After all, they had two preseason Walter Payton award candidates on their roster, QB Michael Nebrich and WR Sam Ajala, as well as 10, count 'em, 10 other members on the Patriot League preseason All-League team. Scholarships, and the great coaching and recruiting ability of head coach Joe Moorhead, had Fordham as the runaway favorite.
It was a shock, however, to see who was picked to finish right behind the Rams.
Though Lehigh was coming off a 2013 season where they were ranked in the Top 25 most of the year, they only had two players on the preseason all-League team, senior OL Ned Daryoush and senior DL Tim Newton.
Nonetheless, the Mountain Hawks were picked second over the two teams that beat Lehigh last season, Lafayette and Bucknell, the two teams that kept Lehigh from a Patriot League championship and the FCS playoffs last season.
The vote was close - only three votes separated the Maroon and the Brown - and it showed how little separates the rest of the Patriot League in the eyes of the coaches and media.
There will be plenty more in the next few days about #Rivalry150, the state of college athletics and the role of the Patriot League within it, and the upcoming season with your favorite Lehigh players and coaches, of course. For now, though, the big news is that Lehigh is picked to be in the thick of the race in the 2014 season, perhaps neck in neck with the team that beat them at the end of last season in their 149th meeting, Lafayette.
2014 Patriot League Football Preseason Poll
1. Fordham, 72 points (12 first-place votes)
2. Lehigh, 54
3. Lafayette, 51 (2)
4. Bucknell, 43
5. Colgate, 33
6. Holy Cross, 29
7. Georgetown, 12
2014 Patriot League Football Preseason All-League Team
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: Mike Nebrich, QB, Fordham (Sr.)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Stephen Hodge, LB, Fordham (Sr.)
QB Mike Nebrich, Fordham (Sr.)
RB Ross Scheuerman, Lafayette (Sr.)
RB C.J. Williams, Bucknell (So.)
FB/HB Ed Pavalko, Colgate (Sr.)
WR Sam Ajala, Fordham (Sr.)
WR Tebucky Jones, Fordham (Sr.)
WR Brian Wetzel, Fordham (Sr.)
TE Dan Light, Fordham (Sr.)
OL Luke Chiarolanzio, Lafayette (Sr.)
OL Ned Daryoush, Lehigh (Sr.)
OL Julie'n Davenport, Bucknell (So.)
OL Mason Halter, Fordham (Sr.)
OL Lonnie Rawles, Bucknell (Sr.)
RS Kalif Raymond, Holy Cross (Jr.)
RS Matt Smalley, Lafayette (Jr.)
PK Michael Marando, Fordham (Sr.)
DL Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood, Bucknell (Sr.)
DL Brett Biestek, Fordham (Gr.)
DL Tim Newton, Lehigh (Sr.)
DL DeAndre Slate, Fordham (Sr.)
LB Nick Alfieri, Georgetown (Sr.)
LB Evan Byers, Bucknell (Sr.)
LB Stephen Hodge, Fordham (Sr.)
LB Kris Kent, Colgate (Sr.)
DB Mike Armiento, Colgate (Sr.)
DB Matt Smalley, Lafayette (Jr.)
DB Matthew Steinbeck, Bucknell (Sr.)
DB Ian Williams, Fordham (Sr.)
P Joe Pavlik, Fordham (So.)