My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Prognosticating the Patriot: Week 8

Finally, we come to the meat of the Patriot League schedule! Everyone tees off in a league game except Lafayette, who has the week off. The biggest game of the week puts the Raiders at the Crusaders with the winner of the game taking a big step towards winning the league title.

Lehigh at Bucknell

At the beginning of the year, I thought this would be one of the larger contests of the season: Top dog Lehigh facing a tough Bucknell defense at Christy Mathewson. My, how the season has surprised us!

Lehigh had some trouble putting away Yale last weekend, but more importantly they lost starting quarterback Mark Borda for the season in the process. Sophomore Sedale Threatt will be given the ball following a nice pinch hitting performance against the Eli to lead the Mountain Hawks to victory in overtime. I would not be surprised if many Lehigh fans are quietly hoping that Threatt will have with him some Chris Brown magic and begin a great career at Lehigh similar to Brown had at Colgate. They are off to similar starts for sure. Only time will tell on that one, but all reports say Threatt is a very nice athlete (and I will try to avoid the obvious word play - Threatt is a 'threat'. I wonder how many times that's been a headline in high school?).

Bucknell, as amazing as this might have sounded in August, is barely on life support right now with a 1-5 record and 3 out of the last 4 contests not being competitive. One has to wonder how the Bison will be able to get out of this tailspin, and welcoming Lehigh to town is not usually a prescribed method. The Mountain Hawks in many ways have their backs against the wall with one league loss. They must win out and hope for Holy Cross to lose in order to have any control over their once bright post season hopes. Not good news for Bucknell, regardless of whoever is at quarterback for Lehigh.

The offense might be a bit simpler this week and there might be a few miscues or hiccups due to the changed signal caller, but ultimately I think Lehigh continues to get back on track in preparation for an all important showdown in Hamilton next weekend. Lehigh wins big.

Predicted outcome: Lehigh 38 Bucknell 7

Colgate at Holy Cross

I have tried very hard to leave Homer at home for this prediction, but I must warn my readers. He is giddy as a school girl waiting for the prom to come. Feel free to call me out on anything, but this is how I (I think it's me and not Homer) see it going down on Saturday.

Colgate continued to step up their play last week after a few early season stumbles, this time blanking Fordham at home. The crusaders put away one of Colgate's stumbles last weekend, beating the Big Green of Dartmouth for their fifth win of the season. Both teams are comfortably in the win column for the season and have no league losses. Folks, this showdown is huge!

Colgate's has had Holy Cross's number since 2000, but there have been plenty of close games along the way that could have easily gone the Crusaders way. These teams appear to be more evenly matched than in the past, so hopes must be high in Worcester that the Sader Return to Glory will continue to march on this year. Colgate will be equally charged for the contest as nothing will erase those early losses faster than another step towards the Patriot League crown.

The higher profile battle between these teams will be a solid Colgate defense lined up against a potent and mistake free Holy Cross offense that is boasting one of I-AA's best players this season, Walter Payton candidate Steve Silva. It will be a great one to watch as Colgate has done a great job stopping the run so far and Silva has done a great job racking up the yards. In addition to the ground threat, Holy Cross quarterback John O'Neil will be looking for wide receiver Sean Gruber to keep Colgate's defense honest. How O'Neil fares against what could be the best secondary he has seen so far will be a large factor in the outcome of this game.

However, I think it is the other match up that will decide this game: the 'gate offense against the Sader defense. Colgate's offense has quietly come together since quarterback Mike Saraceno returned from injury and ranks only 11 spots behind the more publicized Holy Cross squad. They will be facing a Holy Cross defense that, at least statistically speaking, has not been as tough as the Raider's schedule so far, Fordham excluded - although only by a hair. I know that statistics are often meaningless since the game is played on the field and not with a slide rule, but those numbers jive with my intuition. Can Holy Cross contain Jordan Scott and the 'gate receivers and a newly emerged weapon in Saraceno running it himself?

Of course, it cannot be overlooked just how much special teams might play into this contest. The two best return men in the Patriot League, as well as some of the best in the nation, will face off in the form of Steve Silva and Geoff Bean. If one team can exploit that area better than the other, it could be the touchdown that makes all the difference in this one.

With all that to digest, here's how I see it playing out: Colgate's got a good defense but Holy Cross will find a way to score some points. That is largely a given in my book. Colgate has got to find a way to score more, most likely in the recipe that has worked so well so far: Scott with a lot of carries and multiple receivers burning the Crusader secondary. The fact that it has been working so well is what leads me to believe in a Colgate victory here. Special teams play could swing it the other way, but I wouldn't be surprised if both teams kick away. The weather looks to be a non issue and it is parent's weekend at Holy Cross. How I wish this game was televised!

Predicted outcome: Colgate 28 Holy Cross 17. (Homer might be responsible for a 3-7 point swing in Colgate's favor)

Fordham at Georgetown

Winless Fordham goes to D.C. to try and get that first win against the Hoyas. While Georgetown has a better record on paper, they have been taking their fair share of lumps this season as well, most recently against Cornell. Georgetown would love to have a second Patriot League win under their belt as it would most likely put them solidly out of the basement of the conference in the fifth position - their best Patriot League season ever if I am not mistaken. And this would be with three league games still left to play.

The Fordham team I saw last weekend has a lot of work to do. Derric Daniels doesn't seem to be the answer at quarterback and James Prydatko can't do it all by himself. The defense has some bright spots but it is awfully tough to keep the intensity needed to win when you're 0-6 and the offense is largely spinning its wheels. Georgetown on the other hand has shown sparks of life and attitude could be the major difference in this one. As much as it has been the curse of the Hoyas to pick them to win in this column, I have to go with them again to repeat the win one week, lose the next cycle they've been on the past month.

Georgetown wins in a close one.

Predicted outcome: Georgetown 14 Fordham 10

Last week's record: 4-2. Season record: 22-17.


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