Your Bye Week College Football Viewing Guide

If you're anything like me, you're probably wondering what to watch when there's no Lehigh football game to attend or view on a fall weekend.

Fortunately, dear Reader, I'm available to help you answer that question.

From the early morning College Gameday at Happy Valley to Colorado/Washington State "Pac 12 After Dark", there are a boatload of different opportunities to immerse yourself in the wild, wonderful world of college football.

Every week on College Sports Journal, I compile a list of links of every live internet stream that the NFF College Football Broadcast schedule puts out.  But this week, you don't even need to go there, because everything you'll need, Patriot League, FCS, or FBS, I'll have right here.
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The Need For A Lafayette Football Nation Has Never Been Greater

(Photo Credit: Harvard Magazine)

Last weekend, Lafayette traveled up to Harvard to play the Crimson up in Cambridge.  It was the 19th meeting between the Leopards and the Crimson, a series that started in 1966 and has been a frequent event since the early 1990s.

It was a pretty historic game, too: the 700th football game contested at Harvard Stadium.

In years past, you might have found members of the local Lehigh Valley media making a trip up to Boston to cover the game from an independent Lafayette perspective, and you would have seen a recap online and some postgame quotes from the postgame press conference in there as well, as well as seeing an article or two about the game in the Sunday paper.

This weekend, though, there was nothing.

The recap in The Morning Call was not the great work of Paul Reinhard, who freelances for the paper - they didn't pay him to go up to Cambridge to take in the game and ask John Garrett about the progress of the team.  Instead, someone added a topper sentence to the AP recap of the game - and that was it.  Four paragraphs for the online crowd and the Sunday readership.

And on Lehigh Valley Live online, the old Easton Express-Times - nothing.  This week, quietly, they dropped their college sports coverage, citing the fact that there wasn't enough traffic to justify their continued coverage of Lehigh, Lafayette, or Patriot League football.

For Lehigh fans, who still get significant coverage of Mountain Hawks football from Keith Groller of The Morning Call, and yours truly, there's still a fair amount of online and print content covering Lehigh football. 

But looking over at Lafayette, the need for a Lafayette Football Nation has never seemed so acute.  And in the general scheme of things - the loss of Lafayette football coverage is actually a much more historic event than it seems.
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LFN’s FCS Top 25, 10/17/2017

I don't officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25And my No. 1 and No. 2, James Madison and North Dakota State, amply proved their worth again in tough conference matchups where they ended up victorious.

It wasn't as easy as the 30-8 final score might indicate, but James Madison finally solved the Villanova defense in the fourth quarter just when the Wildcats were threatening to tie the game.  The Dukes' remarkable winning streak just keeps rolling along - since losing to Colgate in the FCS playoffs in 2015, defending FCS National Champions James Madison has gone 20-1, their only loss coming to a North Carolina team last year that played in a bowl game.

North Dakota State's 27-24 win, however, against the runner-up in last years' FCS Championship game, Youngstown State, was a prizefight won in overtime when PK Cam Pedersen booted a 36 yard field goal to beat Bo Pelini's Penguins' on the road at the Ice Castle, Stambaugh Stadium.  Since November of 2015, Youngstown State has lost exactly two home games - both of them, now, to North Dakota State.

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Patriot League Fans Stunned At the Firing of Tom Gilmore at Holy Cross

It was clear that Holy Cross' 32-0 loss to Yale wasn't going to yield many highlights for their end-of-the-year DVD.

“We just couldn’t string anything together,” head coach Tom Gilmore said after the loss. “They got us on our heels. They were executing some big plays and it snowballed. Yale kept the pressure on and it one of those days we couldn’t flip the momentum.”

At 2-5, the Crusaders did, and still do, have a chance to win the Patriot League, if they win the rest of their games and Lafayette loses twice - certainly not an inconceivable notion.

Even so, Holy Cross athletic director Nathan Pine sent shockwaves through the Patriot League this weekend when he called head coach Tom Gilmore and told him that he was being terminated immediately, with Brian Rock, the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, taking over in an interim basis.

“Traditionally I’m not a proponent of a mid-season change,” Pine told Jen Toland of The Worcester Telegram-Gazette, “but I’ve watched carefully, and especially over these last three weeks our team has seemed to spiral and our performance has gotten progressively worse and so I didn’t want to delay the decision any longer, because hopefully this can be a rallying point and a galvanizing moment for our team to still have some success at the end of the season. I just didn’t feel like that would happen if we didn’t have a significant change.”

The fall of this Holy Cross team and the circumstances that led to Gilmore's firing was stunning.
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Lehigh Goes 2-0 In Patriot League Play With Critical 54-35 Win Over Georgetown

The 2017 Lehigh Mountain Hawks are known for having a great offense, a high-octane group that features stars like junior QB Brad Mayes and junior RB Dominick Bragalone.

But senior WR Troy Pelletier would trade it all for conference wins.

On an afternoon where he broke a bunch of school and Patriot League records - some of them unanticipated - his focus, as ever, was about getting the league victories that count towards the main goal of this team - to defend their Patriot League Championship.

"I didn't know what the records are," Troy said afterwards about his record-busting, 16 catch, 197 receiving yard, 4 touchdown performance.  "I just knew I was close.  I knew it was going to come if I bought in every day, do what I need to do every day to get better, and I knew it would come."

Fortunately for Lehigh fans, his banner day came to allow Lehigh to resoundingly beat Georgetown 54-35 and go to 2-0 in Patriot League play.
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QUICK RECAP: Pelletier’s Career Day Helps Propel Lehigh To Victory over Georgetown, 54-35

Before the game, the Lehigh sports social media team had some graphics ready for a record that senior WR Troy Pelletier had a high probability of breaking today.

Troy, or "The Doctor", as I call him, had to get 60 yards receiving to beat the Patriot League record for receiving yardage.

After he skied past that record, the social media folks had to keep assembling a lot more graphics.

By the end of the game, more records would be falling left and right.  The career Patriot League touchdown record - the first time since 2001 since a Lehigh player nabbed 4 touchdown receptions in a game.  Somewhere in the fourth quarter, he'd grab his 16th reception, breaking his own record for receptions in a game.

In the end, Lehigh cruised, never trailing in a 54-28 win over the Hoyas, but the story was Pelletier, whose amazing 16 catch, 197 yard, 4 TD game was the talk afterwards.

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Georgetown at Lehigh Media Pack (w/Video): 1977 Champions Coming Back To Goodman

As a guy who is pretty passionate about his Lehigh football history, it was great to see a national champion on the set of Lehigh Sports Central this week.

QB Mike Rieker, quarterback of the 1977 Division II National Champions, showed up to talk to Steve Degler about his role on that team and share some stories (and some video highlights) about that magical season.

One thing he didn't do is talk about funny locker room stories about head coach John Whitehead.

"It was strictly business with coach Whitehead," he said.  "There was no footing around in the locker room until you left.  He was all business, and it reflected on us, a lot of guys took to heart they didn't want to make mistakes, because you'd have to face him.  He was a tough taskmaster and a great teacher, and he ended up being a really good friend.

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An LFN Investigation: What’s Wrong with Patriot League football?

This week, Lafayette plays Harvard up in Cambridge, where the 2-4 Leopards are expected to lose to the 2-2 Crimson.  I say expected to lose because with one exception since 2000, that's what's happened every time Lafayette has played Harvard: they have lost 12 out of their last 13 to the Johnnies, and have a lifetime record of 3-19 against them.

The expectation among Patriot League football fans is that football scholarships was supposed to change all of that.  Simply offer conventional football scholarships, add to that a chance to play in the FCS Playoffs, and suddenly football recruits choosing between Harvard and Lehigh for business would start choosing Lehigh.

It hasn't worked out quite that way.

Through five games in 2017, the combined record of the Patriot League is a mind-boggling 8-21 outside of Patriot League contests.   And of those eight wins, only one has come against a team from the Ivy League - Colgate's 21-7 win over Cornell.  Collectively, the Patriot League is 1-7 against the Ancient Eight, with six of those seven losses coming by more than two touchdowns.

This is not what fans of the Patriot League signed up for five years ago when they decided to offer the same sort of scholarships that schools like Delaware, Montana and North Dakota State.  But is the problem scholarships, or is it something else?


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An LFN Investigation: What’s Wrong with Patriot League football?

This week, Lafayette plays Harvard up in Cambridge, where the 2-4 Leopards are expected to lose to the 2-2 Crimson.  I say expected to lose because with one exception since 2000, that's what's happened every time Lafayette has played Harvard: they have lost 12 out of their last 13 to the Johnnies, and have a lifetime record of 3-19 against them.

The expectation among Patriot League football fans is that football scholarships was supposed to change all of that.  Simply offer conventional football scholarships, add to that a chance to play in the FCS Playoffs, and suddenly football recruits choosing between Harvard and Lehigh for business would start choosing Lehigh.

It hasn't worked out quite that way.

Through five games in 2017, the combined record of the Patriot League is a mind-boggling 8-21 outside of Patriot League contests.   And of those eight wins, only one has come against a team from the Ivy League - Colgate's 21-7 win over Cornell.  Collectively, the Patriot League is 1-7 against the Ancient Eight, with six of those seven losses coming by more than two touchdowns.

This is not what fans of the Patriot League signed up for five years ago when they decided to offer the same sort of scholarships that schools like Delaware, Montana and North Dakota State.  But is the problem scholarships, or is it something else?


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The Bonds That Tie The Lehigh Family Are Strong, May They Never Be Broken