Before I begin my argument, I would like to preface it by saying that I am a realist. I take things for what they are and see the world in a rational way. So when I sat down to evaluate this matchup, the winner to me looked quite obvious.
Lehigh (8-2, 5-0) comes into this game against Lafayette (2-8, 1-5) fresh off of winning the Patriot League Championship. After starting the season 0-2, the Mountain Hawks have rattled off eight straight wins in dominating fashion, with an average margin of victory of 21.1 points over that stretch. To put that into perspective, Lafayette only averages 19.5 points per game (Lehigh averages 40.0 PPG).
One thing the Leopards do have going for them is their pass defense, but it will surely be negated by Lehigh’s rushing attack. The Mountain Hawks average 160.3 yards on the ground per game. With the Leopards’ defense giving up an average of 254.3 rushing yards per game, the Mountain Hawks should have no problem running all over them.
If they can’t beat them on offense or defense, maybe the Leopards can take advantage by forcing turnovers. Unfortunately, this will likely not be the case since Lafayette has a -2 turnover margin on the season compared to Lehigh’s +9. Basically, everything is lining up for a Lehigh blowout of Lafayette.
That’s why I’m taking the Lafayette Leopards over the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in this one.
Listen, I might sound like an idiot right now, but hear me out: if there’s one thing the year 2016 has taught us, it’s that anything is possible.
The Golden State Warriors finished the regular season with a 73-9 record and had a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Although the Warriors’ championship victory was all but sealed, the Cleveland Cavaliers came back and won three straight games against them to win it all. The Chicago Cubs, led by Lafayette alum Joe Maddon ‘76, had not won a World Series in 108 years. But, after also coming back from being down 3-1, the Cubs went on to win the World Series against the Cleveland Indians. Heck, even Donald Trump defied all odds and won the 2016 presidential election. And, yes, I did find a way to fit Donald Trump into a Lafayette-Lehigh article.
What I’m saying is that this is the year of the upset. You can throw around all the numbers you want, but all that matters is what actually happens on the field. When the Lafayette Leopards run out onto Fisher Field this Saturday afternoon to face Lehigh, all preconceived notions go out the door and 60 minutes of football will decide the winner.
I acknowledge that Lafayette is a huge underdog coming into this game. But I also think 2016 could have a little more magic in store, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leopards can pull this one off.
My final prediction is Lafayette winning 35-31.