Game Time: Saturday, November 11, 2017, 2 p.m. ET
Location: Wildcat Stadium, Durham, New Hampshire
Where To Watch: FOX Sports Go
Betting Odds: New Hampshire -5, O/U 50.5
Odds via sportsbooks monitored by GamblersPalace.com
It’s been a magical season for the 8-1 Elon Phoenix. After dropping their season opener to Toledo, the Phoenix have ripped off eight straight wins to essentially wrap up just their second FCS Playoff appearance ever. It hasn’t been easy though as each and every one of their wins have come by just one possession.
Elon will be pushed in each of these next two weeks. This Saturday, the Phoenix travel north to take on the New Hampshire Wildcats. New Hampshire is 6-3 and knows that a win would essentially punch their ticket to the postseason, while a loss would put the program in a must-win situation in their season finale against Albany. Next week is even tougher for the Phoenix too as they take on No. 1 James Madison.
Reasons to Like Elon
The Phoenix know how to win close games. Elon has been pushed to the hilt by every team on its schedule but keeps finding ways to hold on and get the win. It’s not like the Phoenix have beaten nobodies either. They have road wins against Furman, Richmond, and Villanova to their credit so far this season.
This is a very balanced offense. Elon has beaten quality opponents both through the air and on the ground. Unlike many teams at the FCS level, the Phoenix aren’t too reliant on any one phase of the game and that makes them difficult to gameplan against.
Reasons Not to Like Elon
Elon’s defense has not been particularly sharp this season. The Phoenix have gotten a little bit lucky on when they have faced certain opponents and that has helped them win despite giving up 5.5 yards per play a game. That makes this a below average defense and one that can be beat.
Tired legs may be a factor for Elon in this one. The Phoenix played a double overtime game against Towson last week and that could affect them in their longest road trip of the year.
Reasons to Like New Hampshire
Trevor Knight is a fantastic quarterback. Knight has really shined this season, coming into the role in his junior year. Although he was unable to lead the team to any points against James Madison, he has played very well against every other team on the schedule and has surpassed the 300-yard mark in five of the team’s nine games.
The Wildcats have one of the best home field advantages in the country. They have yet to lose a game at home this season (conversely, they are 2-3 on the road), and have won three of those four games by double digits. New Hampshire even took James Madison to the brink when the two sides squared off in Durham last year, losing a 42-39 thriller. With an advantage like that, it’s no surprise New Hampshire is a five-point favorite despite having a worse record than Elon.
Reasons Not to Like New Hampshire
The Wildcats do have a win over an FBS team, but this team has yet to knock off a foe with a winning record. New Hampshire got beat 21-0 by James Madison and 38-24 by Stony Brook earlier this season. However, those losses weren’t their worst ones thus far. New Hampshire was throttled by a 4-6 Holy Cross team 51-26 earlier this season and that loss is an eyesore when looking at playoff resumes.
Like Elon, New Hampshire has a defense that is so-so. The Wildcats are allowing 5.2 yards per play on the year and have been susceptible to teams that just pound the ball on the ground. Elon can play that style and that might be trouble for New Hampshire.
Once again, the sportsbooks are disrespecting Elon. While the Phoenix should probably have one or two more losses than they do now, this is a good team that has knocked off some solid opponents. Unlike New Hampshire, they have some good wins over name programs and have proven themselves. That’s why I’m going to call for them to pull off the upset as a short underdog.
Final Score: Elon 27, New Hampshire 23