Durham, NH (SportsNetwork.com) – Welcome to the No. 1 ranking, New Hampshire.
Now get back to the CAA Football season.
There are few breaks in the schedule of the elite FCS conference, and the New
Hampshire Wildcats will face a difficult first assignment after moving atop The
Sports Network FCS Top 25 when they host Delaware on Saturday.
The Wildcats (8-1), ranked No. 1 for the first time since 2006, are in first
place in the CAA with a 6-0 mark and have won eight straight games since
dropping their season opener at Toledo. They are one home win shy of tying the
school record of 12 consecutive victories at Cowell Stadium.
“It’s amazing to me with the job that (UNH head coach Sean McDonnell) has
done,” Delaware coach Dave Brock said, “somehow, someway he’s kept an underdog
mentality, he’s kept an us-against-the-world mentality. It’s really the world
against New Hampshire, that’s how I see it.”
New Hampshire has No. 1 quarterback Sean Goldrich back for a second straight
start after he missed five games with a knee injury, but the Wildcats still
fielded one of the nation’s more dangerous offenses in his absence.
McDonnell’s former longtime assistant Sean Devine is now in his second season
as Delaware’s offensive coordinator under Brock, so the Blue Hens have
familiarity with UNH. The Blue Hens have a strong pass rush and their team has
steadied itself with two straight wins to improve to 6-4.
If they can post season-ending wins over New Hampshire and Villanova, the Blue
Hens can make a case for an FCS playoff berth for the first time since 2010,
when they reached the national championship game.
“I expect from Delaware what they’ve done all year long,” McDonnell said. “I
think they’re going to be a great mix of run and pass. I think they’re going to
be a big physical football team. I think they’re going to run the football to
set a tone.”
New Hampshire has appeared in the postseason for 10 straight years – the active
national high – and appear headed toward another playoff berth. But the
Wildcats now have the target of being No. 1, so they might have to lift their
play even higher, beginning Saturday against Delaware.