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Patriot League: Week 2 Preview

#9 Villanova (1-0) at Lehigh (1-0) 12:30 P.M. Goodman Stadium Bethlehem, PA

Last Week: Villanova upset their Big 5 and FBS rival Temple 19-17 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Wildcats out gained the Owls 405-251. Bednarczyk’s TD pass on 4th and 9 midway through the final quarter proved to be the winning the score. The Wildcats kicking woes did pop up again in game one. Temple returned a blocked FG for a TD. The Owls also blocked an extra point.

Lehigh blocked Saint Francis’s 41 yard field goal attempt with 33 seconds left to preserve a 21-19 win. Dominic Bragalone led the way on offense with 139 yards and 3 TDs. The defense flexed some muscle too by limiting the Red Flashes to a mere 58 yards on the ground for the game. Lehigh quarterback Brad Mayes was suspended for the 1st quarter due to academic reasons. Junior Tyler Monaco go the start.

The Matchup: Villanova leads the all-time series 9-6 (won 6 straight, 38-35 in 2017). The last two have come down to the wire with the Wildcats making plays on both sides of the ball to preserve the win. In order for Lehigh to change their fortunes against Villanova, the Mountain Hawks must hold up in the trenches on both sides of the ball for 60 minutes. The Wildcats physically beat Temple along the line of scrimmage for much of their game last week. The Mountain Hawk’s defense will be tested by Bednarczyk’s mobility and creativity outside of the pocket. RB Aaron Forbes and TE Ryan Bell are also extremely dangerous weapons for ‘Nova. Lehigh usually plays Villanova tough and this likely won’t be any different. In order for the Mountain Hawks to win the defense must be physical and the skill players must generate big/clutch plays.

Prediction: Villanova 31 Lehigh 20

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

Last Week: Campbell took care of Division II Chowan 49-26. The Camels took a 42-6 lead early in the 3rd quarter before taking their foot off the gas pedal. Campbell QB Daniel Smith had a phenomenal opener. The red shirt sophomore threw for 260 yards and 3 TDs on just 11 completions. He also had 80 yards and 2 TDs on the ground.

Georgetown started the 2018 season with an emphatic 39-14 win over Marist. It was the Hoyas most impressive season opener in several years. Hoya QB Gunther Johnson’s career day (26-37 369 yards 4 TDs) led the offense. The defense did their part by limiting the Marist offense to 178 total yards.

The Game: Georgetown won the first ever meeting between the two schools in 2017 16-10 . It would end up being the lone Georgetown win of the season. This year’s battle figures to come down to the quarterback play. Smith is a preseason Payton Award candidate while Johnson remains a bit of an unknown despite a strong opening game. Whichever defense can get pressure on the QB and force a mistake or two will escape with the “W”. Kristian Tate and the rest of the Hoya front 7 should be up to the task.

Prediction: Georgetown 24 Campbell 16

Holy Cross (0-1, 0-1) at Boston College (1-0) 1 P.M. Alumni Stadium Chestnut Hill, MA

Last Week: The Crusaders opened their 2018 campaign with a tough 24-17 loss to league foe Colgate. Holy Cross fell behind 24-0 at the half and couldn’t quite complete the rally during the final 30 minutes of play. QB Emmett Clifford and the passing game struggled to gain any type of consistency against the tough Colgate secondary. The Crusaders did find success on the ground (169 yards).

Boston College dominated their Bay State FBS brethren UMass to the tune of 55-21. The Eagles jumped out to a 48-7 halftime lead then emptied the bench in the second half. Boston College’s highly touted QB Anthony Brown was extremely efficient (15-21 279 yards 4 TDs) in the victory. The Eagles rolled up a whooping 598 total yards in the 34 point win.

The Game: This will be the first meeting since 1986 (56-26 BC win) between the two former and now current rivals. Before Holy Cross dropped their program to 1-AA in the early 1980’s this was easily the best football rivalry in New England. Boston College leads the all-time series 48-31-3. Before the 32 year hiatus, Boston College dominated the rivalry by winning 17 of the last 19 meetings. The trend will surely continue for at least another year. Boston College is simply too talented and too deep right now for the Crusaders to pose any sort of threat.

Prediction: Boston College 59 Holy Cross 13

Sacred Heart (1-0) at Bucknell (1-0) 3 P.M. Christy Matthewson Stadium Lewisburg, PA

Last Week: Sacred Heart began their season with a surprisingly easy 35-6 win over Lafayette in Easton. The Pioneer’s ground attack (261 yards) shredded the Leopard’s defense all evening. RB Jordan Meachum racked up rushing 132 yards on just 17 carries (7.8 ypg). QB Kevin Duke had a good outing as well (17-22 146 yards 2 TDs 1 INT). Needless to say, the Pioneers did not look like a team that was predicted to finish at, or near the bottom of the NEC standings.

Bucknell suffered a tough 14-7 loss to CAA member William & Mary. The Bison had a chance to tie the game late but WR Alan Butler fumbled at the Tribe 40 yard line with less than 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter. Bucknell’s offense struggled to find their groove all night (257 yards but only 11 first downs). The Bison “D” did look strong in their  2018 debut. They limited the Tribe to 81 yards on the ground.

The Game: The Pioneers are looking for a 2 game sweep against Pennsylvania based Patriot League teams while the Bison will be trying to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2010 (Susan’s 1st year). As is often the case with Bucknell, they must develop some consistency on offense. QB John Chiarolanzio made some nice throws last week but also missed on a few big plays. Without Freshnock in the backfield for the rest of the season, it’s up to Chiarolanzio to carry much of the load. Bucknell will keep the Pioneers offense in check for the most part. The question once again is whether or not the offense can score enough to win.

Prediction: Sacred Heart 21 Bucknell 17

Lafayette (0-1) at Delaware (0-1) 3:30 P.M. Delaware Stadium Newark, DE

Last Week: The Leopards opened their 2018 season with a performance they and their fans would rather forget. Lafayette was thoroughly whooped for 60 minutes by Sacred Heart in a 29 point loss. Sophomore QB Sean O’Malley struggled mightily (12-22 107 yards 2 INTs) in the season opener. The running game did manage to crack 100 yards (117) which was the lone positive on offense. The Leopard defense, which once upon a time was considered a strength, was taken behind the woodshed in the loss. Bad defense and an even worse offense is what plagued the Leopards in Garrett’s 1st year as head coach.

Delaware was shocked 21-19 at home by traditionally lowly Rhode Island in their season opener. The Hens had 3 costly turnovers in the loss to the Rams. Delaware running back Kani Kane’s fumble in Ram territory with less than 5 minutes left in regulation basically ended the Hen’s hopes. Delaware’s defense had trouble containing URI’s balanced (170 yards passing, 160 yards rushing) for much of the night.

The Game: Both teams enter week number two with far more questions than answers. Delaware started the season ranked in the Top 25 and figured to be a major player in the CAA race before laying an egg against URI. Lafayette’s recent struggles have been well documented. In order for the Leopards to upset the Hens in their house, the offense must display a drastic improvement from week 1 to week 2. Lafayette QB Sean O’Malley will get the start but if he struggles expect to see Cole Northrup for the second straight week. The Hens have won 13 straight over the Leopards. They’ll easily make it 14.

Prediction: Delaware 34 Lafayette 9

Fordham (0-1) at Richmond (0-1) 6 P.M. Robins Stadium Richmond, VA

Last Week: Fordham battled travel issues, inclement weather and FBS Charlotte to open the season. The Rams hung tough for a half (trailed 13-7 at the break) before the 49er’s ground attack wore down the defense over the final two quarters. Fordham’s inexperienced and undersized front 7 really struggled to contain Charlotte’s physical running game (221 yards). Meanwhile, the Rams “managed” a grand total -9 yards rushing of their own. Without any semblance of a rushing attack, Charlotte was able to tee off on Ram QB Luke Medlock as the game went on.

Richmond held an early 10-7 lead against FBS Virginia before the Cavaliers woke up and outscored the Spiders 35-3 the rest of the way. Spider QB Kevin Johnson had a rough first career start (11-28 194 yards 2 INTs). The junior QB is taking over for current New York Giant signal caller Kyle Lauletta. The Spiders offense in general (9 first downs, 225 total yards) was held in check by Cavalier “D”. Richmond’s defense had all sorts of trouble containing Virginia’s dual threat QB Bryce Perkins.

The Game: Surprisingly, this is only the second ever meeting (3-3 tie in 1985) between the two proud academic institutions. Both teams still have major question marks on offense heading into the second week of the season. The Rams must figure out a way to establish a rushing attack without Chase Edmonds while Richmond needs QB Kevin Johnson to settle in and limit mistakes. If the Fordham offensive line can give Medlock time and open some running lanes, the Ram’s have the weapons outside to test Richmond’s defense. Spider QB Kevin Johnson must do a better job this week protecting the ball against a good Ram secondary. This game should go down the wire.

Prediction: Richmond 27 Fordham 24

Colgate (1-0, 1-0) at New Hampshire (0-1) 6 P.M. Wildcat Stadium Durham, NH

Last Week: Preseason Patriot League favorite Colgate opened up a 24-0 halftime lead before having to hold on for a 24-17 win against Holy Cross. It was the Raiders 6th straight Patriot League win dating back to last year. Sophomore QB Grant Breneman paced the Raider “O” with 194 yards and 2 TDs through the air. He was also Colgate’s leading rusher with 37 yards. Despite a veteran OL and the return of James Holland for a 5th year, Colgate finished with only 91 total yards rushing. Colgate’s defense flexed their muscle early on. Holy Cross’s first 5 possessions of the game resulted in 3 turnovers and 2 punts.

New Hampshire started their 2018 season with an ugly 35-7 loss to arch-rival Maine in the battle of the Brice-Cowell Musket.  Things really spiraled out of control in the 2nd quarter for the Wildcats. That’s when Starting QB Trevor Knight was knocked out of the game with an injury and Maine put up 22 unanswered points.  UNH managed just 108 total yards for the game while yielding 454 to the Black Bear offense. The Wildcats entered the season with a Top 10 ranking and figured to be one of James Madison’s biggest threats in the CAA.

The Game: New Hampshire owns a commanding 6-2 all-time mark against Colgate but the Raiders won the most recent battle 27-20 in the 1st round of the 2015 FCS playoffs. With QB Trevor Knight out with injury, UNH will be turning their offense over to sophomore Christian Lupoli. Lupoli will have his hands full against a very good Raider defense. If Colgate can take away Lupoli’s top target, All-American WR Neil O’Connor, the UNH passing game will really struggle. The one thing New Hampshire has on their side is history. The Wildcats have not started a season 0-2 since 2002. They have not lost a regular season non-conference game since 2000. And if those two feats weren’t impressive enough, UNH has won 13 straight home openers dating back to 2005. Despite those stats heavily favoring New Hampshire, Colgate has to feel extremely confident heading into this game. The Raiders have a huge edge at quarterback and a defense capable of making life miserable for opposing offenses.

Prediction: Colgate 30 New Hampshire 17

 

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