Yale has faced Lehigh three times in the past decade. But the last time that the Bulldogs bested the Mountain Hawks, the first President Bush was in office. The Elis are more than capable of beating Lehigh this time, but it will be extremely tough.
Yale Pass vs. Lehigh
Lehigh has two good defensive ends. In five games, Tom Alfsen has an impressive 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for losses. As right end, he should face captain Rory Hennessey ’05. If Hennessey can’t control him, Yale will be in for a long day — but my personal opinion is that you’ll hear little from Alfsen, so long as he stays on Hennessey’s side.
Lehigh’s defensive backfield is athletic. Two Mountain Hawks have three interceptions, while only Fred Jelks ’05 of Yale has more than one pick (he has three). But the Lehigh backfield is aggressive — and that can mean big plays.
Yale Run vs. Lehigh
Rob Carr ’05 is nasty. He is second in the nation with 203 all-purpose yards per game. He is also a close third in the Ivy League rushing race. Like Colgate, Lehigh allows less than 100 yards on the ground per game. Yale had no problem with the Raiders, and I think Carr can hit three digits unless Lehigh really crams the box to stop the run.
Lehigh Pass vs. Yale
Lehigh tight end Adam Bergen is reminiscent of Yale’s Nate Lawrie ’04. Bergen was named pre-season All-American by a host of publications, and he has lived up to the hype with 22 catches thus far. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, I’m not really sure who will cover him. Quarterback Mark Borda can get it to him, too. Borda is completing 60 percent of his passes and has 12 touchdowns to five interceptions. Hopefully Bryant Dieffenbacher ’05, Nick Campbell ’05 and the rest of the Bulldogs’ defensive line can get in some serious pressure.
Lehigh Run vs. Yale
Eric Rath may be on the small side like his predecessor Jermaine Pugh, but he’s not putting up as big numbers as Pugh did. Unfortunately for Yale, that still makes Rath pretty good. More impressive than his 95 rushing yards per outing is that he nets almost five per carry. Even Borda can run when called upon.
Last year this would have been a huge problem. This year, even with Ken Estrera ’05 out, Yale has held its own against the run. It’s fortunate for the Elis that Cole Harris ’05 is a great football player and a three year letterman, because his role has substantially increased after Estrera’s injury.
It’s obvious how good you are when you’re ranked No. 18 after five games. With a balanced offense and a very solid defense, Lehigh has to be the favorite … but not by much. Not only is Yale capable of upsets, as they proved against Colgate, but this offense can score close to like it did last year, and the defense is better.
Two weeks ago Yale hosted nationally ranked Colgate and I predicted a Colgate victory. Instead, I witnessed the best game I’ve seen at the Bowl since attending the ’99 Game. In the interest of superstition, I’ll again predict an Eli loss.
Lehigh 31, Yale 27