The parties raged on in the parking garage next to Fisher Field, which were packed with Lafayette fans eager to enjoy a party with plenty of great food and copious drinks.
The tiny businesses below Fisher Field, the small bits of capitalism next to the concrete husks of factory jobs that have left ages ago, had plenty of visiting Lehigh fans, enjoying the tailgates and ready to invade the stadium that they hadn't seen in four years.
In the line coming into the stadium, a silent protest of hundreds of Lafayette students clad in black, handing out a political statement on a piece of paper and showing some signs that were up seemingly to simply show that these people exist, and are not happy.
Somewhere in this mix of people escaping, people expressing and people denying, a football game was played, one that matched an 8-2 team that was headed to the national stage and the FCS playoffs, the other a 2-8 squad that had their fans questioning the tenure of their head coach.
It was one of the strangest disconnect of emotions that I've ever seen in a Rivalry game, one where the outcome, a 45-21 victory by the Brown and White, was almost expected by everyone going through the crowded gates at Fisher Field.
There was plenty to celebrate - for one side, anyway.Read more »
In the most-played college football Rivalry, there was a mild concern of complacency on the Lehigh side.
Would they be able to manage the emotions of the Rivalry after a bye week? Would they come out flat, and let 2-8 Lafayette take away their chance at an outright Patriot League championship, an undefeated Patriot League record, and a 9-2 regular season mark?
The Mountain Hawks proved resoundingly that fans needn't have worried.
Lehigh rolled to a 17-0 lead before Lafayette connected on a big pass play, then kept the foot on the gas to get to a 45-7 lead before starting to put in the second stringers.
It was pretty telling that the biggest outpouring of emotion during the game happened when Lehigh's marching band, the Marching 97, marched off Lafayette's pep band after they went over on their time to play. It was that sort of day for a joyous Lehigh victory.Read more »
We break down #Rivalry152 - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.
When you take away The Rivalry, when you take away the emotions, when you take away the craziness, the energy - what do we have? When you look at the Xs and Os, what do you have?
Certainly, this game, like every Rivalry game, will be dictated and informed by emotion. You can count on the fact, as a Lehigh fan, that Lafayette will play out of their minds. For their seniors, it is guaranteed to be their last game played together as a team. For them, there is no practicing on Thanksgiving.
Countless football teams have taken this "300" mentality and turned it into wins. Quarterbacks that used to struggle to not get intercepted suddenly become the second coming of QB Tom Brady
. Linebackers that didn't wrap up their tackles before suddenly become LB Mike Singletary
. It can happen to Lehigh. Don't think that it can't.
That shouldn't stop us, though, from looking over the Leopards and seeing what they're all about. They will put together a gameplan to come away with victory. It's up to the Mountain Hawks to keep that from happening.Read more »
It is an easy narrative to point at the 150th meeting of The Rivalry as the turnaround for the Lehigh football program, where the Mountain Hawks got together after that bitter, bitter loss and decided that enough was enough, and that they were going to not allow their team to be a cellar-dweller.
For Lafayette, though, you need to go back further, past some very enormous wins over Lehigh, and wonder.
"I can't believe I typed it, but there it is," I wrote back in 2006
after a crushing 49-28 loss where Lehigh was dominated on both lines of scrimmage. "We've lost three straight to Lafayette. and I've got some news: We're no longer the hunted. The sooner we realize that we now have to be the hunter, the better off we'll be."
Read more »
The co-championship they shared with the Leopards that year had the feel of the worst consolation prize imaginable. For the second straight year, Lafayette had stolen the FCS Playoff bid right from under the Mountain Hawks, and it was Lehigh left to sit at home to stew. The post game press conference was as down and dark as could be, the double indignity of losing to Lafayette, and losing any chance at a postseason bid, at the same time.
It felt like Lafayette was on the brink of becoming permanent contenders for the Patriot League championship, meaning their torture of Appalachian State and UMass in the playoffs in consecutive years would be a regular happening over the next decade.
But it never happened.
This year, Lehigh travels to Easton in their big Rivalry game, sitting at 8-2 and having already clinched a portion of the Patriot League championship, only seeking to remove the "co-" from the word "championship". As emotions go, the Mountain Hawks couldn't be riding more of a high, winners of eight straight.
And Lafayette sits at the opposite extreme, sitting at 2-8 and wondering how they've gotten to this point, with only three wins over the last two years.
In a world that is rocked by the division of ugly elections and the blowing up of the political order, the business of beating Lafayette in the 152nd meeting of The Rivalry offers a rare sliver of personal unity among the people of Lehigh in an otherwise divided country.
The short version of the tale of the football Rivalry between Lehigh and Lafyette is simple: It's the most-played college football Rivalry in the world. It's united fans of Brown and Maroon through a grand total of 34 Presidential elections, some of them bitterly divisive, others not.
The current tally of games sits at 151, and the game this weekend, the 152nd, will be played in Easton. It's been waged every year, with only one interruption since 1884.
And the two schools, in competition in pretty much everything since the founding of Lafayette (1826) and Lehigh (1865), eventually coalesced around football as the main driver of The Rivalry between them.
I've spent a good portion of my adult life being around The Rivalry. I've studied it, blogged about it, and even written a book about it
. It's something you ought to see once in your life, if you can, because it's unique, it exudes its own special energy, and it has an emotion and spectacle that many bowl games would dream to have.
The world has changed, and football has changed, a lot since 1884. What hasn't changed, I think, is the weird and particular chemistry that seems to happen when these two teams get together for a football game. To call it a big tailgate party doesn't really describe it. To call it schoolyard intensity doesn't do it justice. To call it a "bowl game" doesn't really capture it either. It's just The Rivalry. It's all of those things, and more.Read more »