Patriot League: Week 6 Preview

Week 6 is highlighted by two key league games. Lehigh heads to Hamilton, NY to take on Colgate in their annual grudge match. The Mountain Hawks have not lost a conference game since the Raiders defeated them at the end of the 2015 season. The other Patriot League game to keep an eye on is Lafayette hosting struggling Fordham. The Leopards are fresh off a huge win over of Holy Cross and can move to 2-0 in Patriot League play with a win over the Rams. In other action this week, Holy Cross welcomes a surging Monmouth team to Worcester while Georgetown hits the road to tangle with Princeton.

Lehigh (0-5, 0-0) at Colgate (2-3, 0-0) – Oct. 7th 1 PM Andy Kerr Stadium Hamilton, NY

Live Streaming – Patriot League Network

When the schedule was released months ago no one could have imagined that Lehigh and Colgate would enter their annual showdown a combined 2-8. But with Lehigh’s historically bad defense and Colgate’s struggling offense that’s where these teams are as the calendar turns to October. The vast majority of pundits had Lehigh as the prohibitive league favorite with Colgate lying in weeds behind the Mountain Hawks and Fordham. It’s still possible, perhaps even probable, that Lehigh and or Colgate end up with a piece of the Patriot League title but the road has become a lot bumpier than expected.

If Lehigh wants to turn their season around the defense must become at least competent. To this point in the year the Mountain Hawk’s defensive statistics are beyond horrific; 48 ppg (121st in FCS), 287 rushing ypg (120th in FCS), 533 total ypg (123rd in FCS, dead last). Colgate figures to be a reasonable matchup for the hapless group but so did Wagner. The Raiders are averaging a paltry 16.2 ppg (102nd in FCS). The main reason for the lack of point production is a passing game that has yet to get going with freshman quarterback Grant Brenerman getting comfortable as the starter. As luck would have it for the Lehigh defense, Brenerman is coming off his best game of the year against Cornell. For his 2 passing TD and 1 Rushing TD performance this freshman QB was named the Patriot League’s Offensive Player of the Week. Given Lehigh’s failure to stop the run all season, the elusive Brenerman along with RB Alex Mathews have to be licking their chops. The Mountain Hawks must force Colgate to throw the ball. Otherwise the Raiders are going to control the ball, the clock and the game.

Colgate’s defense is coming off their best performance of the year against the Big Red. With All-American rush end Pat Afriyie back in the fold the Raiders “D” is arguably the stingiest unit in the league. While Lehigh’s offense is littered with household names it hasn’t completely clicked like it did last week. The main reason for the so-so production is an offensive line that simply hasn’t lived up to its potential to this point in the year. If it doesn’t bring its “A” game on Saturday it will be another long day for the Brown and White.

Prediction: Colgate 37 Lehigh 24

Georgetown (1-3, 0-0) at Princeton (2-1) – Oct 7th 1 PM Princeton Stadium Princeton, NJ

Live Streaming – Ivy League Digital Network

The Hoyas will look to end their 3 game losing streaking as they head to New Jersey to square off against Princeton. After opening the season with a hard fought 16-10 win over Campbell Georgetown’s defense has not been able to slow teams down enough to overcome one of the worst offenses in FCS (253 Total ypg 108th in FCS). Not helping matters is the loss of the 5th year QB Tim Benson and a rushing attack that has done next to nothing so far this year despite having two experienced running backs (Alex Valles and Isaac Ellsworth). Princeton is coming off a surprising 28-24 loss to Columbia. The Lions beat Georgetown 35-14 two weeks ago.

The Tiger offense is loaded with skilled playmakers but have yet to find a way to light up the scoreboard. If the Hoyas want to keep Princeton from breaking out they’ll first have to account for veteran QB Chad Kanoff (306 ypg 9 TD 5 INT) and his two very dangerous wide receivers, Stephen Carlson and Jesper Horsted. Then there’s the Princeton rushing attack which is led by Charlie Volker (91 ypg). Georgetown’s defense will need to get pressure on Kanoff and force him into mistakes. Despite being one of the most experienced quarterbacks in FCS, Kanoff has a history of questionable decision making. That has continued this year with 5 interceptions. If Georgetown’s defense can win the turnover battle it’ll go a long way towards pulling the upset.

Additional possessions would at least increase Georgetown’s chances to improve upon their 11 ppg average. To call the Hoya’s offense anemic to this point would be generous. They’ve struggled mightily to start the year before finally bottoming out last week with a 0 point performance against Harvard. The Tigers are going to enter this game mighty angry after their loss to Columbia. With that in mind, odds say Princeton takes out a decent amount of frustration on a bruised and battered Georgetown team.

Prediction: Princeton 47 Georgetown 17

Monmouth (4-1) at Holy Cross (2-3, 1-1) – Oct 7th 1 PM Fitton Field Worcester, MA

Live Streaming – Patriot League Network

Holy Cross welcomes the Monmouth Hawks to New England as the Crusaders will look to halt their two game losing skid. The Crusaders enter the game attempting to right the ship after an embarrassing 10-7 loss to previously winless Lafayette. With the loss, Holy Cross no longer controls their destiny in the league race. Getting the positive mojo going again won’t be easy against a Monmouth team that has already notched 3 convincing wins over Patriot League teams (Lafayette, Lehigh and Bucknell) this season. I’ll be interesting to see how Holy Cross responds to being the underdog once again. They certainly failed miserably the last two weeks as the favorite.

It’s no secret that Peter Pujals (263 ypg 8 TD 3 INT) will need to lead the way if Holy Cross wants to take down Monmouth and get their record back to .500. The 5th year senior is coming off one of his worst performances as quarterback for the Crusaders so motivation shouldn’t be an issue. If the Monmouth defense has a weakness it’s against the pass (244 ypg allowed) so Pujals and company should have some opportunities to make plays. They’ll need to because the Hawks have the 11th ranked rush defense in FCS (75.2 ypg allowed). Leading the Hawk defense is Mike Basile. The senior safety is one of the top defensive players in all of FCS so he must be accounted for at all times. His ability to make plays can at every level is what makes him so dangerous. Pujals needs to be aware of where he lines up on each play.

Monmouth isn’t flashy on offense but they are well balanced. Leading the way for the Hawks is Freshman RB Peter Guerriero (84 ypg 5 TD). The former New Jersey high school star has busted onto the scene with an excellent start to the season. If he continues his current pace he’ll be a candidate for the Jerry Rice Award (best freshman in FCS). The Holy Cross defense must limit his damage and hope Monmouth QB Kenji Bahar is forced to throw the ball more than 30 times in the game. The Hawks want the running game to set up opportunities down the field for Bahar.

Prediction: Monmouth 33 Holy Cross 27

Fordham (1-4, 0-0) at Lafayette (1-4, 1-0) – Oct 7th 3:30 PM Fisher Stadium Easton, PA

Live Streaming: Patriot League Network

Lafayette and Fordham tangle on College Hill in Easton in a key early season league game. The Leopards enters the game fresh off a shocking 10-7 win over once ranked Holy Cross. The Leopards used a stifling defense and buzzer beating field goal to knock off the Crusaders. Lafayette was able to pull off the upset despite another lackluster performance from the offense. The ground game managed an abysmal -6 yards in the win and now ranks 122nd in FCS with an 11 ypg average. The Rams on the other hand are limping into their league opener. Fordham got run off the field in the first half quarter last week against Yale and never recovered. It’s been a hugely disappointing season so far for the Rams but they can still win the league and return to the playoffs in Chase Edmonds’ senior season.

If there was a silver lining in the 31 point loss to Yale it was the return of Edmonds. The all world RB missed the previous 2 games with an ankle injury. Edmonds showed some flashes in his return before finishing with 83 yards on 16 carries. Unfortunately for the Rams, he wasn’t able to do enough to overcome another poor performance by the Ram offensive line. Kevin Anderson has been under constant pressure all season (sacked 19 times) and as a result his stats have fallen off significantly from the last two years. Lafayette has a very capable front 7 so unless Fordham was able to fix some of their protection issues this week it could be another long game for Anderson.

If the Lafayette defense plays like it did last week they’ll have a chance to go 2-0 in the league. Their ultimate fate will be determined by the offense. Fordham’s defense ranks near the bottom in nearly every major statistical category on defense (120th ppg allowed 47.4, 121st total ypg 496, 115th rushing defense 255.2 ypg) while the Leopard offense in or near the basement in most offensive categories so something has to give. Assuming Edmonds is back up to game speed it’s hard to see Lafayette being able to outscore the Rams even if the Leopard defense plays well again.

Prediction: Fordham 38 Lafayette 23

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