We break down the Penn game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.
It sometimes is tough for coaches and media types alike to preview teams that haven't played a single down, and with the volume of Ivy League opponents Lehigh and other members of the Patriot League face, the Mountain Hawks get more than their fair share.
Last season, much was made of the fact that head coach Ray Priore and a huge hunk of brand-new staff were competing together in their very first college football game together, a fact that unquestionably helped Lehigh out in a 42-21 win over the Quakers.
This year, though, to some degree the tables are turned.
With a full year under their belts - and an Ivy League championship year, at that - the Quakers will be not at all like the inexperienced bunch that Lehigh played last year. They've had one year in the system, one year knowing the expectations, one year going through the drills.
Saturday's game is a personal landmark for head coach Andy Coen: it marks the first time he's coached a Lehigh team at Penn since he was hired there from Al Bagnoli's staff back in December of 2005.
He'll be facing off against another former Bagnoli assistant coach, Ray Priore, who was a defensive coordinator at Penn when Andy was an offensive coordinator there.
Franklin Field, then, becomes one of the big #NarrativeStreet storylines going into Saturday, and for Lehigh, not a good reason.
Since 1895, when the enormous field was built in downtown Philadelphia, Lehigh has won exactly four times at the iconic venue, and the overall Brown and White record there is 4-28. Along the way, among the many losses by Lehigh there, came one recent one in particular that snapped a long Lehigh regular-season winning streak.
"[We're] trying not to over-plan for Lehigh," Penn head coach Ray Priore said in his first Penn coaches' teleconference of the year. "And the kids are very focused. We got off to last years' start 1-3, our first loss was to Lehigh, and they tattooed us pretty good up there, so our kids remember that..."
If there was any doubt that the Penn players had somehow forgotten the way they kicked off the Ray Priore era - that they had forgotten that humbling beginning to their Ivy League championship season from last year - any doubt of that was easily erased by the easy way that "so our kids remember that" uttered from Priore's lips at the press conference.
College football head coaches generally don't like their opponents lying in wait for them for months upon months upon months. They prefer to sneak into town competing as lightly-regarded underdogs, preferably playing a "scrappy, fu…
Admittedly, it is a bit of a selfish impulse on my part. It is always easier to recap a heroic made-for-TVesque Lehigh win than a loss. Narratives and nicknames flow like water when games have outcomes like that.
Not so today, after Lehigh's 0-2 start. It's harder to pull together the game recaps when the outcomes of the games instead show a team that is on the brink of learning how to win, but hasn't been able to figure out how to turn that corner.
Two games into the season, I don't see a Lehigh team that is necessarily bad, or pointed in the wrong direction.
Instead, I see a team that is trying to figure out how to put away a tough opponent and win football games.
And frankly, there's nothing wrong with that yet.
Trying to hit the right tone after a loss like Saturday's poses a special challenge.
I've seen all sorts of Lehigh wins and losses. I've seen all the highs and the lows of the Andy Coen era.
"It's a game of inches," head coach Andy Coen said after the Mountain Hawks had just fallen to nationally-ranked Villanova on a hot, humid, thick September evening. "I just told these two guys walking across the field here (senior LB Colton Caslow and junior WR Troy Pelletier), it really is a game of inches. We were this close to beating a very good football team."
Indeed they were, even if, after a disappointing loss last week to Monmouth, many across the nation had written off Lehigh's chances of an upset of the team ranked No. 19 in the FCS Coaches' Poll.
Stung from a first half against Monmouth when they failed to score a single point, Lehigh battled hard in the first half and played "outstanding" Coen said, as the Mountain Hawks jumped to a 14-6 lead. After missing a field goal falling behind 20-14, Lehigh rallied to retake the lead, and after falling behind one last time, the defense forced a stop and handed the ball back to the offen…