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October 21, 2011

Game Day: Bryant at RMU

Bryant at Robert Morris (2-4, 2-1 NEC) at Bryant (4-3, 2-2 NEC)

Kickoff: Noon EST

Radio and TV: WPIT 730 AM and wpitam.com

Live Stats: Live stats available on the official Robert Morris site.

Last Meeting: 27-21 Bryant

The Skinny: Ever since Bryant joined the Northeast Conference and began its transition to the Division I level three years, the Bulldogs have been a thorn in the Colonials' side. While other sports have done well against Bryant, the football team has struggled. Bryant's won all three meetings, including two after long drives to Smithfield, Rhode Island.

The last meeting hurt the most for Robert Morris. Ranked for the first time in school history, Robert Morris watched Bryant snap the Colonials' 8-game winning streak and forced them to settle for a share of the Northeast Conference title. The daggers? Two interception returns for touchdowns by Bryant, including an 80-yarder early in the third quarter that gave Bryant a 20-7 lead. Jeff Sinclair was not at his best that day in Smithfield, going 15-for-37 for 159 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

That was also the Colonials' introduction to Jordan Brown. Now a junior, the Bryant running back had 28 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns against Robert Morris.

Brown will be in the Colonials' cross-hair on Saturday. Fresh off a loss where Albany's balance kept the defense on edge, Robert Morris might relish the opportunity to force the passing game to beat them on Saturday. Bryant doesn't have the aerial attack that Albany did; the Bulldogs are eighth in the nine-team NEC in passing. So, they'll rely on Brown, who has a commanding lead as the conference's top rusher. Brown has 1,129 yards and 13 touchdowns through seven games, giving him 161 yards per game. He's also dangerous in the return game, another weak spot for Robert Morris.

Robert Morris still has the top run defense in the NEC, as well as the top overall defense in the league, although both took a hit last week. Bryant's no slouch on defense, sitting third in the league through seven games.

Therein lies the problem for Robert Morris. The Colonials are last in total offense and second-to-last in scoring offense in the league, mostly due to a running game that's struggled to find any sort of rhythm after the graduation of Myles Russ.

So once again, it might fall onto Jeff Sinclair to become the Robert Morris offense. The Colonials might be better served with Sinclair taking off on designed rollouts, sprints, and draws while using their backs as extra blocks in both the run game and passing game. Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but there is little doubt that Robert Morris will need its junior quarterback to be at his best if they're going to win.

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