Patriot League: Week 5 Preview

As week 5 commences, the Patriot League will try to improve upon its dismal 4-16 overall record. The league struggled mightily in 2017 and 2018 but this year things have somehow managed to get worse. Given this week’s tough slate of games the Patriot League could be facing their second winless Saturday of the season. The best news this week might be the fact that three teams (Bucknell, Georgetown and Lehigh) are on a bye so the number of possible losses the league can sustain is minimalized.

Holy Cross (1-1, 0-0) at Yale (0-0) 1 P.M. Yale Bowl; New Haven, CT

Live Stream: ESPN+

The Need to Know: Fresh off an early season bye, Holy Cross makes the 100 mile journey to the historic Yale Bowl to take on the Eli. As is tradition, Yale and rest of the Ivy League wait until mid-September to start their 10 game season. Yale is the preseason favorite to win the Ancient Eight following last year’s injury riddled 5-5 record. The offense returns every key contributor which is a tremendous feather in head coach Tony Reno’s cap. The unit is led by senior quarterback Kurt Rawlings (223 ypg 9 TD 3 INT in ‘18).  Rawlings has a tremendous wide receiver in Reed Klubnick (1,143 9 TD) along the dynamic running back duo of Zane Dudek (1,133 15 TD in ’17) and Alan Lamar (685 yards 9 TD in ’18). Defensively, Ryan Burke (6 sacks in ’18) is a menace from the linebacker position. Holy Cross snuck past the Eli 31-28 in OT last season.

The Crusaders must get their offense going (10 ppg, 63 ypg rushing) if they want to pull the upset against a very talented and experienced Yale team. Quarterback Connor Degenhardt has to stretch the field more with his big arm and Preseason All-PL running back Domenic Cozier (43 yards) needs to assert himself behind an experienced O-line.

This should be a good barometer for both teams.  The winner will likely garner serious Top 25 consideration. Odds are it’s Yale as they seem destined for a huge year as long as the injury bug doesn’t strike for a second straight season.

The Pick: Yale 34 Holy Cross 17

Lafayette (0-3, 0-0) at Albany (1-2) 3:30 P.M. Bob Ford Field; Albany, NY

Live Stream:

The Need to Know: For the first time ever Lafayette and Albany will clash on the gridiron. Both teams have been wildly inconsistent to start the 2019 season. Lafayette head coach John Garrett’s decision to start Keegan Shoemaker (STATS National Freshman of Week) against Sacred Heart jump started the previously morbid offense (623 total yards, 40 points). In addition to the national honors, Shoemaker garnered PL Offensive Player of the Week for his outstanding debut (411 passing yards, 2 TD, 134 rushing yards 2 TD). Unfortunately for the Leopards, the defense got torched for 56 points as they lost their sixth straight game dating back to last season.

The Danes enter this game coming off a tough 38-35 OT loss to Monmouth. Despite the “L” dropping Albany’s record to 1-2 there’s still reason to be optimistic in the Capital District. The offense has been outstanding (33.6 ppg) under the direction of redshirt freshman Jeff Undercuffler (223 ypg 8 TD 3 INT). Defensively (26 ppg allowed) the Danes have struggled at times to stop the pass (252 ypg) and the run (183 ypg). They were picked to finish last in the 12 team CAA.

Lafayette will need another big game from Keegan Shoemaker in order to keep up with a talented Albany offense. Ultimately it’s hard to envision the Leopard “D” slowing down Undercuffler enough times to notch their first win of the year.

Prediction: Albany 41 Lafayette 24

Fordham (1-2, 0-0) at Stony Brook (2-1) 6 P.M. LaValle Stadium; Stony Brook, NY

Live Stream:

The Need to Know: The Rams make the trek out to Long Island to take on a dangerous Stony Brook squad. Like Fordham, the Seawolves took it on the chin against a FBS team (Utah State 62-7) and faced two NEC squads. The difference is, SBU easily took care of business against their NEC competition (vs Bryant, vs Wagner) while Fordham was only able to eek out a split (L vs CCSU, W vs Bryant). The Seawolves have used a familiar recipe for success to start the year; good defense (10 ppg allowed vs FCS) and a punishing ground attack (208 ypg). Tyquell Fields has struggled passing the ball (49% completion). As a result there’s a strong possibility back-up Jack Cassidy sees some meaningful action. The Seawolves were picked to finish 6th in CAA.

Fordham used a 23 point fourth quarter last weekend to pull away from Bryant and capture their first “W” of the 2019. Zach Davis’s 140 rushing yards led the Ram offense while the defense had their best outing of the year (238 yards allowed). The linebacker duo of Cunningham and Greenhagen will need to be at their best this Saturday against the physical Seawolves.

Stony Brook often tries to pummel their opponents into submission with a clock controlling rushing attack and relying on tough, fundamentally sound defensive play. Fordham will need to have a strong effort from the offensive and defensive lines in order to pull the upset. The Rams will hang tough for a while but the Seawolves physicality will take its toll in the second half.

The Pick: Stony Brook 30 Fordham 20

#14 Maine (1-2) at Colgate (0-3, 0-0) 12 P.M. Andy Kerr Stadium; Hamilton, NY

Live Stream: Patriot League Network

The Need to Know: Colgate and Maine will clash Saturday afternoon for the first time since 2001 (Maine 34 Colgate 10). Amazingly, the Black Bears have not faced a Patriot League opponent since their game with Colgate 18 years ago. The Raiders are 0-2 against teams from the CAA in 2019. They’ve been outscored 72-20 in those 2 defeats. Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Grant Breneman (99 ypg 2 TD 2 INT) was injured is last week’s 38-10 loss against William & Mary and is not expected to play this Saturday. Rumor has it that Breneman’s backup Jake Froschauer is also nursing an injury and might not be available. If that’s the case Head Coach Dan Hunt will have to turn to either senior Noah Rothman or one of the freshman; Alex Rosso/Nick Frey. This is a worst case scenario for a Raider offense that has struggled mightily to start 2019 (221 ypg, 10 ppg).

Maine also enters this game in desperate need of a win after dropping their last two contests. The Black Bears were routed 45-23 at home last Saturday by CAA foe Towson. Maine quarterback Chris Ferguson threw 4 picks and the ground attack managed just 68 yards. Ferguson and company should find the sledding considerably easier against the Raiders surprisingly poor defense (40 ppg allowed, 450 ypg allowed).

Colgate’s collapse to start the 2019 season has been one of the biggest “head scratchers” in FCS. If the Raiders want to climb back up the respectability ladder they must find a way to beat Maine at home. Unfortunately, Breneman’s injury combined with Maine’s explosive offense likely means another long day for the defending Patriot League Champions.

The Pick: Maine 45 Colgate 14

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