There are two kinds of division 1-AA football programs. First, there are the schools like North Dakota State, who can put a scare into anybody that doesn’t pay them enough attention. Then there are the others, and the Fordham Rams probably are more like the latter than most. Before going 2-1 this spring in the COVID-rescheduled 1-AA season, the Rams hadn’t had a winning record since 2016. The Sagarin computer ranking put Fordham at #202 in their combined 1-A and 1-AA rankings after the 2020-21. There’s a serious argument to be made that Fordham could be the worst opponent Nebraska has faced in modern times.
That being said, games like this are more about how YOU play, not how the opponent plays. So Nebraska can’t just merely walk into Memorial Stadium and assume a victory, because just about anything can happen any given Saturday. This preview is based more on who I’m guessing will play for Fordham, because frankly, there isn’t a lot of updated information available about Fordham football out there. The Rams athletic department hasn’t even posted an updated roster for the 2021 season... so here goes nothing.
Quarterback Tim DeMorat (6’4” 208 lbs.) completed 72% of his passes this spring, averaging nearly 350 yards per game and throwing five touchdowns with three interceptions. In 2019, DeMorat was much less effective, completing 59% of his passes, averaging 223 yards per game. DeMorat is not a huge threat to run the ball, gaining 32 yards this spring after subtracting sacks; in 2019, he lost 158 yards net after subtracting sacks. (Don’t completely ignore him running the ball; he did have a 58 yard run in 2019.)
In the spring, Trey Sneed (5’11” 215 lbs.) led the Rams in rushing with 58 yards per game, but only 3.4 yards per carry. In 2019, Sneed averaged 50 yards per game and 4.6 yards per game. Zach Davis (5’10” 205 lbs.) was a first-team All-Patriot League running back in 2019, averaging 84 yards per game and 5.1 yards per game; he was anticipated to play this spring but didn’t.
DeMorat’s top receiving targets this spring were Fotis Kokosioulis (5’9” 170 lbs.) and Dequece Carter (6’0” 190 lbs.) who each averaged just over 90 yards per game receiving. Hamze El-Zayat (5’10” 185 lbs.), 2019’s leading receiver, missed one game this spring after catching 62 passes for 642 yards in 2019.
As you might suspect, Fordham’s offensive line will be smaller than most 1-A lines; the roster only shows five players weighing over 300 pounds. Last season’s best was all-Patriot League left tackle Nick Zakelj (6’5” 325 lbs.).
Defensively, the Rams should be led by linebacker Ryan Greenhagen (6’1” 235 lbs.), a 2019 1-AA All-American who had 123 tackles (18.5 for a loss) in his last full season. Fellow linebacker Glenn Cunningham (6’2” 235 lbs.) was a first-team all-Patriot League honoree in 2019 with 78 tackles. Defensive lineman Anthony Diodato (6’4” 280 lbs.) and nose tackle Jonathan Coste (6’3” 295 lbs.) led the defensive line this spring with 14 and 11 tackles this spring.
Other than the “any given Saturday” talking point, there isn’t much of a reason to think that Fordham will pose much of a threat to Nebraska —- as long as the Huskers don’t presume a cakewalk. The Rams have gone 2-4 against 1-A competition the last ten years, with victories over Temple (30-29) in 2013 and Army (37-35) in 2015. Since then, they’ve been shelled by Ball State (57-29) in 2019, Army (64-6) in 2017 and Navy (52-16) in 2016. The expectation should be that the Huskers play well enough early to allow the youngsters on the roster to get significant playing time in the game.
What happens when Fordham comes to Lincoln?
This poll is closed
Total embarrassment as the Rams have their Appalachian State moment in an upset for the ages.
Nebraska plays down to the competition, but holds out for an ugly win.
Nebraska plays just about everybody on the roster, and hopefully nobody gets hurt in a blowout.