WHERE: Alfond Stadium, Orono

TV: Fox Sports Go/Fox College Sports

ALL-TIME SERIES: New Hampshire leads, 55-43-8

LAST MEETING: Aug. 31, 2017, won by New Hampshire, 24-23

WHEN MAINE HAS THE BALL: New offensive coordinator Nick Charlton said Maine’s offense is pretty simple: “Protect up front, do a nice job in the running game, get the ball to our playmakers.” Maine has some of the best playmaking receivers in the Colonial Athletic Association in senior Micah Wright, juniors Earnest Edwards and Jaquan Blair and redshirt freshman Devin Young. Sophomore Chris Ferguson looks more comfortable and confident entering his second year as starting quarterback. The running game will be pivotal because much of Maine’s offense is based on play-action passing. Redshirt freshman Ramon Jefferson can break a long run on any play. Junior Joe Fitzpatrick is going to get the tough yards inside. Of course, the offensive line, with two new starters on the left side, needs to play well for this offense to be successful.

WHEN NEW HAMPSHIRE HAS THE BALL: The Wildcats have one of the most balanced offenses in the conference, led by CAA preseason offensive player of the year Trevor Knight at quarterback. He threw for 3,433 yards and 26 touchdowns a year ago and puts pressure on defenses with his ability to escape the rush. His favorite receiver is Neil O’Connor, a preseason all-CAA first-team selection who caught 97 passes for 1,396 yards and 10 touchdowns a year ago. The return of senior running back Trevon Bryant, who missed last year with an injury, gives a nice 1-2 punch to the running game along with Evan Gray (team-high 650 yards last year). The Wildcats will take shots downfield, putting pressure on the secondary. They also have an experienced offensive line.

KEY STAT: 8, the number of consecutive victories New Hampshire has in the rivalry.

OUTLOOK: New Hampshire has won 15 of the last 16 games between the schools and is certainly favored again, with 18 starters returning. But the Wildcats know this game won’t be easy. “It doesn’t matter what has gone on in the past, every one of these games is a dogfight, a physical contest,” said Sean McDonnell, the Wildcats’ head coach. The last two games have both been decided in the fourth quarter. Maine’s defense – led by junior linemen Charles Mitchell and Kayon Whitaker and linebackers Sterling Sheffield, Deshawn Stevens and Jaron Grayer – is going to have to harass Knight and contain him, because he’s most dangerous when given time to extend the play. The Black Bears secondary has experience in cornerback Manny Patterson and safeties Darrius Hart and Jeff DeVaughn and will be tested often. Maine has to be able to run the ball against a Wildcats defense that returns nine starters, including linebacker Quinlen Dean and backs Prince Smith, Rick Ellison and Isiah Perkins. Special teams will be a factor. Maine lost last year, 24-23, because of two missed field goals and a missed PAT kick in the fourth quarter. New Hampshire won two years ago on a last-second field goal. The Black Bears have perhaps the best kick returner in the CAA in Edwards.

OF NOTE: The Wildcats are ranked in the top 10 in both major national FCS polls, seventh in one, ninth in the other … Maine hasn’t beaten New Hampshire since 2010, a 16-13 overtime game in Orono.

— Mike Lowe, Staff Writer

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