JMU Stays On Top As Elon Climbs In CAA Power Rankings

Greg Madia, Publisher
Dukes of JMU
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Daniel Lin/DN-R

HARRISONBURG – Through the first month of the season, the Colonial Athletic Association has yielded some expected and some not-so expected results.

Preseason favorite James Madison is unbeaten at 5-0 in its off week, but Elon, which was picked to finish 11th, is 4-1 with three Top 25 wins.

Each week, the DN-R will put out its CAA power rankings to reflect which squads are trending in the right direction, and which ones aren’t.

Here’s our power rankings following Week 5:

1 – James Madison

Record: 5-0

Last Week: Win, 20-10 at Delaware

This Week: Idle

Through the first five weeks, the Dukes have leaned on their defense. Nationally, JMU ranks No. 3 in total defense (231.2 yards per game), No. 3 for interceptions (9 interceptions), No. 5 in scoring defense (11.6 points per game), No. 6 in passing defense (141.6 yards per game) and 15th in rushing defense (89.4 yards per game).

2 – New Hampshire

Record: 4-1

Last Week: Win, 45-17 vs. Bryant

This Week: Idle

Outside of a surprising loss to Holy Cross, coach Sean McDonnell and New Hampshire have taken care business. Wide receiver Neil O’Connor leads the CAA in receptions (40), receiving touchdowns (8) and receiving yards (638).

3 – Elon

Record: 4-1

Last Week: Win, 6-0 vs. Albany

This Week: Saturday vs. William & Mary

Another week, another Top 25 win for Elon. The last three weeks, Elon has beaten No. 16 Charleston Southern, No. 6 Richmond and No. 19 Albany. The victories have come in different ways too – a 6-0 shutout in a defensive masterpiece against the Great Danes and a 36-33 thriller over Richmond behind running back Malcolm Summers’ 294 rushing yards.

4 – Villanova

Record: 3-2

Last Week: Win, 24-9 at Towson

This Week: Saturday vs. Maine

Though Villanova lost cornerback Rob Rolle for the season due to an ACL injury, the Wildcats’ defense came to play limiting Towson to only 46 rushing yards. Villanova has a tough test this week against Maine, as the Black Bears come off a bye week.

5 – Albany

Record: 2-2

Last Week: Loss, 6-0 at Elon

This Week: Saturday at Richmond

Albany’s defense limited Elon to only two field goals, but the Great Danes’ offense struggled to do anything right. Albany managed just 224 yards of total offense and turned the ball over four times. Albany needs to get its offense figured out if it is going to compete for a CAA title or a spot in the FCS playoffs.

6 – Maine

Record: 1-2

Last Week: Idle

This Week: Saturday at Villanova

Maine had an extra week to rest after falling at James Madison on Sept. 23. The Black Bears should be fresh as they ramp up to play at Villanova. Maine, which had its Sept. 30 game at Central Florida cancelled due to rescheduling after Hurricane Irma, essentially must win six of its last seven to reach the postseason.

7 – Delaware

Record: 2-2

Last Week: Loss, 20-10 vs. James Madison

This Week: Saturday at Stony Brook

In the week leading up to its home contest against top-ranked James Madison, the Delaware defense got plenty of praise. The Blue Hens proved that praise was worthy, limiting JMU quarterback Bryan Schor to 93 passing yards – the fewest since Dukes coach Mike Houston arrived before the 2016 season.

8 – Richmond

Record: 2-2

Last Week: Idle

This Week: Saturday vs. Albany

Off its bye week, Richmond is 2-2 under first-year coach Russ Huesman. The two losses have come against Sam Houston State and Elon – both Top 25 teams. The Spiders get a crack at another on Saturday when Albany visits Robins Stadium.

9 – Stony Brook

Record: 4-1

Last Week: Win, 21-18 at William & Mary

This Week: Saturday vs. Delaware

The SeaWolves escaped Zable Stadium with a win after William & Mary was unable to attempt a potentially game-tying field goal after a holding penalty forced a 10-second run off of the clock that lost the Tribe the game. Stony Brook’s defense was strong again though, picking off William & Mary quarterback Tommy McKee twice.

10 – William & Mary

Record: 2-2

Last Week: Loss, 21-18 vs. Stony Brook

This Week: Saturday at Elon

The Tribe are a still a work in progress on offense as the staff molds McKee at quarterback. William & Mary ranks 10th in the CAA for total offense.

11 – Towson

Record: 2-3

Last Week: Loss, 24-9 vs. Villanova

This Week: Idle

Towson has yet to score more than 17 points in a game this season and its schedule only gets more difficult. After its bye week, the Tigers face Villanova, Richmond, New Hampshire, Delaware and Elon in its next five games.

12 – Rhode Island

Record: 1-4

Last Week: Loss, 24-21 at Brown

This Week: Idle

Rhode Island showed signs of strength in the opening week of the season when it took FBS Central Michigan to triple overtime and knocked off Harvard, but since the Rams have looked pedestrian. They lost to Brown last week.

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