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UConn Football Opponent Preview: Rhode Island

The Huskies’ FCS opponent this season is an old Yankee Conference rival.

NCAA Football: Rhode Island at Kansas John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

After the UConn Huskies head west to take on Boise State on the smurf turf, they return to Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field for a matchup against FCS foe and longtime Yankee Conference rival Rhode Island.

URI is looking to avenge the loss of head basketball coach Dan Hurley to UConn this past spring. Unlike some teams on UConn’s schedule this season, the Rams and Huskies actually do have a long history, with a rivalry dating back to 1897 and a former trophy that was actually acknowledged by both schools and called “The Ramnapping Trophy.”

Overall, UConn has a 51-35-8 record against Rhody, with the Huskies outscoring the Rams 104-17 in the two games the teams have played since UConn moved up to the FBS level. Their last meeting was in 2009, where the Huskies won comfortably (but did not claim the Ramnapping Trophy, which stopped changing hands in 1999) 52-10 at the Rent.

Simply put, the UConn-URI rivalry is everything Bob Diaco hoped the ConFLiCT would be.

2017 Review

Much like UConn, URI was not very good in 2017. The Rams went 3-8 with wins over Villanova, Harvard and Albany. Rhode Island did take on defending national champion James Madison in Colonial Athletic Association play, but got trounced by the Dukes 38-3 at home.

However, URI did hang tight with their FBS opponent last season, taking Central Michigan to overtime in their season opener before eventually losing 30-27.

Overall, the Rams had a decent passing game last season, ranking 36th in the country with 233.9 passing yards per game. Even with preseason All-American running back and kick returner Harold Cooper, Rhode Island ranked 104th out of 123 teams with just 101.2 rushing yards per game.

Defensively, URI gave up 27.3 points per game last season and featured the only defensive line in the country in which five different players recorded five or more sacks.

2018 Preview

While Harold Cooper is gone, Rhode Island still has some weapons in wide receivers Aaron Parker and Marven Beauvais. As a sophomore, Parker caught a touchdown in nine-straight games and already ranks in the top 10 for career receiving yards and touchdowns at URI. Beauvais ranked second behind Parker in every major category and was named to the CAA Preseason All-Conference Third Team this season while Parker was named to the Second Team.

On the defensive side, senior defensive end Tez Wilson and junior defensive tackle Brandon Ginnetti return for the Rams. The duo provided 12 of the program-record 32 sacks last season, and both joined Parker on the CAA Preseason All-Conference Second Team.

According to SB Nation’s football guru Bill Connelly, this game is the only game this season UConn is favorited to win, with 84 percent chance of victory and projected margin of 17.5 points. With a very realistic chance of heading back to East Hartford for this game with an 0-2 record, Randy Edsall and the Huskies need to use this game as a springboard to build momentum and keep morale high heading north to Syracuse.

Prediction: UConn 30, URI 17.