1) The "South's Oldest Rivalry" - Saturday will be the 120th time rivals Richmond (5-6) and William and Mary play in the "South's Oldest Rivalry." In 2009, the rivalry was officially named the Capital Cup, and now there is a trophy that goes to the winning team. The two teams played for the first time in 1898, and they have played in all but three years since. Adding fuel to the fire, No. 20 William and Mary (7-4) has playoff aspirations, and Richmond has the opportunity to knock them out of contention for a spot. Expect a large, passionate crowd at Robins Stadium this Saturday.
2) Michael Strauss - Michael Strauss, who won the last two CAA offensive player of the week awards, has had two of the best single games any quarterback has had in Richmond history. Strauss has completed 73 percent of his passes for 903 yards and 10 touchdowns in the two victories, in which the Spiders scored 42.5 points per game. Strauss capped off last week's 46-43 victory at then No. 21 Delaware with a 75-yard touchdown drive in 41 seconds that gave the Spiders the lead with four seconds left in the game. Strauss and the Spiders will face a more challenging opponent this week as it faces William and Mary's league-leading defense.
3) Jacobi Green's Injury - Much of William and Mary's success this season has come from its defense. The Tribe's defense has allowed just 12.5 points per game, which is 7.8 points better than the next best scoring defense in the CAA. In its last four games, the Tribe has held its opponents to eight points per game. In Richmond's last four games, however, the Spiders have averaged 36 points per game in their last four games. Something has to give this Saturday.
Keys to a Richmond victory:
1) Turnovers - Both Richmond and William and Mary have two of the top turnover differentials in the CAA. William and Mary is ranked second in the CAA with a plus-six margin and the Spiders are right behind them with a plus-three margin. William and Mary's strength has been protecting the football, as it ranks second in the CAA with only 13 giveaways this season. Richmond, conversely, is second in the CAA with 22 takeaways. Richmond's streak of consecutive games with an interception, which was at 20 games, was snapped last week. Protecting the football will be crucial for both teams this week in what I expect will be a close game throughout.
2) Special Teams - Although Richmond outgained Delaware 680-411 last week, it needed a late-game comeback to secure the victory. The Spiders lost the field-position battle last week, putting both the offense and defense in difficult situations. Both Delaware and the Spiders punted five times last week, but the Blue Hens averaged 49.0 yards per punt and the Spiders averaged 20.8 yards per punt. Richmond is second to last in the CAA in punting, averaging 33.6 yards per punt. William and Mary has been strong on special teams this year, in particular with kickoff returns, which it leads the CAA with 24.2 yards per return. Richmond will need to play better on special teams to beat the Tribe.
Prediction - 20-14 Richmond - William and Mary's defense will be able to somewhat slow down Strauss, but it won't be enough as the Spiders will pull out the win and finish their season on a four-game winning streak.
Contact staff writer Jack Nicholson at firstname.lastname@example.org
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