A week after falling to powerhouse William & Mary at home, it doesn't get any easier for the Villanova Wildcats as they head north to face the #6 ranked New Hampshire Wildcats. Villanova's lone win on the season came over Penn at Franklin Field, but since that win a young team has started to look more cohesive and gave the Tribe all the could handle last week.
New Hampshire is 3-1 on the season (1-0, CAA) with their lone loss coming on opening weekend at Toledo. Last season, New Hampshire took the tilt 31-24 in Villanova Stadium in a thrilling game. However, the teams aren't as evenly matched this year and NH looks to be the heavy favorite.
After The Jump, we'll take a more in-depth look at New Hampshire's key players on both sides of the ball.
New Hampshire On Offense
QB Kevin Decker is having an All-American caliber year, as his Wildcats offense is piling up loads of yardage on offense. Decker is averaging 270 yards through the air and is completing passes at a 71% clip. Outstanding numbers and it's no surprise to see that the team is averaging 38.5 points per outing.
Decker's favorite targets through the air are Joey Orlando (phenomenal name) and R.J. Harris. Orlando has caught 25 balls for 279 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Harris isn't far behind with 24 catches for 273 yards and 3 scores. Harris has also played one less game.
Dontra Peters is the main man on the ground, but while his yards per carry (5.2) is very good, he's only averaging 58 yards per game. NH likes to get it done through the air, and with Decker pulling the strings and a couple of fantastic wideouts, it's no shocker.
New Hampshire On Defense
Junior LB Matt Evans leads the team with 38 tackles through the first 4 games. He'll be the main wrecking ball out there for New Hampshire. Sophomore DB Manny Asam has shown good ball skills this season, hauling in a team-leading 2 INT's.
Overall though, this isn't a defense that should be feared by any means. They are giving up 43.5 points per game this year (though that number is tilted a bit by the 58 Toledo hung on them). Still though, all their opponents have scored at least 30 points, and 2 scored 40. Villanova has a young offense and is missing two of their best players in Norman White and Joe Price, but they should be able to move the ball. Going score for score with UNH could be a problem though.
Why New Hampshire Will Win
They're ranked in the Top-10 (by the way, they have been in the Top 25 for 104 straight weeks - a CAA-record) for a reason. Decker and the offense are very, very good, perhaps one of the best in the country. Villanova's defense has shown a lot of resolve in recent weeks, but they might be outmatched. Unless Villanova can go score for score with Decker & Co., UNH should be able to comfortably win at home.
Why Villanova Will Win
Culicerto has shown he's an effective game-manager at QB, but he has lacked the ability to put up a lot of points. Still, since the Penn win, Villanova has been improving. The young players seem to be more comfortable and Dorian Wells has stepped up in a big way at WR in the wake of all the injuries. If the Villanova defense (the strength of the team) can hold UNH in check and not let them hang 40+ points out there, Villanova's offense might be able to score enough to spring an upset.