski is doubtful for this game after suffering an injury during a 56-7 loss against Villanova. Matt Carroll (394 yards passing, 68%, three TDs) should get the start. John Griffin (284 yards rushing) is the Huskies' top running back.

The Northeastern defense keeps allowing points and yards, giving up 430 yards and 41 points per game. All-CAA linebacker Phil Higgins (39 tackles, five tackles for loss), cornerback Darryl Jones (39 tackles) and All-American safety Nate Thellin (22 tackles) have performed well for this struggling unit.

William & Mary took down Northeastern last season 38-17 and has won three straight in this series. The Tribe hold an 11-2 advantage in the series, but Northeastern has taken the Tribe to overtime in two of the past three meetings.

Northeastern almost always defends its Parsons Field turf well, but the Huskies are playing one of the nation's top teams in the Tribe.


North Carolina Central (0-5) at No. 9 Appalachian State (2-2), 3:30 p.m.

Appalachian State takes a break from Southern Conference play to work some kinks out against a NCCU squad it has never met.

Appalachian State pulled out a 30-27 overtime win over The Citadel last week, with Payton Award winning quarterback Armanti Edwards racking up 407 yards of total offense and three TDs against the Bulldogs. Wide receivers Matt Cline (18 catches, 9.7 average) and CoCo Hillary (16 catches, 12.1 average) are Edwards' top targets.

Running back Devon Moore (364 yards rushing, 4.4 average, two TDs) helps a Mountaineer rushing attack that ranks 17th nationally.

The ASU defense ranks 63rd nationally,but has been better against the pass than the run, with Buchanan Award finalist Mark LeGree (20 tackles, two pass breakups) and All-American cornerback Cortez Gilbert (27 tackles, two pass breakups) pacing the secondary.

Other Mountaineer defensive performers include All-American linebackers D.J. Smith (49 tackles, four tackles for loss) and Jacque Roman (335 career tackles).

FCS independent North Carolina Central is coming off its second overtime loss in three games, this time against North Carolina A&T (23-17). The Eagles have struggled offensively averaging just 15 points per game.

Running back Tim Shankle (332 yards rushing) leads the NCCU rushing attack, while Michael Johnson (684 yards passing, five TDs, seven interceptions) and Keon Williams (173 yards passing) split time at quarterback. Senior Will Scott (21 catches, 15.9 average, three TDs) is the best receiving threat.

The NCCU defense has allowed 173 yards per game on the ground but has only given up 156 yards passing per contest. Key performers on the unit are linebacker Calvin Hillie (33 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss), defensive tackle Teryl White (32 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss) and cornerback David Ingram (22 tackles, five pass breakups)

NCCU steps into another realm of talent against ASU and must play at Kidd Brewer Stadium, where the Mountaineers have dropped only three games in the past three years.


The Citadel (2-2, 0-1) at No. 10 Elon (4-1, 2-0), 1:30 p.m.

It is another meeting between coach Kevin Higgins of The Citadel and his protege and one-time Lehigh replacement Pete Lembo, but this encounter will have more than friendly associations at stake with two teams that have Southern Conference title aspirations and are potential playoff participants playing.

Elon has won two big games to open SoCon play against both Georgia Southern (28-14) and Furman (19-12).

The Phoenix rank fifth nationally in total offense and fourth in passing offense behind the arm of quarterback Scott Riddle (1,579 yards passing, 65%, 11 TDs) and pass catching skills of Payton Award nominee and national Player of the week Terrell Hudgins (59 catches, 12.7 average, six TDs) at wide receiver.

Running back Jamal Shuman (358 yards rushing, 5.0 average, two TDs) was banged up in practice before the Furman game, should resume starting duties after being limited to five carries against the Paladins. Backup A.J. Harris was a key element of Elon's game-winning drive against Furman.

Elon has been just as impressive on defense, ranking fourth nationally in both total defense and rushing defense. Andre Campbell (17 tackles, eight tackles for loss) has been one of the best pass rushers in the country up front and is joined at defensive end by Brandon Ward (15 tackles, six tackles for loss).

Cornerbacks Cameron McGlenn (18 tackles, three interceptions), Karlos Sullivan (12 tackles, two pass breakups) and Nolan Ward (24 tackles) have all impacted a Elon secondary that ranks sixth nationally in pass efficiency defense.

The Citadel fought hard before falling in overtime to Appalachian State, 30-27, and also has a loss at North Carolina. But the Bulldogs have the ability to be one of the SoCon's top teams.

Payton Award nominee Andre Roberts is duel threat as a receiver (31 catches, 10.2 average, four TDs) and punt returner (22 average). Bart Blanchard (691 yards passing, nine TDs) was solid against the Mountaineers and leads The Citadel offense at quarterback.

Wildcat runner Miguel Starks (203 yards rushing, 5.2 average) and freshman running back Van Dyke Jones (161 yards rushing, 7.0 average, two TDs) lead a Citadel rushing attack that tallied 214 yards against ASU.

Citadel's defense needs some improvement, having allowed 51 points 872 yards the past two games. Safety Joseph Boateng (16 tackles, two TDs) and cornerback Cortez Allen (17 tackles, two pass breakups) have held opposing quarterbacks in check, while linebacker Jordon Gilmore (37 tackles) and defensive tackle Terrence Reese (18 tackles, three tackles for loss) aid the rest of this improving unit.

The Citadel holds a 6-1 advantage in the series and have beaten the Phoenix in three of the past four tries (42-31 in 2007, 44-7 in 2006 and 21-0 in 2005, a 27-23 loss in 2008). This game could go either way, since both teams are playing well, but the Bulldogs have the edge on the ground.


No. 11 Central Arkansas (3-1, 0-0) at Northwestern State (0-4, 0-0), 8 p.m.

Last year, a late-season loss to Central Arkansas proved costly to Northwestern State, ruining the Demons' chances at the Southland Conference title and ultimately costing coach Scott Stoker his job.

Now NSU is winless under new coach Bradley Dale Pevato as it tries to rebuild its program.

Central Arkansas, meanwhile, has established itself as a FCS powerhouse in a short time and is looking to finish on top of the Southland Conference standings again, even though NCAA rules won't let the Bears be recognized as champions.

The Bears won their past two games against Division II opponents in Glenville State (24-10) and Missouri S&T (45-10) after splitting games against FBS foes Hawaii and Western Kentucky.

Quarterback Robby Park (901 yards passing, seven TDs) has maintained is poise and consistency, completing 73% of his passes and tossing just two interceptions. Darrius McNeal (12 catches, 17.1 average), James Lovett (11 catches, 15.9 average, two TDs) and Preston Echols (17 catches, 9.7 average) have chipped in nicely at wide receiver.

Both running backs Brent Grimes (290 yards rushing, 5.5 average, six TDs) and Leonard Ceaser (220 yards rushing, 5.5 average, three TDs) are a formidable duo for the Bears.

UCA's defense has been consistent, but hasn't been tested against an FCS team. Buchanan Award nominee Larry Hart (7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles) is the backbone of this unit at defensive end, and gets help from linebacker Jacob Bane (23 tackles, six tackles for loss) and safety Pieri Feazell (17 tackles, two forced fumbles).

Northwestern State's confidence wasn't heightened by falling to Baylor, 68-13 last weekend. The Demons have started the season 0-4 for the first time since 1985, when they finished 3-8.

The Demon rushing attack is better than the passing attack with running back William Griffin (293 yards rushing, 4.7 average, two TDs) carrying the load.

Quarterbacks John Hundley (270 yards passing) and Tyler Wolfe (396 yards passing, three TDs) should split time as both took snaps with the first-team offense in practice this week.

NSU's defense has been decent against FCS teams, giving up just 295 yards per game. Linebacker Blake Delcambre (27 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss), safety Wesley Eckles (17 tackles, three interceptions) and defensive tackle Ledell Love (12 tackles, three tackles for loss) have been key performers on a unit still striving for consistency.


No. 12 Massachusetts (3-1, 1-0) at Delaware (3-2, 1-2), 6 p.m.

What is usually a marquee matchup in the CAA has lost some luster with Delaware's struggles in the past two years, but this is a game the Blue Hens need if they are to have any shot at the playoffs.

That will be a tall order, with UMass returning to form after an off-season in 2008.

UMass is riding a three-game win streak after 44-17 win over Stony Brook. The offense has put up over 30 points in each of those three wins, led by Payton Award candidate Tony Nelson (342 yards rushing, 5.0 average, two TDs). The running back will be back in the starting lineup after being held out of last week's game with an upper body injury.

Quarterback Kyle Havens (974 yards passing, five TDs) has played well in his first season as the starter, but has tossed at least one interception in each game. All-American Victor Cruz (15 catches, 18.8 average, three TDs) is the Minutemen's top wide receiver.

The UMass defense has taken the pressure of off the offense, allowing just 13 points and 277 yards per contest. Buchanan Award nominee Jeromy Miles (26 tackles) anchors a secondary that ranks ninth nationally in pass efficiency defense, while linebacker Tyler Holmes (32 tackles, two interceptions) and defensive end Michael Hanson (18 tackles, four tackles for loss) aid the rest of the solid unit.

Senior kicker Armando Cuko (9-of-11 FG, 13-of-13 XP) has been another key performer for UMass, making at least three field goals in three straight games.

Delaware rebounded after a 30-20 loss to William & Mary, with a 27-17 win over Maine for its first win in conference play. But with games against Richmond, Villanova and James Madison on the horizon, there is no room for error.

Quarterback Pat Devlin (1,252 yards passing, 65% , 11 total TDs) has been, arguably, the best quarterback in the CAA with his accuracy and fine decision- making abilities. Wide receiver Mark Mackey (24 catches, 11.3 average) is Devlin's top target.

Delaware's rushing attack hasn't been consistent so far, with a number of guys getting carries. David Hayes (261 yards rushing, 4.3 average, two TDs) and freshman Leon Jackson (171 yards rushing, three TDs) have shouldered most of the load.

The Blue Hen rushing defense has been the best part of that unit, allowing just 99 yards on the ground per game. Defensive tackle Brandon Gilbeaux (23 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and defensive end John Higginson (20 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss) lead the impressive pass rush.

Buchanan Award nominee Charles Graves (32 tackles, two interceptions), safety Anthony Bratton (26 tackles, two tackles for loss) and cornerback Anthony Walters (27 tackles, seven pass breakups) lead a Delaware secondary that has kept opposing receivers in check.

Delaware holds a 23-6 all-time series advantage, but UMass took last year's matchup 17-7. UMass has been the better team lately, but the Blue Hens are starting to click and play very well at home.


No. 21 Weber State (2-3, 2-1) at No. 14 Eastern Washington (4-1, 3-0), 3:35 p.m.

Weber State was considered a national championship contender before the season, but the Wildcats find themselves on the ropes as they prepare to meet a ranked Eastern Washington squad on the road in a key Big Sky matchup.

Weber State lost 26-21 in a tough game at Montana State last week, with Payton Award nominee Cameron Higgins (1,584 yards passing, 66% completion rate, 14 TDs) accounting for 337 yards out of the team's 469 yards of total offense. All-American wide receiver Tim Toone (35 catches, 12.8 average, four TDs) has been the top target for Higgins. Toone also leads the team in punt returns (17.8 average).

Weber State lost a huge weapon when All-American tight end Cody Nakamura went out for the season with torn knee ligaments.

Payton Award nominee Trevyn Smith (525 yards rushing, 4.6 average, four TDs) is a force on a Weber State offense that ranks eighth nationally. He went over 100 yards for the first time ever against the tough Montana State defense last week, pounding out 148 yards.

The Wildcat defense has improved, giving up just 25 points per contest, but has allowed 391 yards per game.

Defensive end Kevin Linehan (25 tackles, six tackles for loss) has kept up the pass rush on the defensive line, Buchanan Award nominee Josh Morris (17 tackles, two pass breakups), a lock-down cornerback, All-American safety Beau Hadley (24 tackles, three forced fumbles) and safety Jordan Brown (44 tackles, two interceptions) have been the catalysts.

Eastern Washington is still awaiting news on its appeal of its NCAA postseason ban, but the Eagles have established themselves as one of the Big Sky's top teams, even if they are on probation and are ineligible for the conference crown.

Payton Award candidate Matt Nichols (1,175 yards passing, 67% completion rate, nine TDs) paces an EWU offense that ranks 17th in the country. Wide receivers Aaron Boyce (27 catches, 16.0 average, four TDs), Tony Davis (28 catches, 8.4 average) and tight end Nathan Overbay (19 catches, 9.8 average, four TDs) give Nichols a solid corps of pass catchers.

Running back Taiwan Jones (577 yards rushing, 9.2 average, nine TDs) has been a big surprise this season for the Eagles, adding a run component to this already solid offense.

EWU's defense allows just 21 points per game and has not been known for shutting down opponents recently. Linebacker J.C. Sherritt (60 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss) leads the team and ranks seventh nationally in tackles.

Defensive tackle Renard Williams (6.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks), safety Kevin Hatch (33 tackles, four pass breakups, three interceptions) and defensive end Jacob Kragt (3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks) are other standouts on this improving Eagle defense.

Eastern Washington took this matchup last season, 33-26, taking the series advantage 14-13, but the Wildcats have the better offense and more on the line.


Tennessee State (2-3, 1-1) at No. 16 Eastern Kentucky (3-1, 3-0), 6 p.m.

Eastern Kentucky will try to move a step closer to a third consecutive Ohio Valley Conference title, while Tennessee State will attempt to stay in the league race.

EKU has won its first three games in conference play, including a 36-31 win over then 23rd-ranked Eastern Illinois and now faces a Tennessee State squad that has looking to build off its first league win.

The Colonels offense has gotten better the past two weeks, led by running back C.J. Walker (246 yards rushing, three TDs), versatile freshman quarterback T.J. Pryor (737 yards passing, two TDs) and wide receiver Garnett Phelps (16 catches, 17.7 average).

Eastern Kentucky possess the third best rush defense in the country, with defensive tackles Emory Attig (18 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss) and Andrew Soucy (14 tackles, six tackles for loss) providing strong line play.

Linebacker Jordan Dalrymple (28 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and cornerback Jeremy Caldwell (21 tackles, four interceptions) pace the rest of a unit that has fared well. The Colonels are third nationally in rushing defense (52 yards per game), but have shown some vulnerability against the pass (244 yards per game to rank 100th).

Tennessee State won its first league game against Southeast Missouri State, but it was a close 23-17 decision.

Quarterback Calvin McNairl (242 yards passing, two TDs, 391 yards rushing, 6.6 average, four TDs) had done everything on offense for the Tigers, however he's better on the ground. Running back Preston Brown (251 yards rushing, two TDs) and wide receiver Joseph Hills (16 catches, 11.9 average, two TDs) are other standouts for a unit still trying to find consistency, averaging just 269 total yards.

Defense is TSU's strong suit. The Tigers have allowed just 20 points per game. Cornerback Eugene Clifford (32 tackles, two pass breakups), linebacker John Jones, Jr. (28 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss) and defensive tackle Kellen Woodard (25 tackles, five tackles for loss) have helped the defense keep the team in games.

Tennessee State has struggled against it tougher opponents this season and is likely to do so again in this contest against a balanced EKU squad.


No. 17 South Carolina State (3-1, 1-0) at Norfolk State (2-2, 1-1), 1 p.m.

South Carolina State looks to get back on track after a loss to South Carolina, but the Bulldogs face a challenge against a darkhorse Norfolk State team on the road in this Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference matchup.

South Carolina State played well against a tough South Carolina team (38-14 loss), proving the capability of the reigning MEAC champions.

Payton Award candidate Will Ford (308 yards, 4.7 average, two TDs) paces a SCSU offense, but has rushed for 100 yards just once this season.

Quarterback Malcolm Long (663 yards passing, four TDs) and wide receiver Tre Young (21 catches, 14.2 average, two TDs) are the other key standouts on an offense that has allowed just three sacks, due to the play of the offensive line.

The Bulldogs maintain a top-20 defense, giving up 275 yards and 20 points per game. Linebacker David Erby (37 tackles) and safety Phillip Adams (13 tackles, two tackles for loss). Defensive end Pat Washington is doubtful with an undisclosed injury.

Norfolk State blew out a struggling Bethune-Cookman squad 40-14, and possesses on of the best defenses in the country, led by Buchanan Award candidate Terrell Whitehead (25 tackles, two interceptions) at safety.

Linebacker Anthony Taylor (25 tackles, five tackles for loss), defensive tackle Deon Norris (nine tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss) and cornerback Dante Barnes (10 tackles, two interceptions) have stepped up for a unit that ranks sixth nationally.

The Spartan offense doesn't have to put up massive amounts of points with the defense keeping them in games. Running back DeAngelo Branche (272 yards rushing, 4.5 average, five TDs) is one of the top tailbacks in the MEAC, but has rushed for 100 yards just once this season.

Quarterback Dennis Brown (698 yards passing, six TDs) has been a standout for the NSU offense, but has tossed an interception in six straight games dating back to last season. Chris Bell (19 catches, 18.1 average, four TDs) is the top wide receiver.

SCSU took this contest 24-23 in a thriller last season and holds a 10-1 advantage in the series, with the Spartans' lone win coming in 2007 (20-13).

Look for an upset, with Norfolk State's defense being the deciding factor in this one.


No. 18 Jacksonville State (3-2, 1-0) at Murray State (1-3, 0-1), 4 p.m.

Jacksonville State is ineligible for the NCAA playoffs and the OVC title, due to NCAA sanctions for poor APR results, but the Gamecocks have been taking out their frustrations on opponents in recent weeks.

The Gamecocks have won three straight by a combined score of 157-30, including a 52-7 win over Tennessee-Martin last week.

Payton Award nominee Ryan Perrilloux (961 yards passing, 12 TDs, zero interceptions) is still the nation's most efficient passer after completing 14- of-16 passes for 205 yards and four TDs against Tennessee-Martin. Senior James Wilkerson (18 catches, 21.1 average, four TDs) leads the Gamecocks receiving group.

Running back Calvin Middleton (317 yards rushing, 5.3 average, two TDs) rushed for a career-high 121 yards against the Skyhawks and adds to this already impressive unit.

Jacksonville State's defense has come alive in the past three games. Linebackers Alexander Henderson (36 tackles) and Kevin Dix (24 tackles, 4.5 sacks), cornerback T.J. Heath (16 tackles, four pass breakups, three interceptions) and defensive end Dimetrio Tyson (14 tackles, three tackles for loss) are key performers on this much improved unit.

Heath had three interceptions and ran two of them back for touchdowns to give JSU a quick 14-0 lead last week against UT-Martin.

Murray State has lost three straight, including 23-13 loss to Eastern Kentucky two weeks ago.

The Racers offense has struggled in 2009, putting up just 213 yards and 48 yards rushing per game.

Quarterback Jeff Ehrhardt (501 yards passing, three TDs, four interceptions) and wide receiver Derrick Townsel (23 catches, 11.1 average) have been the brightest spots. Townsel ranks fourth nationally in punt returns (22.2 average).

MSU's defense allows 33 points per game, but allowed 23 points against a good Eastern Kentucky offense. Buchanan Award candidate Austen Lane (24 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss), cornerback Harry McCall (13 tackles, two interceptions) and defensive end Jamal Crook (24 tackles, six tackles for loss) are keys if the Racers defense is to improve.


No. 19 Holy Cross (4-0) at Brown (1-2), 12:30 p.m.

One of the oldest non-conference rivalries continues this weekend with both teams looking to tune things up before returning to conference play. These two teams met first in 1898.

Holy Cross dominated Northeastern last week 42-21 and now faces its first of two consecutive Ivy League teams.

The Crusaders offense is ranked seventh nationally with Payton Award nominee Dominic Randolph (1,286 yards passing, 14 total TDs) at quarterback. He is second in the country in total offense. Wide receiver Luke Chmielinski (21 catches, 13.6 average, two TDs) is Randolph's No. 1 target.

Holy Cross features a combination rushing attack with running backs Matt Bellomo (162 yards rushing, 4.4 average, three TDs) and freshman Eddie Houghton (149 yards rushing, 6.5 average) carrying most of the load.

On defense, the Crusaders have held opponents to 17 points and 95 yards rushing per game. Cornerback Anthony DiMichele (38 tackles, four pass breakups), linebacker Anthony Campbell (4.5 tackles for loss) and defensive end Nicholas MacDonald (2.5 sacks) lead this stingy defense.

Brown earned a nice 28-20 win over Rhode Island last week for the Bears first win of the season.

Quarterback Kyle Newhall (662 yards passing, seven TDs) has been the focal point of Brown's offense, but has tossed three interceptions in two of three games. Wide receiver Buddy Farnham (23 catches, 11.1 average, three TDs) and Bobby Sewall (18 catches, 211 all-purpose yard) give the Bears the best receiving tandem in the Ivy League. Farnham ranks 11th nationally in all- purpose yards (169 yards per game).

Running back Zachary Tronti (193 yards rushing) leads a depleted Bears rushing attack that ranks 76th nationally.

Brown's defense has been stable, allowing 21 points and 359 yards per game, numbers that should both go down when league play begins. Cornerback David Clement (11 tackles, two pass breakups) and defensive ends Peter Hughes (two tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries) and James Develin (17 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss) leads a unit that has not yet allowed over 24 points.

These two historic programs have played 56 times, with Holy Cross leading the series 31-20-3, winning the past four times. The Crusaders have been on an early-season roll on offense and should add to that lead.


No. 20 South Dakota State (3-1, 2-0) at Missouri State (3-2, 1-1), 3 p.m.

These two teams meet for just the second time ever in a Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup that could help figure out if these squads are contenders, or pretenders in the league title chase.

SDSU fell 21-14 to a solid Cal Poly squad, breaking the Jackrabbits four-game win streak dating back to last season. It was a costly loss for South Dakota State, who lost their quarterback and gave up two touchdowns to the Cal Poly defense.

Quarterback Ryan Crawford (734 yards passing, 67% completion rate, seven TDs) is sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury suffered against the Mustangs. Look for freshman Thomas OBrien to make his first career start.

Running back Kyle Minett (425 yards rushing, 5.4 average, seven TDs) has been the backbone for the Jackrabbits 10th ranked scoring offense.

Wide receivers Mike Steffen (17 catches, 19.8 average, three TDs) and Glen Fox (23 catches, 11.4 average) are big contributors on an offense that has scored at least 38 points three times.

SDSU's defense has been outstanding, ranking second in scoring defense and seventh in total defense. Buchanan Award nominee Danny Batten (25 tackles, six tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries) has led the defensive line to rank sixth nationally in sacks.

Other performers on this big time Jackrabbit unit are safety Conrad Kjerstad (28 tackles, three pass breakups), defensive end Steven Bazata (11 tackles, two sacks) and linebacker Chris Johnson (22 tackles, 1.5 sacks).

Missouri State stayed alive in the tough MFVC, beating Youngstown State 17-7 last weekend on the road.

The Bears offense hasn't been consistent with quarterback Cody Kirby (795 yards passing, five TDs, seven interceptions) tossing an interception for the eighth straight game. All-American tight end Clay Harbor (22 catches, 11.4 average, two TDs) and running back Jonathan Davis (191 yards rushing, 4.0 average, three TDs) have kept the offense competitive.

MSU's defense has been more consistent of late, allowing just 31 points in the Bears three wins. Linebackers Antoine Wilkinson (41 tackles, two forced fumbles) and Terian Washington (25 tackles, five tackles for loss, four pass breakups), safety Derek Miller (28 tackles, three interceptions) and defensive end Michael Daniels (14 tackles, two sacks) have helped the defense step up.

South Dakota State won last year's inaugural meeting 43-13, and has shown the more dominant defense this year.


No. 22 Florida A&M (4-0) at Miami (FL.) (3-1), 7 p.m.

In 1979, Florida A&M shocked Miami just a year after winning the first NCAA I- AA championship.

Miami owns a 6-1 series advantage over Florida A&M, and has won six in a row since the Rattlers won the initial encounter in Tallahassee.

The Rattlers are a perfect 4-0 on the season following wins over Delaware State, Winston-Salem State, Howard and Tennessee State. FAMU, who is off to its best start since 1997, was idle last weekend, giving coach Joe Taylor's team some extra time to batten down the hatches as it attempts to weather the storm that awaits this week.

Miami is playing one of the more adventurous schedules in the nation this season, and the first four games have been against teams (Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma) that have been or are currently ranked in the Top-25.

The Hurricanes are 3-1 overall, 2-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference play, and outlasted visiting Oklahoma last weekend, 21-20. Miami will play two more non- conference games following this affair, teeing it up against UCF on October 17th and winding up the regular season against South Florida.

Quarterback Curtis Pulley leads the Florida A&M offense into battle this week against a formidable Miami defense, and the Walter Payton Award candidate is capable of beating teams with both his arm and his legs.

A former Kentucky Wildcat, Pulley has hit the mark on 64-of-96 pass attempts for 846 yards and seven TDs with only one INT, while also rushing for 291 yards and a score. He currently ranks ninth in the nation in total offense with 284.25 ypg, and is fifth in QB rating at 162.67.

Phillip Sylvester has had time to recover from some preseason injuries and should be ready to take charge at tailback again after rushing for 717 yards last season. Eddie Rocker (185 rushing yards) is another option. Isaac West and Kevin Elliott both have 18 catches to their credit and have combined for 596 yards and five TDs.

The Rattlers are lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 33.5 ppg, while permitting just 11 ppg, tying the team for second nationally in scoring defense.

FAMU is led on defense by LB Bryan Parker and his 31 tackles. As a team, the Rattlers are giving up just 246 total ypg, which has them tied for ninth in the nation coming into action this week.

The Rattlers have one of the top punt returners at any level, as LeRoy Vann holds the school record for career punt return TDs with seven. Four of those have come this season. With 392 yards already this year, he is just 86 yards shy of setting a new school standard for punt return yards in a season.

Jacory Harris threw three TD passes in leading Miami past Oklahoma last Saturday. Harris, a 61.6 percent passer on the year who averages 252 ypg and has thrown eight TD passes against five INTs, completed passes to 11 different players in the win, but was picked off twice and sacked four times. He wound up 19-of-28 for 202 yards.

The Hurricanes were successful on 8-of-13 third down conversion attempts, and survived 12 penalties for a loss of 115 yards.

While Harris has been effective, none of the receivers have established themselves as stars to this point, and while three have logged double-digit catches, LaRon Byrd leads the pack with just 11. Travis Benjamin paces the club with 218 receiving yards and he has a pair of TD catches to his credit.

The Miami run game boasts a solid one-two punch in the form of James and Graig Cooper, the two combining for 493 yards and four TDs. The team as a whole has scored only five rushing TDs and averages just 3.5 ypc through the first four games.

Despite the winning record, the Hurricanes are giving up more points than they score on average (25.5 ppg to 24.8 ppg). Colin McCarthy is the team's leader in tackles (32) after four games. Turnovers haven't been easy to come by for the 'Canes thus far, coming up with just four, only one of which has been an INT.

Pulley is a talent, and the FAMU defense has been impressive thus far. The leap in competition level is substantial here though, making the Rattlers serious underdogs.


Northern Arizona (2-2, 1-1) at No. 24 Montana State (3-1, 2-0), 3:35 p.m.

With both of these Big Sky teams coming off of big conference wins, Montana State and Northern Arizona will try to stay in the league title chase in a contest that matches a solid Bobcat defense against a high-powered Lumberjack offense.

Montana State broke into The Sports Network Top-25 with a 26-21 win over Weber State last Saturday.

The Bobcats has consistently put up points in the mid-twenties during their three-game win streak. Quarterback Mark Iddins (719 yards passing, four TDs) has tallied less yards through the air in each of the past three games because of the effectiveness of the rushing attack led by running backs Aaron Mason (340 yards passing, 6.2 average, two TDs) and C.J. Palmer (191 yards rushing, 4.1 average, two TDs).

Elvis Akpla (12 catches, 14.9 average) and Everett Gilbert (10 catches, 15.7 average, two TDs) are both freshman, but have been capable receivers for Montana State.

MSU's defense gave up 469 yards of total offense against Weber State, but limited the Wildcats in the red zone. Buchanan Award candidate Dane Fletcher (21 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss), safety Michael Rider (25 tackles, three interceptions), defensive end John Laidet (19 tackles, three tackles for loss) and linebacker Clay Bignell (15 tackles, three interceptions) have helped motivate this improving defense.

Northern Arizona earned a 35-27 win over Northern Colorado last weekend and has been successful on offense with running back Alex Henderson (431 yards rushing, 5.1 average, four TDs), quarterback Michael Herrick (1,187 yards passing, 69% completion rate, 11 TDs) and wide receivers Ed Berry (23 catches, 16.3 average, three TDs) and Conrad Meadows (23 catches, 10.7 average).

The Lumberjacks have allowed 35 points per game on defense and haven't given up less than 27 in any game. Safety Matt Estrada (37 tackles), defensive end Isaac Bond (seven tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks) and defensive tackle Brandon Vance (24 tackles, three sacks) are key performers on a unit that needs to improve.

NAU leads the all-time series 22-19, but Montana State took down the Lumberjacks last season, 29-22 and are riding high after knocking off nationally-ranked Weber State.


No. 25 Eastern Illinois (4-1, 2-1) at Penn State (4-1), Noon

The AP-14th-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions step out of conference for the final time this season, as they welcome the Panthers of Eastern Illinois to Happy Valley.

Eastern Illinois is coming off its first loss of the season -- a 36-31 setback to visiting Eastern Kentucky.

EIU is coached by Bob Spoo, who owns a 136-110-1 record in 22 years at the school. The Panthers are 4-21 all-time against teams that make up the Football Bowl Subdivision, and their last win over a FBS foe came against Eastern Michigan in 2004.

Penn State bounced back from its first loss of the season (21-10 vs. Iowa) by running past Illinois in Champaign last Saturday, 35-17. The win evened the Lions' Big Ten Conference mark at 1-1 and moved their overall record to 4-1.

PSU is 59-12 against non-conference foes since joining the Big Ten in 1993, and EIU is the Lions' first opponent from the OVC as the two teams square off for the first time ever.

The Eastern Illinois offense utilizes a balanced attack that generates 152 yards per game on the ground and 219.4 yards through the air.

QB Jake Christensen is actually making his second appearance at Beaver Stadium after beginning his collegiate career at Iowa. Christensen, who threw for 146 yards and a TD in his only previous start against Penn State, is completing 65.4% of his passes and has thrown for 1,090 yards, 11 TDs and only three interceptions this season.

A total of four different pass catchers have logged double-digit receptions to this point in the campaign, with Michigan transfer Jimmy Potempa leading the way with his 20 grabs for 122 yards and a TD.

Mon Williams, a transfer from Florida, spearheads an EIU run game with 441 yards thus far and all six of the team's rushing TDs. Chevon Walker, another former Gator, has added 176 yards on the ground.

Defensively, the Panthers have been solid, allowing just 15.2 point per game. Their effort against the run has been particularly impressive with foes averaging a mere 94 yards per game and only 2.7 yards per carry.

The pass defense yields 171 yards per game and only four of the opposition's 10 TDs have come through the air. The Panthers have proven to be an opportunistic bunch as well, coming up with 12 turnovers in addition to logging 38 TFLs, including 14 sacks.

Cory Leman has been the most active EIU defender, making 47 stops in five games, which is 23 more than his closest teammate. CJ James has a pair of INTs and Perry Burge has three sacks for the Panthers.

Eastern Kentucky earned 25 first downs last weekend, gaining 416 yards of total offense in the process. The Colonels turned the ball over four times, but held a near 10-minute advantage in time of possession, converted 10-of-16 third down attempts and reached the red zone six times (three scores). Leman led the EIU defense with nine tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The Panthers recorded five sacks as part of 13 TFLs on the day.

Like their counterpart in this matchup, the Nittany Lions typically establish their offensive will by attacking in near equal parts with both the run (169.4 yards) and the pass (233 yards).

Senior QB Daryll Clark is a 61 percent passer who has thrown for 1,133 yards, nine TDs and six interceptions this season. He is also dangerous when he decides to tuck the ball away and run with it, gaining 100 yards.

The leading receiver for PSU is Derek Moye with his 19 grabs for 309 yards and two scores, while three others also have double-digit catches. Evan Royster has shown the ability to be the team's workhorse, rushing for 410 yards and four TDs.

The Penn State defense, which has yet to give up a TD in the first half this season, permitted 393 total yards (130 rushing, 263 passing), came up with two turnovers and collected three sacks in the win over the Fighting Illini. Josh Hull led the PSU defensive charge with 11 tackles, while the team as a whole made seven stops behind the line of scrimmage. It was Hull's fourth straight double-digit tackling effort of the season.

The Nittany Lions are giving up just 11.6 points per game this year, behind only 86 yards on the ground and 179 yards through the air.

Hull is far and away the most productive defensive player for coach Paterno's team, logging 52 total tackles, while fellow linebacker Sean Lee has 32 stops to his credit. The two have combined for 12 TFLs and three sacks.

Eastern Illinois will be playing in front of its largest crowd ever, and while there are likely to be some nerves, the Panthers will surely play hard. That said, Penn State is clearly the superior team here and it shouldn't take long for the Lions to establish their dominance.



No. 2 Villanova (5-0, 2-0) at No. 5 New Hampshire (4-0, 1-0), Noon

Villanova will look to take down its second straight top-five CAA team when it meets New Hampshire in a battle of undefeated squads.

Villanova looked impressive against a good William & Mary team in a 28-17 win, with a balanced attack led by quarterback Chris Whitney (959 yards of total offense, 67% completion rate, eight total TDs).

Wide receiver/returnman Matt Szczur (581 all-purpose yards, three TDs), running back Aaron Ball (262 yards rushing, 5.8 average, two TDs) and wideout Brandyn Harvey (22 catches, 14.8 average, three TDs) pace his elusive, high- powered Villanova offense.

VU's defense has been the focal point of late, holding opponents to 27 points the past three games (nine per game). All-American defensive end Tim Kukucka (22 tackles, three sacks) leads the pass rush, while Buchanan Award nominee Osayi Osunde (31 tackles) and Terence Thomas (34 tackles, three sacks) pace the linebacking corps.

The Villanova seconday has been the most consistent group on defense with safeties John Dempsey (25 tackles, six tackles for loss) and Ross Ventrone (21 tackles, two interceptions) anchoring the unit.

UNH earned its first CAA win of season, beating Towson 57-7 last week. The Wildcats continue to impress on offense with backup quarterback Kevin Decker (11-of-19, 140 yards passing, two TDs against Towson) starting for the injured R.J. Toman (turf toe). But Toman has been named the starter for the game with Villanova.

New Hampshire's rushing attack has also been consistent with Sean Jellison (250 yards rushing, three TDs), Dontra Peters (132 yards rushing, 5.1 average) and Chad Kackert (102 yards rushing, 5.4 average, three TDs) all pitching in.

The UNH Wildcats possess the nation's best defense and turnover margin, allowing just 210 yards per game with a plus-13 turnover margin.

Linebacker Devon Jackson (26 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss), defensive end Kevin Peters (15 tackles, three tackles for loss) and cornerback Dino Vasso (14 tackles, three interceptions, two TDs) are key performers on this unit.

Villanova holds a 10-8 all-time series lead against New Hampshire and took last season's meeting 24-13. VU's offense could give UNH fits in this one, challenging the New Hampshire defense in ways it hasn't seen thus far.


No. 15 Cal Poly (2-2, 0-0) at No. 4 Montana (4-0, 2-0), 3:05 p.m.

Two traditional FCS powerhouses meet again, with both Cal Poly and Montana still trying to establish their identities in 2009.

Montana struggled offensively in a 17-10 win over UC Davis, before returning to form, putting up 90 points in wins over Portland State and Northern Arizona.

Quarterback Andrew Selle (757 yards passing, 65% completion rate, seven TDs) has been one of the most efficient passers in FCS, tossing just one interception coming against Western State.

All-American wide receiver Marc Mariani (16 catches, 18.3 average, three TDs) adds to a Grizzlies passing attack that ranks ninth nationally. Mariani also leads the punt return unit (20.2 return average), that ranks sixth in the country.

Payton Award nominee Chase Reynolds (291 yards rushing, five TDs) carries the Montana rushing attack, but has averaged just 3.8 yards per carry so far.

Montana's defense has allowed more points each game, culminating in 34 points by Northern Arizona. But the unit does rank second in the country in rush defense, giving up just 50 yards per game.

Linebacker Shawn Lebsock (28 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss), defensive end Ryan Fetherston (three tackles for loss) and cornerback Trumaine Johnson (16 tackles, four pass breakups) pace this improving Montana defense.

Cal Poly racked up a nice 21-14 win over South Dakota State, but hasn't yet found its momentum on offense. Running back Jon Hall is out for at least one more week after arthroscopic surgery.

But fullback Jordan Yocum (226 yards rushing, 4.6 average) and slotback Jono Grayson (176 yards rushing, 7.3 average) have picked up the option-based attack, which ranks seventh nationally.

The Mustangs passing attack has not yet taken stage with quarterback Tony Smith (496 yards passing, three TDs, four interceptions) completing just 46% of his passes.

Cal Poly's defense has buckled down, allowing just 33 points the past two weeks, but has allowed over 300 total yards in each of the past three games. The Mustangs scored two touchdowns on defense last week to make the difference in the win over South Dakota State.

Linebacker Carlton Gillespie (18 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss) and cornerback- returnman Asa Jackson (17 tackles, two pass breakups) pacing the unit. Jackson is also a solid punt returner, averaging 14 yards per return.

Montana holds an overwhelming 12-1 advantage all-time against Cal Poly, with the lone win coming in the 2005 playoffs, but the games in this series have been mostly tight in recent years. The Grizzlies have had an extra week to prepare for this one and have been a little more efficient on offense, which should make the difference in another close game.



Harvard (2-1, 1-0) at Cornell (2-1, 1-0), 12:30 p.m.

The 74th installment of this Ivy League rivalry occurs this weekend between two teams with championship hopes.

Harvard took down Brown, 24-21, in a matchup of 2008 co-league champions and followed that up by taking down a struggling Lehigh squad, 28-14.

The Crimson offense has seen an increase in points each week and has tallied over 300 yards of total offense in each game. Quarterback Collier Winters (570 yards passing, six TDs) threw his first interception of the season against Lehigh and completed just 15-of-34 passes. Wide receiver Chris Lorditch (15 catches, 11.8 average) is the team's top pass catcher.

Although Harvard's rushing attack has out gained opponents, a combination of running backs Cheng Ho (140 yards rushing, 6.4 average), Winters (106 yards rushing) and Geno Gordon (105 yards rushing) have gotten the job done.

The Ivy League is known for stingy defenses and Harvard is no exception, allowing 20 points and 100 yards rushing per game. Defensive end Josue Ortiz (three tackles for loss), safety Collin Zych (20 tackles, three pass breakups, two interceptions against Lehigh) and defensive tackle Carl Ehrlich (seven tackles, three tackles for loss) have all contributed to this solid unit.

Cornell fell to nationally-ranked Colgate, 45-23 last week, and hasn't really done damage offensively. Quarterback Ben Ganter (426 yards passing, three TDs) has thrown an interception in each of the past two games and has completed just 54% of his passes. Wide receiver Bryan Walters (10 catches, 22.2 average, two TDs) is a true downfield threat and leads the Cornell receiving corps.

The Big Red rushing attack is one of the worst in the country, averaging just 84 yards per game. Randy Barbour (77 yards rushing) is the team's leading rusher.

Defense has also been Cornell's strong suit, ranking second nationally in pass efficiency, but needs to improve stopping the run. Safety Dempsey Quinn (24 tackles) anchors the solid secondary, with key performances on the rest of the unit coming from linebackers Chris Costello (35 tackles, four tackles for loss) and Brandon Lainhart (30 tackles).

Harvard leads the all-time series 39-32-2 and has won the past three meetings. This game should come down to defense, with Crimson's unit earning the edge.


Maine (2-3, 1-1) at Hofstra (3-2, 1-1), 1:30 p.m.

These two CAA North Division teams are heading in different directions as they venture into the meat of the league schedule.

Hofstra is coming off its biggest win of the season over James Madison, 24-17, one week after a narrow loss to Western Michigan (24-10).

Quarterback Cory Christopher (887 yards passing, five TDs) and wide receiver Aaron Weaver (25 catches, 12.4 average) pace a Hofstra offense that looked solid against the Dukes, but is still averaging just 18 points. Steve Probst has split time with Christopher in the past two games.

The Pride rushing attack has been a group effort with Kwabena Asante (153 yards rushing, 4.8 average) leading the way.

Hofstra's defense allows 24 points and 131 yards rushing per game. Safety Luke Bonus (40 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss), linebacker Basim Hudeen (39 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss) and cornerback Leslie Jackman (26 tackles, three pass breakups) stepped up against a very good JMU offense.

Maine, which began the year in the preseason Top-25, dropped a home game to Delaware, 27-17 and has lost its last three games after less than impressive wins in its first two games.

Iona transfer Quarterback Warren Smith (775 yards passing, 65% completion rate, six TDs) made his second career start against the Blue Hens and passed for 258 yards and two touchdowns, but was also picked off twice.

Running back Derek Session (411 yards rushing, 4.8 average, three TDs) and wide receiver Landis Williams (28 catches, 11.9 average, six TDs) are big threats on Maine's offense.

Maine's defense hasn't been awful, but has allowed 224 yards passing per game. Linebacker Donte Dennis (57 tackles, seven tackles for loss) and defensive end Jordan Stevens (25 tackles, 4.5 sacks) are big performers on a unit that needs to improve in CAA play.


Alabama A&M (4-1, 1-0) at Grambling (2-3, 0-1), 4 p.m.

Alabama A&M has become a dark horse in the SWAC and will try and prove it is for real when the Bulldogs take on preseason league favorite, Grambling.

The Bulldogs have won their last two games, against Arkansas-Pine Bluff (28-7) and Tuskegee (35-15) and look to sit atop the east division with a win over Grambling.

Alabama A&M's rushing attack has been one of the better ones in FCS with Ulysses Banks (580 yards rushing, 5.2 average, four TDs) carrying the load. He hasn't rushed for less than 86 yards in a game thus far.

Quarterback Kevin Atkins (892 yards passing, seven TDs) and wide receiver Thomas Harris (24 catches, 16.1 average, four TDs) are also big performers on the Bulldogs offense.

Alabama A&M pass rush is tops in the country, averaging close to five sacks per game, and also ranks ninth in tackles for loss.

All-SWAC defensive end Jeremy Maddox (24 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks) leads the defense and is joined on the improving unit by Afu Okosun (28 tackles, four quarterback hurries) and cornerback Korey Morrison (six pass breakups, two interceptions.

Grambling lost a tough conference opener to Prairie View A&M, 35-32 last week (first lost to the Panthers in 22 years), but still possesses a solid scoring offense, averaging 32 points against FCS teams.

Running back Frank Warren (449 yards rushing, 5.8 average, two TDs), quarterback Greg Dillon (856 yards passing, four TDs, six interceptions) and wide receiver Kiare Thompson (13 catches, 14.5 average) have been standouts on this solid Grambling offense.

Defense is the Tigers weak point, with the unit allowing 32 points per game. Buchanan Award candidate Christian Anthony (40 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, two TDs) has been the anchor on this unit and might be the front runner currently for the award.

Linebacker Cliff Exama (32 tackles, two tackles for loss) and cornerback Nigel Copeland (24 tackles, three tackles for loss, two interceptions) are other standouts on this unit.

Grambling has a losing record against a challenging schedule thus far, but should be able to right its ship with a win over a less-experienced Bulldog squad.


Columbia (2-1) at Lafayette (3-1), 6 p.m.

Two teams that have been building momentum meet in an intriguing Ivy League- Patriot League matchup.

Lafayette took down Yale, 31-14 last week and is gaining consistency on offense with quarterback Rob Curley (924 yards passing, 66%, eight TDs) leading the unit. Running back Maurice White (271 yards rushing, 4.9 average, two TDs) and wide receiver Mark Layton (27 catches, 13.3 average, six TDs) add to a unit that scores in the mid-twenties.

The Leopards defense has been very impressive, keeping opponents to 13 points per contest. Preseason defensive player of the year, linebacker Mark Leggiero (41 tackles) is the clear leader of the unit, with linebacker Michael Schmidlein (45 tackles) and cornerback Eric McGovern (18 tackles, three pass breakups) anchoring the rest of the defense.

Columbia stunned Princeton, 38-0 and has played surprisingly well offensively, averaging 30 points per game. Running back Ray Rangel (327 yards rushing, 6.1 average, two TDs) leads the rushing attack.

Quarterback M.A. Olawale (517 yards passing, five TDs) and wide receiver Austin Knowlin (18 catches, 10.0 average, two TDs) have also been productive for what has been the best offense in the league so far. Knowlin (105 all-purpose yards per game) is also an All-American returnman.

The Lions are holding opponents to 16 points per game, but are giving up 228 yards rushing. Safeties Adam Mehrer (37 tackles) and Andy Shalbrack (26 tackles, two pass breakups) pace a secondary that has also allowed over 220 yards per contest.

Lafayette has won the past seven meetings between these two squads and holds a 27-11-2 all-time advantage in a series that began in 1889. With Curley healthy after a concussion, the Leopards should be able to put up some points on a struggling Columbia defense.


Editor's Note: FCS Executive Director David Coulson and Associate College Football Editor Ralph Lauro contributed to this article.

10/8/2009 3:32:41 PM