The Collegian
Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Don't be a tepid bowl of mush

The No. 9 ranked Louisiana State University Tigers will face the No 2. ranked University of Alabama Crimson Tide in what could be the second-best match-up in college football this weekend.

That's because the best game in college football this week will be played right down the road at UR Stadium, when a CAA title, an undefeated season, an unprecedented winning streak and home field advantage during the playoffs will be hanging in the balance for the University of Richmond when it takes on Villanova University.

If you miss this football game, you had better be dead. The numbers the Richmond football team has put up during the last calendar year are absurd. The Spiders are setting records that probably won't be broken during our lifetime.

I get that some people at this school just don't care about sports. Others think that because Richmond isn't a Football Bowl Subdivision team, we can't possibly be that good or that much fun to watch. I understand. But let's be honest with ourselves. At 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, there really isn't anything better to do than watch two of the best teams in the best conference in Football Championship Subdivision football go at it.

I've been to every game this season except for Maine, so obviously I'm a little biased, but I also know just how impressive this team has been. And how good Villanova has been. But for now, let me just give you the Sparknotes on some of Richmond's most ridiculous streaks and stats.

First of all, the Spiders have won 17 games in a row. That's more than any Division I football team, except defending FBS National Champion University of Florida. It's also more than any other team in the history of Division I college football in the Commonwealth of Virginia. They've won eight games in a row to start this season, which is the best start in the history of the program.

At home, Richmond's offense has been absolutely electric. They've scored 31 points or more for 15 consecutive home games. Do you know how ridiculous that is? What more can you ask for? Whether you love football or only watch the Super Bowl, offense like that makes games fun, especially when it's your school's team and the ticket is free.

Quarterback Eric Ward might go down as the best quarterback in the history of Richmond football. In his career, Ward is 38-10 as a starter and 15-5 against Top 25 opponents. He holds the Richmond records for touchdowns, completion percentage, completions and total offense. He has led Richmond to a game-winning fourth-quarter touchdown drive seven times. Plain and simple: He is one of the best players in the Football Championship Subdivision.

And, for those of you who write off the Spiders just because they aren't a "real Division I" team, you're just being ignorant. Not only did Richmond win its FBS game this year against Duke University, but Villanova won its game against Temple University, and The College of William & Mary beat the University of Virginia. James Madison University, a team that has only one win in the CAA this year, took Maryland to overtime during its FBS game. The difference between the FBS and top teams in the FCS isn't what some people think it is. FCS teams just rarely get the opportunity to prove themselves.

But this week, even those FBS supremacists have to give Richmond some dap, because the Spiders received a vote in the Associated Press Top 25 football poll. The writers chosen to vote for the AP poll aren't stupid. One of them ranked Richmond, a school of 2,900 students, the 25th-best college football team in the entire country.

Now, back to this weekend's game. Villanova and Richmond are widely considered the best two teams in all of FCS football. Even in the playoffs, it's very rare that the best two teams in the entire country actually get to face each other.

Villanova's only loss this year came on the road to Top 10 ranked New Hampshire. Last season, the Wildcats beat Richmond early during the season at Villanova when the Spiders were ranked No. 1. If Villanova wins, it will likely earn a seed in the playoffs. If Richmond wins, it will almost certainly have a seed.

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You can't make up storylines like the ones that will be playing out this weekend.

And finally, the most important reason to go to this weekend's game, and the only one that should really matter: It's fun. Go to the game early and tailgate. Drink some Nattys in the parking lot and toss the old bean bag around. Get out of the stuffy dorms and moldy apartments and enjoy the weather. Watch your classmates on the field during the Homecoming Court AND the football game. Be in the stands yelling and screaming like fans at Ohio State or USC.

Sure, we're not Notre Dame or Michigan, but right now, that's a good thing. Our team is doing things most Richmond students and alums never thought possible. If Richmond students can't get out of bed and to the stadium to make themselves a part of this game, then maybe former President Cooper was right when he said we were tepid bowls of mush.

Contact staff writer Reilly Moore at reilly.moore@richmond.edu

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