My rants and insight into Colgate athletics and Patriot League sports

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Prognosticating the Patriot: Week 12

Anyone else want to rewind the season a little bit? I cannot believe that we've gone 12 full weeks already and the college careers end here for the seniors of at least five and probably six Patriot League teams. We've had our share of exciting games and interesting turns of events. There will be time in the post season to dole out awards and cite moments; for now though, we all get to relish at least one more Saturday in the fall spent with our favorite gridiron crew. Win or lose, enjoy!

Colgate at Georgetown

Nothing would erase the sting of last week's embarrassing Hoya loss to Davidson of the Pioneer league faster than a huge upset of Colgate. The Raiders continue to keep pace at the top of the standings with Lehigh and Lafayette, yet did it in anything but impressive fashion last weekend.

It's been an interesting season for the Hoyas, yet probably filled with more disappointment than pride. This could have been a great year for Georgetown to land in the middle of the Patriot League pack and a Colgate win would put them at .500 in the league; not too shabby given the Hoyas history. But a 2-4 record will place them just north of Bucknell. There has to be some significant level of frustration building down in D.C. Will this be the last game for more than just the Hoya seniors? An upset win just might save some jobs.

For Colgate, the mission is much clearer: just win. Win and share a part of the league title for their fifth in 10 years and three in the past four. Win and hope for a Lafayette victory (see below) and find out where you're traveling on Sunday. Finally, win because this group of seniors flat out knows how to - and Colgate has never lost to Georgetown.

Given last week's Colgate performance, one cannot bank on the paper match up that puts the Raiders as a clear favorite. However, given last week's Hoyas performance in combination with the overall season totals, one has to wonder just how exactly Georgetown is going to score against Colgate. Facing the Bucknell option before the Georgetown version certainly helps get Colgate ready. Mike Saraceno at quarterback is still nursing his non-throwing shoulder, so look for freshman tailback Jordan Scott to continue to be the main focus of this offense. He needs just 98 yards to be the first freshman in Colgate history to run for over 1,000 yards. I think he does it - and then some. If Colgate can avoid the turnovers that have defined this season so far, it won't be a close one.

Predicted outcome: Colgate 28 Georgetown 7

Lafayette at Lehigh

Every year the Most Played Rivalry in College Football is a big deal. Just like the 140th meeting, the 141st is even bigger than normal. Patriot League title and I-AA playoff hopes are on the line. As much as these two schools love to rail on each other, the added dimension of this game with so much on the line is very much appreciated by both.

This year's incarnation has a bit of the deja vu smell to me. Looking at this battle on paper, Lehigh's got the guns and a good defense. Lafayette's got a great defense but is not putting up a lot of points in general. Lehigh is highly ranked and favored over the Leopards. Sound eerily familiar?

The first very important point to note in this match up is location. For Lafayette fans, in this match up it means everything. Away from Fisher field, the Leopards haven't been able to get a win at Lehigh since Chicago's "Look Away" snatched the top spot from Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" on the Billboard pop charts in 1989.

The Lehigh plan is simple: continue to play Lehigh football. There's really very little chance that Lafayette can outscore the Mountain Hawks in a shoot out. If Lehigh can up the 30+ plus per game they are averaging, they will be playoff bound. The deja vu is, that is exactly what they had to do last year, and couldn't.

Now certainly you have to like Lehigh's chances in here. They have to be the favorite. They've got a young and exciting quarterback in Sedale Threatt, solid Eric Rath in the backfield, and four or five guys that can catch the ball on any given down. The defense, while not dominating, certainly isn't a slouch squad. They can step up and make big plays and can win some games with turnovers.

Lehigh seems to be hitting on all cylinders under Threatt and the seniors certainly remember last year's disappointment in Easton. Using my logical brain, it would be correct to pick them in this one.

But in the intangibles stirring around in the back of my head, I've got a slight Lafayette tingle building. Where should I start? To begin with, Lehigh was the preseason favorite this year. Let's all pause and remember past preseason favorites... Lehigh and Colgate in 2002 - Fordham autobid champ... Colgate in 2004... Lafayette autobid/champ. I can't remember 2003's preseason favorite, but I know it wasn't Colgate. Preseason favorites don't seem to actual win this league often, do they?

I follow that thought with the actual matchup on the field. Lafayette has got the best defense in this league - and one of the better squads in the land. No matter what offense they've gone up against, they've done a very good job. They have been in every game this year. Put that defense up against Lehigh's super offense, and that's where the biggest battle will be... unless of course you consider Time of Possession to actually be a defensive battle. Lafayette hasn't put up Colgate numbers is this area, but they do run a similar offense as the Raiders. If they avoid the same mistake as the Raiders of having a shootout against Lehigh, that opens up a lot of possibilities.

One of the final pieces of the Lafayette victory puzzle is the red zone. The Leopards have given up the fewest touchdowns within the red zone. Lehigh is of course putting up the most. Classic battle here.

So my rational brain says, it's at Goodman, Lehigh's rolling, Lafayette hasn't had much offense... the reasons could go on and on. But somewhere, probably sitting to the left of Homer who is surely helping write this prediction, is sitting that damn adage about defense. You know the one I'm talking about - the one about championships?

The victory will ultimately come down to who can limit turnovers and who can capitalize on the other teams mistakes. It's a classic battle of top offense vs. top defense. And Homer is telling that adage is really starting to fidget. What the hell! Let's go with it. Defense wins championships! Give me five, Homer! Woo-hoo!

Predicted outcome: Lafayette 21 Lehigh 17

Holy Cross at Bucknell

What started out as so promising a season for the Crusaders has taken a noticeable dip in the past three weeks. Three losses in a row, two of which came at the hands of league leaders Colgate and Lafayette, have clouded the apparent strides that were made in Gilmore's second season. However, a win against pretty much hapless Bucknell is still a very big deal. It makes Holy Cross a winning team; something that has only happened once in the past twelve years. It sends this senior crew out on a high note and perhaps serves as the foundation of good things to come.

As for Bucknell (sorry Bison fans), they pretty much have to be hoping for this dismal season to end already. It has been a trying one to go through for sure, and it will take a lot of work this offseason to get the Bison back to the level of the 2004 team. One hopes they can bounce back from this enormous setback.

The game is most definitely Holy Cross's to lose. It will take a performance of the magnitude of Colgate's first half against the Bison in order for this game to be close. If Holy Cross gets ahead by more than a score (and I expect they will), Bucknell just simply cannot pass the pall with any effectiveness. Unless the Crusaders gift wrap an upset, this one's over shortly after the half - if not before.

Predicted outcome: Holy Cross 32 Bucknell 10

Albany at Fordham

Fordham's Patriot League season is the only one that is already wrapped up. Owners of a 2-4 league record (2-8 overall), the Rams won't occupy the basement. But that won't make this season any better. A win over 'mid-major' Albany, currently 4-6, would finish the Fordham season with three wins out of the last four; a major improvement from the first seven and probably enough to save Ed Foley from an early exit. However, Albany is certainly not going to roll over for the Rams. This should be a ball game folks.

SUNY Albany is an ambitious mid-major. They have scheduled three A-10 teams this year, losing all three by a combined score of 107-14, and Fordham. If I'm a Great Dane, I'm licking my chops in this one. They have to be motivated to get that out of conference win against an autobid conference and Fordham is their last, and probably best, shot.

I don't know if it's league loyalties or great insight, but I think the Rams will prevail in a very tight contest. That third win will mean a lot for this group and it's senior day in the Bronx. I won't be shocked with an Albany win, but I will be shocked if Fordham, if not winning, is not in this one until the very end.

Predicted outcome: Fordham 21 Albany 18

Last week's record: 2-2. Season record: 31-21. I'm sitting at 59.6% right now, so I would love to be right with all four here and get over that 60% mark without rounding!


  • Ah, 13, yer writing with yer heart and not yer brain. You have better chance hoping for Richmond, UMass and a couple others going down in flames in order to make post-season. Lehigh was erratic last year going into this game--barely getting by Colgate and Fordham. This year, the second half has been an eye-opener. Our defense was also severely wounded last year without Kardwell and Morgan--especially in the secondary where blown assignments were the key to that loss. That won't be happening this year. Tickets on Sale for Goodman starting November 20!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:48 PM  

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