Skip to main content

Division I Football Championship Preview

This picture is a fairly accurate assessment of how I felt after last week's Division I Playoff picks. I mean, really, a Montana/Youngstown State final? Beleive me when I say I took my beating(s) like a man and I'm ready to make another pick. Despite Yosef fans' pleas to have me pick the Minutemen, and ZooMass' requests for me to pick Applachian State, I'll be doing what I always do - breaking down the game, and predicting the winner.

So it's not Montana and Youngstown in Chattanooga, TN tomorrow, it's Appalachian State and UMass. A matchup of former champions, the Mountaineers are going for a repeat (having won last year's Championship), while the Minutemen are going for their first championship since 1998. For those Lehigh fans that remember, that was the team that defeated one of the best Lehigh teams ever, ending our season on a 4th-and-goal from the 9 in a 22-16 final.

It should be a good game. Both teams only have one loss - UMass to non-playoff-participant (or NPP for short) Navy 21-20, and Appalachian State to NPP North Carolina State 23-10. Both are neither run-heavy or pass-heavy teams. App State has an offense that has simply overpowered pretty much everyone they've faced; UMass' defense gave up more than 20 points to PP teams exactly once - to Villanova in Week 3. It's clear that these are the two best teams to be playing for the Championship - they are fearsome teams to face, almost complete in every way.

How does UMass win this game?
1. Early Momentum. Last week against Montana, the UMass offensive line parted the fearsome Montana defensive line and let RB Steve Baylark run unmolested for a shocking early TD. You could argue that Montana, and their fans, never really recovered from that play. You could actually feel the aura of doubt emenating from the stadium. If QB Liam Coen and RB Steve Baylark can make App State "hear footsteps" early in the game, it could spell a win.

2. Slow Down the Run. I know it's a tall order, but UMass has to slow down QB Armanti Edwards and RB Kevin Richardson. I don't care if you start with eight in the box and leave yourself vulnerable - you simply have to stop the engine that makes this offense run, and that's the running game.

3. Field Position Battle. P Christian Koegel, the best punter in the nation, made life miserable for Montana last week. He can easily do it again if UMass gets in one of those field-position, defensive battles. That's how they've won almost every game this year, and if the game follows that sort of pace, it favors the Minutemen.

How does Appalachian State win this game?
1. Prove UMass Can't Stop The Run. You have to get Edwards and Richardson involved early - maybe even softening up UMass' defense with some deep passes if you have to. Getting that ball rolling early, with big early TDs, can deflate this Minuteman team early.

2. Win the Turnover Battle. If the fearsome Appalachian State "D" line can get pressure on UMass QB Liam Coen and force some bad throws, the chance for picks will be there. Yet they can't gamble too much: they also can't let Baylark get hot and run roughshod over the defense, which has been UMass' recipie all throughout the playoffs.

3. Jump On Them . UMass is not a team that rallies from fourth-quarter deficits. The faster the pace of the game, the more scoring their is, the more it favors Yosef and the Mountaineers. Jump out, jump early, jump all over them.

Fearless Prediction
I don't think this will be a back-and-forth affair. I think the team which is leading the game midway through the second quarter will win the game, as neither team is built to come from behind. I think that team will be Appalachian State.

Yosefs 35, ZooMass 21


Anonymous said…
I find your use of alternate team names to be unprofessional and childish.
Lehigh 78 said…
Dear Anaonymous

Oh...grow up! This has been part of the schtick all season. Try another board.
Anonymous said…
Rock on Chuck... your pick goes right in line with what I'm thinking....A UMASS victory.
Sorry bud, you run a tight ship but your picks have been way off since the first week of the playoffs.
I'm sticking with my prediction of 24-13 UMASS.
Ngineer said…
Finally! You called this one. I thought UMass's D would prevail in a tight one... and for 3 1/2 quarters it looked like that would happen when it was deadlocked at 14-14. UMass D kept on the field too long. Appeared to tire and with ASU's speed and quicknes. losing a step on D is deadly. Absolutely amazing that Richardson was a walk-on and recruited by no one...

Popular posts from this blog

Remembering Lehigh's Battles With The Late Tubby Raymond

(Photo Credits: Delaware Online)

When I heard the news Tubby Raymond, legendary Delaware head football coach, died last week at the age of 92, two immediate memories came rushing back to me.

One occurred on October 16th, 1999, when Tubby had made a complaint to the local paper or radio in the run-up to Kevin Higgins' Mountain Hawks beating his Blue Hens on Delaware's homecoming, 42-35.

I have no idea if the quote even actually happened, but my recollection is that Tubby said that Lehigh had "St. Bartholomew's" on their schedule, and hadn't played anybody.  It was a verbal jab that many Delaware fans took with them to the stands to heckle the Mountain Hawk fans that made the short trip to Newark.

Up until that point, I had watched a bunch of Lehigh football games over the years.  I experienced their rise in the 1990s.  I enjoyed wins, and championships, and playoff victories.

But never had I felt a win so viscerally vindicating than the one over Tubby Raymond&…

Lehigh Wrestling Gets Superstar Treatment at PPL Center. Lehigh Football Needs The Same At Murray Goodman.

"We knew it would be nice," Lehigh wrestling head coach Pat Santoro said. "But it was even better than we expected."

Pat was talking about the reception his Lehigh wrestling squad experienced at Allentown's PPL Center this weekend, when a sellout crowd over nearly 10,000 people came to watch No. 1 Penn State grapple with No. 5 Lehigh in a collegiate wrestling event.

It was, by all accounts, something special to behold. 

"I thought it was really cool and an exciting place to wrestle," said Penn State wrestler Nick Nevills. "These fans were really into it, a rowdy bunch. It's a lot more fun as an athlete to wrestle in an environment like this. I'd say it was one of the most exciting times I have had in my career."

The sense of spectacle at the PPL center, though, puts a spotlight on what more can be done at Lehigh itself to make their athletic contests into spectacles.  It requires money to be spent and energy to be expended.  But the…

Troy Pelletier Hasn't Stopped Outworking His Rivals On His Journey To Professional Football

Many Patriot League football fans remember the 153rd meeting between Lehigh and Lafayette, one that ended happily for the Mountain Hawks.

They might remember the MVP performance of QB Brad Mayes, or perhaps the halftime speech by OL Zach Duffy that seemed to spur the Mountain Hawks to victory.

Or perhaps they might remember the spectacular single play of Mayes rolling right and finding WR Gatlin Casey in the end zone to give the Mountain Hawks a lead they didn't relinquish.  It was an incredible play by Mayes, who returns this upcoming year for his senior season, and Casey, who, having exhausted his eligibility at Lehigh, will be playing one more year at Middle Tennessee State.

As great as those individual moments are, though, they are not my biggest takeaway of that game.

Too many Lehigh people forget that Lehigh was down 31-21 at half, and that victory was no sure thing.  And they sometimes forget that so much of that victory came from the grinding of WR Troy Pelletier, deliver…