Games To Watch: Liberty, Chesapeake Teams Looking For A Good Start To Fall

It's a warmup weekend for college teams around the Northeast and Midwest, and it's much the same story for programs across the nation -- figure out what you've got, move some players around, and maybe cross your fingers a little bit.

Several teams do have some conference games over the next three days, including a pair of matchups in the new Liberty Conference.

In the Liberty, Stony Brook is bouncing back from a weird, up-and-down fall of 2016, during which the Seawolves finished a little out of the money but logged an impressive Bowl Series win over Rutgers to cap it all off. Stony Brook head coach Jerry Mirro has a pretty impressive set of backs returning, and against Albany on Saturday he might have the opportunity to see them run.

Cortland State's home matchup against Oswego on Saturday is what would have been an early crunch game in the old Upstate New York but is now just a crossover game with Cortland in the Liberty this year. New Hampshire has a tall order against a pretty talented UMass squad.

Air Force starts their Rocky Mountain conference early against Utah State on Friday, and while Utah State is tough, hits hard, and can run, AFA is a pretty organized bunch. A key for the Zoomies is that they have almost their entire 2016-17 forward pack back for another go. You can't score if you don't have the ball, and Utah State will need to work hard to get possession.

Virginia at Mount Saint Mary's on Saturday is an excellent start to a Chesapeake Conference season that we said was one of the most competitive in DIAA. MSM almost won the conference in its inaugural season last fall and should be stronger, and older, this year. The Mountaineers showed well in a warmup against the Baltimore-Chesapeake men's club last week.

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Other games to watch on Saturday: AIC vs. Army is more of a scrimmage but will tell us a lot about AIC regardless. James Madison at Iona and then Fordham is a good gauge of the relative strengths of the Chesapeake (JMU) and the Liberty (the other two). Iona started superbly, almost scoring 50 on a good, experienced St. Joe's team last week.

Remember Santi Mascolo? The Iona freshman center who also jumped in the lineout and took kicks? Well, he's playing No. 8 now and is a force. Scholz Award finalist Mike Scarcella is back for the Gaels, and the big news is that freshman Conor Buckley, a product of New York's Xavier High School, is every bit as capable as advertised and provides quick serve to a solid Iona backline. This group has potential.

Who's Up, Who's Down From Last Week

Bowling Green at Ohio State is an annual warmup for both. The visiting Falcons have logged some impressive victories in this matchup -- another D1AA-D1A crossover. But this is a really good, experienced Buckeyes team.

Who do we like? Air Force, MSM, Stony Brook, Cortland, UMass all should win. AIC's road trip to Army might be a weird one, treated, as it is, as a scrimmage.
Ohio State is our pick over Bowling Green, and Brown should take Rhode Island.

Iona is the favorited to beat James Madison, but JMU might well come back to knock off Fordham on Sunday. Syracuse will have a tough time against Queens, and Northeastern vs. Yale is a pick 'em.

Friday, Sept. 1 Air Force at Utah State Rocky Mountain D1A
Saturday, Sept. 2
Virginia at Mount St. Mary's Chesapeake
Saturday, Sept. 2 Stony Brook at Albany Liberty
Saturday, Sept. 2 Oswego at Cortland Non-Conf
Saturday, Sept. 2 U New Hampshire at UMass Liberty
Saturday, Sept. 2 AIC at Army Non-Conf
Saturday, Sept. 2 Bowling Green at Ohio State Non-Conf
Saturday, Sept. 2 Rhode Island at Brown Non-Conf.
Saturday, Sept. 2 James Madison at Iona Non-Conf.
Saturday, Sept. 2 Syracuse at Queens University Non-Conf.
Saturday, Sept. 2 Northeastern at Yale Non-Conf.
Sunday, Sept. 3 James Madison at Fordham Non-Conf.

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