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Friday Water Cooler: Lehigh/Yale

I think you all knew that I was getting sick of that water cooler graphic that looked like it came from a diversity training film, so instead I got a guy who looks like Richard Nixon. I don't think this is that much better, but hey, any ad that looks like it has Joan Crawford and Richard Nixon in it has to have some sort of camp value, don't you think?

Important Announcement
If you get nothing else out of this "Water Cooler", please get this TiVo Alert: know that tonight at 7:30 EDT on ESPN2 there will be a special show on "ESPNU Honor Roll: College Football's Top 10 Rivalries", and Lehigh/Lafayette is featured. I'll probably add my 2c on this special tonight as well after it airs - whether I love it or hate it.

Where Have You Gone, Barry Switzer?
You all know the Ivies have been flattening the Patriot League this year - collectively, Ivy teams have so far gone 11-3 against us. You also know that Harvard, the best team in the Ivy, has gone through a slew of different off-the-field problems involving their star LB getting kicked off the team, the starting QB getting suspended for half the season, and several other players getting booted from the team as well. Now Yale's football team has also been in the news for an off-the-field fracas involving their starting QB and starting RB. (Strangely, RB Mike McLeod and starting QB Matt Polhemus have not had any disciplinary action for their antics.)

Am I the only one wondering if this isn't merely coincidence? One problem I could shrug off; but four seperate incidents are starting to make me wonder. The Ivy League has been getting better players than ever - more than a dozen players from all eight Ivy schools were on NFL rosters this summer - and the best teams aren't one-trick ponies anymore, they are deep teams. (Harvard, for example, has a stable of 5 QBs that could take the helm at any given time.)

What's happening up there? Can Barry Switzer, new Yale head coach, be far behind?

Your Last Minute Lehigh/Yale Update
Weather seems to be set for a beautiful 60 degree day at kickoff, with chilly November temperatures before and after that time in the 30s. No mud bowls here, which hopefully will allow Lehigh to showcase some of their team speed at the Yale Bowl.

The game will be viewable on Channel 69 WMFZ in the Lehigh area and down close to Philadelphia, which is how I'll be enjoying this week's game. In the car, it's AM 1230 and 1320 ESPN Radio, and if you're still unable to follow the game there's always Lehighsports.Com and their broadcast feeds of the audio and video broadcasts.

Where's Chuck?
After covering 5 games in 4 football weekends, I'm going to be spending this weekend watching Lehigh/Yale and probably working a little on my "Chuck Fan Index" piece for I-AA.org. Incidentally, I did write a quick midseason review for I-AA.org this week that you can find here.

Water Cooler Patriot League Picks: Week 7
#15 Harvard over Lafayette.
This may sound strange, but I keep going back and forth about this game. Harvard has done nothing to dispel the notion that they are the team to beat in the Ivy, but a very talented Leopard team has to almost be ready to sell their grandmother to avoid a 2-4 start. The matchup says Harvard wins, but I know the Leopards will make this extremely close - if they don't win it outright. Harvard 35, Lafayette 32.

Holy Cross over Dartmouth. The class of the Patriot League so far, the Crusaders should win this game handily unless they are looking past them to the big game at Lafayette next week. HC 23, Dartmouth 17.

Fordham over Marist. A game that's impossible to handicap. Marist has a very good QB-to-WR combo that could solve Fordham if they can't score. But the offense is showing some signs of life after freshman QB John Skelton has taken the controls. This spells a closer-than-expected game. Still, the Rams should get the job done, making the Red Foxes 0-3 against the Patriot League. (Think of our out-of-conference record if our league HADN'T played Marist.) Fordham 24, Marist 16.

Colgate over Cornell. One of these years I will go to this game, but this upstate NY rivalry I like to call the "white-out" will have a quite familiar ending. Colgate, like Lehigh and Lafayette, desperately need to establish themselves before Patriot League play starts in earnest, and coach Biddle never loses to Cornell. Cornell is still getting better, but Colgate comes out victorious. Colgate 30, Cornell 22.

Bucknell over Georgetown. It's striking to think how good Bucknell could be if they could keep their QBs and RBs healthy for more than three games at a time. Still, they should have enough to beat a feisty Goergetown team who is still trying to make the "Navy Way" work there. Bucknell 30, G'Town 17.

Water Cooler Top 25 Picks: Week 7
#1 New Hampshire over James Madison. If a team is to beat New Hampshire this year, it's going to have to involve passing to set up the run. As good as the Dukes are, I just don't think they will be able to exploit that enough to their advantage to win. UNH 35, JMU 21.

#2 Appalachian State over Wofford. I know one of these days the Mountaineers are going to be in a dogfight, but I just don't see this year's Terriers being that team. It will be a good SoCon battle, but one that the Mountaineers take in the end. Yosefs 35, Schnauzers 24.

#3 Montana over Northern Arizona. This could be Northern Arizona's opportunity to prove themselves in the Big Sky race, or it could merely be a bump on Montana's way to the Big Sky title. Experience tells me that the Griz should take this one, but it won't be without a big fight from QB Jason Murietta and the Lumberjacks. Griz 41, Paul Bunyans 37.

#9 Southern Illinois over #4 Illinois State. The battle of the year in the Gateway, I think the Salukis have actually not gotten the respect they've deserved so far this year, going 5-0 with a win over I-A Indiana and a big win versus Western Illinois. The Redbirds are no slouches, but QB Luke Drone and Illinois State were one shanked FG away from being upset candidates last week against Western Kentucky. If WKU's LeRon Moore could get 148 yards against the Redbirds, think of what SIU's Arkee Whitlock could do. I think the Salukis take this one. Doggies 37, Birdies 33.

Western Illinois over #6 Youngstown State. Yup, I'm smelling an upset here in Macomb as the Leathernecks make their case in what may prove to be another crazy year in the Gateway. It may be playing a hunch; it may be because the Penguins are on the road; it may be because the Penguins are finally meeting an offense that can match them TD for TD. If WIU's defense can slow down the Penguins - and I think they can - they will take this. Leatherbriefs 38, Iceboxers 30.

#7 North Dakota State over Mississippi Valley State. Jerry Rice's alma mater doesn't stand a chance against one of the most fearsome teams in I-AA. The Delta Devils, expected to compete for the SWAC championship, have been humbled by a 3-3 start and promise to be humbled again by a daunting Bison squad. Bison Burgers 44, Rice-A-Ronis 13.

#8 UMass over Towson. It's like watching a Three's Company episode. You know reality is going to come crashing down at any moment, and it's painful to watch. That's what's going to happen to Towson this week when they play an incredibly complete Minuteman team. ZooMass 49, Kitties 12.

#10 Richmond over Rhode Island. Useless Statistics department: Whenever I've picked the Rams to get blown out, they always manage to keep the game close and beat the spread. I'm finally getting wise to this trend - I hope. Richmond 24, Rhody 20.

#11 Furman over The Citadel. Think Furman will be a bit mad after losing to Coastal Carolina last week? Think they will be exacting some punishment this week at home against a hard-working, but undertalented, Citadel squad? Paladins 49, Higgins-es 7.

#13 Hampton over Norfolk State. The Spartans will probably keep this close for a while since it is a big rivalry game down there in Hampton roads. But it will probably rapidly become clear shortly after the opening kickoff that Hampton is still Norfolk State's daddy. Future MEAC Champs 52, Spartans 20.

#14 Northern Iowa over Indiana State. It's going to be a rough, rough week for Indiana I-AA football, as Butler/Drake, Valpo/San Diego, and this game could all be competing for "biggest blowout of the week". My vote goes for this game. UNI 55, Trees 0.

#16 Eastern Illinois over Eastern Kentucky. As banged-up as the Panthers have been, it's simply hard to see the Colonels turn around their disappointing season right here against a nationally-ranked Eastern Illinois team. EIU 34, EKU 22.

#18 Princeton over Brown. Everything - EVERYTHING - points to a letdown week for the Tigers. Although they're playing Friday night at home on ESPNU with a 4-0 record on the line, the Tigers are actually facing the best offense they've faced all year. Brown is 1-3, but have lost to three good teams in Holy Cross, Rhode Island and Harvard - and not by all that much. Will Princeton be looking ahead to Harvard next week? If they are, they are ripe for the picking. Can Brown hold down this Princeton offense? Maybe. But this Tiger team - I've sensed it all year - is a pretty special team. I think they win a closer-than-expected game, setting up a battle of unbeatens next week. Princeton 24, Brown 21.

#19 UC-Davis over Central Arkansas. I think the Aggies win their home opener. Yes, you heard right - after a 5-game road trip to start the year, UC-Davis plays their home opener this week. (Incidentally, how on Earth is a 2-3 team, no matter how good, in the Top 25?) UC-D 28, UCA 21.

#20 San Diego over Valparaiso. If Valpo holds them to within 50, I'll be impressed. Beach Bums 55, Valpo 6.

Idaho State over #22 Portland State. A must-win for both teams, I think the Bengals take this one against a willing, but totally beaten-up, Viking team. The forgotten Bengals take another step towards Big Sky relevance this week. ISU 27, PSU 20.

Villanova over #23 Maine. Wasn't it Yoda who said: "One win over Towson should not a national ranking make." Maybe not - maybe I just made that up. But it's still true. Villanova 27, Maine 17.

#24 Central Connecticut State over Robert Morris. I don't think the Blue Demons will be scoring their average over the last two games - a devilish 66 points per game. However, it won't be *that* far off. Perriwinkle Demons 49, Joe Waltons 18.

#25 Alabama A&M over D-II Stillman. The votes are in, and it's unanimous - this matchup is the least cared-about Top 25 game in the country. (Unless you're a fan of A Different World, or hardcore gambler, though - in that case, take the points.) AAMU 34, Hillman... er.. Stillman, 7.

Press Roundup
Required reading is the Hartford Courant article below. It's not so much that Yale has bulletin-board material for us, but it shows how serious the Elis are in taking this game. If we win, it won't be because Yale won't be prepared.

Allentown Morning Call:
Leo Would Get Kick Out Of Hitting Game-Winner
Upshot: "This game will be real big as far as sustaining the momentum we built at Georgetown last week,'' he said. ''It was huge to win that first Patriot League game, but we want to keep it going. We don't want to come back home [Oct. 21] for the rest of the Patriot League schedule off a loss."

Easton Express-Times:
Lehigh Building for Strong Finish
Upshot: "When we've done things right, we've been a pretty good football team," Coen said. "Our goal is to win up there so that we can be on a roll going into the bulk of our Patriot League schedule."

Hartford Courant:
Yale Has Learned How To Respond
Upshot: Yale's disappointment in a 28-21 loss at Lehigh gives the Bulldogs something to prove Saturday when the Mountain Hawks come to the Yale Bowl. "When things started going badly, when they started catching up, we just let it happen," [senior OL Ed] McCarthy said. "We didn't answer... I've played them twice and both times, we had a very good shot at winning. I know we can play with them, but we definitely have something to prove. We have to prove we can finish."

Comments

LU van said…
I like your upset picks of SIU, WIU and Nova. Not sure I would pick the Bengals to win in Portland.

Go Lehigh!

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