Saturday at 12 p.m.
Wildcat Stadium in Durham, N.H.
UNH is 5-3, 4-1 in CAA; SBU is 5-2, 4-0 in CAA
Key Matchup: Trevor Knight vs. The Stony Brook defense
When sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight won the starting job over senior captain Adam Riese, the reasoning was that Knight could create plays with his running ability as well as his passing. Now, eight games through the season, he has displayed his running prowess, ranking second on the team with 380 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.
Knight also has found success passing the ball, but hasn’t yet stepped up in a big game to lead the Wildcats to victory. His best rushing games have come in the two home wins this year, but he underwhelmed throwing the ball in each game, tossing three interceptions to equal his passing touchdown total. During his 314-yard passing performance against James Madison University, Knight was held to a mere 10-yards rushing. For the Wildcats to defend the home turf over a No. 20, unbeaten in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Stony Brook squad, they will need Knight to play his best all-around game to date.
UNH rushing attack
In games that senior running back Dalton Crossan has received more than 13 carries, the Wildcats are 5-0. Therefore, they are 0-3 when Crossan runs the ball less than 14 times. A Wildcats victory may be dependent on if they can get their senior bruiser the touches he needs. Crossan is ranked third in the CAA in rushing yards per game, averaging 92.1 yards, and became the 10th Wildcat in school history to eclipse 2,000 career rushing yards last week at Towson University.
UNH passing offense
The emergence of Malik Love and Neil O’Connor at the wide receiver position this season has been vital to Knight’s success. Against JMU at Wildcat Stadium, Knight was able to throw for over 300 yards due to Love and O’Connor’s ability to create separation, extending plays and catching contested balls. The Seawolves are second in the CAA in run defense, increasing the likelihood of a busy day for Love and O’Connor.
SBU rushing attack
Stony Brook’s rushing attack is led by junior tailback Stacey Bedell. Bedell gave the UNH defense nightmares in last season’s meeting, rushing for 193 yards and a touchdown as he paced the Seawolves to a 31-6 victory. His success has carried over to this year, as Bedell has accumulated 605 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns through seven games. The UNH run defense has impressed all season, ranking third in the CAA, but needs to improve this time around against Bedell.
SBU passing offense
Similar to JMU, the Seawolves’ passing game is setup by their running game. Sophomore quarterback Joe Carbone has started every game this season and has only one touchdown pass to show for it. Carbone has thrown six interceptions as well, but executed extremely well against the Wildcats last year. The sophomore completed 13 of 18 attempts for 109 yards and a touchdown in a victory over UNH on Sept. 19, 2015.
Impact Player: Malik Love
Love, a redshirt freshman, leads the Wildcats in receptions with 48, and leads the CAA in receptions per game with 6.9. Coming into the season all eyes were on Jordan Powell, Kyon Taylor and Rory Donovan, yet Love and O’Connor have emerged as the main targets due to injuries and Powell’s previous suspension. Now that Powell is back at tight end, Love has even more space to work with on the outside.
“What makes [Love] a little different is how hard he practices. Him and [O’Connor] are both the same way, they’re very smart kids,” offensive coordinator Ryan Carty said this week. “It allows us to put him in situations to get the right matchup.”
Moving Love around the formation has allowed UNH to get him the ball in various open spaces, however, the one place he hasn’t been yet this season is the end zone.