Delaware finished the regular season with a 5-0 record and a 4-0 mark in CAA play. Meanwhile, Sacred Heart lost its first game of the spring but rebounded with three straight victories to earn a spot in the FCS Spring Playoffs.
Can the Pioneers pull off the upset against the undefeated Blue Hens in Delaware on Saturday night?
Chestnut looking to carry Pioneers to upset winAfter a slow start to the spring, Sacred Heart closed the season with a 34-27 overtime victory on the road against Duquesne to earn a spot in the FCS Playoff Bracket. Marquez McCray completed 15 of 23 passes for 180 yards with two touchdowns while running back Julius Chestnut rushed 25 times for 173 yards and two scores for the Pioneers, who led by 14 points entering the fourth quarter before pulling out the win in overtime.
McCray has performed well in his first season as a starter. The 6-foot-2 sophomore has thrown for 793 yards with seven touchdowns and only two interceptions through four spring games. Instead, it has been Chestnut who has carried the load on offense for the Pioneers. A 6-foot-1, 215-pound running back with breakaway speed, Chestnut has 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons. He has rushed for 717 yards and 7.7 yards per carry with eight scores while adding three receiving touchdowns through four spring games.
On defense, Sacred Heart has given up 18.25 points per game, tied for 18th in the FCS, and 315.8 total yards per contest, good for 26th in the nation.
Balanced Blue Hens looking to make noise in FCS PlayoffsDelaware closed the regular season with a 27-20 victory on the road against Villanova to remain undefeated during the spring. Quarterback Nolan Henderson finished 20-of-24 for 270 yards and two touchdowns and Khory Spruill added a three-yard rushing touchdown to help seal the win.
Henderson has flashed tremendous progress during the spring season. He’s completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 988 yards with nine touchdowns and only two interceptions in five games and now owns an 18:3 TD:INT ratio over the past two seasons combined. The 6-foot-1 quarterback has developed a nice connection with fellow junior Thyrick Pitts, who has led the team in receiving in each of the last four games. The 6-foot-3 wide receiver is a big target and leads the team in receiving with 22 catches for 368 yards and three touchdowns so far this year.
The Blue Hens have been one of the fiercest defenses in the country this season. Delaware ranks second among teams with at least three games played, allowing just 11.6 points per game. The Blue Hens also rank third in the country in total defense at just 225 yards per game, and fourth against the pass, allowing just 116.2 yards per game through the air. Delaware has also excelled at winning the turnover battle and enters the FCS Playoffs tied for first in the nation with a +10 turnover margin through five contests.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Delaware comes into this game favored by three touchdowns, which seems like a bit of a stretch here. Sacred Heart may have a chance to slow down the Blue Hens with a good day on the ground and Chestnut has been one of the best running backs in the FCS during the spring season. The junior has amassed at least 168 rushing yards in each game this season and the Blue Hens’ defense is most vulnerable on the ground, where they come in ranked No. 16 in the nation at 108.8 yards per game. Look for Sacred Heart to cover the spread in the first round of the FCS Spring Playoffs on Saturday evening.
Full-Game Total Pick
These two teams are projected for 43 points but that number seems a bit low here. Delaware has scored at least 27 points in every game during the spring season while Sacred Heart has also found ways to manufacture points, scoring 26 points or more in each of its first four contests. The Pioneers should be able to move the ball on the ground in this game, and if they can do their part, this game should have no issues going over the projected total on Saturday night.