It's time for Lehigh fans to mentally wrap our heads around the following truth: the Mountain Hawks' home opener is against none other than the defending FCS National Champions.
Lehigh has already opened their season ticket plans for 2010, and soon will make some individual games available for purchase. But aside from the obvious buzz around the game versus "that school in Easton", what could be the biggest out-of-conference game in recent memory will be on September 11th when Lehigh plays their home opener versus Villanova. (more)
Just so we're clear as well, it's not as if this fact escaped the Lehigh players either:
"We see it as a privilege," senior CB Jarard Cribbs said. "We take it as a challenge, they’ll probably be ranked No. 1. We hope to go in there and beat them, we don’t plan to go in there and lay down."The game versus the defending FCS champs highlights one of the stranger Lehigh schedules in some time. Compared to last year, where Lehigh had nine games in the state of Pennsylvania and two games in the state of New York, Lehigh will open the season against Drake in Des Moines, Iowa.
"I’m ready for it, let’s do it," senior RB Jay Campbell said. "Bring the champs, it’s all good. Let’s go."
To put this in perspective, it will be the first Mountain Hawk football team to hop on a plane for a football game since 2001 when Lehigh played Furman in Greeneville, SC in the 2001 playoffs.
Add to that another highly-anticipated game in late September at New Hampshire - a 350 mile bus ride away - and another game at Harvard, just under 300 miles from Bethlehem - and you have three games that easily represent more combined road miles than any Lehigh football season in recent memory. You have to go back to 2000, when Lehigh beat Wofford in Spartanburg, SC to open the year and travelled to Macomb, IL to dominate Western Illinois in the first round of the FCS playoffs, to get a similar road log for a Lehigh football team. (For good measure they played Harvard in Cambridge that year -- as well as Holy Cross in Worcester -- like Lehigh will be doing this year.)
Around these three long road trips are five home games in September and October against Nova, Princeton (9/18), Fordham (10/9), Bucknell (10/23) and Colgate (10/30). September and October are great months to watch Lehigh football, hopefully with some unseasonably warm weather and tailgating at Murray Goodman stadium.
Below is the full Lehigh football schedule for 2010, the tentative schedule for 2011, and the preseason Any Given Saturday ranking of each team if applicable.
Sept 4 at Drake (2009: 8-3)
Sept 11 VILLANOVA (2009: 14-1) (AGS preseason ranking: #1)
Sept 18 PRINCETON (2009: 4-6)
Sept 25 at New Hampshire (2009: 10-3) (AGS preseason ranking: #6)
Oct 9 FORDHAM (2009: 4-7)
Oct 16 at Harvard (2009: 7-3) (AGS preseason ranking: Others Receiving Votes, #43)
Oct 25 BUCKNELL (2009: 4-7)
Oct 31 COLGATE (2009: 9-2) (AGS preseason ranking: Others Receiving Votes, #31)
Nov 6 at Holy Cross (2009: 9-3) (AGS preseason ranking: #25)
Nov 13 at Gerogetown (2009:0-11)
Nov 20 at Lafayette (2009: 8-3) (AGS preseason ranking: Others Receiving Votes, #34)
That's not a typo: games against six teams who showed up in the Any Given Saturday poll. For good measure, there's seven teams with winning records in 2009, and four teams with more than eight wins. The overall 2009 win-loss percentage from all eleven teams? Try 61% - which could be the one of the highest in FCS.
Interestingly, Lehigh's 2011 schedule is far from finalized at this point, without games (yet) versus CAA teams or (perhaps) FBS teams. Here's the schedule as it looks so far:
Sept 3 OPEN
Sept 10 OPEN
Sept 17 at Princeton
Sept 24 OPEN
Oct 1 YALE
Oct 8 at Bucknell
Oct 15 at Fordham
Oct 22 OPEN
Oct 29 at Colgate
Nov 5 HOLY CROSS
Nov 12 GEORGETOWN
Nov 19 LAFAYETTE
A lot of open dates - and at least one more spot for a home game. It will be very interesting to see who Lehigh gets to fill out their schedule next year.