THIS WEEK'S GAME : This game shapes up to be a huge one, not only within the ranks of the Atlantic 10 football conference, but also in all of I-AA football. Both squads are ranked in the top 10 with UMass at No. 3 and UNH at No. 9. The Minutemen are undefeated in the conference and 7-1 overall and will be a lock for the playoffs with a win over the Wildcats and just two home games remaining vs. Maine and Hofstra. UNH, on the other hand, has two losses and can MAYBE afford one more loss this season to make the playoffs at 8-3. However, the team goal is to win out and that starts with UMass. The rivalry itself between these two teams has been intense and up for grabs is the Bill Knight Trophy, which is awarded annually to the MVP of the contest. For UMass, the offense has been led by All-America running back Steve Baylark, who once again topped the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the fourth straight year, a feat also accomplished by UNH running back Jerry Azumah. Baylark has compiled 1,044 rushing yards this season on 180 carries for an average of 130.5 yards per game and 8 TDs. The UMass defense is as always, tough. The squad is led in tackles by  Jason Hatchell with 68 tackles and by James Inedigbo with a team-high three sacks. The only loss of the season for the visitors was at Navy by one point, 21-20. As always this game is big for a variety of reasons and it will be showcased live nationally on CSTV.

RICKY SANTOS AND DAVID BALL REMAIN ONTHE "SPORTS NETWORK'S" PAYTON WATCH LIST: Junior quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) and senior wide receiver David Ball (Orange, Vt.) were both named to "The Sports Network's" Walter Payton Award Watch List during the week of Oct. 14 in continued recognition of their outstanding efforts this year. Both Santos and Ball have been recognized as preseason All-Americans by several media outlets, including: "The Sports Network", "Street & Smith's, "Lindy's" and "I-AA. org". In last year's voting for the Walter Payton Award, Santos finished second in , just five points behind first place for the closest margin ever, while Ball finished seventh overall in the voting. 

CONGRATULATIONS UNH SENIORS: The University of New Hampshire football team will be honoring 16 seniors today prior to the start of the game. Here is a list of the players being honored:
WR David Ball
WR Aaron Brown
SS Christian Callison
DE Cory Dix
DB Corey Graham
P/WR Matt Henry
LB Muji Karim
FS Terrell Lewis
WR Evan Loring
TE Sean Lynch
DB Will Morey
OL Tucker Peterson
DL Brendan St. Peter
SS A.J. Snook
DL Dan Wagner
OL Will Yarborough

UNH HALL OF FAME DAY:  Seven new Hall of Famers will be inducted into the UNH Hall of Fame on Saturday. Here is a list of the new Hall of Fame inductees for 2006:
Orsi Farkas '00        Women's Basketball
Anna (Hill) Gerry '91    Women's Soccer & Lacrosse
Richard (Ted) Garber '75    Men's Lacrosse
Maja Hansen '96        Women's Soccer & Lacrosse
Patrick Weaver '93        Men's Skiing
Mark Mowers '98        Men's Hockey
Joan Leitzel        UNH President
THE ALL-TIME SERIES VS. MASSACHUSETTS:  This will mark the 68th meeting between these two long-time rivals and UMass leads the overall series by a 39-25-3 margin. The visitors lead the series in Durham as well with a 19-14-2 mark, but UNH won the most recent meeting in Amherst last season by a score of 34-28. The Wildcats have been solid in recent games played in New Hampshire, winning six of the last eight meetings in Cowell Stadium. However, UMass won the most recent meeting played in Durham, a 38-21 victory over the Wildcats in 2004, one of only two regular-season losses for the Wildcats that year.

THE BILL KNIGHT AWARD: The Most Outstanding Player in the University of New Hampshire-Massachusetts football game on October 29 will receive the 19th Annual Bill Knight Trophy.  The award is named after Bill Knight, the long-time Sports Information Director at New Hampshire. Knight passed away in November of 1985 following a long bout with cancer. In addition to his duties at UNH, Knight was a past President of the New England Sports Information Directors Association, a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee at the 1984 Winter Games and a recipient of the Irving T. Marsh ECAC Service Bureau Award. He also served as the Information Officer of the Yankee Conference. Knight was inducted into the UNH 100 Club Hall of Fame on Oct. 2, 1987. UNH'S Stephan Lewis became the second player to capture the award three years in a row.  In his senior season, Lewis ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns and also caught another TD pass.  In 2000,  Lewis brought the trophy back to Durham for the first time since Jerry Azumah won in 1997. In 1993, UMass fullback John Johnson rushed for 152 yards on 12 carries to break the amazing string of seven consecutive years of quarterbacks winning the award. 1994 was also an historic year for the award, as New Hampshire defensive end Mike Foley became the first defensive player to capture this honor. The pregame banner read the "Battle of the Backs," but two strong and talented defenses proved otherwise. Foley led the way with five tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchback as UNH prevailed 14-11.1995 marked another first for the trophy as Azumah, a true freshman, took home the hardware. Then, in 1996, Azumah became the second player to win the award two consecutive times. UNH quarterback Matt Griffin also won the honor twice, in 1990 and 1991. Azumah did it one more time in 1997, becoming the first player ever to win the Bill Knight Trophy three consecutive times. In 2004, present UMass star Steve Baylark of UMass took home  the honor for UMass and last season UNH star WR David Ball took home the hardware for the Wildcats.
    1986    Tim Bryant, QB, UMass
    1987    Bob Jean, QB, UNH
    1988    Dave Palazzi, QB, UMass
    1989    Gary Wilkos, QB, UMass
    1990    Matt Griffin, QB, UNH
    1991    Matt Griffin, QB, UNH
    1992    Jim Stayer, QB, UNH
    1993    John Johnson, FB, UMass
    1994    Mike Foley, DE, UNH
    1995    Jerry Azumah, TB, UNH
    1996    Jerry Azumah, TB, UNH
    1997    Jerry Azumah, TB, UNH
    1998    Marcel Shipp, TB, UMass
    1999    Adrian Zullo, WR, UMass
    2000    Stephan Lewis, TB, UNH
    2001    Stephan Lewis, TB, UNH
    2002    Stephan Lewis, TB, UNH
    2003    Jason Peebler, WR, UMass
    2004    Steve Baylark, TB, UMass
    2005    David Ball, WR, UNH

THE LAST TIME OUT; UNH DEFEATS HOFSTRA IN THE RAIN, 10-6: DURHAM, N.H. – In a torrential rain driven by strong winds, the 11th-ranked University of New Hampshire football team opened the game with a touchdown drive and went on to defeat Hofstra University, 10-6, at Cowell Stadium. UNH improved to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the Atlantic 10. Hofstra is now 2-6, 1-4. Due to the inclement weather conditions, 88 of the 103 offensive plays in the game were rushing attempts. The Wildcats rushed the ball 50 times for 129 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown run by Chris Ward (Waltham, Mass.) at 10:28 of the first quarter. The Pride carried the ball 38 times for 40 yards. Ward’s TD run was the longest offensive play from scrimmage by either team until the closing minute of the game, when Hofstra reserve quarterback Dennis Davis completed a 27-yard pass to Shaine SmitH. On UNH’s second possession of the game, a wind-aided 40-yard field goal attempt by Tom Manning (Rome, N.Y.) sailed wide right. The Pride’s Rob Zarrilli lined up for a 45-yard field goal attempt with 5:00 remaining in the first half, but a bad snap prevented the attempt and UNH gained possession on downs. New Hampshire led 7-0 at halftime with 86 yards on 26 plays from scrimmage. Hofstra amassed just 34 yards on 25 plays.Early in the third quarter, a 30-yard punt return by Mike Boyle (Plymouth, N.H.) gave the Wildcats possession at the Hofstra 18. UNH advanced the ball to the Hofstra 4 and Tom Bishop (Newfield, N.Y.) converted a 20-yard field goal attempt to give the Wildcats a 10-0 lead at 7:14. Late in the fourth quarter, HU’s Eric Taylor blocked a UNH punt to give the Pride possession on the UNH 30. Davis connected with Smith to give the visitors 1st-and-goal at the UNH 3 and on the next play Davis threw a jump ball to the left corner that was snared by Smith for the touchdown with 42 seconds to play. The snap on the PAT was mishandled and Zarrilli’s kick was driven low into his linemen. Chad Kackert (Simi Valley, Calif.) carried the ball 28 times for a game-high 65 yards. Ward finished with 51 yards on 16 carries. UNH quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) was 1-of-3 for 11 yards; he also had 13 rushing yards on three attempts. Hofstra’s Kareem Higgins had 42 yards on 17 carries. Davis went 2-for-5 for 30 yards in his relief action in the fourth quarter. Starting quarterback Anton Clarkson finished 1-of-5 for three yards.UNH’s defensive effort was led by Jeff Pammer (Northampton, Pa.), who had 11 tackles. Hofstra’s Gian Villante finished with a game-high 15 tackles.

MIKE BOYLE, BACK FROM A HAMSTRING INJURY, MAKES HIS PRESENCE FELT AT NORTHEASTERN: Junior RB/WR Mike Boyle (Plymouth, N..H.) returned from an injured hamstring in the James Madison game but was not really feeling 100 percent. However, on Oct. 21 at Northeastern he must have been feeling a lot better as he led the Wildcats with 14 catches for 178 yards and a key touchown catch that gave UNH the lead (35-28) capping off its only overtime posession. Both his number of catches and yardage were career highs. In addition, his 14 catches were just one catch shy of the UNH record held by senior wide receiver David Ball, who caught 15 passes at Villanova in 2004.

UNH IN THE ZONE IN THE RED ZONE:  The UNH offense continues to be outstanding when it comes to scoring from inside the red zone. UNH is now 31-36 in eight games played. Here's a look at what the UNH offense has done from inside the red zone game-by game.

1. at Northwestern (5-5)
2. Stony Brook (7-7)
3. at Dartmouth (5-5)
4. at Delaware (4-4)
5. Richmond (3-4)
6. James Madison (4-4)
7. Northeastern (2-6)
8. Hofstra (1-2)

A GAME-BY-GAME LOOK AT THE UNH OFFENSE (2006): The UNH offense appears to be explosive yet again. Here's a look at the numbers so far. UNH is ranked second in the nation in I-AA with445.4 yards per contest in 2006.

1. at Northwestern    329 yds    5 TDs
2. Stony Brook    598 yds    9 TDs
3. at Dartmouth     564 yds    8 TDs
4 at Delaware    516 yds    7 TDs
5. Richmond    272 yds    3 TDs
6. James Madison    361 yds    3 TDs
7. Northeastern    562 yds    5 TDs
8. Hofstra (hi winds, rain)    140 yds    1 TD

UNH'S TACKLE LEADERS THIS SEASON:  The Wildcats had been led in tackles this season by a pair of All-America candidates in junior free safety Jeff Pammer and senior defensive back Corey Graham until both suffered injuries.  Here's a look at UNH's top tacklers so far this season with two relative newcomers in junior linebacker Husain Karim, who leads the team in tackles,  and sophomore corner John Clements getting the job done:

53 Husain Karim      36-29-65
31 Jeff Pammer     31-28-59
7   John Clements    36-11-47
34 Matt Parent    26-20-46

TURNOVERS ARE KEY FOR UNH DEFENSE:  For the UNH defense to be successful turnovers are a key. The UNH defense has created turnovers in five of its six victories this season for a total of 13.  The Wildcats are ranked fourth in all of I-AA football in turnover margin with a mark of 1.3.

Northwestern (3 total, 1 int., 2 fumble recoveries)
Stony Brook (1 fumble recovery)
Dartmouth (4 total, three ints, 1 fumble recovery)
Richmond (4 total, 2 ints, 2 fumble recoveries)
Hofstra (1 fumble recovery)

A RECORD-BREAKING PASSING DAY FOR RICKY SANTOS AT NORTHEASTERN:  Junior quarterback Ricky Santos had a record-breaking passing day at Northeastern despite the loss in overtime. Santos completed a school-record 41 passes in the contest, while also breaking the UNH mark for passes attempted with 66. The previous records were 37 completions by Santos at Villanova in 2004 and 65 pass attempts by Ryan Day vs. Delaware in 2000.

UNH FOOTBALL RISES TO NO. 9 IN THE SPORTS NETWORK I-AA TOP 25: The UNH football team rose from No. 11 to No.  9 following this week's 10-6 victory in a quagmire over Hofstra University. The Wildcats had been ranked No. 1 for a University record five straight weeks before losing to No. 13 James Madison on Oct. 14. UNH opened the season ranked No. 2, but moved up to No. 1 following its victory at Big 10, I-A Northwestern. Here's a look at the Sports Network Rankings for this week:
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