About two hours after the final whistle of the Birmingham Stallions/ New Orleans Breakers contest, game two of the split doubleheader sees the league move to its Ohio hub. Canton’s Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium is the site of the first night game in the USFL in several weeks.
Stars and Maulers Rematch After Sunset Saturday in Canton
The Philadelphia Stars (3-3) travel to the Buckeye State to meet the Pittsburgh Maulers (2-4) for the second time in the regular season. Kickoff time in Canton is set for just past 9 pm ET/ 8 pm CT on FS1.
Weekend ready 😤 pic.twitter.com/H3aNhWhtny
— Pittsburgh Maulers (@USFLMaulers) May 25, 2023
With the later kickoff (this is the latest scheduled starting time in the entirety of the USFL season), most, if not all of the game will take place under the night sky. Sunset in Canton is at 8:47 pm ET, right before the start of the contest.
Cool Temperatures Expected for Nightcap in Canton
Given that the game will occur a few minutes after the sun sets, temperatures will drop as the contest progresses. Current weather forecasts project that readings will start out at 74 degrees before cooling off to the low-60s later on in the evening.
Overnight lows after the game will bottom out at 53 degrees. If you have tickets to the game, take a light jacket. You’ll need it after dark.
Philadelphia Stars vs. Pittsburgh Maulers Betting Odds
For the first time this season, the oddsmakers have the Philadelphia/Pittsburgh game on Saturday night as a pick-’em. The point spread is even, as well as the money line (-110 for each team.)
Saturday’s over-under is set at 39 1/2 points. If you plan on betting on this or any other game happening over the weekend, please wager responsibly.
When Last They Met…
It was almost a month ago when Pittsburgh and Philadelphia first played one another on April 30. The Maulers entered the game at 0-2 that day, but a key impact player that Sunday afternoon was an unorthodox source.
Maulers placekicker Chris Blewitt equaled a then-USFL record for most field goals converted in a game, going 5-for-5 en route to the win. Ironically, Blewitt missed an extra point attempt on Pittsburgh’s only touchdown late in the third quarter.
This record has since been eclipsed by Philadelphia kicker Luis Aguilar, who converted all eight of his field goal attempts two weeks ago vs. the New Jersey Generals.
Case Cookus Has to Secure the Ball
Even though last week’s game saw Philadelphia Stars quarterback Case Cookus escape Ford Field without having his offensive line allow him to be sacked by the New Orleans Breakers, he had some trouble throwing the football. Although Cookus threw for 238 yards, he was picked off twice.
In a close football game, a quarterback can’t afford to throw costly picks. Just as getting sacked has been problematic for Cookus, him getting intercepted is another issue.
Through week six of the season, he’s thrown seven interceptions against five passing touchdowns. Your trusty calculator will show you that Case Cookus is averaging just over one pick a game.
If he’s forced to throw errant passes, Saturday night will be a long one for Cookus and the Stars’ offensive line. Another night of two interceptions might force Philadelphia to abandon the aerial attack entirely.
Can Wiley Be Aggressive When the Ball Goes Up?
As we mentioned during the Birmingham/New Orleans breakdown last time out, Breakers quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson was picked off twice by the Stars’ defense. One of those interceptions was by Philadelphia safety LaDarius Wiley.
This was Wiley’s first interception of the season, and picking the ball off has become somewhat of a challenge for him. Since turning pro, he’s only intercepted three passes altogether.
With Pittsburgh reeling from a shutout loss a week ago Saturday, to a man, the Stars will try their hardest to make life miserable for the Maulers all over again. Look for Wiley to cover Pittsburgh’s wideouts. If he’s lucky, he might just pick off another pass.
Maulers Hungry for More From Hennie
To put it simply, last Saturday afternoon against the Memphis Showboats on USA Network, the Pittsburgh Maulers were soundly defeated in all facets of the game. At the same time, however, they had one bright spot on the day.
Wide receiver Isiah Hennie, who returned a kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown in week one, led the charge with eight receptions for 103 yards last week. Hennie’s story is an interesting one.
Prior to the USFL rebooting ahead of last season, this is a man who was out of the sport for four years upon leaving Sacramento State. With Hennie already accounting for two touchdowns this season, another 100-yard night this Saturday might be enough to give NFL teams another reason to look at him.
Can Roberts Have Another Good Night?
One of the major cogs on defense for the Maulers has been lineman Boogie Roberts. Despite the 22-0 shutout a week ago, Roberts turned in a decent performance, recording eight tackles and one quarterback sack.
Roberts hadn’t sacked an opposing quarterback in four games ahead of week six. If Roberts is able to cause disruption up front, look out.
This is a crucial 60 minutes of football for both squads. The loser of this game will have only themselves to blame if they miss the playoffs.
Keep in mind that every single team in the league is still mathematically in contention for a postseason berth as we head into week seven. Crunch time begins now.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Philadelphia 17.