Patriot League: Week 3 Preview

It’s week 3 and the Patriot League is still looking for its first win (0-8). The added restrictions the Patriot League place upon its teams continue to adversely affect the on-field results. As bad as 2018 was for the league, this year seems to trending in an even worse direction.

Things don’t figure to get much easier for the six league members that are in action Saturday given a relatively tough slate of games. Colgate gets a much needed bye after a brutal two game stretch to open their 2019 campaign.

Marist (0-0) at Georgetown (0-1, 0-0) 12:30 P.M. Cooper Field; Washington D.C.

Live Stream:

The Need to Know: The Hoyas will try to avoid an 0-2 start when they host Marist Saturday afternoon in Washington D.C.. Georgetown opened up the 2019 season with a disappointing 27-20 loss to Davidson. Like Davidson , Maris is a member of the Pioneer Football League. The Red Foxes were picked to finish 4th in the PFL’s preseason poll and placed one player, OL Dan Wittekind, on the preseason all-league team. Marist finished 2018 5-6 overall and 5-3 in league play. The Hoyas easily dispatched of the Red Foxes 39-14 last season.

For the second straight week (allowed 481 yards vs Davidson) the Hoya “D” will be tested by a veteran offense. Marist returns a plethora of experience and production at the skill positions. The Hoyas have the personnel on defense to bounce back. Their fate will come down to quarterback Gunther Johnson and “O” ability to step up and produce for 4 quarters. Home-field and a game worth of experience should help Georgetown eek out a victory.

Prediction: Georgetown 27 Marist 24

Lafayette (0-1, 0-0) at Monmouth (0-1) 1 P.M. Kessler Stadium; West Long Branch, NJ

Live Stream: ESPN3

The Need to Know: The Leopards take the 60 minute bus ride across the Garden State to take on the Monmouth Hawks. Lafayette will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing season opening loss to William & Mary. The Leopards held a 10-6 halftime lead before surrendering 24 unanswered points in the third quarter. Monmouth is coming off a 48-13 shellacking by FBS Western Michigan. The Hawks were picked to finish 2nd in the Big South after last year’s solid 8-3 (4-1) record. Monmouth is led by an excellent trio of skill players on offense. QB Kenji Bahar, RB Juwan Farri and RB Pete Guerriero were Preseason All-Big South selections.

Lafayette “D” must be able to contain Monmouth’s offense in order to have a chance because points figure to be at a premium for the Leopards. Lafayette head coach John Garrett appears to have opted for the starting quarterback by committee approach (Cole Northrup started against W&M 10-17 129 yards, 1 rushing TD). Who the leads the offense is obviously less important than how well they do it. Garrett will need the offense to produce in order to beat a good Monmouth team.

Prediction: Monmouth 34 Lafayette 13

New Hampshire (0-0) at Holy Cross (0-1, 0-0) 1 P.M. Fitton Field; Worcester, MA

Live Stream: Patriot League Network

The Need to Know: Holy Cross welcomes New England rival New Hampshire to historic Fitton Field Saturday afternoon. The Crusaders return home after last week’s disappointing blowout loss to Navy. The Wildcats will be opening their season after a week 1 bye. New Hampshire will be starting the season without their longtime head coach Sean McDonnell while he addresses a health issue. Former All-American quarterback and Payton Award winner Ricky Santos was named the interim head coach in late August. New Hampshire was pegged for 7th in the preseason CAA Poll. The Wildcats finished 4-7 last season which was their first losing record since 2003. The poor season also ended their record consecutive FCS/1-AA Playoff appearance streak at 14 years.

This is a very important game for both teams. New Hampshire is looking to bounce back from their worst season in well over a decade while Holy Cross is seeking their first signature win of the Bob Chesney era. The odds seem a bit stacked against the Wildcats considering they’re starting redshirt freshman Brett Edwards at quarterback, it’s their first game, they’ll be will be without their two time Eddie Robison Award (best coach in FCS) winning coach and they’re on the road. Holy Cross seems primed to take advantage of such a situation. Quarterback Connor Degenhardt (16-29 167 yards vs Navy) and the Crusader offense need to step up in order to prevail.

Prediction: Holy Cross 28 New Hampshire 24

Fordham (0-1, 0-0) at Ball State (0-1) 2 P.M. Scheumann Stadium; Muncie, IN

Live Stream: ESPN3

The Need to Know: Fordham will be looking to erase last week’s heartbreaking loss to Central Connecticut State from their memory when they travel to the Heartland to take on FBS Ball State. The Cardinals started their season with a hard fought 34-24 loss to in-state rival Indiana. Ball State Quarterback Drew Plitt had an excellent game (298 yards 2 TDs 1 INT) in defeat.  It was the Cardinals defense (474 yards allowed) that proved to be their undoing. Ball State was picked to finish 5th in the MAC West Division following last year’s 4-8 record.  Ball State has not had a winning record since former Lehigh head coach Pete Lembo led them to a 10-3 record in 2013.

Fordham is clearly the underdogs against the deeper, more physically gifted Cardinals. But that doesn’t mean the Rams can’t put forth a respectable effort against David Letterman’s alma mater. Ram quarterback Tim DeMorat (PL Offensive Player of the Week) leads an offense capable of moving the ball and limiting Ball State’s possessions. How Fordham’s defense stacks up against Plitt, RB Caleb Huntley a group of dangerous pass catchers will determine how competitive this game is for 60 minutes.

Prediction: Ball State 31 Fordham 21

Bucknell (0-1, 0-0) at Sacred Heart (0-1) 6 P.M. Campus Field; Fairfield, CT

Live Stream: NEC Front Row

The Need to Know: Bucknell and Sacred Heart will both be looking to put opening week blowout losses behind them when the two tangle in the Nutmeg State Saturday evening. Bucknell was soundly beaten 56-12 by a solid Temple (FBS) squad while Sacred Heart was thumped 42-14 by #6 Maine in Orono. The Pioneers shared the NEC Title with Duquense last season (7-4) but lost out on the auto-bid to the playoffs due their head-to-head loss to the Dukes. Sacred Heart was tabbed to finish 2nd in the Preseason NEC poll and placed two players on the Preseason All-Conference team; RB Jordan Meechum (1,396 yards in ’18) and DE Chris Agyemang (15.5 TFL in ’18). The Pioneers have posted winning records in 5 out of the last 6 seasons.

Bucknell will continue to rely to on their defense until their new head coach Dave Cecchini figures out the current log jam at quarterback and  RB Chad Freshnock is able to return from injury. Despite the Bison being clearly outmatched last week against Temple they competed hard for 60 minutes. That type of effort will be needed again this week against a tough Sacred Heart team.

Prediction: Sacred Heart 34 Bucknell 27

Lehigh (0-1, 0-0) at #21 Villanova (1-0) 6 P.M. Villanova Stadium; Radnor Township, PA

Live Stream: FloFootball

The Need to Know: Lehigh makes the relatively short bus ride down the PA Turnpike to take on their CAA nemesis, the Villanova Wildcats. The Mountain Hawks are coming off a crushing 14-13 loss to St. Francis. Villanova opened their 2019 season August 24th with a dominating 34-14 win over Colgate then enjoyed an early season bye last weekend . Villanova used a powerful ground attack (239 yards) and Daniel Smith’s efficient day through the air (14-29 205 yards 3 TDs) to dispatch of Colgate. The Villanova defense held the Raiders rushing attack to 77 yards and scored a TD on a pick six.

Lehigh’s offense, especially their line, must play significantly better if they want to have a chance at the big upset. Defensively, the Mountain Hawks undersized line will have a very tough time matching Justin Covington and Villanova’s physical running attack. Based on each team’s first game the Wildcats seem well positioned to improve upon their ridiculous 33-4 all-time record against opponents from the Patriot League.

Prediction: Villanova 38 Lehigh 13

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