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FCS East Wrapup: The Big Red Machine

Going into this weekend, there was one team that the casual sports fan might associate with the words "Big Red Machine": the Cincinnati Reds, who were anything but a well-oiled operation after feebly, among a host of errors and strikeouts, falling to the Phillies in three games.

More immediately to the Patriot League, though, is a Big Red Machine that is currently running on all cylinders.

After two straight annihilations, of Georgetown two weeks ago and of Princeton last weekend, Colgate emphatically sent notice that they are The. Machine. To. Beat. This. Year. (more)

It's hard to overstate how lopsided Colgate's 44-10 victory was over Princeton. 360 yards rushing - including 2 TDs from RB Nate Eachus, who was just officially added to the Payton Watch List and over 100 yards rushing from RB Noah Jackson. They scored on five of their first six possessions - four touchdowns, and a field goal - and very nearly would have had a perfect half had Eachus not fumbled the ball away in Princeton's red zone to end the first half.

QB Greg Sullivan had a near-perfect day passing the ball, going 14-of-16 for 205 yards and 2 TDs. Colgate racked up 565 yards of total offense, including 360 rushing yards.

"Their is nothing you can sugar coat, they hit us hard, they hit us in the mouth," a displeased coach Bob Surace said. "We did not play with the discipline that we needed to play with against the option either. On offense, we drive down the field the first drive of the game, and we feel good about it, but we need to get seven points.

“Option teams [like Colgate] take away the pass rush. They run the football often, so it’s hard to get after the quarterback. We just tried to contain him.”

The "option" team formerly known as the Red Raiders have risen to become the team to beat in the Patriot League, behind the quiet leadership of longtime head coach Dick Biddle. Behind an offensive line that beats opponents into submission, a multi-pronged rushing attack and precision play-action passing from Sullivan, they have an offense that may not be able to really be stopped - only contained.

After a trip to central New York rival Cornell this weekend, the Raiders will be playing arguably the two games they need to have to win the Patriot League title: Holy Cross at home on October 23rd, and a pre-Halloween clash at Lehigh on October 30th. After that, the Raiders will face off against two Patriot League teams that are currently winless, Lafayette at Bucknell, and will face off against Fordham, in a game that won't count for the autobid, to close the regular season.

If Holy Cross or Lehigh can't knock out Colgate in three weeks, the Raiders could have all but wrapped up the Patriot League title before November.

Other goings-on in the world of Eastern College Football:
  • The inaugural 2010 release of the Gridiron Power Index, or GPI, was released today, and the news was not good at all for the Patriot League. Out of 14 conferences and all FCS independents, the Patriot League's average GPI was 14th of a possible 15 categories. They were a full five points below the Ivy League (11th), and a whopping 43 points below the top league in the country, the CAA.
  • Assuming that the Patriot League champions will most likely be sent on the road to play a CAA opponent, there are currently five CAA schools in the top ten of the GPI that could be a potential destination: 6-0 Delaware (No. 1, who beat Maine 26-7 with Vice President Joe Biden in attendance); 4-1 James Madison (No. 3, who squeaked by upset-minded Towson 17-13); 5-1 William & Mary (No. 5, who dispatched Rhode Island 26-7); 4-1 UMass (No. 8, who had a bye week last weekend); and a team Lehigh fans are familiar with, 3-2 Villanova (No. 10, who also had a bye week last week).
  • This doesn't even include possible CAA teams like 3-3 New Hampshire (No. 26) or 2-3 Richmond (No. 37), who were involved in a tussle this weekend that allowed the Wildcats to barely stay alive in the playoff hunt with a 17-0 victory over the Spiders. QB Aaron Corp, Richmond's star QB got injured during the game and is out for the season, which could be a rough blow to the Spiders' postseason chances. The rough-and-tumble CAA will be tough tests for these two teams on postseason life support; the Spiders go on the road to face UMass, and the Wildcats head to Harrisonburg, Virginia to face James Madison.
  • Colgate, at No. 53, is very close to a bunch of Eastern teams that could be playoff-bound: 2-3 Stony Brook of the Big South (No. 70); 5-1 Robert Morris of the NEC (No. 51); 3-2 Albany of the NEC (No. 55); and 3-3 independent Old Dominion (No. 54). Albany plays at Robert Morris this weekend in a huge game that could determine the NEC autobid, Old Dominion has a bye week, and Stony Brook plays at Lafayette.
  • Speaking of which: the Leopards have lost their way. Big time. Since losing a 28-26 heartbreaker last year at Holy Cross, Frank Tavani's troops are 0-6, with their latest loss being another double digit defeat to an Ivy League school in their 42-28 loss to Columbia. Freshman sensation, Lion QB Sean Brackett, was a monster with 284 all-purpose yards and was responsible for 4 Columbia TDs. The Leopards, incredibly, have time to turn things around - but what was once the strength of their team, the defense, has worryingly given up more than 30 points to three straight Ivy League opponents.
  • You'd think Holy Cross head coach Tom Gilmore would be happy as a clam after beating Brown, 17-14 - but when you consider Brown QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero didn't start, as he's out for the year with a broken throwing wrist, and his backup, QB Joe Springer, was benched after being completely ineffective as Holy Cross managed a 10-0 lead, the win may not have had the same luster had the Bears been at full strength. When sophomore QB Patrick Donnelly came in for the Bears and managed two TDs, the damage had been done. “We've been talking about improvement for three weeks now,” Gilmore said, “and we feel like we're still making it. We're not there yet, but to win these last two games during the process is a really good feeling.”

    Brown will hope to tee off against a reeling Princeton team this weekend, while Holy Cross will be facing off against 2-2 Dartmouth who lost a heartbreaker at home on a last-second field goal against Yale, 23-20.
  • But for excruciating losses, you cannot beat Georgetown's 22-16 double-overtime loss this weekend. The Hoyas dominated the game, leading 13-3 with 3 minutes to play, when Wagner QB Nick Doscher found WR Justin Matthews with 2:57 to play. Hoya Saxa details what happened next: "With 2:56 to play, up 13-10, Georgetown needed two first downs to close out the game. A rush by RB Philip Oladeji rush got Georgetown that first first down; the only such first down in the quarter. But with 1:31 to play, QB Scott Darby did the one thing a QB with the lead cannot do--he threw into coverage and gave the ball back to the Seahawks at midfield. This, the second of three critical mistakes by Darby, set up the Seahawks to tie or win the game in regulation. Doscher got the Seahawks to the GU 32 with six seconds to play, and the Seahawks appeared to have shot themselves in the foot by taking a delay of game penalty on a 49 yard field goal attempt. Moved back five yards, PK David Lopez carried a career best 54 yard field goal into overtime, 13-13."

    In the second OT, young Hoya QB Scott Darby threw a pass that was intercepted by LB Keith Davis, who rumbled 80 yards for the score. Game over. Incredibly. "We beat an Ivy League team [in Week 2] for the first time and now a Patriot League team," said Wagner head coach Walt Hameline. "It’s a good thing for our program and a good thing for our institution."

    A heartbroken Georgetown will face off at home against winless Bucknell this weekend, who held a brief lead over the defending Ivy League champion Quakers before falling 31-10.
  • Finally, on paper, Harvard initially looked like they could simply overwhelm Cornell on paper - but that was before QB Andrew Hatch, WR Chris Lorditch, WR Marco Iannuzi, CB D.J. Monroe and LB Blaise Deal did not start thanks to a laundry list of issues.

    But with sophomore QB Colton Chapple at the helm, Harvard eventually erupted for 21 points in the fourth quarter to put away the Big Red 31-17. The turning point was, late in the 3rd quarter after a turnover deep in their own territory, Harvard's tough defense dug deep and forced Cornell to a mere field goal which set up their 21 point outburst with most of their skill players out with injury. “That was the turning point for our team,’’ said Cornell first-year coach Kent Austin.


Anonymous said…
A very good,comprehensive review of the PL. Thank you for your work.

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