The Leopards (2-0) make the two-hour jaunt across I-80 to Lewisburg to take on Bucknell (1-1) in the Patriot League opener. Bucknell is the Leopards' second most frequent rival, as Saturday's game will mark the 90th series meeting.
Lafayette is 15-11 in Patriot League openers, with Patriot League play first beginning in 1988 as the Colonial League and 13-9 since 1990 when the league took its current name. The Leopards have won six of their last eight Patriot League openers (Georgetown in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, Fordham in 2005 and Bucknell in 2006) with the losses coming to Georgetown in 2010 (28-24) and 2011 (14-13).
A win over Bucknell would...make Lafayette 3-0 for the first time since 2008 when the Leopards opened 3-0. It would give Lafayette wins in 10 of the last 11 meetings with the Bison.
Lafayette intercepted a school-record seven passes against Penn in the 28-21 victory on Sept. 15. The effort tied the school record initially set in 1944 (against Ursinus on Nov. 4). Darius Safford, who led the team with four picks last season, had two interceptions, including a 31-yard pick-six and a second interception that stopped Penn's potential game-winning drive with 1:19 left in the game.
Turnovers were certainly an issue for the Leopards in 2011, as the Leopards were -14 on the season. The early returns (against William & Mary and Penn) are much more positive. Jared Roberts picked off a pass at William & Mary and James Coscia forced a fumble that led to a touchdown. Lafayette turned it over once (fumble) for a +1. The Leopards were +6 against Penn (7 INT's and 1 fumble recovery to go with two Zweizig interceptions) and are +7 for the season.
The Leopards are currently ranked first in the nation in turnover margin at +3.5 per game. Prior to the Penn game, the last time Lafayette had forced five or more turnovers was vs. Bucknell on Nov. 3, 2007.
Bucknell is coming off a 6-5 campaign in 2011 that saw the Bison finish in fourth place in the Patriot League with a 2-3 mark.
The Bison are 1-1 this season, having played both of their games on the road. Bucknell beat Marist, 19-17, in the season opener on Sept. 8. Last week, Bucknell battled No. 13 Delaware to a 19-3 final.
Bucknell was picked to finish sixth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll, one spot behind the Leopards.
Junior QB Brandon Wesley controls the Bison offense. Wesley ranks in the top 10 in career yards, attempts and completions. This season, Wesley is 41-for-64 for 387 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Bison were without the services of senior TB Tyler Smith in the Delaware game due to an ankle injury. Smith, who carried the ball sparingly in the Marist game, provided the bulk of Bucknell's offense vs. Lafayette in 2011, rushing 42 times for 212 yards.
The Bucknell defense is allowing 344 yards per game (235 in the air and 109 on the ground) and has limited opponents to 18 points per game. Bucknell has allowed just two 100-yad rushing games in the past 12 contests. Sophomore LB Evan Byers leads the team in tackles with nine per game.
Joe Susan (Delaware '78) is in his fourth season at Bucknell and holds an 8-16 mark. He is 18-16 overall as a head coach.
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