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Friday Water Cooler: Fordham/Lehigh

I know about 99% of the time I only talk about I-AA football, but what do you think these two people would be talking about in college today? Somehow I think it wouldn't be the LaSalle/St. Peter's game last night, but the shocking upset of #3 Louisville by #15 Rutgers. I watched the game with a proud Rutgers alum - that would be my wife - and it was without a doubt the best I-A game I've ever seen.

You couldn't make it up. Falling behind 25-7 in the first half, giving up free points on "Hey, they're Rutgers" sort of errors that would deep-six games before they even begun, and staying about one TD away from watching HGTV or Grey's Anatomy. But the Scarlet Knights simply wouldn't quit "chopping wood", getting a quick strike before halftime. It was remarkable to watch: Louisville's QB Brohm slowly, methodically, melting down, while Rutgers working, and slowly beleiving, that they could do it, getting a TD, a 2-point conversion, and then a 46 (!) yard FG to tie. The raucous crowd that stood the entire second half. The "do over" game-winnig FG kick when Louisville blew it by jumping offsides - clearly the correct call from the officials. You simply couldn't be human (or perhaps just from Kentucky) if you weren't rooting for Rutgers here to win this game.

My wife and I went to a Rutgers game last year, hoping to see Villanova pull off the upset. Before that game, I pictured Rutgers to really be only a few steps removed from (say) Lafayette's Fisher field, but we were really impressed with not only "The Shoe" but with Rutgers fans and the support in general for a team that had gone 4-7 the year before. I am a little surprised (and happy) that they're 9-0, but to imagine that they'd be competing for the bowl championship after last night... that's just insane. But so good for Rutgers and football in our area in general. (Not the national championship - the only truly national champion is the winner of the I-AA playoffs. I'm talking about that non-official other championship, the BC$.)

If there's a gray lining to this sunny day, it's the constant refrain of "there has been no major college football played in this area since the '40s" and the dismissive tone of schools like Columbia, Fordham, Hofstra, Princeton and others. Last I checked, ESPN, they were Division I football teams, several who were in the I-AA playoffs not that long ago. And why bust on them? It's gratuitous.

Last Minute Notes on Fordham/Lehigh
First of all, props to the LU Alumni Clubs office for sending out a great email regarding this week's game. A great picture, followed by the tagline: "Saturday promises to be a beautiful, sunny day with a high of 65. Why not spend it in Goodman Stadium? Tickets are still available and can be purchased on game day!" Even though the current forecast is for some partly cloudy skies, the point is well taken - a 65-degree day tailgating at Murray Goodman, watching the seniors play what could be their last home game, is more than worth it!

The 12:30PM start will be on Service Electric 2 in the Lehigh Valley, AM 1230/1320 in the Lehigh Valley, and (where I'll be tuning in) streaming live on lehighsports.com.

One More Serious Note
If you're not going to "Senior Day" (where, in honor of veteran's day, veterans get in for half price), there is still time to register for the ALS Philadelphia Walk to D'Feet event at Valley Forge Military Academy. I'm not sure if you can register through the Lehigh Alumni Club of Philadelphia anymore, but I think you can still sponsor walkers through the Walk to D'Feet website.

At last week's Lehigh game, there was an ALS booth set up, and I imagine that it will be set up again this week for the final regular-season game at Goodman. Your contributions are surely appreciated.

What's Chuck Been Doing?
I've been hanging out at Murray Goodman witnessing last week's Lehigh/Colgate game. I wrote a I-AA Diary about it at I-AA.org for your enjoyment - perhaps you saw me eating tailgate food, hanging out on the sidelines, touching the "sideline bell" for good luck, or possibly getting wiped out by QB Sedale Threatt on his way to his second TD on the day. In addition to the article, there's a gallery with pictures here.

What's Chuck Going To Be Doing?
This weekend, it's a live blogging weekend about the Fordham/Lehigh game as I get all our chores done before next weekend's game. In addition, this Sunday I'm scheduled to appear on AM 1230/1320 on the "Morning Call Sports Wave" radio program, hosted by Keith Groller. I'll be talking about the I-AA playoff landscape and what could be in store for the Patriot League champion in the playoffs, among other topics. Tune in on AM 1230/1320 at 10:00AM Sunday!

Friday Water Cooler Picks: Patriot League, Week 11
Lafayette over Georgetown. With everything to play for, it's hard to see Lafayette choking against the Hoyas as they watch and wait for the other scores. Laughing Leopards 28, Honked-off Hoyas 10.

Holy Cross over Colgate. The game everybody will be following this weekend in the Patriot League. On paper, this matchup would seem to point to a tough battle, especially up in Hamilton, with Colgate's strengths (running with RB Jordan Scott, pass defense) matching up perfectly against Holy Cross' weaknesses (rushing defense, a pass-first-then-run philosophy). But after this week's loss to Lehigh, I see Colgate having more questions than answers, especially on the offensive line. Add to that, Holy Cross has a decent chance to get to the playoffs either as league champions or even as an at-large team. I think Holy Cross gets it done. Crusaders 28, Raiders 21.

Friday Water Cooler Picks: I-AA Top 25, Week 11
#1 Appalachian State over Western Carolina. I think the "Mountain Jug" stays in Boone -- but at home with nothing to lose, take the Catamounts and the points. Yosefs 35, Catamounts 21.

#2 Montana over Northern Colorado. The bright side for the Bears is that this could be a sellout, with Greeley, CO overrun by Griz fans. Aside from that, though... Griz 38, NoSco 0.

#3 UMass over #23 Maine. UMass has plenty to play for, while Maine's gimmicky option attack, while better, shouldn't be enough to win this game. ZooMass 24, "The Black Hole" 14.

Villanova over #4 James Madison. Upset special. Villanova has played better and will make a definite game of this one at home, while it just feels like the Dukes could go into cruise control and get surprised. Playing a hunch. (Though, with last week me going 0-5 on hunches in Atlantic 10 games, take it with a grain of salt.) 'Cats 27, Dogs 24.

#5 North Dakota State over #9 Cal Poly. There are many many more Bison fans this week from all over the country. If the Mustangs lose this battle for the Great West title, they're out of the I-AA playoff hunt. The Bison have lots to prove. They want the Great West title, even though they can't play in the I-AA playoffs as a transitional school from D-II, while Cal Poly is stinging from a close loss to Montana last week. I think the key is that the Bison are at home, playing for their highest level of championship, and get the job done in a thriller. Big Bison 31, Horse-Whipped 28.

#6 Youngstown State over Western Kentucky. Another game watched by many around I-AA, a Hilltopper win in their last-ever I-AA regular-season game would make the Gateway race a toss-up and give Northern Iowa a breath of air to qualify for the playoffs. But I just don't see Youngstown State, who is trying to get that autobid and maybe clinch a home games in the I-AA playoffs, stumbling here. The Hilltoppers' time in I-AA ends with a loss. Icebirds 38, "New Orleans Bowl in 2015" 21.

#7 Illinois State over Indiana State. Tuneup #1 for the Redbirds on their way to the playoffs. Redbirds 60, Trees 12.

Eastern Kentucky over #8 Tennessee-Martin. Really, I don't want to pick this upset, picking the Skyhawks to lose and to put the OVC title potentially in a "coin-flip" situation to determine the I-AA autobid. But the Colonels are that dangerous sort of team that have showed signs of getting things together and want to end the season on a high note. Even at home, a largely untested Martin squad is vulnerable, and I think there is "danger" written all over this game. Kentucky Fried Team 30, Kentucky Fried Pigeons 20.

#10 Furman over Georgia Southern. My heart wanted to pick this upset in this rivalry game, but my brain thought better. Furman is one of the more overrated teams in this I-AA world right now in my opinion, but the Eagles just don't seem to be able to get this one done. Although there are many new Eagles fans right now hoping for an upset to put their I-AA bubble team in the playoffs, give this one to Furman. Paladins 30, Eagles 13.

#15 Southern Illinois over #11 Northern Iowa. Two maddening teams that can look like world-beaters one week and then pathetic the next, give me the home team here. It doesn't seem like the Salukis should be favored here, but if they lose, they're gone. My feeling is RB Arkee Whitlock will be running rampant. Salukis 34, Panthers 25.

#12 New Hampshire over Rhode Island. Danger, Will Robinson! Rhode Island isn't that bad. I know I'll regret this, but I just can't picture Santos and Ball not making the playoffs. I just can't. Wildcats 28, Rhody 18.

Florida A&M over #13 Hampton. I really didn't pay much attention to FAMU this year so far, but something smells like it could be up down in Florida. A Hampton team that has failed to impress most of the year, with the Rattlers playing at home? In effect, this is a playoff game for both teams, with the winner definitely (Hampton) or probably (FAMU) making the playoffs. I get the feeling QB Albert Chester II (he sounds like the long-lost son of Prince Charles, doesn't he?) wins this one for the Rattlers. Snake Charmers 31, Snake Bitten 21.

#14 Harvard over Penn. There is simply too much to play for here to pick against the Crimson. They want Harvard/Yale to mean something. It will, and they won't have to go to overtime to do it. Crimson Looking Ahead 35, Quackers 15.

Yale over #17 Princeton. It pains me to pick against my favorite Ivy team, but like Harvard they are looking ahead to "The Game" and should not disappoint against a team they have owned in recent memory. At home, the Elis win a squeaker. Elis Looking Ahead 26, Tamed Tigers 23.

#18 Coastal Carolina over Gardner-Webb. As much as I-AA playoff teams want to see Coastal lose, I don't see this upset happening. Beach Chickens 34, Runnin' Bulldogs 21.

#19 San Diego over Dayton. San Diego will try to trounce Dayton, looking to impress the I-AA Playoff committee. It won't impress them, but they will trounce them anyway. Beach Bums 42, Flexible Flyers 20.

Southern Utah over #20 South Dakota State. Playing another hunch, I don't know why I think the best 3-6 team in the nation will win this game. Maybe it's because the Thunderbirds are at home and are due in one of the most brutal schedules in I-AA. Or maybe the Jacks could be looking ahead to the "Dakota Marker" game next week. Whatever the case, I smell the upset. Thunderchickens 27, Rabbit Stew 17.

#21 Portland State over Sacramento State. Not sure I beleive that the Vikings are in the hunt for the playoffs, but I do know this game in Sacramento will be closer than you think with the Hornets better than advertised. Still, hard to see the Vikings lose this key game. Vendi Vidi Vikings 28, Humbled Hornets 21.

#22 Eastern Illinois over Tennessee Tech. The Panthers keep their (pretty good, in my opinion) playoff hopes alive. Panthers 35, Golden Eagles 10.

Liberty over #24 Charleston Southern. I think this is the game that finally ends talk of the Buccaneers getting to the playoffs in a classic look-ahead game on the road. Falwells 30, Chuck Gone South 27.

#25 Richmond over Towson. I'm picking Richmond, so if you're smart you'll be putting the farm on Towson winning this game. At home, I'm taking the Spiders. Webcrawlers 31, "Sean Schaefer and 10 Guys named Joe" 29.

Press Roundup
Allentown Morning Call:
Mountain Hawks Seniors Say Goodbye To Goodman
Upshot: ''It's a very young team with a lot of freshmen who have no idea of Lehigh's tradition, or how tough it's supposed to be at Goodman Stadium,'' Coen said. ''So, they'll come in here loose. They know if they beat us, it'll be like winning the championship for them. It would jump-start their whole program. It's scary in that respect, but our guys understand what's at stake and they know they'll have to come out and play a great football game.''

''We love the game of football, all of the seniors do, that's why we're still here,'' said senior tight end Landon Maggs. ''We started out with 41 of us. I know my emotions will be riding high. This is my last home game and I'm going to take it all in. If I could have another season, another game here in the Hawks' Nest, I'd take it in a heart beat. But this is the last one and I'll treat it with respect and treasure it.''

Easton Express-Times:
Lehigh Has Title In View
Upshot: "We finally do have a sense that this is our home, our house," Mountain Hawks senior tight end Landon Maggs said. "This is your house. You want to be dominant at home." "We're right where we need to be," Mountain Hawks rookie head coach Andy Coen said, "with an opportunity to have a great season. I told them to come out and act like we're playing the Pittsburgh Steelers this week."

Brown & White:
Trap Game Up Next For 'Hawks
Upshot: “Fordham will give us a run for our money; we cannot afford to pay attention to their record,” said Head Coach Andy Coen. “They are very athletic, and their new quarterback has been playing well.” “Just like every other game, this is a big game for us,” said senior linebacker Micah Greene. “We just got to be ready to go to battle.”

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