The Spiders hope to continue to rack up points and play sound defense as they begin conference play this weekend in Robins Stadium against University of New Hampshire.

Both the Spiders and the Wildcats enter this game with momentum after having defeated their respective opponents by wide margins a week ago.

This game will likely be a shootout, because both teams have powerful offense and have averaged more than 500 yards per game this season. If Richmond can continue to play strong defense and hold New Hampshire under 24 points (the Spiders’ season average defensively), the home team should earn a victory.

The Spiders have noticeable advantages over the Wildcats. Richmond’s running game found success last week in a big way with 234 yards, a feat that balanced the offense. The Wildcats’ offense lacks similar balance, relying heavily on its passing game. If Jacobi Green can repeat his performance from last week, the Richmond offense should cruise.

New Hampshire’s defense has struggled drastically compared to Richmond’s. The Wildcats have allowed nearly 500 yards per game, while the Spiders have only allowed just more than 300 yards per game. This disparity bodes well for the Spiders, who will try to exploit the weaknesses of the New Hampshire defense.

The success of Richmond’s pass rush will be key this weekend. The Spiders put pressure on Hampton University's quarterbacks last week, which forced ill-advised throws and created opportunities for turnovers. Senior defenders Aaron Roane and Justin Williamson need to play well again for the Spiders to have a chance at neutralizing New Hampshire’s offense.

Michael Strauss and Richmond's passing game will likely determine the outcome of this week’s game. Even though the running game was effective last week, Strauss is the true leader of the Spiders’ offense, and his play is essential to the team’s success. The likely absence of all-conference receiver Stephen Barnette, who suffered a foot injury earlier this season, will force Strauss to rely more heavily on receivers Rashad Ponder and Brian Brown.

The stakes are high this Saturday as conference play begins for both teams. The Spiders learned last year that a loss in the first conference game of the season could turn into a long losing streak.

The game will begin 4 p.m. Saturday in Robins Stadium. Attendance should be higher than usual, as it is family weekend at Richmond.

Contact reporter Charlie Broaddus at charlie.broaddus@richmond.edu