Rhody Football is gearing up to get back in action and I took a look at their upcoming schedule that the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) announced to highlight the biggest games for the Rams in 2023.
The University of Rhode Island Rams begin their 2023 campaign in Atlanta, Georgia when they take on Georgia State in a non-conference matchup. Rhody is looking to improve on a 7-4 record after just missing out on the Football championship subdivision playoffs for the 37th straight year last season. The Rams have come close in 2021 and 2022 as the program continues to improve and gain momentum within the FCS. With the upcoming season steadily approaching there are a few games that Rhody fans should have marked on their calendars.
September 8th is the first time the Rams will defend home turf this year as the Stony Brook Seawolves come to Kingston in a CAA matchup. The Rams and Seawolves have faced each other nine times, all coming within the last nine seasons. The Seawolves won the first seven matchups between these two programs, with the Rams taking the last two with a 20-17 overtime win in 2021 here in Kingston and a 35-14 victory on Long Island last year in both team’s first test of the season.
If the Rams want to get to the FCS playoffs, they need to beat their divisional opponents and prove to the FCS committee that they are worthy of a playoff spot.
On Saturday, September 30th the Bryant University Bulldogs come to town for the second of the three non conference matchups the Rams will have. This will be only the fourth time the Rams and Bulldogs have faced off, as the inter-state rivals matched up in 1985, 2021 and 2022 with Rhody coming away with the win all three times.
Since Bryant moved up to Division one in 2008, the rival universities have only played twice, but in 2020 the teams announced a 10 year home-and-home deal to continue the rivalry until 2030. This matchup at Meade Stadium is near the halfway point in the season for both squads as they will be lobbying for playoff positions, these two Ocean State programs should put together a good game with the winner claiming the bragging rights.
The game with the most tension and build up for the Rams will be against the University of New Hampshire. The Wildcats effectively helped end the Rams 2022 campaign with a 31-28 win in Durham last November, but the game was controversial.
With 17 seconds remaining, Wildcats quarterback Max Brosmer threw the game winning touchdown to wide receiver DJ Linkins that ended up being the nail in the coffin on Rhode Island’s season. With this loss the Rams fell to 6-4 pushing them out of the possibility of eight wins, and no FCS team has ever missed the postseason with eight or more wins.
The controversy that arose once the game was over was that there was thought Linkins may have dropped the ball. Post-game there were images released from field level that looked as if the ball may have bounced off the ground as Linkins fell towards the turf.
The touchdown was reviewed during the game but with not enough evidence to overturn the call, the Wildcats successfully defended their home turf in Durham which helped them qualify for the FCS playoffs. The Rams will be out for revenge when the Wildcats come to Kingston on October 28th, with this major conference matchup coming in week nine it will be pivotal for both programs as they will be fighting to secure playoff spot.
Rhode Island is already starting to get in shape for the 2023 season as commitments begin to roll in and practices are primed to resume in the Spring, Rhody is looking to finally make it back to the playoffs. The FCS playoffs have been the goal for the Rams since Coach Jim Fleming took over in December of 2013, and while they have not made it there yet Fleming has vastly improved the program to make it a respectable place to play. 2023 is a big year for the Rams and these games at Meade Stadium will be influential for the Rams playoff hopes.