Patriot League: Week 4 Preview

Penn (1-0) at Lehigh (0-3, 0-0) – Sept 23rd 12:30 PM Goodman Stadium Bethlehem, PA

Live Stream: Patriot League Network

Lehigh will try to notch their first win of the season against defending Ivy League co-champion Penn Saturday afternoon. Lehigh continues to be plagued by terrible defense (46.7 ppg) through the first 3 games of the season. The Mountain Hawk rush defense currently ranks 118th in FCS. The front 7 have been manhandled in the last two games. Things don’t figure to get any better with a 1st team All-American wide receiver (Justin Watson) and a proven running back (Tre Solomon) invading Goodman Stadium this week.  The Quakers are coming off a 42-24 win over Division II Ohio-Dominican. They were picked 2nd in the preseason Ivy League poll.

The Mountain Hawks best chance to get their first win of the season is to simply outscore the Quakers. Dom Bragalone is listed as the starting RB (was last week) after missing the Yale game. If he’s able to play it will be a tremendous boost to the rushing attack that has struggled to gain traction to start the year. As a result of being one dimensional the offense (30 ppg) has not lived up to their preseason billing. Lehigh will need to account for a talented Quaker front 7 on defense. DE Louis Vecchio along with the linebacker tandem of Connor Jargo and Colton Moskal will give the Mountain Hawk offensive line fits all day.

Lehigh has soundly defeated (42-21 ’15 & 49-28 ’16) Penn each of the last two years. This year things don’t figure to be nearly as easy. The Quakers are loaded at that skill positions on offense which is bad news for the downtrodden Mountain Hawk “D”. Lehigh has to force Penn QB Will Fischer-Colbrie (making 2nd career start) into some mistakes. Mayes should have a lot of success of against Penn’s experienced secondary but will it be enough? Probably not.

Prediction: Penn 48 Lehigh 37

Georgetown (1-1, 0-0) at Columbia (1-0) – Sept 23rd 1 PM Lawrence A. Wien Stadium New York, NY

Live Stream: Ivy League Digital Network

Georgetown and Columbia square off in the Big Apple for the Lou Little Cup this Saturday. Lou Little coached at both schools with great success in the first half of the 20th century. In 2015 the schools agreed to play for a trophy that commemorates the legacy of Little. The Hoyas have won the first two editions of the Lou Little Cup. Columbia enters the game fresh off a thrilling 17-14 last second win over Wagner. Georgetown on the other hand suffered a heartbreaking 14-12 decision to Marist.

If Georgetown wants to make it 3 straight over the Lions the offense must be able to produce at a higher level. Through the first two games the offense has produced 28 total points and ranks 95th in FCS in total yards (278 ypg). The Hoyas struggles on “O” go well beyond this year but with such an experienced group returning in 2017 things figured to improve. Columbia’s defense will certainly produce a challenge. The Lions are a veteran defense that is led by two All-Ivy selections, DT Lord Hyeamang and CB Cameron Roane. Georgetown has to be able to take some of the pressure of Tim Barnes if they’re going to put up enough points to win.

Columbia’s spread attack on offense will test the stingy Hoya defense. Senior quarterback Anders Hill has an experienced group of skill players to work with. The Lions likely won’t light up the scoreboard either but they should have enough firepower to outlast the Hoyas in a defensive struggle. Odds say Lion head coach Al Bagnoli gets his hands on the Lou Little Cup for the first time.

Prediction: Columbia 20 Georgetown 13

Fordham (1-2, 0-0) at Bryant (1-2) – Sept 23rd 1 PM Beirne Stadium Smithfield, RI

Live Streaming: NEC Front Row

Fordham heads to The Ocean State to take on the Bryant Bulldogs from the NEC. The Rams are licking their wounds after an embarrassing 56-21 loss to now #15 Eastern Washington. Fordham’s defense continues to be a major issue. They’re giving up 51 ppg to start the year. They’ve been torched via the ground (Army) and through the air (EWU). The Rams must find some level of improvement this week or the dangerous Bryant offense (486 ypg) will continue the misery.

After missing last week, All-American RB Chase Edmonds is expected to play against the Bulldogs. The Rams had virtually no rushing attack (26 yards) last week against Eastern Washington without Edmonds and his backup Jarred Brevard. Being able to control the ball and limiting their opponent’s possessions would go a long way in turning around the Ram’s fortunes. Without a healthy Edmonds defenses have been able to tee off on Anderson.  Bryant’s defense surrendered 60 points to a usually ho-hum Maine offense two weeks so this should be a good chance for Edmonds and company to get back on track. Bryant has two talented defensive linemen in Dillon Guthro and Kevin Lazzo that must be accounted for.

First year Bryant Head Coach James Perry established himself as one of the top offensive minds in FCS during his time as Princeton’s offensive coordinator. His knowledge is working right now because Bryant is putting up a bunch of yards despite not having a lot of proven firepower on offense. Louisiana Tech transfer Price Wilson leads the offense at quarterback (342 ypg 7 TD 8 INT). The Bulldogs will certainly test Fordham but it’s hard to imagine the Rams being outgunned if Edmonds does in fact play.

Prediction: Fordham 43 Bryant 31

Furman (0-3) at Colgate (1-2, 0-0) – Sept 23rd 1 PM Andy Kerr Stadium Hamilton, NY

Live Streaming: Patriot League Network

Colgate returns to home to host Southern Conference member Furman this week. The once powerful Paladins have fallen on hard times recently. Furman heads to Central New York having won just 3 out of  their last 17 games. They started this year with a narrow loss to in-state conference rival Wofford then suffered a bad loss to Elon before getting blown out by North Carolina State last week. If nothing else, Furman has to feel good about history being on their side. They’ve easily won the only two (42-21 ’08 & 45-15 ’10) previous meetings with Colgate. Although, that will be of little solace for 1st year Furman head coach Clay Hendrix.

The Raiders hard-nosed defense should be able to control a Paladin offense that has struggled a bit (23 ppg) out of the gate. Furman does have an excellent RB (All-SoCon) in Antonio Wilcox that Colgate needs to worry about. The Paladin passing game is led by veteran QB P.J Blazejowski (180 ypg 2 TD 1 INT) and WR Logan McCarter. The Colgate front seven should have success against a rather youthful Furman offensive line. If they can get pressure on Blazejowski the Paladin’s will have a very difficult time moving the ball.

Colgate needs to get things going offensively if they want to avoid falling to a disappointing 1-3. The passing attack has been atrocious (85 ypg) to start the season. Raider quarterback Grant Breneman will get his second career start against Furman after struggling mightily passing the ball against Buffalo. Thankfully for Colgate they still have a potent rushing attack (174.7 ypg) to fall back on. But at some point the lack of a passing attack will catch up with them.

Prediction: Colgate 27 Furman 17

Princeton (1-0) at Lafayette (0-3, 0-0) – Sept 23rd 6 PM Fisher Stadium Easton, PA

Live Streaming: Patriot League Network

Lafayette first year head coach John Garrett will try to earn his first win along the Leopard sidelines against his alma mater Saturday evening. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that current Tiger head coach Bob Surace and Garrett were teammates on the 1987 Princeton team and worked together for 3 years on the Cincinnati Bengals staff. Perhaps having a Princeton graduate on the Leopard side will be what gets Lafayette over the hump against their Ivy League nemesis. This will be the 50th meeting between Lafayette and Princeton. The Tigers own a commanding 42-4-3 all-time series lead and won last year’s contest 35-31 in New Jersey. Princeton and Harvard tied for 1st place in the preseason Ivy League poll. Old Nassau defeated 2017 FCS playoff participant San Diego 27-17 in their season opener.

If John Garrett wants to stun his alma mater he must get his team to compete for 60 minutes. The Leopards put forth an embarrassing effort in last week’s 59-0 dumpster fire against Villanova. Lafayette has too many quality players on defense to allow a solid but not spectacular Wildcat offense to race up and down the field for 49 first half points. Princeton enters this game with a very skilled QB in Chad Kanoff (3rd All-time in passing yards at PU) and a now healthy Charlie Volker at RB to go along with a decorated veteran offensive line. If the Leopards put forth a similar type performance on “D” they’ll get run off the field for a second straight week.

The biggest reason Lafayette seems destine for 0-4 is their offense (12 ppg). To say it was stuck in neutral might suggest it’s moving in the right direction. Lafayette’s offensive line continues to be a disaster which has led to a rushing attack that’s producing 9, NINE(!), yards per game. With that type of output on offense the Leopards are going to struggle to win a single game in 2017. They’re certainly not going to beat the defending Ivy League co-champs.

Prediction: Princeton 41 Lafayette 13

Sacred Heart (2-1) at Bucknell (1-2, 0-1) – Sept 23rd 6 PM Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium Lewisburg, PA

Live Streaming: Patriot League Network

Both Bucknell and Sacred Heart enter this week’s game off of tough road losses against CAA teams. After putting forth an excellent first half the Bison fell 30-9 to William & Mary in Virginia. Sacred Heart’s trip was shorter than Bucknell’s but their margin of defeat as greater as they lost 45-17 to Stony Brook. The Pioneers were able to take down Patriot League member Lafayette 38-24 in week 2 and have had success against Patriot League teams in the past. The Bison and Pioneers have met twice prior to this year’s matchup. The road team won both times.

If Bucknell wants to stop Sacred Heart from leaving Lewisburg with the “W” they must get the rushing game going. The strength of the Bison offense heading into the season was the running back duo of Joey DeFloria and Chad Freshnock. Through the first 3 games the two are averaging a combined 51 ypg. Suspect offensive line play and the inability to stretch the field passing the ball has allowed teams to focus on the Bison rushing attack to start the season. It won’t be any easier against a Pioneer defense that ranks 15th in FCS in total defense (284.7 ypg allowed). Wide receiver Jack Horn has the potential to loosen up the Pioneer but he and Muh have yet to develop a reliable connection. If the two can get on the same page the entire offense will benefit greatly.

On paper this game seems destined to be a defensive struggle. Sacred Heart has proven to have a little more balance (226 yards rush/166 yards pass per game) on offense through the first 3 games but their competition has not been on the same level as Bucknell’s. If Bucknell wants to keep the dream alive of a winning season this is the type of game they need to win at home. The Bison defense should cause just enough problems for Pioneer quarterback Kevin Duke and company to get back their record back to .500 on the season.

Prediction: Bucknell 20 Sacred Heart 16

Dartmouth (1-0) at #25 Holy Cross (2-1, 1-0) – Sept 23rd 7 PM Fitton Field Worcester, MA

Live Streaming: Patriot League Network

Fresh off the program’s biggest win (UNH) in 25+ years, Holy Cross will look to keep things rolling against Dartmouth Saturday night. The Big Green easily dispatched (35-10) of the Crusaders last year in Hanover, NH to take a one game, 38-37-4, lead in the all-time series. Overall, Dartmouth has won 9 straight games against out of conference competition. They started the 2017 season last week with a dominating 38-7 win over Stetson.  The Big Green were picked 5th in the preseason Ivy League poll after posting a 3-7 record in 2016.

Holy Cross has been getting strong play in all 3 phases to start the year. They all contributed in a big way in the 51-26 win over then #8 New Hampshire last week. If the offensive line can continue to gel this could be a very special year for the Crusaders. Before big picture worries come in to play, Holy Cross must worry about a very dangerous Dartmouth team. Big Green senior quarterback Jake Heneghan will be getting two impact wide receivers (Charles Mack and Hunter Hagdorn) back this week. The tandem missed the Stetson game with injuries. Those two should help balance out an offense that ran for 324 yards against the Hatters. The Holy Cross defense must prepare to face a Dartmouth offense that will be far more diversified than the one that was one display in the season opener.

The Crusaders seem poised to end Dartmouth’s run of dominance in out of conference games. If Holy Cross can avoid a letdown after last week’s big win they should be able sneak by their old Ancient 8 rival. Dartmouth’s offense will be far more potent with the return of Mack and Hagdorn so that’s something to pay close attention to. Expect to see some points scored in this one.

Prediction: Holy Cross 38 Dartmouth 27

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