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Patriot League Week 11: Finding Reasons To Fight To The Finish

With the regular season’s penultimate weekend upon us there’s two intriguing storylines worth following. The first one is clearly Colgate’s undefeated season to this point. The Raiders have deployed a dominating defense that is on pace to set numerous Patriot League records. The offense hasn’t been too shabby either (29.9 ppg, 1st in PL). A win over Lehigh this week would keep Colgate in contention for a 1st round bye in the FCS playoffs. The other noteworthy nugget this weekend is Georgetown’s quest for a winning record. The Hoyas host 1-8 Bucknell Saturday before trekking to Holy Cross to finish out the season. The Patriot League managed just one team with a winning record in 2017(Colgate) and are a Hoya loss away from replicating that dubious feat this season.

Lafayette (3-6, 2-3) at Army (7-2) 12 P.M. Michie Stadium West Point, NY

Live TV: CBS Sportsnetwork

The Pick: For the second time in three years Lafayette heads to historic Michie Stadium to take on FBS Army. The last time the Leopards invaded West Point, the eventual bowl bound Cadets demolished them to the tune of 62-7. Army’s potent triple-option offense racked up a ridiculous 552 rushing yards on their way to the easy victory. The Black Knights once again feature an elite rushing attack (306.6 ypg, 2nd in FBS) that’s led by quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. Holy Cross’s far more traditional offense lit up the Leopard defense last week for 431 totals yards and 40 points (2nd most surrendered this year). After showing some promise in recent weeks, the Lafayette offense took a step back in the loss to the Crusaders. Sophomore Sean O’Malley (23-41 156 yards 1 INT) continued the trend of more downs than ups in 2018. The main bright spot  on offense is C.J. Amill’s continued emergence (9 carries 65 yards 1 TD vs HC) running the ball.

On paper, this is probably the longest odds a Patriot League team has faced against an non-conference opponent in over a decade. Army is 7-2 but very easily could be 8-1 had they not suffered a heartbreaking overtime loss to Oklahoma, yes the Top 10 Sooners, in Norman. Even the 2016 version of Lafayette that finished 2-9 did not have to deal with an Army team this good. Army plays hard for 60 minutes regardless of the score which is not good news for the struggling Leopards.

Army 70 Lafayette 17

Fordham (1-8, 1-3) at Holy Cross (3-6, 2-2) 12 P.M Fitton Field Worcester, MA

Live Streaming: Patriot League Network

The Pick: Holy Cross returns home after notching their second straight dominating win over a team from the Lehigh Valley. After throttling Lehigh 56-0 two Saturdays ago, the rapidly improving Crusaders hammered Lafayette 40-14 in Easton this past weekend. Quarterback Geoff Wade had arguably the best game (16-21 289 yards 2 TDs) of his career while the steady ground attack used a RB by committee approach to grind out 142 yards in the “W”. Fordham heads to New England riding a wave of bad mojo following their 41-0 blowout loss to #9 Colgate. The loss was not only the Rams third in a row, it happened to be the first time they were shutout since 2011 (21-0 vs Bucknell). Holy Cross’s defense is certainly not on Colgate’s level but it’s held its own in league games (14.2 ppg allowed). The Rams must find a way to get the running game going in order to have a chance against the Crusaders. The Fordham rushing attack has managed an uber ugly -70 combined yards the last two weeks (vs Lafayette, vs Colgate). That has obviously made life especially tough for QB Tim DeMorat.

Holy Cross’s fate is already resigned to that of a “losing team” due to their 6 losses but as the regular season nears the end the Crusaders stock is rising. The offense’s main identity under Coach Chesney has been primarily run first (162.7 ypg, 2nd in PL). Yet, as the season has gone on it’s Geoff Wade’s improved passing that has allowed the “O” to really excel. Outside of the Lehigh win and Bryant loss, Fordham has played shockingly poor for much of the year under first year Head Coach Joe Conlin. At this point, it’s hard to imagine the Rams going on the road and upsetting what is likely the second best team in the Patriot League

Holy Cross 38 Fordham 17

Bucknell (1-8, 1-3) at Georgetown (4-5, 3-1) 12:30 P.M. Cooper Field Washington D.C.

Live Streaming: Patriot League Network
The Pick: Georgetown returns to action off their bye with the dream of a winning season and second play finish in the Patriot League still alive (at Holy Cross next week). The Hoyas have managed to accomplish that feat but once, 2011, since they joined the league prior to the 2001 season. In order for Georgetown to dispatch of Bucknell, the defense needs to gain their swagger back after giving up 38 points to Colgate two weeks ago. Things figure to be considerably easier for the Hoya defense against a Bucknell offense that has nowhere near the experience, or overall talent, that Colgate possesses. The Bison will once again turn to highly regarded freshman quarterback Tarrin Earle to lead the offense. The New Jersey native did some good things in his first career start (17-40 174 yards 2 TDs 1 INT) against Lehigh last week. While the offense certainly didn’t light up the scoreboard, it was the Bison defense that really struggled in the 45-17 loss. The Mountain Hawk’s entered the game with the league’s worst offense statistically but managed to generate numerous big plays against the Bison “D”.

In a season where Colgate has dominated while most everyone else has floundered, Georgetown’s run to respectability has been refreshing. Year in and year out Coach Sgarlata gets more out of his roster than any other coach in the league. It can’t be overstated what a winning record would mean to Sgarlata and his program. Conversely, 2018 has been a season Bucknell coach Joe Susan would much rather forget. The Bison seem destined for their second 10 loss season under his watch.

Georgetown 21 Bucknell 13

#9 Colgate (8-0, 5-0) at Lehigh (2-7, 1-3) 12:30 P.M. Goodman Stadium Bethlehem, PA

Live Streaming: Patriot League Network

The Pick: With a share of the Patriot League Championship and the automatic bid into the FCS Playoffs already wrapped up, Colgate heads to Bethlehem looking to lock down the outright title. It would be Colgate’s third outright Patriot League Title (’12, ’15, ’18) in the last seven seasons and fourth overall in that time frame. Standing in their way is the lone program, Lehigh, in the Patriot League that can match the Raiders pedigree over the last two decades. The Mountain Hawks enter this game with the most momentum they’ve had all season thanks to last week’s 45-17 dismantling of Bucknell. Unfortunately for Lehigh, that momentum may very well be careening towards the brick wall that doubles as the Colgate defense (2.9 ppg allowed, 1st in FCS). The Raiders travel to Goodman Stadium following their second straight shutout win that saw their absurd “No TD Allowed” streak reach its 28th quarter. Lost in the dominance of the ‘Gate defense is the continued solid production of QB Grant Breneman (16-19 198 yards, 1 rushing TD vs Fordham) and RB James Holland Jr. (165 yards 2 TDs vs Fordham).

Over the last 20 years, no matchup has factored into the Patriot League title race more than Colgate vs Lehigh; and it’s not even close. Recently, the Mountain Hawks have had Colgate’s number (6-2 this decade) but that trend will mean very little once the game gets under way. Lehigh has the athletes on offense capable of putting an end to the Raiders touchdown streak but that’s about it. The Mountain Hawks leaky defense won’t be able to get enough stops to seriously threaten the 9th ranked team in FCS.

Colgate 38 Lehigh 13

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