Patriot League: Week 3 Preview

Yale (0-0) at Lehigh (0-2, 0-0) – Sept. 16th 12:30 PM Goodman Stadium Bethlehem, PA

Live Stream: Patriot League Network

Lehigh will try to get things turned around after suffering their second straight 0-2 start. The Mountain Hawks started the year ranked in the Top 20 but have since fallen out of polls after losing to Villanova and Monmouth to begin the year. If Lehigh wants to stop the bleeding against Yale they must be able slow down their opponents rushing attacks. Through the first two games of the season the Mountain Hawks are giving up 308.5 (111th in FCS against the run) yards on the ground. Lehigh will need to focus in Eli running back DeShawn Salter on Saturday. The senior running back has battled injuries but put forth the best game of his career against Lehigh in 2015 (233 yards 2 TDs). The Eli were picked 4th in the preseason Ivy League Poll.

Lehigh’s offense will likely have to lead the way or at least play a major role in order to avoid going 0-3. Brad Mayes broke a Yale Bowl record for touchdown passes (6) in last year’s 63-35 win over the Eli. With a banged up group of running backs, Mayes will need to have another big day for Lehigh. Things don’t figure to quite as easy against the Yale defense this time around. The Eli “D” improved considerably from the start of last year until their final game of 2016 against Harvard (a Yale win). With several key starters returning defense (5 All-Ivy selections) this year’s unit should be the strength of the team early in the year.

Lehigh catches a bit of a break by getting Yale in their first game of the year. Outside of Salter, the Eli do not have a lot of commodities on offense. As a result, Lehigh’s defense should be able to contain Yale’s “O” just enough to scratch out a win at home

Prediction: Lehigh 31 Yale 27

Marist (1-1) at Georgetown (1-0, 0-0) – Sept. 16th 1 PM Cooper Field Washington D.C.

Live Stream – Patriot League Network

Georgetown welcomes the Red Foxes of Marist to our nation’s capital for their 2017 home opener. The Hoyas enter the game fresh off a 16-10 win over Campbell last week. The Hoyas defense once again led the way in the victory over the Camels. While the offense managed only 8 first downs it did rack up 114 rushing yards. Maintaining that type of production on the ground will be important for Georgetown until Tim Barnes settles back in at quarterback.

Marist heads to Washington D.C. fresh off a dominating 38-17 win against Stetson. Marist opened the season with a 45-6 loss to Patriot League member Bucknell. The Bison defense dominated Marist in the 39 point win two weeks ago. The Marist offense has to feeling better about things heading into Saturday after quarterback Mike White was names Pioneer League Offensive Player of the Week for his performance (337 passing yards 1 TD, 58 rushing yards 2 TD) last weekend against Stetson. White’s favorite target through the first two games has been WR Juston Christian (15 rec 203 yards).

After seeing what Bucknell’s defense did to Marist 14 days ago Georgetown has to feel good about their chances to slow down the Red Foxes. Georgetown started last year 3-0 and gets one step closer to duplicating that feat this season. Look for Tim Barnes to have a solid day through the air.

Prediction: Georgetown 24 Marist 20

#16 Eastern Washington (0-2) at Fordham (1-1, 0-0) – Sept 16th 1 PM Jack Coffey Field Bronx, NY

Live Streaming: None

Fordham makes their home debut against traditional FCS power Eastern Washington (Big Sky Conference) in a very intriguing out of conference game. The Eagles are making the cross country trip after suffering a disappointing 43-10 loss to #2 North Dakota State last week. Like Fordham, Eastern Washington started their year with a blowout loss (56-10 @ Texas Tech) to a FBS opponent. Fordham rebounded from their beating at Army with a gut-check 38-31 win over Central Connecticut State. Despite missing the entire second half of the game, All-American RB Chase Edmonds is expected to start against Eastern Washington. Given the Eagles weakness against the run (106th in FCS) Edmonds could be in-line for his breakout performance this year.

The usual potent Eastern Washington offense has struggled to start the season. Payton Award candidate Gage Gubrud (170 ypg 1 TD) has started the year slow in the Eagles 0-2. The loss of record breaking WR Cooper Kupp has proven to be difficult to overcome in the passing game. The Eagles have also failed to establish a consistent running attack (75.5 ypg) to start the season. Given Fordham’s inability to slow down their opponent’s ground game (108th against the run) something has to give.

Eastern Washington has been at the top of the mountain in FCS for most of this decade while Fordham has been trying to get there. Getting a program of EWU’s caliber on their home turf is tremendous opportunity for the Rams to make their presence known nationally. Unfortunately for Fordham, they’ve struggled recently in these high profile games against “power conference” teams.

Prediction: Eastern Washington 42 Fordham 31

Lafayette (0-2, 0-0) at #7 Villanova (1-1) – Sept 16th 6 PM Wildcat Stadium Villanova, PA

Live Streaming: ESPN3

Lafayette faces their toughest test of the year as they make the short bus trip down to the Main Line to take on #7 Villanova Saturday evening. The Leopards have struggled on both sides of the ball to begin the 2017 campaign. As a result Lafayette has suffered two decisive losses against Monmouth and Sacred Heart. Villanova meanwhile opened their 2017 with a 3 point win over Lehigh then suffered a heartbreaking loss to Big 5 rival Temple last Saturday. The Wildcat defense re-established itself as one of the top units in FCS in the 16-13 loss against the Owls. That’s not good news for a Lafayette offense that continues to search for an identity under first year head coach John Garrett.

Freshman Lafayette quarterback Sean O’Malley will once again be forced to be the straw that stirs the drink on offense since the running game continues to be non-existent. He’ll need monster games from WR Mzarek (12 rec 106 yards 2 TDs) and TE Dylan Wadsworth (10 rec 63 yards) if the Leopards are going to have any success on offense against Villanova. It won’t easy against a Wildcat defense that features one of the top secondaries in FCS.

If Lafayette is to have any shot at pulling off the huge upset the defense must force Villanova to throw the ball and create turnovers. The Leopards have the talent on defense to make things difficult for the Wildcats. But without an effective “O” it’s hard to see the Leopard D holding up for 60 minutes. The Wildcats won last year’s meeting 31-14. Expect a similar outcome Saturday.

Prediction: Villanova 34 Lafayette 10

Bucknell (1-1, 0-1) at William & Mary (1-1) – Sept 16th 6 PM Zable Stadium Williamsburg, VA

Live Streaming:

Bucknell takes on William & Mary for the first time in 21 years Saturday evening in historic Williamsburg. The Tribe have won all 4 meetings in the series by an average score of 38-9. The Bison will have their work cut out to avoid that trend from continuing against the 2017 version of William & Mary. This year’s Tribe team is led by an excellent defense that has the potential to make life miserable for Bucknell’s offense. The strength of the Tribe “D” is the line. DE Matt Ahola and DT Isaiah Stephens anchor the unit. Through the first games Bucknell has struggled mightily to replace the 5 starters they lost along the offensive line. Unless Susan came up a magic combination in the trenches since last week’s shutout loss to Holy Cross things aren’t going to get any better against the Tribe.

The Bison’s best chance to make this a competitive game is on defense. The Tribe offense is not going to leave anyone in awe. They’re coming off a workman-line performance in a 20-6 win over a solid but far from spectacular Norfolk State team. Bucknell certainly has the personnel on defense to keep the Tribe’s offense contained. Tribe QB Tommy McKee (29 carries 203 yards 1 TD) is a dangerous runner that will test the Bison’s discipline on defense. The Tribe’s other main weapon is TE Andrew Caskin.

This game likely won’t win any awards for beauty given how limited both offenses have been so far in 2017 and how good the defenses are. Ultimately, the Tribe should be able to make more plays on “O” thanks to McKee’s ability to make things happen with his arm and legs.

Prediction: William & Mary 24 Bucknell 6

#24 Colgate (1-1, 0-0) at Buffalo (0-2) – Sept 16th 6 PM UB Stadium Amherst, NY

Live Stream: ESPN3

Colgate makes the 2.5 hour trek to Western New York to face FBS Buffalo. The Raiders soundly defeated the Bulls 38-15 in 2003 on their way to the FCS National Title Game. That was Colgate’s last win over a FBS opponent. Since that win 14 years ago the Raiders have failed to be competitive in their games against college football’s highest subdivision. However, that should change against a Buffalo team that lost to FCS Albany last year and has struggled out of the blocks in 2017. The Bulls offense continues to be the primary issue. Dating back to the start of 2016 Buffalo is averaging 15.8 ppg.

Colgate has to like how their defense matches up against Buffalo. The Bulls have really struggled to establish anything on offense through the first two games. QB Tyree Jackson (202 ypg passing, 46 ypg rushing) and WR Anthony Johnson (111 ypg 1 TD) have been the only real playmakers for the Buffalo. Meanwhile, Colgate’s “D” is coming off an excellent performance Richmond last weekend. The Spiders have one of the top offenses in FCS and the Raiders held them 20 points. Colgate was able to put forth such a performance without the services of All-American rush end Pat Afriyie. The senior is likely to miss a couple more weeks.

Freshman QB Grant Breneman is expected to make his first collegiate start after Carmine Scarfone was ineffective passing the ball in Colgate’s first 2 games. If Breneman can give the Raiders some balance on offense they’ll head back to Hamilton victorious. If the Colgate offense remains one-dimensional the Bulls defense will avoid “embarrassment”.

Prediction: Buffalo 24 Colgate 16

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