My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Week 5: Prognosticating the Patriot

Close games were the story last weekend and most of them were unexpected. Holy Cross kept it very close to nationally ranked Delaware, Georgetown edged Stony Brook to break some of the mid-major curse that has plagued the program and most suprisingly, VMI came awfully close to upsetting the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh. Lafayette alone as able to pull away from league mate Fordham after the Leopards "spotted" the Rams 10 points. Colgate and Bucknell were able to nurse some some wounds, and most likely practice their butts off, in a week off.

This week's action brings the Ivy back to the Patriot League table in some key inter-league matchups. The Patriot teams will be out to gain some respect back from the horrific sweep two weeks ago while the Ivys will look to continue to use these opportunities to make a case for the strength of their teams. Based on the games on tap, this should be one great weekend to watch some games.
Lehigh at Harvard
All eyes will be tuned to Cambridge this weekend, as two national I-AA heavyweight square off in what could (based on rankings Leopard fans) be the toughest game remaining on both of their schedules. The Crimson will welcome Lehigh as a team that has not lost since a day all the way back in November of 2003. Harvard boasts a Payton candidate in junior running back Clifton Dawson (who tore off 189 yards in a double overtime win vs. Brown last weekend), a I-A transfer quarterback in Liam O'Hagan, and a solid receiving corps led by Corey Mazza. Folks, they don't play in the playoffs, but this team is legit.

The good thing for Lehigh is, they are legit too. Borda, Rath and an outstanding defense will be more than up to the challenge of knocking Harvard off their winning streak, much like they did in 2002. After a shaky win against VMI last weekend, Lembo and this senior led crew probably are having a very focused and intense week of practice this week as a win against Harvard should solidify the Mountain Hawks as the team to beat in the Patriot this season as well as a top team in all of I-AA.
There will be a lot of offense on the field this Saturday and the game and the score could be very much like 2002's 36-35 thriller. What makes this observer think the game will go the way of the Mountain Hawk is defense and game experience. The Lehigh defense should have another chance to shine like it did against Delaware. The difference in the outcome should be that they have the Delaware loss under their belt. Any good team should be able to take that loss and grow from it; and I think Lehigh is one darn good team this year. It could be a thriller, but my gut tells me Lehigh will come out strong on this one.
Predicted outcome: Lehigh 31 Harvard 21
Marist at Bucknell
The Red Foxes must be salivating at this game. Bucknell has been banged up and is looking at their worst start since 1998, a season that saw the Bison lose six straight before getting in the win column. Marist has been playing one to two Patriot teams a year for the past few years, and besides an errant Georgetown win in 2001, has not been able to get that big win. They lost their opener to Lafayette in a more respectable fashion than last year, and since that loss have reeled off three straight wins, including one over the same CCSU team that defeated Colgate. Marist, your chance for the win is now.

Bucknell could be in for a lot of trouble this year, and win against Marist is not by any means a given. With a week off to get focused and a some tough games ahead to prepare for, it is do or die time for the Bison. They should be playing like they have nothing to lose.
On the other hand, this game is huge for Marist. They have been winning and they will come into this game pumped up. Normally I'd pick Bucknell here; their defense should be able to contain Marist... but then again, they should have been able to contain Stony Brook. And just how is Bucknell going to score? I'm officially in the doubter camp now. The Bison are going to have to show something in order to get picked to win again. I'm going with the upset.
Predicted outcome: Marist 17 Bucknell 10
Cornell at Colgate
The Big Red come to Andy Kerr to face the Raiders salivating in their own right, looking to knock off their Central New York rivals for the first time since 1992. This game is always a close one, even when the teams involved were headed in opposite directions. With Colgate apparently down this season and Cornell looking improved under their second year head coach, there is no time like the present for the boys from Ithaca.
However, if Dick Biddle and his crew, owners of a 24-5 record against Ivy League teams, have anything to say about it, the Raiders will be looking to rebound against Cornell and get this season headed in another direction. Colgate has been bitten by the injury bug and has been plagued by turnovers in their first three games. One can only imagine what practice has been like in their week off.
After the Dartmouth game, I would have had to predict a Cornell win here. However, after last week's solid beating by the hands of Yale, it appears the Big Red may have some question marks of their own that need answering. It may be time for another Colgate streak to end, but for now, I'm going to hope that Colgate spent the past two weeks getting healthy and getting their heads screwed on straight. Like many a Colgate/Cornell battle, it will be a hard fought contest that goes down to the wire. Here's hoping Colgate wins their homecoming battle.
Predicted outcome: Colgate 14 Cornell 10
Holy Cross at Yale
In what I realize now is a theme for the week, the salivation train certainly isn't going to miss the Crusaders of Holy Cross. The Saders haven't beat the Eli of Yale since a 10-6 victory in 1982. Yale, currently owners of a 1-1 record with a loss to San Diego, looks like they might be in a rebuilding year while we've seen Holy Cross loss to pretty good games to some of the top I-AA talent in the nation. However, Yale showed last weekend that they are capable of putting up some points and winning in their game vs. Cornell. This is a tough pick folks.
Holy Cross has gone through the fire the past two weeks and even though they lost, have earned some well deserved respect along the way for their improving program. I don't know what to make of Yale given the past two weeks. I'm going to have to think that the Crusaders return to the win column behind the legs of Steve Silva.
Predicted outcome: Holy Cross 24 Yale 14
Lafayette at Georgetown
The Leopards of Lafayette got into the Patriot League win column last week with an impressive win against Fordham after being down 10 points. Georgetown as well returned to the postitive side of the ledger edging Stony Brook by two. Besides both teams winning last week, these programs may be headed in opposite directions.
After what appeared to be an impressive opening win against Bucknell, Georgetown was then crushed by Holy Cross and Brown in the following weeks and barely squeaked by mid-major Stony Brook. One only has to imagine that Georgetown coach Bob Benson is on the hot seat to get this program going in the right direction. A win here would do just that.
But the Leopards are still the same team that was picked to win or just miss winning the league this year. It will take a major mess up for the Leopards to trip up here. Georgetown might just have that upset win up their sleeve, but I'm not about to go out on a limb and pick it.
Predicted outcome: Lafayette 35 Georgetown 12
Fordham idle.
Last week's record 3-1. Season record 10-12. Getting closer to .500!
(Please forgive some of the paragraph formating. Blogger, or my computer, is doing something funny. I'm looking into it.)

5 Comments:

  • As always, I enjoy reading your predictions--a typical fine job. I only take exception (and mildly, I might add) to your pick of the Marist upset. I would love to agree--it would satisfy my need to go against "the chalk", but I saw Bucknell and they played with pride even after losing two important players. I'm counting on that pride to motivate them on Saturday.

    By Blogger LBPop, at 10:28 AM  

  • Benson isn't on a "hot seat" as a Lembo or a Tavani would be because of Georgetown's football spending. If he had $3 million, it would be another story.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:34 PM  

  • we'll see about Benson. The budget is just an excuse. They are getting good players in Georgetown, they should be more competitive than they have been. How do you explain him losing to mid-major programs that spend as much or less than G'town?

    I can't see Georgetown firing him outright, but if his contract is near being up, I can see them not renewing.

    By Blogger colgate13, at 8:16 PM  

  • We can talk about funds another time (and yes, it is a problem), but 2-2 is not a hot seat. Remember, this is Georgetown football we're talking about, not basketball.

    When a team is losing late, people point to the coach. This team isn't losing late. When the Hoyas fall behind early, it doesn't come back because it sorely lacks the depth of its opponents. The running backs are a good example of this. When your QB is the leading rusher, that points to problems at the backs.

    By Anonymous DFW HOYA, at 11:50 PM  

  • If it was just one year, I'd buy it. But Benson has been on the losing side of the season since the schedule upgrade in 2000 and the move to the Patriot League in 2002. He just hasn't had what it takes at this level. One can point to money, but I think with a new AD, all bets are off.

    Just an opinion.

    By Blogger colgate13, at 9:11 PM  

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