The Fordham Rams head west to Pennsylvania to take on the Bucknell Bison on Saturday afternoon from Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium in Lewisburg. Fordham sits at 1-1 on the season, while Bucknell is 2-0 behind their stellar defense and looks like a contender in the Patriot League final standings. The Rams won in the 2019 season finale against the Bison, 31-14, but Bucknell looks like a completely different team this go around. In what’s been a wild COVID-driven season that has led to both teams playing a shortened schedule, both teams need a win to keep pace in the Patriot League standings.
Rams Look For Playoff ReturnFordham made three straight FCS Playoff appearances from 2013-2015, making it as far as the second-round twice but looks like it’ll have difficulty making a return to the postseason, sitting at .500 on the spring season. Joe Conlin’s squad dropped the opener on the road against Holy Cross, 34-24 in front of a limited crowd, but then returned to the Bronx to dominate Colgate 40-8 last weekend to right the ship. In what will be their last game of the season, Fordham already is in trouble in the Patriot League North Division and will be unable to overtake Holy Cross due to the tiebreaker, but can at least get positive momentum going into the summer off-season and upcoming fall.
𝙊𝙣𝙚 𝙙𝙖𝙮 𝙘𝙡𝙤𝙨𝙚𝙧 🏈🐏 pic.twitter.com/hSngVCqpSN— Fordham Football (@FORDHAMFOOTBALL) April 8, 2021
Fordham is led at quarterback by Tim DeMorat, the 6-4 junior who had started both games for the Rams this year. After getting All-Patriot League honors last year and being named team MVP, it’s been a slow start for DeMorat in year two. In the opener, he threw the ball 56 times, with 39 completions for 440 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception, then followed that up with a much quieter performance in the Colgate win. The running back workhorse in the early going has been Rutgers-transfer Trey Sneed, who was Second Team All-Patriot League in 2019. In two games he has 40 attempts for 130 yards and three touchdowns and also has104 yards on 11 catches two as the second leading receiver on the team. On the outside is Dequence Carter, who was a HERO Sports Freshman All-American last season. This year he was kept quiet against Colgate but lit up Holy Cross for 11 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown
Between Sneed and DeMorat, Fordham has one of the most electric offenses in the country and has shown that over the first few weeks. The issue in week one was their defense, allowing 34 points to Holy Cross but then following that up by only giving up eight points to Colgate last week. If the defense can force turnovers and control the field position game as they did against Colgate, they have a good chance to take down Bucknell on Saturday.
Bison Prepping For Patriot League ChampionshipBucknell can all but sit back and watch this weekend as they’ve already clinched the Patriot League South division title, going 2-0 against Lafayette and Lehigh over the last two weeks. Bucknell hasn’t won a conference title since 1996 and has never made an FCS Playoff appearance, meaning this team is just two games away from history. Regardless of what happens this weekend, a win in the conference title game will send the Bison to the playoffs, but they won’t want to use the Fordham week to lose their focus or their momentum. Dave Cecchini has done a tremendous job in his short time on campus and has Bucknell trending in the right direction. The teams in the North Divison have historically been stronger in the division and Fordham will be a great test for Bucknell to see if they’re legit or not.
“We’re young and up-and-coming and hungry to climb to the top of that mountain.” - @DaveCecchini— Bucknell Football (@Bucknell_FB) April 8, 2021
Great read from @DanSteenkamer of @HEROSports_FCS on our clinching a spot in the @PatriotLeagueFB Championship Game.#ACT | #rayBucknellhttps://t.co/tOtTRNT5CY
The Bison have employed backfield by committee at both running back and quarterback so far this season. Tarrin Earle and Logan Bitikofer have split time at quarterback this year, each playing in both games. Earle presents more of a dual threat, going 20-29 for two touchdowns through the air and gaining 58 yards on the ground. Bitikofer is 27-40 on the year, also with two touchdowns, for 266 yards and neither quarterback has an interception. For being 2-0, it is slightly concerning how the running game has unfolded, with the leading backs being Jared Cooper (46 yards) and Coleman Bennett (37 yards), and the team averaging less than 100 yards on the ground per game. At wide receiver is 2019 All-Patriot League First Team member Brandon Sanders, who can help take the pressure of both quarterbacks and has 15 catches over two games, with 203 yards and two touchdowns, and is averaging 101.5 yards/game.
While Bucknell’s offense doesn’t raise many eyebrows, their defense certainly does. Bucknell leads the nation in scoring defense at 6.50 ppg. Holy Cross was able to let Fordham move the ball but stepped it up in the red zone and Bucknell should take a page out of that playbook. Bucknell’s stingy defense will be unlike anything that the Rams have seen this year, but their offense is still a concern, especially that there are so many question marks still in terms of who is starting and getting the majority of the reps across the offense.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Bucknell’s defense has been incredible this year, but they have yet to see a team like Fordham. The North Division of the Patriot League is much stronger than the South Division, and that’ll show on Saturday when Bucknell struggles against Fordham. Bucknell still has question marks all over their offense and while playing their key offensive positions isn’t an automatic red flag, it is a concern, especially going up against Fordham. DeMorat is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and should be able to do plenty of damage, especially with the elusive Snead in the background. Even with this game in Pennsylvania, Fordham will present a unique dimension to Bucknell that will make life difficult for them.
Full-Game Total Pick
Bucknell has an outstanding defense and they are yet to hit over 52 points in a game yet this year. While Fordham should win this game despite the Bison defense, Bucknell will struggle to score in their own right and should keep Fordham under their season average of 37 points and this over will be difficult to hit given the makeup of this game. Due to the fact that Bucknell already has a spot clinched in the Patriot League Championship, they also may rest starters as the game progresses.