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FCS Game of the Week Preview: Howard at No. 6 Richmond

A surging Howard team looks to challenge the Spiders

NCAA Football: Richmond at Virginia Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

Game Time: Saturday, September 16, 2017, 2 p.m. ET

Location: Robins Stadium, Richmond, Virginia

Where To Watch: ESPN3/WatchESPN

Betting Odds: Richmond -14, Over/Under 60

Odds via sportsbooks monitored by GamblersPalace.com


At the start of the season, this looked like a gimme game for the Richmond Spiders. The Howard Bison went 2-9 in 2016 and this was supposed to be a welcome reprieve after two tough non-conference games against Sam Houston State and Colgate and before the start of Colonial play.

However, no one expected Caylin Newton to be this good. Cam Newton’s younger brother ripped apart UNLV in the season opener to pull off the biggest point-spread upset in college football history and almost knocked off another FBS team, Kent State, as an encore last week.

All of a sudden, this is an unenviable situation for a Richmond team that is still breaking in a new offense under a new head coach.

Reasons to Like Richmond

Richmond has more talent than Howard does. The Spiders have a very talented quarterback in Kyle Lauletta and he has found a new favorite target in Dejon Brissett. Brissett leads the FCS in receptions and receiving yards through the first two weeks of the season. He was lightly recruited out of high school because he grew up in Toronto, but has quickly become an elite receiver at this level.

His basketball background makes him a natural target for jump balls. He is a tremendous leaper and Lauletta has shown that he trusts Brissett to pull down passes in one-on-one coverage.

The defense showed a much-needed backbone last week in their win over Colgate. Andrew Clyde was great up front for the Spiders and was named one of the Colonial’s Defensive Players of the Week for his performance. That’s huge considering how poor this defense was last season.

Reasons Not to Like Richmond

Lauletta has had some struggles running the ball in new head coach Russ Huesman’s spread offense. Although his passing numbers have shot through the roof, he has carried the ball 16 times for just 12 yards. Yes, sacks are included in that number and skew the results, but Lauletta is not a natural runner and asking him to run the ball that often when he is coming off an ACL injury is concerning.

There is still reason to be concerned about the defense too. This unit was torched by Sam Houston State in the opener and allowed over five yards per carry last week against Colgate.

Reasons to Like Howard

This is all about the dynamic Newton. He wasn’t highly recruited out of high school because he is just 5’11, but has already started to make certain FBS coaches regret that decision.

Newton is just a true freshman and isn’t a polished passer, but knows how to make plays. Against UNLV, that was on the ground. He nearly eclipsed 200 yards on the ground against the Rebels defense and led the Bison to 43 points.

When Howard took on Kent State last week, it was more with his arm. The Golden Flashes wanted to contain him on the ground and did a good job, but he still made some big plays through the air. He averaged over 10 yards per pass attempt as the Bison nearly made history by coming close to knocking off FBS foes in consecutive weeks.

Reasons Not to Like Howard

This defense is not good. The Bison were pounded on the ground by both UNLV and Kent State. The two schools ran for a combined 638 yards against this defense and the front seven is sure to be battered and bruised. They have seen 99 rushing attempts over the past two weeks and now have to face a very different style of offense.

Prediction

Call me a donk, but I love the over here. I think that Newton is going to find a lot of success against this Spiders defense and that Richmond will be able to name the score on offense. There are going to be a lot of fireworks in this one.

Final Score: Richmond 45, Howard 34