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UNH Football: The 2023 Granite State Bowl Preview

UNH Wildcats
Max Brosmer

Durham N.H.- The state of New Hampshire holds two division one teams: The University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (1-1) and the Dartmouth University Big Green (0-0). Therefore, the opportunity to be named the best team in the state does not come around often. This Saturday, the king of the Granite State will be named on the turf of Wildcat Stadium and you won’t want to miss it. 

After a wildly close loss against Central Michigan where junior quarterback Max Brosmer passed for a college football week two high of 493 yards (four touchdowns) and senior running back Dylan Laube recorded a UNH record 295 receiving yards (371 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns), the ‘Cats are set to take on yet another challenge in Dartmouth. 

There is a laundry of storylines for this game so let’s start with the past. Dartmouth and UNH have squared off the last two seasons. Two years ago when the Big Green traveled to Durham they took down the ‘Cats handily on their parent’s weekend (38-21). Then flashback to last season when the Granite Bowl took place in Dartmouth, the Wildcats won 14-0 in a dominant defensive battle.

So for now UNH still holds the bragging rights of the best football team in the state of New Hampshire but do not expect Dartmouth to not put up a fight to take it back this Saturday evening. 

The Wildcats hold a 20-19-2 series lead however the Big Green have won two of the last three games. On top of that, the last time the two teams met starting graduate student quarterback Nick Howard was not at his full strength as he sat out the game before due to an injury. This is important as Howard is a detrimental threat to the Wildcats defense. 

Two years ago when Dartmouth ran its patented two-quarterback set, Howard managed to find the endzone three times on the ground along with racking up 96 rushing yards. The ‘Cats weren’t faced with this extra challenge as much in their most recent win from last season as he only rushed six times for nine yards. 

UNH should expect a heavier rushing attack out of Howard and the Dartmouth offense but that leads into the next storyline, the unexpected. 

This is Dartmouth’s first game of the season and that serves as a blessing for the Wildcats who have two games under their belts already. It is also a curse as the only Big Green film the ‘Cats can view is from last season. There is now a world where Dartmouth can create a whole new game plan that is very different from last season to throw UNH for a loop. 

UNH head coach Rick Santos expressed how they “don’t know who is going to play at quarterback” and that is an element that the Wildcats have to prepare for as he noted that Dartmouth has two very different offenses depending on who is playing at the quarterback position. 

Pinballing off of the unexpected, there have been rumors of the reminisce of a hurricane being on track to join the two teams on the field come game time. @Weatherremarks runs down the details of what to expect. 

“As Lee leans and lurks in the Gulf of Maine lifting leaves off of trees, look for mostly dry conditions in time for kickoff! Wrap-around showers from outside bands may impact the early tailgaters, and I can’t rule out a few sprinkles/showers during the game, especially early on. That said, conditions do improve during the game! Temps will be in the upper 60s, trending down into the low 60s in the second half (sun sets at 6:52 p.m.). Hold onto your hats as Lee’s winds will be whipping out of NNW at 15-20mph with 30-40mph gusts. Gusts will be higher during tailgate hours so I’d keep most items in your trunks! Go Cats!”

Due to being in the recovery stage of an injury, Dartmouth’s top-tier head coach Buddy Teevens will be stepping away from the program for the time being leaving the team to interim head coach Sammy McCorkle, who has worked with Teevens for the past 18 years. 

UNH head coach Rick Santos opened his mid-week press conference with kind thoughts towards Teevens. 

“Our hearts go out to Buddy Teevens and his family. I hope he’s healing up well. He is an intense competitor and a hall-of-fame coach. He is somebody who has done it at a very high level and is just a tremendous human being. So just sending love from Durham up there.” 

Other notable players for Dartmouth include senior wide receivers Paxton Scott, Isaac Boston, and Jarome Sutherland. The sheer experience in this offense is a huge upside for the Big Green. All three have championship expertise and know how to perform well in big games under pressure. 

On the defensive side of the ball, it is important to note that the Big Green defense has allowed fewer points than any other Ivy League team in history. This was shown last year when they held the explosive Wildcat offense to just 14 points (averaged 30 points per game). 

Graduate student safety Quinten Arello has been described as the backbone of the Dartmouth defense. He has yet to miss a single game in his four years on the team. Arello ranked third on the Big Green in tackles with 53 behind the linebacker duo of graduate student Joe Heffernan (98 total tackles) and junior Macklin Ayers (80 total tackles)

Dartmouth has won their season opener for the last 12 years, but this Wildcat team is more talented than we have seen in recent history. The battle for the Granite State bragging rights can be an incredibly motivating factor so neither team should be taken lightly. This will be a battle rain or shine and ultimately the best team will come out on top.

You can listen to all the action play out on WUNH 91.3 FM at 5:30 p.m. for the pregame and 6:00 p.m. for kickoff. The game will also be available on Flo Sports and the Wildcat Sports Network (610 AM, 96.7 FM, and 930 AM). 

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Spencer Marks, Staff Writer

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