Patriot League: Week 12 Preview

The final week is upon us! Ferris Bueller’s prophetic statement regarding the concept of life and time certainly applies to football season! It feels like if you blink you miss it! Not everything has been pretty to watch this season in the Patriot League but in some ways that’s the “beauty” of the league. With a championship still up for grabs and #153 on tap this weekend might prove to be the best of the year!

Bucknell (5-5, 2-3) at Fordham (3-7, 2-3) – Nov. 18th 12 PM Jack Coffey Field Bronx, NY

Live Streaming – Patriot League Network

Bucknell will try to nail down their first winning season since 2014 as they head to the Big Apple to take on Fordham. Not only will Bucknell be looking to finish above .500, they’ll also be trying to snap a 4 game losing streak against Fordham. The Bison last defeated Fordham in 2012 when they snuck past the Rams 27-24. In order for Bucknell to close out the season on a positive note the ground attack must produce like it has the last two weeks. For much of 2017 the combo of DeFloria (401 yards) and Freshnock (513 yards) were combining for less than 80 yards a game which is a big reason why the Bison failed to seriously challenge for the league title. John Chiarolanzio is once against expected to get the start at quarterback. If the Bison want to take a step forward in 2018 they’ll need better production from the offensive line and the quarterback position.

To call Fordham’s season a disappointment would be a rather significant understatement. Before the season started the Rams seemed poised to be a Top 25 team and return to the FCS Playoffs. They returned arguably the greatest running back in school history and one of the best ever in FCS, in Chase Edmonds (392 yards 3 TDs) as well as a talented, veteran quarterback (Kevin Anderson) to lead the offense. The defense had been an issue in recent years but the unit returned quite a bit of experience from an 8 win team. As it turned it they got steamrolled by Army on opening night, Edmonds got hurt in week 2, the defense went into the tank and they were never able to recover. Now all that’s left is to make sure Edmonds, Anderson, Adeyeye, Coyle and the rest of the seniors that were brought in by Joe Moorhead finish out their careers with one final win at home.

Both teams should enter this game motivated. Fordham is coming off a late season bye so they’ll be rested and eager to send the seniors off in style. Bucknell obviously wants to finish with a 6-5 record and get over the Fordham hump. Assuming that Kevin Anderson plays, which is expected, Fordham has the advantage on offense. Overall, Bucknell’s defense has been pretty good all year (22.9 ppg allowed) but they weren’t immune to some ugliness at times. Fordham’s offensive trio of Anderson, Edmonds and Longi should be able to make just enough plays to eke out a 4th and final win.

Prediction: Fordham 24 Bucknell 20

Colgate (6-4, 4-1) at Georgetown (1-9, 0-5) – Nov. 18th 1 PM Cooper Field Washington D.C.

Live Streaming – Patriot League Network

Colgate takes the long 7 hour bus ride to our nation’s capital to take on the hapless Hoyas in what is an extremely important game for the Raiders. A Colgate win guarantees them at least a share of their 9th Patriot League Title. If Lafayette is able to beat Lehigh, Colgate would then earn the outright league title and the automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs. Coach Hunt has done an excellent job getting this year’s team to improve each and every week; especially the offense. The “O” has made tremendous strides under freshman quarterback Grant Breneman (1,457 yards 15 TDs 4 INTs, 369 yards rushing 6 TDs). Hunt made the bold decision to bench Carmine Scarfone in favor of Breneman after only 2 games. As it’s turned out, Colgate might have found their next Ryan Vena in Breneman. The defense has been quite tough as well despite playing the first month of the season without All-American Rush End Pat Afriyie. Outside of two bad outings against Furman and Lehigh, the “D” has played at a championship level.

Georgetown enters this game on the complete opposite side of the spectrum from Colgate. The Hoyas have not won since their season opener against Campbell. Georgetown is also riding a 14 game Patriot League losing streak that dates back to 17-9 win over Bucknell on 10/24/15. Needless to say, the once proud Georgetown football program is struggling and there’s very little reason for optimism without more of a commitment from the administration. Coach Sgarlatta has done a tremendous job getting his team to compete week in and week out. The Hoyas are rarely blown out in league play because they continue to play tough, physical defense. However, the dearth of playmakers year after year on offense has incapacitated the offense (252 ypg 118th in FCS/12.8 ppg 118th in FCS). Until the Hoyas are able to find a way to land talented skill position players the losing is going to continue.

On paper the only way Colgate loses this game is if they literally don’t show up. The Raiders have been playing with such focus and precision in recent weeks that it’s impossible to see them being the team that breaks the Hoyas dubious losing streaks. Breneman and company simply must protect the ball on offense. The Raider special teams can’t allow any big plays either. Georgetown’s defense will make the Raider offense work but there’s no way the Hoyas can score enough to win without help. The Hoyas will avoid being shutout 3 straight games to conclude the season but that’s as good as the moral victory will get.

If Colgate does make the playoffs they could be a major headache with the right matchup. If not, they still have an excellent core that seems capable of big things in 2018.

Prediction: Colgate 24 Georgetown 3

#153 Lafayette (3-7, 3-2) at Lehigh (4-6, 4-1) – Nov. 18th 12:30 PM Goodman Stadium Bethlehem, PA

Live Streaming – Patriot League Network

Despite their disappointing record, Lehigh has a chance to capture their conference best 12th Patriot League Championship and a bid into the FCS Playoffs with a win over Lafayette in college football’s most played rivalry. In a rivalry of this magnitude the cliché is always to “throw out the records” and in this case the saying is true. Despite both team’s having sub .500 records these are two of the top teams in what has been a rather weak year for Patriot League football. What makes this game so fascinating is how each team has arrived here. Lehigh’s high powered offense has lived up to their preseason billing but the defense (40.2 ppg allowed, 488 ypg allowed) has regressed. It is hard to fathom how the defense has gotten worse given how bad the unit has been the previous few years. Conversely, Lafayette’s season has been defined by an excellent defense and statistically (217 ypg, 123rd in FCS) the worst offense in the country. Overall, first year John Garrett has done a solid job creating any identity on defense for the program moving forward

If Lafayette is to crash the Lehigh championship party the defense will certainly be the reason why. The Leopard “D” has been especially lights out in league play (11.8 ppg). The strength has been the pass defense (8 pass TDs allowed) which is led by sure fire 1st Team All-PL CB Phillip Parham. It will be interesting to see which one of Lehigh’s dynamic wide receivers Parham spends most of his time covering. How the Leopard front 7 contains Lehigh’s Dominic Bragalone will likely determine which unit (LU O vs LC D) wins the battle. If Lafayette does have a weakness on defense it is their ability to stop the run (180.8 ypg allowed) which has to be a concern against one of the top running backs in FCS.

In order for Lehigh to notch their 3rd straight win over Lafayette the defense must continue their recent trend of solid play and Mayes can’t afford to turn the ball over. Should Lehigh’s defense continue to play like it has the last two weeks they will have no trouble holding Lafayette’s inept offense down. However, O’Malley has the best set of wide receivers Lehigh has faced in several weeks. If Lehigh’s defensive line can’t get pressure on the freshman signal caller the Leopards will make plays downfield. Keep an eye on DT Tyler Cavenas. The senior has been making huge plays on defense and special teams. The leaky Leopard offensive line will have their hands full with Cavenas.

This game has everything (minus sexy records) a football fan could want, arch-rivals, championship implications, strength vs strength, weakness vs weakness and inclement weather to spice things up. Lehigh is the better team but not by much. If the Lehigh defense can’t hold Lafayette to 17 or less points and they lose the turnover battle the Mountain Hawks are in trouble. This is John Garrett’s first taste of the rivalry but there’s no doubt he’s well versed in the importance of this game. He’ll have the Leopards well prepared and emotionally ready to play. Lehigh needs to match their intensity for 60 minutes and protect the ball in order to win. The Mountain Hawks should have just enough to continue their mastery of Lafayette this decade.

Prediction: Lehigh 20 Lafayette 13

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