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FCS Game of the Week Preview: Central Connecticut State at Duquesne

The Northeast Conference’s automatic playoff spot is on the line

NCAA Football: Central Connecticut State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: Saturday, November 11, 2017, 12 p.m. ET

Location: Rooney Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Where To Watch: ESPN3/WatchESPN

Betting Odds: Duquesne -9.5, O/U 61.5

Odds via sportsbooks monitored by GamblersPalace.com


The Duquesne Dukes haven’t been in the Northeast Conference for long, but are starting to make an impact. Duquesne won the conference outright in 2015, earning the conference’s first automatic bid to the FCS postseason, and finished tied atop the NEC with St. Francis last season.

This year Duquesne is 4-0 in the NEC, and the Dukes are looking to grab at least a share of the conference title for a third straight season. In order to do that, they will need to get past the NEC’s other undefeated team, the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils. The winner of this game will earn at least a share of the NEC title and clinch its spot in the postseason.

Reasons to Like Duquesne

Former Boise State quarterback Tommy Stuart has thrived at the FCS level. Stuart has shredded most of the defenses he has faced this season, especially in conference play. He has thrown for 827 yards and 11 touchdowns in four NEC games, while completing 67.8 percent of his passes. Most importantly, he has thrown only one interception in that span, and that is a big reason why the Dukes have won every conference game by at least 16 points.

The Dukes also boast a dynamic runner in sophomore A.J. Hines. Hines won the Jerry Rice Award last year, an award given to the best freshman in the country. He was injured in Duquesne’s win over Valparaiso and missed a month of action, but is back and better than ever. Last week, he shredded Liberty’s run defense for 253 yards and two touchdowns.

Reasons Not to Like Duquesne

This defense has not been good against the run this season. It wasn’t a big surprise to see South Dakota State run on Duquesne in the season opener, but the Dukes allowed 211 yards on the ground to Sacred Heart two weeks ago and were gashed by Liberty last week.

Duquesne did a good job stopping Stephen Calvert through the air in that game, but the Flames were able to top the Dukes because of a ground game that ran for 231 yards on this defense.

Additionally, Duquesne’s defense was on the field for 96 plays last week, so fatigue is a concern.

Reasons to Like Central Connecticut State

The Blue Devils were the laughing stock of the conference prior to this season, but have won six straight since getting hammered in their first three games of the year.

Central Connecticut State has been very good on the ground and must be feeling good about its ability to run on Duquesne. The Blue Devils are averaging 4.5 yards per carry and can pull off the upset if they can establish the run on the Dukes.

Reasons Not to Like Central Connecticut State

Turnover luck can go a long way towards a winning season and that has been one of the key factors for CCSU’s 6-3 record this year. The Blue Devils are +14 in turnover margin and have tallied six defensive touchdowns so far this season (most in the FCS).

If CCSU falls behind in this one, its chances of coming from behind are slim. The Blue Devils don’t have a good passing attack and QB Jacob Dolegala is completing just 52.1 percent of his passes on the year. Additionally, he has yet to have a game with multiple touchdowns, while he has had three games with multiple interceptions.

Prediction

I think this is one of the best bets you’ll find at the FCS level this season. Duquesne has to worry about two things in this game. It needs to stop the run and not turn the ball over. Provided the Dukes can do this, they should win this game in a blowout.

Final Score: Duquesne 41, Central Connecticut State 20