The second week of the college football season is upon us, so let’s pick a few games to watch – five to be exact – and predictions.
Best of luck to all teams competing this evening and tomorrow – make sure to check-back every Friday of the season for our ‘Five Games to Watch’ post.
UMass (0-0) at Colorado (0-1): The Minutemen commence its 2015 season on the road (Saturday, Sept. 12 at 2:00 p.m.), competing against a Buffaloes squad that fell to Hawai’i last Thursday. UMass will look to continue its turnaround from last season, which saw the offensive unit post 45 scores compared to 13 touchdowns in 2013. Second-year graduate student Blake Frohnapfel will be the team’s signal-caller and was recently named to four watch lists, including the Dave O’Brien Award, which is given to the top quarterbacks across college football by Davey O’Brien, according to the UMass Athletic website. He is also in the running for the Manning Award, an accolade that is handed out by the Allstate Sugar Bowl to the top signal-caller in the country. Expect the quarterback to have a big game and lead his team to victory. PREDICTION: UMass 24, Colorado 21
Stonehill College (1-0) at Merrimack College (0-1): On Wednesday, Stonehill head coach Robert Talley described this matchup as a ‘good rivalry.’ This rivalry will be played under the lights in North Andover (Friday, September 11, 7:00 p.m.) as both teams open Northeast-10 Conference play following an interesting first week. The Skyhawks defeated Bloomsburg (originally No. 11 in the country), while the Warriors fell to Bowie State by just three points (35-32). Stonehill is now receiving votes in the national poll.
Matt Clifford highlighted the Warriors’ defensive outing, posting five solo tackles; two pass-breakups and one fumble recovery, while Brian Carroll paced the unit with eight total tackles – all eight tackles were solo stops. Stonehill quarterback Matt Foltz completed 13 of 19 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns, running back Colin Markus rushed for one score and 122 yards on 27 carries, and Donovan Phanor, who was tabbed the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week, registered seven total tackles, one interception, one pass-breakup and one fumble recovery. This has the making of a great game, but expect defense to be the focal point. PREDICTION: Stonehill 31, Merrimack 27
New Haven (0-1) at Bentley University (0-1): Last weekend, the Falcons fell behind early, but showed great fight down the stretch in a 35-20 setback to Mercyhurst. Martin Bannerman rushed for a pair of touchdowns, while Michael Baron finished two-for-two on field goals and extra points, respectively. Bryan Hardy had an impressive outing on defense, finishing with seven total tackles – five solo stops – one tackle for a loss and one fumble recovery. Bentley will look to utilize its strong finish from a week ago to get off to a good start this evening (Friday, September 11) when they commence NE-10 play against New Haven, which fell to Slippery Rock, 39-13. Bentley anticipates a good crowd this evening that will assist the squad in picking up its initial victory of the season. PREDICTION: Bentley 27, New Haven 21
SUNY Cortland (1-0) at Framingham State University (1-0): Following a week one victory against Endicott College, Tom Kelley and the Rams turn the page to another difficult opponent: The Red Dragons. In 2012, Cortland and Framingham State met in the NCAA Division III Tournament with the Red Dragons prevailing by just one point. Saturday’s game (September 12, 12:00 p.m.) could be a potential playoff preview, however, the Rams will need another strong outing from quarterback Matt Silva, who tossed five touchdowns last weekend against the Gulls. Framingham State will also rely heavily on Svenn Jacobson, who paced the defense with 11 total tackles – five solo stops – and one forced fumble. The Red Dragons rallied to win their first game, posting 13 points in the final frame to overcome a 17-13 deficit at the break. Carson Lassiter led the Red Dragons defense with 13 total tackles, while recording a trio of pass-breakups and one forced fumble. PREDICTION: Framingham State 20, Cortland 17
WPI (1-0) at Worcester State University (0-1): One week after an exciting three-point victory against MIT, the Engineers of WPI will look to continue its momentum on Friday evening (September 11, 7:00 p.m.) when they make the short trip to Worcester State University. WPI’s defense came up with some important stops down the stretch, including a fumble recovery by Brian Murtagh with 3:03 remaining in the fourth quarter. Defense will again be the focal point against a talented Worcester State offense, but so will special teams. WPI will need to contain Terrence Gibson, who recorded 187 yards on three kickoff returns last week. Gibson also hauled in a pair of touchdown receptions from quarterback Trevor Vassey, who completed 16 of 36 pass attempts for 315 yards. Vassey also tossed three touchdowns in his team’s setback to Salve Regina University. This has the making for a classic ‘Friday Night Lights’ contest, but the question is which defense or player will make ‘the play’ to seal the win? PREDICTION: WPI 35, Worcester State 34