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Friday Water Cooler: Harvard/Lehigh

If you see the graphic with the "guy who looks like John Kerry", that must mean it's time for... the Friday Water Cooler. This week we'll feature "what Chuck does on a bye week", last minute Harvard/Lehigh observations, and (why not) Terrell Owens.

T.O. Has B.O.
Something smells down in Dallas, and it's not the oil refinery. Having lived through the "T.O era" up here in Philadelphia (a two-year stretch that feels like an entire decade), it's hard not to snicker at T.O.'s antics a little. Yet, strangely, something more sinister seems afoot with T.O.'s publicist contradicting a police report and the crazy Wednesday press conference.

I think this is a bizarre plea for sympathy and a big "look at me" moment for T.O. It's happened so often in his career, it's hard not to look at this and say, "They're trying to game the (insert name of team here) and the media... again." It's got to be. Right?

Last Minute Harvard/Lehigh Notes
The weather is promising to be another wonderful day of football with highs in the mid-60s and sunny. Check out the press links and mash-up below my I-AA picks below.

I wanted to go this game (as a "civilian", not for I-AA.org) but as of right now my family and I are not slated to go since I have a commitment to be at the New Hampshire/Delaware game this weekend to chase the possibility that Wildcat WR David Ball breaks Jerry Rice's all-time TD record in the college ranks. If not, I will be following the game via LehighSports.Com, live on CN8 (which is available up and down the East Coast on Comcast Cable) or AM 1230 and AM 1320 in the Lehigh Valley. I will most likely be blogging sporadically on the game one way or another, so be sure to browse here tomorrow.

The Self-Promotion Corner
What does Chuck do on the bye week? Well, when he's not guessing right on Monmouth beating Colgate or Princeton being a good team, he's double dipping I-AA games with his editor and publisher on I-AA.org, Ralph Wallace. (I hear folks puking across the country after this statement.) There are also picture galleries of Hampton/Morgan State and Lafayette/Princeton available there too, with many photots taken by Ralph and myself.

I also got way more than my fair share of props for my picks last week on the 9/26 I-AA Waves from Ralph and Matt Dougherty. Worth a listen, as Ralph talks about our double-dip as well.

Water Cooler Picks: Patriot League, Week 5
Bucknell over Marist. The plucky Bison are improving week to week, and Marist won't pose much of a threat to a Bison squad that is playing much better than in 2005. Bucknell 31, Marist 0.

Lafayette over Yale. Lafayette's 0-2 versus the Ivy, after losing against two upper-echelon Ivy teams in Penn and Princeton. Yale is 1-1 with a victory over lowly Cornell, but it's hard to see the Leopards lose this game they have to have in order to reverse a two-game slide. Lafayette 31, Yale 10.

Holy Cross over Fordham. As long as the Crusaders can get a quick lead on the Rams, I have little confidence that Fordham will be able to come from behind to win this. Holy Cross goes 2-0 in the PL. HC 29, Fordham 6.

Colgate over Georgetown. My fearless prediction here is that it's going to be closer than you think. But I think that Colgate manages to hang on in a "bend but don't break" defensive battle. Colgate 19, G'town 14.

Water Cooler Picks: Top 25, Week 5
#1 New Hampshire over #21 Delaware. Something tells me that Delaware's not simply going to roll over against the Wildcats, but ultimately, WR David Ball will break the Division I record for career TDs in a UNH win. I'll be there to, hopefully, get the picture of a lifetime. UNH 35, Delaware 25.

#2 Appalachian State over Elon. Methinks Lembo's Elon squad will be better than expected against the powerful Mountaineers, but ultimately will fall. App. St. 35, Elon 23.

#3 Montana over #13 Portland State. I think this is the week where the Vikings are finally exposed, but they won't go down quietly. I wonder if PGE park will have more Montana fans than PSU fans.... Montana 21, PSU 17.

#4 Furman over Wofford. OK, I'm now a believer in Jerome "Don't Call Me Felton Spencer" Felton after his 7 TD performance against Western Carolina. Although Wofford is a tougher team than you might think, I'm thinking a comfortable double-digit victory for the Paladins. Furman 28, Woofy 14.

#6 Cal Poly over Southern Utah. I know it's boring to pick favorites all the time, and I did eye this as a possible upset... until I saw this was being played at San Luis Obispo, home of the 'Stangs. Cal Poly 24, SUU 10.

#7 Youngstown State over Missouri State. I used to like Mizzou State as a potential dark horse in the Gateway, but two losses against Sam Houston State and Central Arkansas have instead shown me they could be in the cellar all year. Unfortunately, red-hot Y-town now visits. Not a good recipe for turning things around. Y-Town 38, Mizzou St. 14.

# 8 Richmond over Northeastern. It's almost not fair. Richmond 35, N'Eastern 12.

#9 North Dakota State over Stephen F. Austin. Normally you'd think "letdown" here after the huge win over I-A Ball State, but 0-4 SFA is in complete disarray and won't allow the Bison to let down. NDSU 24, SFA 0.

#11 Southern Illinois over Indiana State. Another 0-4 team facing a powerhouse that upset a I-A. This will be ugly, but the Sycamores have too good an offense to be shut out. Take the points. SIU 44, Indiana State 14.

#12 Hampton over Delaware State. A huge game for the Hornets; if Hampton has an offensive day like they did against Morgan State last week, they could lose. However, I think the Pirates should get back on track in a close win. Hampton 34, Delaware State 24.

I-A Iowa State over #13 Northern Iowa. This grudge match will be closer than you might think, but I get the feeling that the Cyclones will prevail in a tighter-than-expected match. Iowa St. 34, UNI 31.

#15 James Madison over VMI. This week, it's VMI on the "Theater of Pain" tour. JMU 41, VMI 7.

#16 McNeese State over South Dakota State. We still just don't know how good the Cowboys are, but we know that Jackrabbits will be giving them a game. I know I'm going to regret this, but I think the Cowboys will get the job done at home. McNeese 31, Jacks 24.

I-A Hawaii over #18 Eastern Illinois. Kudos for the Panther AD for getting this game done, but don't expect Eastern Illinois to make this competitive. Hawaii 49, EIU 15.

#22 Albany over Cornell. In March, this might have been seen as a tune-up game for the Big Red before going into the meat of their Ivy schedule. Now, it looks like a ranked opponent could be pounding on a team that hasn't yet scored a TD this year, and Albany's LB Colin Disch aims to keep it that way. If I were a betting man, I'd take Albany hands-down. Albany 28, Cornell 3.

Western Kentucky over #23 Western Illinois. The mystery here is not picking the "upset", but rather how on this Good Green Earth Western Illinois is nationally-ranked after three nothing wins and a bad loss to Wisconsin. This could get ugly. Leathernecks, meet the well-rested Hilltoppers. WKU 49, WIU 13.

#24 Northern Arizona over Montana State. The Bobcats are in serious disarray after losing to Eastern Washington, and the Lumberjacks look poised to continue the Bobcat's hurt. NAU 37, MSU 14.

#25 Western Carolina over Georgia Southern. My question is, will Eagle fans let coach Van Gorder stick around for the whole season? WCU 38, GSU 21.

Press Roundup
No roundup from the Boston Globe, but you can tell the contempt those folks have for Lehigh at the moment; not a single reporter picked Lehigh to defeat Harvard on their staff. Clearly, they all think they can take us.

Lehighsports.com:
"Grandpa" Fay: On The Move

Allentown Morning Call:
Lehigh Out To Stem Growing Discontent

Easton Express-Times:
Hawks Go Back To Basics

Brown & White:
Trovato Shines in Final Season

Harvard Crimson:
With Irvin At Helm, Squad Seeks Revenge

Press Mash-Up

"I wish we would have actually played a game last Saturday and gotten right back to work,'' Coen said. ''And then we wouldn't have had to think so long about what happened in the Princeton game.

"We just made too many mistakes in our overall execution. The kids gave great effort. If you look at all three of our games, each one has come down to one last drive at the end of the game. The message that sends to our football team is that nothing's easy."

“Sedale will be the first to tell you he did not play his best game last [game],” Coen said. “He just has to play within himself and execute plays when they are there and
not try to do too much.”

"We've hurt ourselves and held ourselves back," [senior OL Jason] Russell said. "I don't think our offense has struggled. We're moving the ball offensively, we're not finishing drives. We're settling for field goals, and sometimes we're not making the field goals. All 11 guys take their turn making a mental mistake. We need to get rid of those."

"It's important to win at home," Mountain Hawks coach Andy Coen said. "We need to make playing at Goodman Stadium an uncomfortable thing for our opposition."
...

Although this weekend is not a league game, Lehigh has been the Crimson’s toughest competition over the past few years. In the 2005 edition, Harvard fell to the Hawks, 49-24. This year, the squad hopes not only to avenge that loss, but to improve its record to 3-0.

“We’re motivated to win our third game,” Murphy said. “Our philosophy is zero down, one to go, one down, one to go. Now we’re two down, one to go. One game at a time. We’re motivated on our end.”

“[Sedale is] probably the most athletic quarterback we’ll see this year,” Murphy said. “He’s a threat to take off with the ball every time he touches it, and that’s always a huge concern.”

This week will feature junior Richard Irvin starting behind the center, the third quarterback in as many games in 2006. Last weekend’s starter, sophomore Jeff Witt, is out two weeks with a separated shoulder.

“I’ve never been remotely through a situation like that,” Crimson coach Tim Murphy said. “I’ve never even, in twenty years of head coaching, had to go to my number three guy. So, it’s a brand new ball game, but Irvin can do it.”

[Note to coach Murphy: That would be your FOURTH string guy, if you count O'Hagan.]
...

"It's a great challenge, but I'm excited that we're playing an outstanding football team," Coen said. "It's a team, I believe, that is the most talented we've played to tis point. But I'm glad we have this type of challenge, because it gets our guys' attention and they know we have to come out and play very well on Saturday."

"We will need to tackle very well on Saturday to have any chance of winning," Coen said. "We worked on it quite a bit in practice last week. [Dawson] breaks a lot of tackles and if we don't tackle him, we'll be in for a long day."

“He’s obviously a very fast player,” Lehigh coach Andy Coen said. “But if you watch him, he has a lot of yards after tackles, and we just have to make sure when we contact him [that we] put him on the ground.”

Senior WR Frank Trovato said. “Now that I am getting more playing time this year, I want my teammates to know that every Saturday I can be counted on to make big plays.”

...
"We've got to keep doing the things I've been talking about," Coen said, insisting his focus has been on trying to correct what his 1-2 team's been doing wrong rather then worrying about what 2-0 Harvard has done right.

"We've got to get better every day. I like our football team. I think they're trying to do the things we need to do to be more successful."

"I've been talking to the kids about making plays and being tough," Coen said, hoping such decisions will bring payoffs down the road. "That was my chance to practice that I've been preaching."

"It was really back to the fundamentals," senior offensive tackle Jason Russell said. "I really don't think we've had trouble adjusting to [the changes]... The only thing I see is that we don't pass as much, but to me, that's a good thing, because we get to run it more with some great running backs. We're doing fine."

And Russell has no doubt that Lehigh can still make a championship run once league play begins. "We've lost two games, but they were very close games," he said. "We've shown we can be a dominant team. We need to stop the little mistakes."

“I want this team to keep fighting,” Trovato said. “We are off to a slow start, but our coaches put us in the position we need to be in to win games. If we play well, then we should win the Patriot League championship, beat Lafayette on their home field and head to the national playoffs to contend for a national championship,” Trovato said.



Go Lehigh!

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