Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quick Change?

A lot of football coaches will tell you a team puts in its best improvement between week one and week two of the season.

That’s good, because we’d all like to see better things from the Lions this Saturday against Towson.

The game seems eerily familiar to what Columbia faced in week 2 against Central Connecticut State last season.

Like CCSU, Towson features a speedy running QB and a team that has already faced some big-time competition.

Columbia looked great against CCSU in the first half last year, before they made a switch to that speedy QB and suddenly the Lions couldn’t stop the run. The Lions relative weakness against the ground game was exposed in that game and abused by other opponents several times in the next eight weeks.

Columbia hasn’t faced Towson in two years. But that meeting was also in week two, and the game turned out to be the second in a string of five straight very close losses to start the Columbia season in 2008. There aren’t many starters left from either team from that very rainy day at Unitas Stadium.

The early line has Towson as a 2 ½ point favorite. I would have expected worse, but I suppose the odds makers have gained some good respect for the Lions defense.

In my season preview, I tagged this game as the key early season contest to really get a grip on how good the Lions will be in 2010. After a rough loss in week one, it still looks like that kind of a definitive game. A solid performance from the offense plus another great defensive showing could mean better things for the year.

On the Other Hand…

One game we can’t learn much of anything from when it comes to the Ivy race is that Sacred Heart-Dartmouth game in Hanover this Saturday.

I can’t remember another time when an Ivy team was facing such an obvious mismatch in a non-conference game. I seriously think the Dartmouth backups could win this game by seven points against the Sacred Heart starters.

The early line on this game has the Big Green favored by 20 points. I don’t like sports betting, but if you are so inclined, don’t let this big line scare you away. The spread is justified… and then some. My guess is the spread will get larger as the week goes on. Heart’s only saving grace may be that Buddy Teevens is a gentleman and he may pull his starters very early.

It will be great for Dartmouth to get a win, but the easy opponent does them no favors in the long run as the Big Green prepare for Penn in week 3. On the other end of the spectrum, Penn takes on super powerhouse Villanova this Saturday. Talk about a major contrast for these two teams as they head into their big league opener at Franklin Field on 10/2.

The BIG Game

But the real focus in the Ivies this Saturday is the Harvard-Brown game in Providence this Saturday night. This will be first-ever night game at Brown Stadium.

Right now, Harvard is a 5 ½ point favorite and I think that’s fair after the way the Crimson slashed Holy Cross in week one.

Brown is expected to have #1 QB Kyle Newhall Caballero back after a hand injury kept him out of the Bears OT win over Stony Brook last week.

The Brown offense seems up to the task, but the defense has a tough job to contain the Crimson passing attack led by Andrew Hatch. And the Harvard running weapons weren’t even really used that much against the Crusaders in what had to be a nice tune-up game for that new offensive line.

Halftime Interviews

I hope everyone enjoyed my halftime interview with John Alex ’89 on Saturday. You can hear it by clicking onto the audio replay of the Fordham game here.

This coming Saturday, I’ll be sticking with the ex-football captain theme as I will interview Chris Carey ’04. Chris was a great linebacker with a great Columbia pedigree as you will all learn from the interview.


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