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Week 4 Football Preview: Wesleyan at Bowdoin

Photo by Steve McLaughlin
Photo by Steve McLaughlin

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – On Saturday, October 5th, Wesleyan and Bowdoin will square off on Whittier Field in Brunswick, Maine for the 92nd meeting in a series that started in 1906. The Cardinals hold a commanding 60-29-2 lead against their NESCAC foe and have won seven-straight against the Polar Bears. Wesleyan enters the game with a perfect 3-0 record and is just one of three remaining unbeaten teams in the conference, joining Amherst and Middlebury. Bowdoin is still looking for its first win on the year and is 0-3 entering Saturday's contest.

During the Cardinals' seven-game win streak against the Polar Bears, Wesleyan has outscored Bowdoin 207-62 with two shutouts. Last year, the Cardinals claimed a 24-0 win at home as their defense dominated in inclement weather conditions. The game was moved to Citrin Field due to the forecast and Wesleyan took advantage as it allowed just 100 yards of total offense (80 passing, 20 rushing). Offensively, RB Glenn Smith rushed 20 times for 105 yards and a score to lead the Cardinals, while the versatile WR David Estevez had a breakout game as a freshman with seven catches for 74 yards. He also punted there times with one touchback and two placed inside the 20-yard line. It was the only game he has punted in his career thus far.

Wesleyan is riding a three-game win streak to open the year with wins over Colby (30-10), Hamilton (28-10), and Bates (48-12), respectively. The Cardinals lead the league in several categories; scoring offense (35.3 points/game), scoring defense (10.7 points/game), passing defense (157 yards/game), passing touchdowns (8), field goals (5), PATs (13), PAT percentage (100%), defensive interceptions (9), and defensive touchdowns (1).

Offensively, the Cardinals average 390.3 yards per game with 200.7 yards passing and 189.7 yards rushing. Sophomore QB Ashton Scott was named the NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 3 and currently leads the league in completion percentage (63.6), passing touchdowns (8), and pass efficiency (174.3). He's 42-of-66 for 579 yards (193/game), eight touchdowns, and only one interception while also rushing 41 times for 189 yards (63/game). His favorite receiver thus far has been Matthew Simco who has team-highs of 11 catches for 193 yards, including two touchdowns.

Defensively, the Cardinals allow a league-low 10.7 points per game and rank second in total defense, surrendering just 277 yards per contest. They've allowed just 157 yards through the air and 120 on the ground. In addition to the team's league-high nine interceptions, they've also recorded two fumbles and rank second in the NESCAC in sacks with nine. DL Nick Livingston is currently tied for the league-lead in sacks with 3.5, while defensive backs Danny Banks and Ben Thaw rank second in interceptions with two each. LB Chase Pratt leads the team in tackles with 23 (7.7/game), while DB Julian Ross sits second with 17 (5.7/game).

Bowdoin has losses against Hamilton (37-24), Trinity (61-7), and Williams (41-10). Despite its record, however, the Polar Bears lead the league in more than one category. They are first in the NESCAC in fourth-down conversions (5), kick return yards (345), PAT percentage (100%), red zone percentage (88%), and time of possession per game (34:08), and are also the least penalized team with just 12 penalties.

The Polar Bears' offense ranks eighth in the conference in points (13.7/game) and rushing yards (99.7/game), and ninth in total yards (263.7/game) and passing yards (164/game). Junior QB Austin McCrum is 56-of-109 for 492 yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions. He has connected with TE Bo Millet 14 times for 219 yards, both team-highs, while WR Gregory Olson and RB Nate Richam-Odoi have 13 and 11 catches, respectively. Richam-Odoi also leads the team in rushing with 60 carries for 198 yards (3.3 yards per carry), including two touchdowns.

Defensively, Bowdoin ranks last in the league in both scoring (46.3 points/game) and total defense (488.3 yards/game). The Polar Bears have allowed 233 yards per game through the air and a league-high 275.3 on the ground. They have forced just one turnover this year (an interception) but have sacked the opposing quarterback seven times. Senior LB Joe Gowetski is the team's leading tackler with 20 on the year (6.7/game), including 1.5 sacks, while DB Myles Hugee has 14 (4.7/game) to rank second. Hugee also has four pass breakups on the year to lead the squad.