Category Archives: R.J. Nitti

Bucknell At Lehigh Game Breakdown And Fearless Prediction: One Win Makes Lehigh The First Guaranteed Postseason Contender

We break down the Bucknell game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

In case you have been living under a rock - or maybe just new at this - there's a game going on this Saturday that's, um, pretty important to Lehigh's Patriot League title hopes.

To just go over the scenarios one more time, just so we're all on the same page, Lehigh is in the driver's seat this weekend.

If they beat Bucknell tomorrow, they are Patriot League champions - no worst than co-champions - and they will clinch the FCS autobid, being the first Division I football program in the nation to clinch a postseason berth.

If Bucknell wins, it opens the door for other possible not-so-good Mountain Hawk outcomes where Lehigh are co-champions without playoffs, or (if they lose to Bucknell and then to Lafayette), neither champions or playoff contenders.

Certainly a Lehigh win would allow all Mountain Hawk fans to know that, even after the 152nd meeting of The Rivalry, even after a sold-out crowd at Fisher Field in Easton, the Mountain Hawks football season would not end there.

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Know Your 2016 Opponents: Bucknell


Today's "Know Your 2016 Opponents" series continues with the team that is predicted by College Sports Journal to finish 5th in the Patriot League: Bucknell.

Bucknell was picked to finish 5th in the Patriot League, but does that mean Lehigh fans should look past the Bison?  Hardly.

By a wide margin, the Bison had the best defense in the Patriot League last season, and just two years ago, walloped Lehigh 45-24 and didn't even need two injured starters at QB and RB to do it.

Someone has to be picked 5th in the Patriot League, and according to the College Sports Journal, that team is Bucknell.  But they could certainly win it all.

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Lehigh Changes Helmets and Changes Trajectory, Defeats Bucknell 21-10

The first surprise was Lehigh's uniforms.

Heading out of the locker room, the Mountain Hawks did not come out in their usual gold helmets, whie jerseys and brown pants.

Instead they came out with the white helmets unveiled in the Bronx - white helmets with "Lehigh" in brown on the sides.  They matched the rest of the uniform extremely well - not the pinstripes that were worn in Yankee stadium, but all-white jerseys and all-white pants with brown numerals.  White socks and white shoes completed it.

It seemed to have been unveiled today by coach Andy Coen to usher in a new team, and  a new, fresh start.

But the best part of the afternoon was that, whatever the reason, the new uniforms worked.

After an early touchdown, the Lehigh defense would only allow a field goal the rest of the way to the Bucknell offense - without two of its top playmakers.  When preserving a two-score lead, the Lehigh offense grinded the Bison defense into so much burger meat with a 17 play, 54 yard drive that caused Bucknell head coach Joe Susan to need to burn all three of his timeouts just to get the ball back.

It was enough to come out of Lewisburg with an enormous Patriot League win going into the Mountain Hawk bye week.

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Game Breakdown, Lehigh at Bucknell, 10/10/2015

We break down the Bucknell game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

The rivalry between Lehigh and Bucknell could not be more strange.

The Mountain Hawks hold a 44-31-3 advantage in the series and have played each other on-and-off for the last 127 years.  But Lehigh, relatively speaking, has dominated since the NCAA established Divisions in 1978.

Since both Bucknell and Lehigh were reclassified as Division I in 1978 and started competing in Division I-AA together, Lehigh holds a 27-9-1 advantage.

But any good Lehigh fan will point out, though, the last two years have see two of those nine losses.

And both weren't just losses - they were butt-whoopings I don't need to go over again, a humbling 48-10 loss to Bucknell in 2013 and a bad 45-24 loss last season.  Then again, Bucknell is 16-5 in their last 21 games, so it's not like they only has success against Lehigh.

One more interesting fact is that this weekend's Lehigh/Bucknell game is occurring when both Lehigh and Bucknell are on "pacing break" this weekend.

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Game Breakdown: Bucknell at Lehigh, 10/11/2014

We break down Bucknell after the flip.

One thing that is worthy of mention about last year's game, and may have gotten lost in all the talk of "revenge", was the element of surprise.

Head coach Joe Susan, facing off against a then-Top 25 team, had just re-introduced QB Brandon Wesley to the staring lineup the prior week, and also unveiled a brand-new offensive attack against Lehigh as well, meaning that the game film head coach Andy Coen saw from the prior week against Dartmouth was essentially worthless.

Surprise doesn't excuse the outcome, from a Lehigh perspective - not at all - but it's worthy of mention that Bucknell's pistol formation and offense shouldn't be taking anyone by surprise this week.  It also means that nobody should be reading too much into Bucknell's loss at Bryant last week, either.

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Game Preview: Bucknell at Lehigh, 10/11/2014

It didn't really need to be mentioned by head coach Andy Coen and the coaching staff, because everyone already knew.

They all remembered last year's beatdown by Bucknell at Lewisburg, 48-10.

Many of them, even the sophomores, remember the pain of that day.

300 yards rushing by the Bison.  QB Brandon Bialkowski's broken collarbone.  Five turnovers.  130 yards receiving for Bison sophomore WR Will Carter.

They also remember the humiliating exclamation point: sophomore RB C.J. Williams' hurdle over Lehigh's secondary, getting an emphatic touchdown to put the icing on the cake.

Sometimes the pain of losses of games gone by can seem distant, unconnectable, by the playing members of a football team.  There is no way for these players to imagine how it felt in 1997 for the Mountain Hawks to lose to the Bison, for example, the last time a Lehigh team had lost to Bucknell in football before last season.

But last year's loss was so raw, so emphatic, and so emotionally charged that nobody on this team could have possibly forgotten how it felt to go in there and lost that badly, that comprehensively.

There was no need for coach Coen to invoke revenge in a fiery post-practice speech.  They know.
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Know Your 2014 Opponents: Bucknell

You might have been forgiven for overlooking them last year.

After all, Lehigh always beat Bucknell.  It was what they did.

The last time the Bison beat the Mountain Hawks anywhere, RB Rich Lemon was their star back, and Monica Lewinsky was still welcome in the Bill Clinton White House.

But for a fifteen year stretch, the Bison couldn't beat Lehigh with a ten-point head start.

So you might have been forgiven for not making the trip to Lewisburg fully anticipating No. 16.

Except that, on October 26th, 2013, Bucknell changed the narrative.

Bucknell didn't just beat heavily-favored, nationally-ranked Lehigh in their own house.  They put on the type of beating that left Lehigh fans absolutely stunned, a 48-10 stampeding that will not soon be forgotten by either side.

Bucknell used to be another name on the Patriot League schedule for Lehigh to beat.  Now?  Their name is circled, a critical game in early October that will be a pivotal game for both sides in the Patriot League title race.
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