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Game Preview, Lehigh at Georgetown, 11/1/2014

The Lehigh football team is lucky.

For most football programs and a whole lot of Division I football players, the end of the season is visible.  Many seniors see their final games at home, "senior day", and maybe a road game or two to play their final games as seniors - that is, if the coaching staffs haven't already started looking forward to the 2015 season and figuring out who is likely to start next season.

But with the Mountain Hawks, who essentially are eliminated from any Patriot League championship consideration with their loss to Fordham last weekend, there is always the week before Thanksgiving.

Because for Lehigh players, there are three championships every year.

The first two, the FCS National Championship and the Patriot League championship, are not in the cards this year.

But the third championship most certainly is.

The same day Lehigh will be playing Lafayette in front of tens of thousands of people in Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, the Mountain Hawks' opponent this week will be having their "Senior Day" facing off against Holy Cross at Multi-Sport Field.

The game in the Bronx, to celebrate the 150th meeting between the Leopards and Mountain Hawks, is a gala event.  There have been rumors all season that ESPN College Gameday may hold their show somewhere in a place related to the 150th game - perhaps in Bethlehem, perhaps in Easton, perhaps at Yankee Stadium.  It's still just a rumor, but the fact that College Gameday is being mentioned at all is a source of huge excitement.

Gameday will most certainly not be at Georgetown at Multi-Sport Field, a testament to unfulfilled promises in the District when it comes to football.

When construction on the field was started, Hoya football fans were promised a lot of things.

"[Sixteen] years ago, Georgetown announced plans for a home stadium for Georgetown football," Georgetown superfan DFW Hoya write on his blog.  "[Nine] years ago this weekend, it opened a temporary facility on its grounds with the understanding that it would be completed in a short while. In the interim, virtually nothing has changed since Brown University became the first Ivy League team to play a game on Georgetown’s campus. It is a monument to inaction."

Even the name, the unsexiest of names for a stadium, "Multi-Sport Field" seems to indicate that something is missing in Georgetown in terms of the program.  The 2,500 seat stadium will be home to the Hoya seniors on their final day of football, and the game versus Holy Cross will mean the world to them.  They want, more than anything else to go out winners, whether in front of an overflow crowd of 3,000 or a tiny crowd of 300.

But Lehigh's final game is always a big deal - a "bowl game," head coach Andy Coen has called it over the years.  Playing in front of 16,000 screaming fans of both teams, normally, but this season it will be a whole lot more.

Though both athletic directors would prefer the game to be for the Patriot League championship, Bruce McCutcheon and Joe Sterrett deserve heaping praise for putting together this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Which leads us to this weekend.

Lehigh is lucky in that they don't close out every regular season simply playing for pride.

They close each season playing in a Bowl, a game that is a big deal for not only scads of alumni and former football players and members of the athletic department, but also members of the Bethlehem and Easton communities.

Games in November that, for many schools, would be merely playing out the string, or playing for your brothers, instead are a valuable time to get ready for the biggest football game of their lives.

The Rivalry this year will be bigger than it ever has been.

It is in line to outdraw bowls in terms of people in attendance, and will be broadcast across the country.

The average attendance at FBS games across the country is more than 45,000 fans.  More than 45,000 fans are in line to be in Yankee Stadium the weekend before Thanksgiving to watch history, the most people ever attending a football game where Lehigh or Lafayette has competed.

It's like playing in Alabama/Auburn, Michigan/Ohio State, USC/Notre Dame.  It's an honor not many FCS football players have.

I've been following Lehigh football and covering, in my way, Mountain Hawk football for a long time.  I've seen all-time great teams, and I've seen some teams that truly struggled.  At times, my disappointment has gotten the better of me, had my interest flag.

But this season, with the Lehigh program's biggest game of the season still ahead, my interest had not waned.  It has just changed in focus.

That process starts on Saturday, where we will see how Lehigh battles and gets ready to learn how to win the rest of the season.  Every win from here on out will be something to file away, to prepare and get ready for the Bowl game at the end of the season.

Multi-Sport Field
Many Division I athletes would give their knees to be in the situation as a Lehigh player on the sidelines.  Many have.

Chances like this are something that Georgetown, who will be playing their final game on the same day in front of a fraction of the number of fans, would certainly give plenty to be able to have.

Game Notes

The game notes this week show a few new underclassmen who will be worked in the rotation, most notably freshman WR Sasha Kelsey and freshman WR Troy Pelletier, who have seen game action but have worked their way up on the receiving depth chart.

The "O" line has also seen some more shuffling, with junior C Ryan James now starting at center, Lehigh's third snapper this season.  Junior OL Matt Cohen also jumps in at right guard.

The defense stays intact for a consecutive week, a week where I think there will be some improvement.

Weather Report

Pack your rain gear, as there currently is a 60% chance of rain in the forecast for Washington, DC on Saturday.  The rain is scheduled to increase over the morning, peaking at kickoff at 12:00 PM.

Famous Georgetown Alumnus You Didn't Know About

Princess Ghida Talal
Certainly there are a lot of famous alums from Georgetown.  President Bill Clinton?  Justice Antonin Scalia?  King Abdullah II of Jordan?  Former Secretary of State Al Haig?  All former Hoyas.  All way too well-known to be listed as an alum you didn't know about.

One you may not know is a member of royalty, Princess Ghida Talal.  

Married to a Jordanian prince, she is hardly a member of the idle rich: she graduated from Georgetown with a joint bachelor's and master's degree in International Politics and Economics magna cum laude.  (Sort of makes me feel I was pretty lazy as an undergraduate.)

Journalist, and now president of the King Hussein Cancer Center in Jordan, she's been busy being a special envoy to the UN, and lots of other things that make me tired just thinking about it.

LFN's Drink of the Week (#DOTW)

Supposedly a "Hoya"
Lazy, or simply superstitious?  The gods will ultimately decide; but when trying to kick-start a winning streak before #Rivalry150 against Georgetown, I usually like to go with what got me here.

And what got me here last season was a drink call the Hoya.  One part orange juice, 2 parts gin, and 3 parts Ginger Ale, it will hopefully be the drink Hoyas fans use to comfort themselves after they lose this weekend (at least that's what Mountain Hawk fans are hoping).  The last time I used this drink, Lehigh beat the Hoyas 34-12.  I, and undoubtedly most of Lehigh Nation, would appreciate a repeat performance.

As always, Drinks of the Week have a place in responsible tailgates, but only if you behave yourself, don't get behind the wheel while impaired (or worse), and are over 21. Please do that.


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