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Patriot League Week 7: What was will never be again?

While it might seem unfathomable in 2018, there was a time, not too long ago, when the Patriot League was capable of producing multiple Top 25 teams! As the league is sadly trending towards having just one team finish with a winning record for a second straight year, more and more questions are being raised about its overall health. The lack of red-shirts and smaller roster sizes relative to other FCS conferences are without question a major handicap. Long time Lehigh Head Coach Andy Coen referenced some of the hurdles he and his fellow Patriot League coaches are facing in a local paper following his team’s historic loss to Princeton. Some of his points were certainly valid but it still doesn’t explain the numerous lopsided losses or why Colgate has been able to navigate the rough waters to a 5-0 record and national ranking. The Patriot League will never be on the CAA’s or MVFC’s level but it most certainly should be better than it currently is. It’s up to the coaches and administrators to right the ship or reconsider the league’s place within the FCS landscape.

Friday

Holy Cross (1-5, 0-2) at Harvard (2-2) 7 P.M. Harvard Stadium Cambridge, MA

Live Streaming: ESPN+

The Pick: Holy Cross makes the short trip to Cambridge to take on Harvard for the 70th time. The Crimson own a commanding 42-25-2 lead in the series that dates back to 1904. Holy Cross’s last win at historic Harvard Stadium was in 2000 (7 straight losses).  While Harvard appears to be more vulnerable than usual heading into this game, the Crusader offense (15 ppg) doesn’t seem capable of putting up enough points to take advantage. Geoff Wade remains the starter for this one despite throwing 7 INTs to just 5 TDs so far this season. Harvard has also seen inconsistent quarterback play from starter Jake Smith (162.5 ypg 2 TDs 4 INTs) even though he has one of the top WR’s in FCS, Justice Shelton-Mosley, to work with. In a game that figures to be relatively low scoring, field position and turnovers will be a major factor in determining the outcome. The Crimson have two guys on offense, RB Aaron Shampklin (132ypg 5 TDs) and Shelton-Mosley out wide, who are more than capable of making a game changing play. First year Holy Cross Head Coach Bob Chesney needs Geoff Wade to get the ball in the hands of Blaise Bell and Richie DeNicola. Until that happens the run first offense will continue to bog down.

Harvard 24 Holy Cross 13

Saturday

Cornell (2-2) at #18 Colgate (5-0, 3-0) 12 P.M. Andy Kerr Stadium Hamilton, NY

Live Streaming: Patriot League Network

The Pick: Colgate and Cornell will meet for 100th time this weekend when the undefeated and nationally ranked Raiders host the extremely dangerous Big Red. Despite dominating their Central New York rival in recent years (won 9 out of the last 10 meetings) and the hot start to the season, Colgate enters this one as a narrow favorite. The Raiders top ranked scoring defense (4.6 ppg allowed) will face their stiffest test so far this year with Cornell’s balanced attack (163 rushing ypg, 166 passing ypg) invading Andy Kerr Stadium. Cornell quarterback Dalton Banks will test a Colgate secondary that be without All-PL CB Abu Daramy-Swaray. The Colgate offense should be able to move the ball on a fairly leaky Big Red (422 ypg allowed) “D”. The key for the Colgate “O” will be avoiding costly penalties and turnovers. Cornell has already faced Delaware (L), Yale (L) and Harvard (W) this year so they know what it’s like to play quality competition. Have those games prepared Cornell to pull the upset? Perhaps not, but they’ll make a run at it. This is a critical game for Colgate’s playoff aspirations should they stub their toe in league play.

Colgate 27 Cornell 24

Fordham (0-5) at Lehigh (1-4) 12:30 P.M. Goodman Stadium Bethlehem, PA

Live Streaming: Patriot League Network

The Pick: Two of the Patriot League’s three winningest programs this decade head into this game with a shockingly bad 1-9 combined record. Both teams are coming off especially disappointing/demoralizing losses. Lehigh’s 66-7 blowout loss to Princeton was the Mountain Hawks worse defeat since 1993 (77-14 @ Idaho). The Tigers racked up 733 yards of offense on the often maligned Lehigh defense. Fordham heads to Bethlehem on the heels of a lackluster 23-11 home loss to Georgetown. It was the Ram’s first loss to Georgetown in 7 years. Fordham’s offense once again failed to gain traction (9 ppg) despite quarterback Tim DeMorat having an extra week to prepare due to the early season bye.  These are two proud programs that have upperclassman on their respective rosters that know what success tastes like. Fordham needs a “W” to keep hope alive of a winning season. If Lehigh has any aspirations of a 3-peat they must be able to defend their home turf. They need Brad Mayes and Dominic Bragalone to have a breakout game. Both teams have lost energy and focus far too often through the first month of the season. This game will come down to who wants it more.

Lehigh 31 Fordham 23

Bucknell (1-5, 1-1) at Monmouth (3-2) 1 P.M. Kessler Stadium West Long Branch, NJ

Live Streaming: ESPN+

The Pick: Bucknell heads to the Jersey Shore looking to avenge last year’s 35-13 setback to eventual playoff bound Monmouth.  The Bison are licking their wounds after being thoroughly outclassed at home by undefeated Colgate last weekend. The Bucknell offense that showed promise the week before against Holy Cross could not get anything going against the Raiders top-rated “D”. Logan Bitikofer was under constant duress when attempting to pass. To make matters worse, he received very little help from the rushing attack (35 yards). The sledding figures to be considerably easier against a Monmouth defense that is surrendering yards (444 ypg) and points (39 ppg) in bunches. While the Bison aren’t going to light up the scoreboard on Saturday, they should be able to put up enough points to give themselves a chance so long as the “D” finds a way to slow down the Monmouth QB-RB duo of Kenji Baha (266 ypg passing) and Pete Guerriero (111 ypg rushing). Bucknell will put a good fight but without catching a few breaks they’ll secure their 4th straight losing season.

Monmouth 37 Bucknell 24

Georgetown (2-4, 1-0) at Lafayette (1-4, 0-1) 3:30 P.M. Fisher Field Easton, PA

Live Streaming: Patriot League Network

The Pick: Before the season started the odds seemed rather long that Georgetown and Lafayette would enter their mid-October clash off a win but that happens to be the case. Thanks to a stifling defensive performance, the Hoyas head to the Lehigh Valley off a rousing road win over Fordham in the Bronx. The win snapped Georgetown’s 15 game losing streak against Patriot League foes. Prior to the victory over Fordham, the Hoyas last league conquest was against Bucknell on October 24, 2015. Lafayette’s bye week allowed Head Coach John Garrett and his team to savior their win over Central Connecticut State for a few more days. If the Leopards want to make it consecutive wins they’ll need the offense to build off of their performance against CCSU. Quarterback Sean O’Malley (328 yards 1 TD 0 INT against CCSU) has to spread the ball around (8 different receivers caught a pass) like he did two weeks ago in order for the offense to move the ball. It’s once again apparent the Leopards can’t run the ball (54 ypg, 121st in FCS) so they’re forced to be pass first. On paper these seem like two evenly matched teams. Neither squad has had any consistency on offense or defense to start the year. If the Lafayette offensive line can protect O’Malley the Leopards seem more likely to eek out enough points to win.

Lafayette 20 Georgetown 17

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