Patriot League: Week 7 Preview

Fordham (1-5, 0-1) at Colgate (2-4, 0-1) – Oct. 14th 12 PM Andy Kerr Stadium Hamilton, NY

Live Streaming – Patriot League Network

Colgate and Fordham both enter Saturday’s game off of extremely tough league losses that have the two teams playing catch up in title race as the leaves begin to fall. Colgate had 3 touchdowns called back in a rather controversial setback to Lehigh. Fordham had several chances late in the game against Lafayette but couldn’t capitalize in order to escape Easton with a win. The Raiders and Rams both entered the season with fairly high expectations. Many thought Fordham would be a playoff team in Edmonds senior season after narrowly missing the 24 team field last year. Colgate was the picked 3rd in the preseason and was expected to be led by a defense that returned a bunch of talent. As things have turned out, Edmonds has been hurt for much of the season and Colgate’s defense has been wildly inconsistent.

Fordham has had Colgate’s number (won 3 out of the last 4 meetings) in recent years thanks to their high-octane offenses giving the Raiders “D” fits. However, with an ailing Edmonds and Anderson the Rams will need to rely on their defense more than they’d like if they want to snap their current 4 game losing streak. The Fordham defense had its best outing of the season last week but it came against a Lafayette team that’s still searching for a rushing attack. Colgate has a hot QB in Breneman (PL Rookie of the Week in week 6, Offensive Player of the Week in week 5) and perhaps a healthy James Hollond Jr. at RB. If Hollond Jr. still can’t go (has missed the last 3 games) Alex Mathews has proven he can carry the load. The Ram’s defense that ranks 106th (211.8 ypg) against the run must play their best game of the year against the Raider read-option attack that is picking up steam as Breneman gets more comfortable. If Colgate can get their downhill rushing attack going it will be a long day for Fordham.

The Raiders defense has been feast or famine this year. They were torched by Furman and Lehigh but managed to contain Richmond’s high octane offense. Fordham is still loaded on offense at the skill positions but injuries (Anderson, Edmonds, Longi have all been battling through) and an offensive line that has been perplexingly poor has resulted in so-so output. Colgate certainly has the pass rushers, led by Afriyie, to give the Ram offensive line all kinds of problems.

This just seems like a terrible match-up for a wounded Fordham team.

Prediction: Colgate 41 Fordham 24

Lafayette (2-3, 2-0) at Harvard (2-2) – Oct. 14th 12 PM Harvard Stadium Cambridge, MA

Live Streaming – Ivy League Digital Network

Lafayette will look to use their recently found mojo to conquer one of their old nemesis’s from the Ivy League, Harvard. The Crimson have won their last 5 meetings (42-0 last year) against the Leopards and own an all-time 16-3 advantage in the series. All that historical “stuff” might not matter though given the current trajectory of each team. Lafayette heads to Cambridge sky high after posting back-2-back wins against Holy Cross and Fordham while Harvard returns home after suffering an embarrassing loss to Cornell. It was the first time the Crimson lost to the Big Red since 2005. Harvard’s offense sputtered against Cornell like it did in a season opening loss to Rhode Island. The Crimson are averaging 12 ppg in their two losses and 43 ppg in their two wins.

Lafayette has to feel good about their ever improving defense heading into this game. The competition within the Patriot League might not stack up nationally this year but that doesn’t mean holding Peter Pujals and Holy Cross to 7 points and Chase Edmonds and Fordham to 10 is anything to sneeze at. Harvard does not have any skill players on Edmonds or Pujals level; instead they attack by comity. Quarterback Joe Viviano has battled injuries to start the year and as a result his production (102 ypg 1 TD) has been way down. The two players the Leopard defense must key on are RB Charlie Booker and WR Justice Shelton-Mosely. Shelton-Mosely is also extremely dangerous as a returner on special teams.

If Lafayette wants to spoil the 700th game at historical Harvard Stadium they’ll have to score more than the 10 and 14 points they’ve put up the last two weeks. At this point in the season the running game, or lack there of (122nd 8.7 ypg), is basically a lost cause at this point. The Leopard offense will be as productive as quarterback Sean O’Malley and his talented wide receivers are. Unfortunately, being one dimensional doesn’t figure to be a recipe for success against a very stingy Harvard defense.

Prediction: Harvard 24 Lafayette 13

Georgetown (1-4, 0-0) at Lehigh (1-5, 1-0) – Oct. 14th 12:30 PM Goodman Stadium Bethlehem, PA

Live Streaming – Patriot League Network

Lehigh will be seeking their 17th straight win over Georgetown and a 2-0 start in Patriot League play Saturday afternoon when the Mountain Hawks and Hoyas do battle. The Mountain Hawks dominance over a fellow league member is not unprecedented. Lehigh had a 15 game winning streak against Bucknell that stretched from 1998 through the 2012 season. During the Georgetown’s losing streak to Lehigh the Hoyas have been outscored by an average of 25 points per game. The largest point differential during the streak came in 2002 when Lehigh rolled to a 69-0 win. Lehigh enters the game off a thrilling 3 point win over rival Colgate while Georgetown lost 50-30 to Princeton their last time out.

If there’s one positive Georgetown can take away from their loss to Princeton that might help them against Lehigh is the ability to score points. The Hoyas entered last week’s game averaging less than 10 points a game but was able to put up 30 against Tigers (even if 20 came in garbage time). Since Lehigh has been giving up points at an extremely generous rate (121st in FCS 46.7 ppg) the Hoyas have a shot to do some damage. The question for Georgetown heading into the game is who will start under center. Sophomore Gunther Johnson (13-22 149 yards) showed some promise in relief of veteran backup Cole Norris against Princeton. If either QB gets some help from the anemic rushing attack (49.4 ypg, 120th in FCS) it will put added pressure on the much maligned Lehigh “D”. The Mountain Hawks rush defense ranks 119th in FCS (271 ypg) so something has to give on Saturday. Halfway through the season Lehigh’s defense now ranks dead last in the subdivision in yards allowed (533 ypg) by nearly 30 per game.

Lehigh’s banking on the ability to simply outscore the Hoyas. That line of thinking should work this week. Georgetown’s usually stout defense has fallen off considerably this season which is bad news with the Mountain Hawk’s high octane offense (33 ppg) up next. Brad Mayes, Dom Bragalone, Troy Pelletier and company should be in-line for another big week as Lehigh will comfortably head into their bye week 2-0 in Patriot League play.

Prediction: Lehigh 52 Georgetown 27

Holy Cross (2-4, 0-1) at Yale (3-1) – Oct. 14th 1 PM Yale Bowl New Haven, CT

Live Streaming – Ivy League Digital Network

Holy Cross’s once promising season is on the brink of full-on collapse as they head to the Nutmeg State to take on a very good Yale team. The Crusaders have lost 3 straight since their emphatic 51-26 win over New Hampshire in the middle of September. All three phases (offense, defense and special teams) have contributed to Holy Cross’s current losing streak. Coach Gilmore and his staff must get things cleaned up otherwise the Eli will pile onto the Crusader’s misery. Yale has dominated two Patriot League foes (56-28 vs Lehigh and 41-10 vs Fordham) this season and are more than capable of making Holy Cross the third. The Eli’s lone loss this season was a 1 point heartbreaker against Dartmouth last week. The Crusaders also suffered a painful setback to the Big Green this season. Surprisingly, this is the first meeting between Holy Cross and Yale since 2008. The Eli have dominated the all-time series 27-4.

The Holy Cross defense will have their hands full with an extremely explosive Yale offense (43 ppg, 3rd in FCS). Eli quarterback Kurt Rawls has been lighting it up (70% completion, 225 ypg, 9 TDs) so far this year. Making his life a little easier is the talented running back tandem of DeShawn Salter (94 ypg) and Zane Dudek (100ypg). The Crusader defense has seen pretty good overall this year (373 ypg, 23 ppg) but had its worst outing of the year last week against Monmouth. Yale’s offensive attack is far more diversified than Monmouth’s so Crusader defensive coordinator Mike Kashurba will need to have his guys prepared for the kitchen sink. Holy Cross linebackers (the strength of the defense) Nick McBeath and Ryan Brady will need to be at their best physically and mentally within the 4-3 “D” in order to slow down the Eli offense.

Peter Pujals will need another big time performance (school record 509 yards last week) if Holy Cross is to put the kibosh on their losing streak. Veteran wide receiver Richie DeNicola is expected to return from injury which could be a major boost for offense. In addition to getting a big game from Pujals, the Crusaders need the running back trio of Gabe Guild (40 ypg), Diquan Walker (41 ypg) and Miles Alexander (34 ypg) to rack up yards and eat up clock. It won’t be easy against a very good Yale front 7.

Unless the Holy Cross team that took the field the first 3 weeks shows up it figures to be a long afternoon at The Bowl against a Yale team that might not lose again the rest of the season.

Prediction: Yale 45 Holy Cross 31

Bucknell (2-3, 0-1) at Cornell (1-3) –Oct. 14th 1:30 PM Schoellkopf Field Ithaca, NY

Live Streaming – Ivy League Digital Network

Bucknell will try to even their record at .500 as they head to the Finger Lake region of New York to take on Cornell. The Bison are coming off their bye so they should be well rested and ready to go. One of the emphases for the Bucknell coaching staff during their extra week of prep is to get more consistent production out of the offense, especially the rushing attack. The Bison currently rank 115th in FCS in rushing with a paltry 65.4 ypg average which simply won’t cut if they want to challenge for the league title. Cornell is coming off a surprising 17-14 win over traditional Ivy League power Harvard. It was the Big Red’s first win over the Crimson since 2005.

If Bucknell wants to even their record at 3-3 they’ll need to find a way to have success against Cornell defense that has been playing lights out the last two weeks. The Big Red have yielded less than 300 total yards of offense to their last two opponents (Colgate & Harvard). They were especially stout against the run (62 yards allowed) last week against Harvard. Given the Bison’s ongoing issues on offense those aren’t the type of stats offensive coordinator Bobby Acosta wants to see. One positive for Bison offense is the performance of quarterback John Chiarolanzio (career high 204 yards passing) against Monmouth the last time out. While those numbers aren’t going to win Chiarolanzio any postseason awards, the ability to effectively throw the ball should help open up the running game. With Cornell playing great defense the last two weeks Bucknell can’t afford to be on dimensional.

Like Bucknell, Cornell has an average at best offense (8 TDs in 4 games) so this figures to be a low scoring slugfest. The one thing the Big Red potentially have going for it is an emerging rushing attack after posting 233 yards on the ground against Harvard. Chris Walker is the primary ball carrier (50 carries 183 yards) but Harold Coles has provided several explosive plays (9.7 ypc) when given the opportunity. Cornell quarterback Dalton Banks has been plagued but interceptions (10) so far this year so the passing attack as been a work in progress.

Cornell has dominated this series historically (43-13) but the Bison did win in their last visit to Ithaca in 2015. With the added week of rest and preparation the Bison make it two in a row against the Big Red at Schoellkopf.

Prediction: Bucknell 20 Cornell 13

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