Archive For The “Marching 97” Category
It’s something you ought to see once in your life, if you can, because it’s unique, it exudes its own special energy, and it has an emotion and spectacle that many bowl games would dream to have.
The short version of the tale of the football Rivalry between Lehigh and Lafyette is simple: It’s the most-played college football Rivalry in the world.
It’s been waged every year, with only one interruption since 1884.
And the two schools, in competition in pretty much everything since the founding of Lafayette (1826) and Lehigh (1865), eventually coalesced around football as the main driver of The Rivalry between them.
I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life being around The Rivalry. I’ve studied it, blogged about it, and even written a book about it.
The world has changed, and football has changed, a lot since 1884. What hasn’t changed, I think, is the weird and particular chemistry that seems to happen when these two teams get together for a football game. To call it a big tailgate party doesn’t really describe it. To call it schoolyard intensity doesn’t do it justice. To call it a “bowl game” doesn’t really capture it either. It’s just The Rivalry. It’s all of those things, and more.
And even if you’re not a hardcore fan of Lehigh or Lafayette, it’s worth coming to experience the craziness if you can.
There are other intense Rivalries. There are other big regular-season games that have lots at stake. But The Rivalry, the most-played Rivalry in college football, has all the energy yet also has a level in intimacy that is unmatched by any other game.
You can go to the Iron Bowl and watch a game between Alabama and Auburn in the nosebleeds. You can go into the cavernous Yale Bowl and watch Harvard play Yale. You can experience the craziness when Michigan plays Ohio State. But a game versus Lehigh and Lafayette packs the fans into an intimate setting that has all the energy and intensity yet is much more accessible and, at times, feels much more organic than those other Rivalries.
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One has been here before; the other has not, at least not lately.
Over the course of the last few seasons, Villanova Stadium has hosted all sorts of games involving Top 25 teams. James Madison, New Hampshire, Richmond – all of these CAA teams have been to the Main Line, at one time or another, at the same time the Wildcats have also been in the Top 25. When it comes to hosting big football games, Villanova is no stranger to that situation.
Not so, Lehigh.
Sure, the Mountain Hawks have played a bunch of Top 25 teams over the course of the last several seasons. And last year, Lehigh returned to the Top 25 as well.
But the Mountain Hawks haven’t hosted a game like this, a Top 25 tilt between two opponents that are both in the Top 25, since the Mountain Hawks beat New Hampshire 34-27 back in 2012.
This year’s season opener represents the cumulation of the long, hard road of building a Top 25, national-caliber FCS football team. Last season was a year of a Patriot League championship, a return to national respect, and rings. And it all leads to this weekend, one of the biggest games on the Week 1 FCS National schedule that will provide a tremendous test to see how this 2017 Mountain Hawk team might turn out this season.
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