By Matt Noonan
The college football season in Massachusetts is slowly winding down, but on Saturday afternoon, there are a few big games to watch, as well as a few classics too – ahem… Amherst-Williams.
Here are some predictions, and thoughts on a few marquee matchups, enjoy.
Framingham State at Western New England: The New England Football Conference championship will feature two teams that many probably assumed would have experienced tumultuous seasons.
The conference was controlled all season long by the Gulls of Endicott College until Western New England upended their undefeated streak in October, which gave the Golden Bears an opportunity to hop in the drivers seat, and win the Boyd Conference.
As for Framingham State, their victories against Bridgewater State, Westfield State and Coast Guard helped the Rams clinch Bogan Conference, despite losing their final regular season matchup against Worcester State.
Rams Running back Melikke Van Alstyne led Framingham State, as well as the NEFC in rushing with 20 touchdowns, and 1,557 yards on 272 carries, while Western New England’s Nicholas Silvester ranked second with six interceptions.
PREDICTION – Western New England is on a hot streak, and should certainly win this game, especially if they stop Van Alstyne. The Golden Bears offense finished third in the conference with 40 touchdowns and seven field goals, so expect quarterback Bryce Brown to have a field day against a Framingham defense that’s allowed 173 points in 10 games. Western New England 28 – Framingham State 14
Amherst College at Williams College: Last season, the Ephs entered this historic matchup undefeated, and would up beating the Lord Jeffs to finish the year with eight wins and zero losses. This season, Amherst College is in the same boat, and looking to end their year with a perfect record too, but it won’t be easy, especially playing against a talented Williams College squad that knows the importance of this game.
The Ephs began their year winning only one of three contests before spouting off four wins in a row, while the Lord Jeffs went undefeated at home, and captured three important road victories at Bates College, Colby College and Tufts University.
Amherst has outscored their opponents this season, 208-83, as well as relied heavily upon their running game, which has compiled 1,505 yards on the ground and 14 touchdowns through seven contests. Williams quarterback Adam Marske has experienced a great deal of success through the air this year by completing 86 passes for 1,287 yards and 11 touchdowns.
PREDICTION: Amherst’s offense is ranked atop the NESCAC, (New England Small College Athletic Conference), and shouldn’t have too much trouble against a Williams defense that’s ranked sixth. The Lord Jeffs have scored 26 touchdowns this season, and should tack on a few more against the Ephs before the afternoon concludes. Amherst College 21 – Williams College 13
University of Pennsylvania at Harvard University: For the past seven games, Harvard’s football team has been unstoppable, but against a talented Penn defense, the Crimson will have to protect the ball, and their quarterback. The Quakers have recorded 14 sacks this season, and have held their opponents to just three rushing scores. Harvard’s Treavor Scales has delivered seven touchdowns on the ground this season, as well as leads the squad with 688 yards on 147 carries.
PREDICTION: Expect Tim Murphy’s squad to play their best against Penn because with a win, the Crimson would most likely clinch the Ivy League title. Harvard 27 – Penn 16