All seven Patriot League teams are in action this weekend after Colgate-Villanova got the 34th season of Patriot League football started last Saturday.
Saint Francis (0-0) at Lehigh (0-0) 12:30 P.M. Goodman Stadium Bethlehem, PA
Live Stream: Patriot League Network
The Need to Know: For the second straight year St. Francis makes the 4 hour trek from Loretto to Bethlehem to face Lehigh in the season opener. The Mountain Hawks snuck past the Red Flashes 21-19 last season thanks to a blocked field goal as time expired. St. Francis was picked 6th in the preseason NEC poll on the heels of last year’s 4-7 campaign. The Red Flashes are starting several new faces at the skill positions on offense. As a result, they might lack the weapons and experience to test Lehigh’s questionable “D”.
Lehigh’s offense must contend with a veteran St. Francis defense that returns six starters from a unit that was statistically (290.3 ypg in’18) among the best in FCS last season. Tyler Monaco made his first career start against St. Francis last year so he got a taste of what he’ll be going up against. The Mountain Hawks talent and experience on offense should ultimately prove to be the difference.
The Pick: Lehigh 30 Saint Francis 20
Georgetown (0-0) at Davidson (0-0) 1 P.M. Richardson Stadium Davidson, NC
Live Stream: GUHoyas.com
The Need to Know: Georgetown’s most eagerly anticipated football season in at least two decades kicks off Saturday against the Davidson Wildcats. The Wildcats themselves enter the 2019 season with some momentum of their own following last year’s 6-5 record. Davidson was picked to finish 5th in the 10 team Pioneer Football League. The Hoyas must contend with a Wildcat offense that led FCS in ypg (561) and rushing (442). Davidson’s powerful rushing attack is led by Wesley Dugger (1,241 yards in ’18).
Georgetown is the deeper, more talented team but Davidson has a chance to make this game interesting if their offense can pick up where it left off last year. Getting the “O” going won’t be easy against a Hoya defense which should be one of the better units in FCS.
The Pick: Georgetown 37 Davidson 24
Bucknell (0-0) at Temple (0-0) 3 P.M. Lincoln Financial Field Philadelphia, PA
Live Stream: ESPN3
The Need to Know: The Dave Cecchini era officially gets underway when the Bison travel to the “City of Brotherly Love” to take on the Temple Owls (FBS). It’s the first meeting between the two Pennsylvania schools since 1970. The Keystone State schools battled annually from 1927-1970 for the “Old Shoe Trophy”. Temple was picked 4th in the AAC East following last season’s 8-5 mark. Like the Bison, the Cherry and White will be led by a first year head coach. Rod Carey headed to North Broad Street after spending six years at Northern Illinois as head coach.
The Owls are the far superior team in every aspect. They’re led on offense by NFL prospect Anthony Russo (2,563 yards 14 TD 14 INT) at quarterback and a veteran OL. The Bison will need to possess the ball and hope for several turnovers to come their way in order to be competitive for 60 minutes. Odds are this one gets out of hand in a hurry.
The Pick: Temple 59 Bucknell 13
#13 Colgate (0-1) at Air Force (0-0) 3:30 P.M. ET Falcon Stadium Colorado Springs, CO
Live Stream: ESPN3
The Need to Know: Colgate heads to Colorado to take on Air Force for the second time in the last six seasons (AF 38-13 in ’13). The Raiders will be trying to bounce back from last week’s lopsided loss to Villanova while the Falcons will be kicking off their 2018 campaign. Air Force (5-7 in ’18) was picked to finish third in the Mount West Conference’s “Mountain Division”. Their defense is led by two preseason all-league selections; DL Jordan Jackson and DB Jeremy Fejedelem. Offensively the Falcons return two capable quarterbacks (Isaiah Sanders/Donald Hammond III), a veteran RB and four offensive lineman. The pieces are in place for the Falcons option attack to be highly productive.
Colgate has a very tall task trying to avoid a 0-2 start against a potentially 8-9 win Air Force team at 6,000 feet. The Falcons are a perfect 23-0 all-time against 1-AA/FCS teams. The Raiders need to slow down the Air Force option attack and generate big plays on offense to have a chance of remaining competitive for 4 quarters.
The Pick: Air Force 51 Colgate 17
Holy Cross (0-0) at Navy (0-0) 3:30 P.M. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium Annapolis, MD
Live Stream: CBSsports.com
The Need to Know: For the first time ever Holy Cross and Navy will do battle on the gridiron. Both teams enter 2019 looking to bounce back from rather disappointing 2018 seasons (Holy Cross 5-6/Navy 3-10). The Midshipmen were projected to finish 5th in the AAC West Division following last year’s 10 loss season. Despite Navy’s struggles last year they continued to have one of the top rushing attacks in FBS (276 ypg). The Middies defense last in ’18 had a hard time keeping opponents off the scoreboard (35.5 ppg allowed) and remains a concern heading into the opener against the Crusaders.
If Holy Cross’s quarterback Connor Degenhardt can handle the jitters of making his first carrier start in a hostile environment the Crusaders have the weapons to move the ball on the Navy defense. The issue for Holy Cross will be the inexperienced defense trying to contain the Middies well-oiled triple-option offense.
The Pick: Navy 49 Holy Cross 27
Lafayette (0-0) at William & Mary (0-0) 6 P.M. Zable Stadium Williamsburg, VA
Live Stream: Flofootball.com
The Need to Know: Lafayette and William & Mary will meet for the fifth time (5 all-time meetings) in the last seven years Saturday evening in Williamsburg. The Leopards won the inaugural meeting in 2012 while the Tribe have won the last three contests (most recent 34-7 at Lafayette in ’15). This will be the first game the Tribe have played at the 1-AA/FCS level (1982-present) without Jimmye Laycock as their head coach (1980-2018). Mike London, who led Richmond to the 2008 FCS National Title, takes over for Laycock. The Tribe finished 4-6 in Laycock’s final season and were picked to finish 11th in the CAA this year. William & Mary has won 33 out of their last 35 games against non-conference FCS teams. Interestingly, the only two losses during that period came against Patriot League foes, Lafayette in 2012 and Colgate last season.
Both teams possessed anemic offenses (W&M 13 ppg/Laf 13.6 ppg) in 2018 and neither are expected to light it up this season. The defenses are the strength of the Tribe and Pards so the recipe is there for a low scoring game. The Tribe have the more talented roster top to bottom which should carry them to the win.
The Pick: William & Mary 21 Lafayette 13
Central Connecticut State (0-0) at Fordham (0-0) 6 P.M. Jack Coffey Field Bronx, NY
Live Stream: Patriot League Network
The Need to Know: Perhaps the most intriguing game featuring a Patriot League team this weekend resides in the Bronx when the Devils and Rams meet for the third straight year. Central Connecticut State is expected to challenge for the NEC title (picked 3rd in preseason poll) in Ryan McCarthy’s first season as head coach. The Devils “O” was the top scoring (33.8 ppg) unit in the NEC last season with McCarthy as the offensive coordinator. The unit returns a veteran offensive line and one of the best running backs in the NEC, Aaron Dawson (896 yards 13 TDs).
The outcome of this game might boil down to the Devils excellent offensive line versus Fordham’s retooled d-line. Central Connecticut State is breaking in a new quarterback and figures to rely on the rushing attack to set the tone. This game feels like a toss-up on paper so the home team gets the slightest of edge.
The Pick: Fordham 27 Central Connecticut State 24