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Sunday's Word: Five

In the end, this weekend's word is simple.

"Five".

In the preseason, Lehigh was picked number "five" out of seven Patriot League teams, picked to finish behind Lafayette, Colgate, Holy Cross, and Fordham.

Now past the halfway point of the season, Lehigh is 2-4 - but had they been able to make some key plays at the end of games, they could very well have been "5"-1.

Lehigh's had - you guessed it - "five" out-of-conference games. In those games, they have gone 1-4, only beating 3-4 Drake in those games.

Aside from Harvard - who seems likely to be in everyone's Top 25 after this weekend - they've lost to nationally-ranked Villanova, a 4-1 team who may very well be the best team in the powerful CAA, and whose only loss was to FBS West Virginia.

They've lost to 2-3 Princeton, a good team that got drilled 31-10 by Brown and who seem unlikely to dethrone Harvard this weekend. Princeton - despite their schedule, as their other losses came to The Citadel, who spent time in the national rankings, and Colgate, who is knocking at the door - looks to be a .500 team in the Ivy League this year.

They've lost to 3-2 Cornell - also a good team - but also a Big Red team whose losses have come to Harvard two weeks ago (in a 38-17 blowout) and Colgate last weekend. Although they seem likely to be a factor in the Ivy League race, it won't be easy for them after their loss to the Crimson.

Four tough losses to four extremely tough teams.

And now, Lehigh's season comes down to the final "five" games of the year. And if you thought the road gets any easier for the Mountain Hawks, think again.

Start off with the most impressive win from this weekend for the Patriot League in quite some time: the one from "that school in Easton".

If you fooled yourself into thinking that the Leopards are going to struggle through the year offensively, think again and watch the whole replay of "5"-1 Lafayette's 35-21 shellacking of No. 14-ranked Liberty. Watch the blocked punt by senior LB Andy Romans - where he blocks the punt, and this tough kid never breaks his stride after getting a football in the chest, grabs the ball, then pulls three Flames special-teamers as he puts the ball across the plane of the goalline.

Up three scores, the game was over at that point. The Flames got one more touchdown, but you know they were not going to get three scores on that ferocious defense. Just like that, the nation's longest winning streak of 11 games was history - thanks to the team from Easton.

If you thought "5"-2 Colgate was going to suffer if senior RB Jordan Scott came out of the lineup, think again. True freshman RB Nate Eachus, the highly sought-after Lehigh Valley football recruit, stepped in for an injured Scott and out-Scotted-Scott to the tune of 241 yards and 3 touchdowns. Not bad for his first significant action of the year - and a frightening thought for Lehigh fans in the future, Scott or no.

Colgate limped (as they often do) to start the year, but they've won their last four games and have all pistons firing going into league play. It's easy to hate the 'Gate, but they will be awfully hard, as always, to beat.

Bucknell is also no team to sneeze at. At 4-2 you can argue that their wins haven't been against top-flight competition (Robert Morris, Duquesne, Marist, and Georgetown) and you can quibble about margin of victory (they held on to beat the Hoyas 27-24 last weekend). But their only losses have come to Hofstra of the CAA and the same Cornell team that beat Lehigh.

And that's not even including powerful Holy Cross, the team that Lehigh plays this weekend. They've put up 44 and 41 points, respectively, against Brown (who is currently sitting atop the Ivy League standings) and Dartmouth last weekend. They boast the preseason Patriot League offensive player of the year - and Walter Payton award candidate - senior QB Dominic Randolph. They sit at 3-3, but could very easily be 6-0 had they reversed several close losses to Harvard, Yale - and nationally-ranked UMass out of the CAA.

Some folks are saying "if Lehigh runs the table, and wins "five" games, we can win the Patriot League".

But you cannot underestimate the challenge that this will be to go "five"-for-"five".

This Lehigh team is better than they were to start the year, and better than last year's squad. But if you look around the Patriot League to "that school in Easton", Colgate, and next week's opponent, Holy Cross, you see three teams that look and feel like they're further along than Lehigh.

All three have signature wins against elite programs. All three are on a roll. Lehigh has neither.

And it's not like Bucknell and Georgetown are walkovers. The Bison knocked off Fordham the last week in the season last year and look much, much improved from last year. And Georgetown's offense finally came alive last week and wouldn't like anything more than to beat Lehigh for the first time since joining the Patriot League.

It will be a huge challenge - bigger than the challenge that the Mountain Hawks failed to meet last weekend - to win "five".

Comments

Anonymous said…
Strange no mention of the Red Sox loss to the Rays in this column. Since he has 2 NFL teams in the Saints and Eagles, I am sure he is now jumped on to the Phillies bandwagon!

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