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College football previews: Towson seeking first conference win against Stony Brook

Towson Tigers
(Courtesy of Towson)

Stony Brook (2-2, 1-0 in CAA) at Towson (1-3, 0-2)

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

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Site: Johnny Unitas Stadium

TV: Comcast Sportsnet

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Radio: CBS Sports Radio 1300

Series: Towson leads, 2-1

What's at stake: With an 0-2 record in the Colonial Athletic Association, Towson needs to start a winning streak to have any chance of making the tournament. It might already be a lost cause. Somehow, Stony Brook has won two games as in undefeated in the conference despite averaging just 16.2 points a game while its defense is giving up 24.8 points a game.

Key matchup: This might be a chance for the Towson defense, which is giving up more than 38 points a game, to redeem itself. On offense, the Seawolves average just 242.8 total yards a game, including just 123.8 yards passing. Look for Tigers to get well defensively and shut down Stony Brook.

Player to watch: Christian Summers, Towson's senior wide receiver, could have a field day. Stony Brook is giving up 213 yards a game through the air and Summer is averaging five catches and nearly 100 yards a game. Expect Towson to let quarterback Ellis Knudson air it out a few times.

Maryland (4-0, 1-0 in the Big Ten) at Penn State (3-2, 1-1)

When: Saturday, noon

Site: Beaver Stadium

TV: BTN

Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM Also available on Tune-In

Series: Penn State leads 36-2-1

What's at stake: Though both coaches and most of their players dowplayed any rivalry story line, this game certainly has ramifications for the Big Ten East standings below Ohio State and Michigan, bowl positioning and, perhaps, most importantly for recruiting. The Terps have been more competitive the past two years — beating the Nittany Lions on a last-minute field goal in Happy Valley two years ago and losing a heartbreaker in Baltimore last season — than at any point in this one-sided rivalry. A victory today by Maryland, which comes in as a favorite, could help heat things up even more.

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Key matchup: The line of scrimmage for both teams. With both teams looking to run, especially the Terps, the play in the trenches will be key to the game's outcome. Penn State's offensive line has struggled to open holes for running back Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley has had to do more than the offense needs him to do. Conversely, Penn State's defensive line has to be able to put pressure on Perry Hills and be able to contain the Big Ten's third-best rushing offense behind the Buckeyes and Wolverines.

Player to watch: Senior wide receiver Levern Jacobs started last week for the first time, finishing with one catch for seven yards while having a busy day blocking on the perimeter for his team's running backs. Once considered Maryland' most reliable receiver and a potential deep threat, Jacobs will help take some pressure off sophomore DJ Moore, who has received a lot of attention the past few weeks, as well as give Hills another big-time target down the field.

--Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

Houston (5-0) at Navy (3-1)

When: Saturday, 3 p.m.

Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

TV: CBS Sports Network

Radio: WBAL (1090-AM), WNAV (1430-AM)

Series: Houston leads 2-0

What's at stake: Last year, this game determined the West Division representative in the inaugural American Athletic Conference championship game. The Cougars and Midshipmen were picked to finish one-two in the West again this season so this contest figures to have major conference implications.

Key matchup: Navy cornerbacks Tyris Wooten and Elijah Merchant against Houston wide receivers Chance Allen and Steven Dunbar. Merchant and Wooten are still unproven as first-year starters. They will be severely tested by a pair of big, strong, physical wideouts in Allen (6-3, 210) and Dunbar (6-3, 215). This will be a major challenge for the entire Navy secondary, which has shown some leaks so far this season and also must contend with slot receiver Linell Bonner and tight end Tyler McCloskey.

Player to watch: Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. – It's been a long time since a Heisman Trophy candidate came to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Ward is capable of putting on a show, although the home faithful might not be so thrilled to see it.

—Bill Wagner, Annapolis Capital

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