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Opinion: Much Hinges on Saturday's UNH Game
THE UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE football team will hit halftime against Northeastern and the halfway mark of the regular season at about 1:30 tomorrow afternoon at Parsons Field in Brookline, Mass.
Perhaps by then, and if not, certainly a couple of hours later, it may be fairly clear where this season is headed.
If the Wildcats win, they improve to 5-1 and will look to make a playoff run with home games against Towson and Hofstra straight ahead. Those contests lead into a Big Three finish of games at Villanova, home against Massachusetts and at Maine.
If UNH struggles against Northeastern, which is 2-4 but has played everyone tough, and loses to the Huskies for a third straight year, all of a sudden the next two home games look a whole heckuva lot tougher.
Towson and Hofstra each have three wins and will by no means be pushovers.
But those are taking-care-of-business games the Wildcats must get if they want to qualify for the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision tournament for a fifth straight season.
By falling at home to William & Mary last week, UNH used up a little of its leeway in the stretch run.
“Lately, I’ve been trying to be as vocal as possible,” said senior captain and offensive guard Eric Cumba. “But I don’t want to almost hit the panic button because it’s one loss.”
The key is to keep the one setback from turning into a losing streak.
“We have a lot of games left to play and we have to try and bounce back and not follow it up with another loss, because that would be huge,” said sophomore running back Sean Jellison, who is apt to get more carries with starter Chad Kackert out for at least a few weeks with a shoulder injury.
UNH snuck into the tournament with seven wins last year, but it’s highly unlikely that is going to happen again.
So the Wildcats need four more wins. Beating Northeastern, Towson and Hofstra would get them most of the way there and leave a bit of a cushion for the games against Villanova, ranked No. 7 in the country at 4-1, Massachusetts, No. 10 at 4-2, and Maine, 3-3.
The Huskies come first.
Much hinges on Saturday’s UNH game
By Allen Lessels, The New Hampshire Union Leader