Now ranked, Albany on a crusade

Albany will take the field as a ranked team for the first time in nearly two years this weekend, though don't expect the Great Danes to enter Saturday's home opener with Holy Cross (7 p.m. ET) with swelled heads.

The Crusaders (1-1) handed Albany a crushing 37-0 loss last October, getting three touchdown passes from standout quarterback Peter Pujals and yielding just 203 total yards on defense.

That defeat began a 1-6 slide to finish out Albany's 2015 campaign, but the young Great Danes have grown up and regrouped.

Those strides were evident in a landmark 22-16 season-opening win at Buffalo, and the maturity showed in a potential letdown scenario last week at Rhode Island. Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks' 178 rushing yards and three touchdowns along with fourth-quarter interception return touchdowns from Rayshan Clark and Michael Nicastro produced a 35-7 rout.

The Great Danes came in 25th in this week's STATS FCS Top 25, giving the CAA six ranked programs for the second time this season. Towson was 24th in the preseason poll before falling out after its 56-20 loss at South Florida on Sept. 3.

Holy Cross makes a second straight trip to a ranked CAA school, having fallen 39-28 to No. 22 New Hampshire last Saturday. Pujals threw for 427 yards and three more touchdowns, but the Crusaders surrendered 552 total yards and allowed the final 20 points to blow a 28-19 third-quarter lead.

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