Towson (7-1, 3-1) @ Richmond (2-5, 0-3)
When: Saturday, 12 p.m.
Site: Robins Stadium, Richmond, Va.
Series: Richmond leads, 5-3
What's at stake: After absorbing its first loss of the season in a 45-35 defeat to Villanova Oct. 12, Towson bounced back with 44-17 rout of Albany last Saturday. That win keeps the No. 8 Tigers one game behind No. 11 Maine (6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association) and tied with No. 18 Villanova, which was upset, 29-28, by No. 20 New Hampshire last Saturday. The victory helped Towson avoid suffering its first back-to-back losses to conference foes since 2010, when the team went 1-10. The Tigers beat Richmond, 31-28, on Oct. 8, 2011, but the Spiders had won the previous three meetings. This season has been a bewildering campaign for Richmond, which shared last year's CAA championship with Towson, Villanova and New Hampshire. The Spiders have dropped their last three games and all five of their losses have been by a combined 20 points. But Richmond is 2-1 at home, where the Tigers have not won since Nov. 11, 2006, when they scored a decisive 31-7 victory.
Key matchup: Towson is ranked fourth in the conference against the pass, surrendering an average of 200.4 yards per game. Only North Carolina Central senior Jordan Reid has thrown for more than 250 yards against the Tigers. But the defense will be tasked with containing Spiders junior Michael Strauss, who leads the league in passing (298.7 yards per game) and has tossed 12 touchdowns. Richmond, however, will play without senior wide receiver Ben Edwards (48 catches for 436 yards and two touchdowns) who is out indefinitely after suffering a concussion.
Player to watch: The Tigers have relied on Derrick Joseph to spark the offense, and the junior ranks second in the CAA in kick returns (26.5-yard average) and leads the league with two returns for touchdowns. Joseph could be a significant asset against the Spiders, who rank second-to-last in the CAA in kickoff coverage and are averaging just 31.6 net yards per kick.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun