September 5, 2012

No. 14/12 Football challenges Minnesota on Big Ten Network Saturday at 12 p.m. (EDT)

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No. 14/12 New Hampshire (1-0, 0-0 CAA) at Minnesota (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Sept. 8, 2012 • 12:00 p.m. (EDT) • TCF Bank Stadium • Minneapolis, Minn.
TV: Big Ten Network
Matt Devlin (play-by-play),  Glen Mason (analyst), J Leman (sidelines) 
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Bob Lipman (play-by-play) •  Mike Murphy (analyst)

QUICK HITTERS

•Saturday's game represents the first matchup between UNH and Minnesota and, in fact, the first Wildcats' game in the North Star state. The Wildcats are 1-0 all-time against teams from the Big Ten courtesy of a 34-17 upset win at Northwestern on Sept. 9, 2006. 

•Under Coach Mac, the 'Cats are 3-2 when playing in the Central time zone, with victories against Northwestern, Southern Illinois ('08 FCS playoffs) and, most recently, McNeese State ('09 FCS playoffs). UNH's two Central losses came in NCAA playoff games at the UNI Dome against Northern Iowa in '07 and '08.

•UNH looks to improve on an overall record of 5-4 vs FBS opponents and to snap a two-game losing skid against squads from the former Division I-A.  The Wildcats strung together consecutive victories over Rutgers (2004), Northwestern ('06), Marshall ('07), Army ('08) and Ball State ('09) before their unprecedented five-game winning streak vs FBS teams was snapped at Pittsburgh, 38-16, on Sept. 2, 2010. In 2011, UNH was defeated at Toledo, 58-22, in the most lopsided loss of the Coach Mac era. New Hampshire, which will play at Central Michigan in 2013, fell to the Chippewas (40-33) in '03 and dropped a 34-7 decision at Kent State in the '02 season opener.

•Last week's 21-point win at Holy Cross represented UNH's widest margin of victory in a road, regular-season, non-conference game since a 42-6 defeat of Dartmouth in Hanover on Sept. 27, 2008. Since then, UNH has posted convincing victories in road playoff games at McNeese State (49-13) in '09 and at Bethune-Cookman (45-20) in '10.

•UNH passed for 252 yards and rushed for 279 yards last week at Holy Cross. The last time the 'Cats exceeded 250 yards rushing and passing in the same contest was Sept. 26, 2009, in a 44-14 home win against Dartmouth (269 rushing, 259 passing). The previous year, Sept. 27, 2008, in a 42-6 victory at Dartmouth, the 'Cats last broke the 250-250 barrier in a road tilt (265 rushing, 260 passing).

•Last week's 279 rushing yards were the most accumulated by the Wildcats since a 313-yard showing in a season-opening 33-3 defeat of Central Connecticut State –next week's opponent- Sept. 4, 2010. 

114 WEEKS IN A ROW:  With a No. 14 ranking in The Sports Network Poll, UNH has now been ranked in the Top 25 for 114 consecutive weeks. The nation's second-longest streak, which dates back to Sept. 13, 2004, has been bettered only by Montana (194 weeks). Delaware, at a distant 31 weeks, has the second-longest ranked tenure in the CAA.

TALE OF THE TAPE: 

Totals (NCAA rank) UNH         MINNESOTA
Total Offense         531.0 (8)     478.0 (34)  
Rush Offense         279.0 (15)    209.0 (34)
Pass Offense          252.0 (27)   269.0 (34)
Scoring Offense      38.0 (T-23)  30.0 (T-52)   
Total Defense        346.0 (T-44)  285.0 (35)
Rush Defense         75.0 (16)     169.0 (67)
Pass Defense        271.0 (83)     116.0 (13)
Scoring Defense      17.0 (n/a)    27.0 (n/a)  
Possession Avg.     35:16 (T-20)  32:59 (25)
Sacks Made/Yards      3/8 (T-18)  2/13 (T-36)
Penalties Against/Yards 9/72 (T-81) 11/86 (n/a)  
Punts/Net Avg.           3/42.7 (10) 7/31.1 (85)  
Turnover Differential     +3 (T-3)     +1 (T-31)
3rd Down Conversion%  64.7 (T-3)  20.0 (100)
4th Down Conversion%   0.0 (T-53)    n/a  
Red Zone Offense%      100.0 (T-1)  67.0 (T-79)   

SCOUTING THE GOPHERS: MarQueis Gray threw two touchdown passes to John Rabe in overtime, and Jordan Wettstein hit a 32-yard field goal in the third extra session to lift Minnesota over UNLV, 30-27, in the season opener for both teams in Las Vegas on Aug. 30. Gray finished 17 of 30 for 269 yards and an interception. A.J. Baker caught three passes for 101 yards, while Donnell Kirkwood rushed for 81 yards for Minnesota.

MINNESOTA PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior quarterback MarQueis Gray accounted for 337 yards of total offense (68 rushing, 269 passing) against UNLV. That is the most yards for a Minnesota starting quarterback in the first game of the season since 1993. In 2011, Gray earned the starting job as a junior after splitting his career between QB and WR.  He passed for 1,495 yards and eight touchdowns, adding six rushing scores. Gray set a school record with 174 rushing yards on 27 carries against Illinois. Gray found tight end John Rabe for touchdowns in the first and second overtimes. Sophomore running back Donnell Kirkwood added a career high 81 yards and junior college transfer running back James Gillum chipped in with 51 yards and a touchdown. The Gophers grabbed three interceptions at UNLV on Aug. 30 after having four interceptions all of last season. Sophomore safety Derrick Wells was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after snaring two INTs in his first career start at UNLV.  He tied for the tema lead with eight tackles, and his six solo stops led all players. Wells' first interception set up a Minnesota field goal that put the Gophers up 13-10 in the fourth quarter. His second pick came on first down in triple overtime and helped secure the season-opening win for Minnesota. Senior defensive back and return specialist Troy Stoudermire is the Big Ten record holder in kickoff return yards with 3,102. Stoudermire broke that record during Minnesota's first home game of the 2011 season. Stoudermire is just 415 yards behind all-time FCS leader Tyron Carrier. Carrier recorded 3,517 yards at Houston from 2008-11.

LAST TIME OUT: UNH-38, HOLY CROSS-17 -AUG. 30, WORCESTER, Mass. – The No. 14/12 UNH football team scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives of 98 yards and 95 yards in the second half to pull away from Holy Cross for a 38-17 Thursday night victory in the season opener for both schools at Fitton Field. The Wildcats (1-0, 0-0 CAA) outscored the Crusaders (0-1, 0-0 Patriot League) 19-7 after halftime and amassed 531 yards of offense (279 rushing, 252 passing) to improve to 11-3 all-time in season-opening games under head coach Sean McDonnell. Sean Goldrich shined in his collegiate debut, completing 21 of 31 passes for 193 yards and two TDs. The redshirt freshman added a team-high 71 rushing yards on 10 carries. Joey Orlando hauled in seven receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns, while R.J. Harris collected 102 receiving yards and a score on a team-high and career-high-matching 12 catches to go along with a personal-high 57 rushing yards on four carries. Nico Steriti (12 carries-76 yards, TD) and Chris Setian (12 carries-56 yards, TD) both notched rushing scores. Chris Beranger and Matt Evans shared team-high honors with nine tackles apiece. Evans moved into a tie for fourth place on the University's all-time tackle list with 343 stops (Aaron Thomas, 2000-04). Dontra Peters (five tackles), making his first career start at cornerback, snared one of the team's two interceptions on the night, with Manny Asam (five tackles) securing the other pick. Jared Smith (two tackles, forced fumble) applied a QB pressure on Peters' INT and later forced a fumble that was recovered by Jimmy Vailas. UNH claimed a 6-0 lead with eight minutes left in the first quarter on a three-yard touchdown run from Steriti. The sophomore carried four times for 19 yards during the eight-play, 54-yard drive that lasted nearly four minutes. Crusader freshman Mike Galantini blocked the PAT. After holding New Hampshire on a fourth-and-1 from the 26-yard line, Holy Cross compiled a nine-play, 74-yard drive that concluded with quarterback Kevin Watson's four-yard keeper for a 7-6 lead with 11:59 remaining in the second. UNH recaptured the lead on its next drive when backup quarterback Andy Vailas (4-for-4, 59 yards, TD) entered the game and orchestrated a six-play, 73-yard drive. Running the hurry-up offense, the sophomore went 4-for-4 for 59 yards, capping the drive with a 38-yard scoring strike to Orlando, who found himself wide open on the left sideline when a defender fell. The PAT from Mike MacArthur staked the 'Cats to a 13-7 lead with 10:04 left in the half.The Wildcat defense forced its first turnover of the season on the ensuing drive when Watson was jarred on a pass attempt by Smith, leading to an errant throw that was intercepted by Peters, who returned to the Holy Cross 41. This time it was Goldrich's turn to spearhead a nine-play scoring drive. The signal caller completed 2 of 3 passes for 15 yards, including a tipped ball that was corralled by Harris for an eight-yard TD. Setian carried three times for 14 yards on the drive that built UNH's lead to 19-7 with 3:43 left in second following a failed two-point conversion. The Crusaders scored the final points of the half on the final play of the half courtesy of a 32-yard field goal from John Macomber that sliced New Hampshire's lead to 19-10. The eight-play, 65-yard drive took only 66 seconds to complete. The second half was all UNH. Pinned to its own 2-yard line, the Wildcats embarked on an eight-play, 98-yard drive that lasted more than three minutes before Jimmy Owens (eight rushes-26 yards, TD) found the end zone on a one-yard carry. Despite the missed PAT, the 'Cats owned a 25-10 lead with 7:34 left in the third. Goldrich's 40-yard strike to Orlando was the highlight of the drive. New Hampshire's next drive began at its own 5. Thirteen plays, 95 yards and five-and-a-half minutes later, Goldrich found Orlando in the far right corner of the end zone for a five-yard strike and a 32-10 lead with 14:10 left in the game. Asam's interception at the Holy Cross 44 set up the Wildcats' third TD drive of the second half. Five plays later, Setian carried in from two yards out for a 38-10 advantage. The Crusaders managed a TD with 1:48 remaining on a two-yard run from Matt Bellomo.

SERIES HISTORY: Saturday's game represents the first matchup between UNH and Minnesota and, in fact, the first Wildcats' game in the North Star state. The Wildcats are 1-0 all-time against teams from the Big Ten courtesy of a 34-17 upset win at Northwestern on Sept. 9, 2006. 

CENTRALIZED CATS: Under Coach Mac, the 'Cats are 3-2 when playing in the Central time zone, with victories against Northwestern, Southern Illinois ('08 FCS playoffs) and, most recently, McNeese State ('09 FCS playoffs). UNH's two Central losses came in NCAA playoff games at the UNI Dome against Northern Iowa in '07 and '08. 

HISTORY VS FBS TEAMS: UNH looks to improve on an overall record of 5-4 vs FBS opponents and to snap a two-game losing skid against squads from the former Division I-A.  The Wildcats strung together consecutive victories over Rutgers (2004), Northwestern ('06), Marshall ('07), Army ('08) and Ball State ('09) before their unprecedented five-game winning streak vs FBS teams was snapped at Pittsburgh, 38-16, on Sept. 2, 2010. In 2011, UNH was defeated at Toledo, 58-22, in the most lopsided loss of the Coach Mac era. New Hampshire, which will play at Central Michigan in 2013, fell to the Chippewas (40-33) in '03 and dropped a 34-7 decision at Kent State in the '02 season opener.

OPENING STRONG: Last week's 21-point win at Holy Cross represented UNH's widest margin of victory in a road, regular-season, non-conference game since a 42-6 defeat of Dartmouth in Hanover on Sept. 27, 2008. Since then, UNH has posted convincing victories in road playoff games at McNeese State (49-13) in '09 and at Bethune-Cookman (45-20) in '10. 

BALANCED ATTACK: UNH passed for 252 yards and rushed for 279 yards last week at Holy Cross. The last time the 'Cats exceeded 250 yards rushing and passing in the same contest was Sept. 26, 2009, in a 44-14 home win against Dartmouth (269 rushing, 259 passing). The previous year, Sept. 27, 2008, in a 42-6 victory at Dartmouth, the 'Cats last broke the 250-250 barrier in a road tilt (265 rushing, 260 passing).

RUSHING FORWARD: Last week's 279 rushing yards were the most accumulated by the Wildcats since a 313-yard showing in a season-opening 33-3 defeat of Central Connecticut State –next week's opponent- Sept. 4, 2010. 

BUILDING THE WALL: The 75 rushing yards surrendered at Holy Cross were the fewest allowed by UNH's defense since it held Bethune-Cookman to 66 yards in the second round of the 2010 NCAAs in Daytona Beach, Fla., at Dec. 4, 2010. Each of the Wildcats' 2011 opponents had at least 100 yards rushing, with Lehigh's 105 yards (Sept. 10) serving as the low mark by an opponent.

GOLDRICH NAMED CAA ROOKIE OF WEEK-Sept. 3: UNH quarterback Sean Goldrich was named the CAA Rookie of the Week, the league announced Monday. Goldrich, making his collegiate debut, completed 21 of 31 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns in the No. 14/12 Wildcats' season-opening 38-17 victory at Holy Cross on Thursday night. 

Goldrich added a team-high 71 rushing yards on 10 carries, averaging 7.1 yards per rush with a long of 17 yards. The UNH signal caller orchestrated consecutive scoring drives of 98 and 95 yards in the second half as the 'Cats opened a 19-10 lead to 32-10. The signal caller's two scoring passes went for eight yards to R.J. Harris in the second quarter and for five yards to Joey Orlando early in the fourth to cap the 95-yard scoring drive. Both Harris (12 catches) and Orlando (seven receptions) compiled 102 receiving yards in the game. In total, Goldrich completed passes to six different receivers, completed a long pass of 40 yards to Orlando and played turnover-free football. 

DUAL THREAT: New England Football Writers Gold Helmet Award winner R.J. Harris and Beyond Sports Network Offensive Player of the Week Joey Orlando each accumulated 102 receiving yards in the Wildcats' season-opening 38-17 victory at Holy Cross on Aug. 30. It represented the second time the All-CAA duo eclipsed the century mark in the same game. On Sept. 10, 2011, Orlando notched 166 receiving yards and Harris racked up 107 receiving yards in a 48-41 overtime win at Lehigh. It was Harris's fifth career 100-yard receiving day and the third for Orlando.

 

 

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