With the announcement of the Patriot League guidelines affecting Patriot League football play to begin the season, there may have been a choice to make for Stony Brook: search for another open vacancy spot, or wait till September 12. The answer: look for another spot. The result: @ Western Michigan on September 4.
Because of the guidelines that stated Patriot League football members may not return to campus until September 5, Stony Brook Football’s season-opener at Fordham was canceled. However, it didn’t stop the Seawolves to find another opponent to open the season in an effort to preserve their scheduled 11-game season.
Western Michigan was scheduled to play the Colgate Raiders on September 4. But, because Colgate is part of the same conference as Fordham, the Broncos also had to find another opponent to host to begin the season, otherwise, they would begin their season September 11 against the Cincinnati Bearcats. With Stony Brook and Western Michigan’s Patriot League opponent withdrawing from the match, they eventually found the ability to play each other.
Should the college football season start on time, this will be the first all-time meeting between both football programs. For the Seawolves, they will be playing two teams from the FBS for the first time since 2012, their last season in the Big South Conference before switching to the CAA. In 2012, Stony Brook played at Syracuse and Army, losing to the Orange 28-17 and upsetting the Black Knights 23-3, their first and only win against an FBS opponent in school history. Stony Brook finished their season 10-3, co-champions of the Big South, playoff bid, 1st-round win vs. co-CAA champion Villanova, and 2nd-round loss @ #2 Montana State 16-10.
The Seawolves are coming off their 20-year anniversary season of being in Division I, winning 4 of their first 5 games, including a come-from-behind 31-27 win at Rhode Island to begin their conference season, but lost 6 of their last 7 games, with their lone win in that stretch coming against #5 Villanova in a comeback upset victory after trailing 28-10 at halftime. Tyquell Fields, starting QB from last season, will be returning with multiple offensive linemen returning as well to give him as many opportunities for pass protection as possible. The running game is preserved with the returns of Ty Son Lawton and Seba Nekhet, who saw a lot of playing time last season, and new weapons for Fields that have the experience at wide receiver, such as incoming graduate transfer from New Hampshire, Malik Love, and returning veterans in Shawn Harris, Jr., and Delante Hellams, Jr.
Western Michigan faces a season with new challenges that include a new offensive regime, with redshirt sophomore Kaleb Eleby becoming a reliable starting QB for the Broncos following the departure of 4-year starter Jon Wassink, and a change in the running game after LeVante Bellamy graduated alongside Wassink and signed as an UDFA with the Denver Broncos after a huge senior season featuring almost 1500 rushing yards and 23 TD’s. Wassink and Bellamy helped the Broncos to a 7-6 season, with a 5-3 record in conference play, and a bowl-game appearance vs. Western Kentucky in the First Responder Bowl, losing 23-20.
Tim Lester and Chuck Priore will meet each other face-to-face as they hope to give their teams a big push with the obstacles that appear to face them both throughout the 2020 season. For Stony Brook, they look to return to the FCS playoffs after missing out last season for the first time in 3 seasons. For Western Michigan, they look to improve on an average outing that gave them a bowl-game appearance, but still searching for their 2nd-ever win in a bowl game, with a current record of 1-9 in bowl games.
The time of the contest is still undetermined between the two programs but should be confirmed soon as the 2020 College Football season approaches along with each conference’s media day, in-person or virtual, approaching. A game like this could give Western Michigan a positive outlook for their season and/or build experience for Stony Brook as they face another competitive conference schedule in the CAA.