Autumn Walter | Fans look on as Rhode Island beats the University of Albany in the home opener. Rhody nation is hopeful for this season.
Rhode Island football was recently ranked #25 in the FCS STATS weekly top 25 rankings. The Rams have started 2-0 including an upset over #15 the University of Delaware and then a statement win over CAA opponent Albany. It is the first time the University of Rhode Island’s football program has been ranked in nearly 17 years. The Rams currently sit at the top of the Colonial Athletic Association conference with a 2-0 record in conference play.
It has been a long time coming for Jim Fleming and company to crack the rankings. Rhody was flirting with the rankings last year as they received votes after a 30-27 triple-overtime loss against FBS opponent Central Michigan to open the season.
After an impressive upset victory over Delaware in week one, URI received 178 votes and finished 29th in the rankings. URI was able to pull the upset thanks in part to three forced turnovers by the Rhody defense including a game-sealing fumble forced by senior linebacker Justin Hogan.
They were finally able to crack the top 25 after quarterback JaJuan Lawson threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns. Lawson led the dynamic Rhody offense to an impressive 45-26 win over Albany that sent shockwaves throughout the conference.
This is the first time URI has started 2-0 since 2005 but in order to find the last time Rhody was ranked you have to travel back more than 15 years back.
The year is 2001. The Ryan Center hasn’t opened its doors and URI football is trying to bounce back after a disappointing 3-8 record. Before the 2000 campaign, there was buzz around Kingston and Meade Stadium after the hiring of Head Coach Tim Stowers. Stowers has been part of four NCAA I-AA national championships as an assistant then as head coach at Georgia Southern. Stowers drew 1,000 fans for his first blue and white game in the spring of 2000. Stowers struggled in his first year and only posted a 3-8 record.
It’s interesting the way sports works and how history always has a way of repeating itself. The 2001 Rhode Island team opened their season on Aug. 30 against a ranked Delaware team on the road and pulled the upset. Sound familiar? It is the exact date team and location that the 2018 Rams faced for the first game of the season. Furthermore, both the 01’ and 18’ teams were rebounding from 3-8 seasons.
The 01’ Rams would go on to win their first seven games and finished the season with an 8-3 record. Fleming and company have a very manageable schedule that continues with FBS opponent UCONN this Saturday in Connecticut.