With the final month of the regular season upon us, the only real positive drama left is #12 Colgate’s playoff fate. Sure Colgate must beat either Fordham or Lehigh (combined 2-14) first to secure the auto-bid but we’re going to hedge our bet and say they do. Given how easily the Raiders have dispatched similar competition throughout the year it’s virtually impossible to imagine them tripping up. Assuming the Raiders complete the perfect league mark they’ll then have to beat a stout FBS Army team in West Point to notch an undefeated regular season. A win over the bowl bound Black Knights would certainly lock the Raiders into one of the eight seeds that comes with a bye and at least one home game. A loss to Army would not eliminate Colgate from seed contention. Instead, they’ll be in the unenviable position of being at the mercy of other outcomes from around the country. If the Raiders fail to earn a seed there’s still a chance at a home playoff game should they outbid their opponent. With 3 weeks left in the regular season Sacred Heart (NEC), Maine (CAA), Stony Brook (CAA), Towson (CAA) and Delaware (CAA) appear to be the most probable 1st and/or 2nd round foes. The last time Colgate earned a playoff seed (2003) they parlayed it into a Finals appearance.
Holy Cross (2-6, 1-2) at Lafayette (3-5, 2-2) 12:30 P.M. Fisher Field Easton, PA
Live Streaming: Patriot League Network
The Pick: The most intriguing game this weekend in the Patriot League will take place on College Hill when the confident Crusaders try to conquer an improving Leopard team. Holy Cross heads to Easton fresh off an emphatic 56-0 thrashing of Lehigh. Crusader RB Domenic Crozier will look to replicate last week’s 208 yard 1 TD (Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week) effort against Lafayette. Coach Chesney’s recipe will remain a steady dose of the Crusader potent rushing attack (2nd in PL, 165.3 ypg) with just enough of Geoff Wade’s efficient passing to keep Lafayette’s leaky (27.3 ppg allowed) defense honest. The Leopards are returning home after two straight league wins. Lafayette’s improved play in recent weeks can be attributed to an offense that is starting to produce through the air and on the ground. To combat last week’s driving rainstorm, Coach Garrett turned to the RB duo of C.J. Amil (133 yards 1 TD) and Selwyn Simpson (112 yards 2 TDs) to lead the way against Fordham.
Both teams enter this game playing their best football of the year. The winner will likely finish no worse than tied for second in the final league standings. Lafayette has the home field advantage but Holy Cross seems to be a little deeper on both sides of the ball. Don’t be surprised if the winner of this game emerges as a legit contender in 2019.
Holy Cross 24 Lafayette 20
Bucknell (1-7, 1-2) at Lehigh (1-7, 0-3) 12:30 P.M. Goodman Stadium Bethlehem, PA
Live Streaming: Patriot League Network
The Pick: The likely “Battle For The Basement” will take place Saturday afternoon when the beleaguered Lehigh Mountain Hawks host the bumbling Bucknell Bison. Lehigh returns home after an embarrassing 56-0 loss to Holy Cross. With the “L”, the Mountain Hawks fell to 0-3 in league play for the first time ever. From the opening whistle onward it appeared the Mountain Hawks wanted to be anywhere in the world other than rainy and windy Worcester. The lack of fight from the two-time defending Patriot League in recent weeks is extremely alarming. Lehigh currently ranks last in the Patriot League in total scoring offense (12.3 ppg), scoring defense (39.8) and total defense (494.8). Things aren’t much better in Bisonland heading into this one with Freshman QB Tarrin Earle making his first career start. The much heralded QB from New Jersey assumes the reigns after Logan Bitikofer suffered a serious knee injury against Lafayette two weeks ago. Bucknell was on their bye last week so Coach Susan and OC Bobby Acosta had extra time to get Earle prepared for the starting role. The usually stout Bison defense (29.4 ppg allowed, 5th in PL) has been off their game for much of the season. As a result, the freshman QB will likely need to generate a respectable point total in order to make his first collegiate start a victorious one.
These are two teams that have suffered through varying degrees of ugliness in 2018. Lehigh is trending towards arguably their worst season in program history while Bucknell has already secured their 4th straight losing campaign. If Tarrin Earle can avoid the costly mistakes that often plague quarterbacks making their first starts the Bison will win. The Mountain Hawk defense hasn’t had an answer for anyone, regardless of experience, in recent weeks.
Bucknell 31 Lehigh 20
#12 Colgate (7-0, 4-0) at Fordham (1-7, 1-2) 1 P.M. Jack Coffey Field Bronx, NY
Live Stream: Patriot League Network
The Pick: Undefeated and rarely scored upon Colgate will try to clinch at least a share of their second straight Patriot League Title when they make the 5 hour trek to the “Big Apple” to take on one win Fordham. The Raiders are coming off a dominating 38-0 win over Georgetown in what was likely the unofficial league title game. The Raiders top ranked defense (3.3 ppg allowed) extended their absurd streak of not allowing a TD to 24 quarters in the victory over the Hoyas. Not surprisingly the Raiders ground game (275 yards) led the way on a rainy, windswept day in Central New York. Fordham will have the tall task of trying to rebound against the nationally ranked Raiders after last week’s ugly performance against Lafayette. The Rams offense, which put up 40+ the previous two weeks, went M.I.A. (7 first downs, -20 yards rushing) against the Leopards so-so “D”. That’s certainly not the wave of momentum Coach Conlin wants his team to be riding with arguably the best defense in FCS on tap. The Rams must find a way to generate some semblance of a balanced attack if they want to have any chance against Colgate.
Before the season started this game was circled as one that would likely factor into the league race given the recent history of success both programs have enjoyed. As things have played out, Colgate is among the best teams in FCS while Fordham is suffering through their worst season since 2011. The question is not will Colgate win. It’s will Colgate allow a touchdown?
Colgate 31 Fordham 3