* What: Bucknell (0-0, 0-0 PL) vs. Duquesne (0-0, 0-0 NEC) * Where: Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium, Lewisburg, Pa. * When: Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008, 6 p.m. * Internet Video: Bison Visionvideo camera * Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 WEGH) * Internet Radio: SportsJuice.com * TV: None * Promotions: Bison Backers Pregame Tailgate (4 p.m.), Bison Land Inflatables, Honoring of Bucknell's Spring Sport Patriot League Championship Teams (Halftime)
This is the seventh time in that span they have squared off in the season opener. The Bison are hoping an emotional 38-24 road victory over 18th-ranked Fordham in last year's season finale will catapult them to success in 2008. Once again Bucknell figures to be young in 2008, with 23 freshmen and sophomores appearing on the opening day two-deep. However, much of that youth has experience. In fact, the 22 players expected to start Saturday have appeared in 290 career games and earned a combined 115 starts. Duquesne has been the dominant team in the MAAC for more than a decade, winning at least a share of 11 of the last 13 titles, but the Dukes move to the Northeast Conference this season. Duquesne finished last year with a 6-4 overall record and shared the league crown with a 2-1 mark. The Dukes were 75-9 in 14 seasons of competition in the MAAC.
With a Victory over Duquesne, Bucknell Would
- ... win its season opener for the third straight year and the fourth time in six years under Tim Landis.
- ... improve to 85-37-1 all-time in season openers.
- ... win its home opener for the fourth time in six years under Tim Landis.
- ... defeat the Dukes for the fifth straight time in the series.
- ... hand Duquesne its third consecutive road loss.
- ... snap a three-game losing streak at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.
Bucknell vs. Duquesne Series Notes
- This is the 12th all-time meeting between Bucknell and Duquesne. The Bison lead the series 8-3.
- Bucknell has won eight of the nine meetings since 1997, including four straight.
- Duquesne's wins came in 1933 (6-0), 1934 (12-0) and 2002 (35-14), all in Pittsburgh.
- Bucknell is 5-0 against Duquesne at home, 3-3 on the road.
- The winning team has scored at least 28 points in the last eight games. Bucknell has scored 28, 30, 31 and 28 points during its four-game winning streak.
- Tim Landis is 4-0 against Duquesne.
Picking off the Dukes
In the 122-year history of Bucknell football nine players have intercepted three or more passes in a single game, and three of those performances have come against Duquesne. In half of the last four meetings with the Dukes, a Bison defensive back has intercepted three passes. In 2004 it was Dante Ross collecting three interceptions in a 30-20 victory in Pittsburgh. The previous year Joe Glenn had three picks in a 28-21 Bison victory. In 2000, Kevin Eiben tied the school record with four interceptions against Duquesne in a 35-14 Bucknell verdict.
Battle of Past Orange Bowl Champs
Believe it or not, Saturday's Bucknell-Duquesne matchup is a battle of former Orange Bowl champions. Bucknell defeated Miami (Fla.) 26-0 in the very first Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1935. On New Year's Day in 1937, Duquesne defeated Mississippi State 13-12 in Orange Bowl No. 3.
Bucknell opens its 123rd season of football Saturday against Duquesne. Only Princeton (139), Yale (136), Harvard (134), Penn (132), Dartmouth (127), Lafayette (127), Massachusetts (126), Lehigh (125) and Richmond (125) have played longer among FCS teams. Bucknell ranks 17th among all FCS programs with 555 all-time victories.
Freshmen on Offensive Line
Bucknell's two-deep for the Duquesne game lists two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior as starters on the offensive line. The last time the Bison did not have a senior start on the offensive line in the season opener was 2000. Since the Colonial League changed its name to the Patriot League in 1990 Bucknell has only had one freshman (Luman Bauta - 1999) start on the offensive line in the season opener. That same year three sophomores (Carson Book, Jon Churchill, Garry Reynolds) were part of the offensive line's opening day starting unit, marking the only other time in the last two decades the Bison have fielded an offensive line that challenges the youth of the one that is expected to take the Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium field on Saturday.
In addition to the 30 freshmen on the roster, Bucknell has a trio of new coaches on staff in 2008. During the offseason Harold Nichols was hired as the team's new offensive coordinator, while Bill McCord was added as the cornerbacks coach. Additionally, Aaron Lewis joined the staff and works with the outside linebackers.
Red Zone Success
Bucknell enters the 2008 campaign having converted five consecutive trips into the "red zone" into points. The Bison ended the 2007 season registering a pair of touchdowns and one field goal when inside Fordham's 20-yard line in the season finale. The previous outing against Lehigh featured Bucknell tallying a touchdown and a field goal on two attempts inside the Mountain Hawks' 20. Overall last year, Bucknell was 25-for-33 (75.8%) inside the "red zone."
Night Games at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium
After not playing a home night game for 16 years, Bucknell entertained Cornell below the lights in 2002. The Bison have played at least one night game at home every year since, including two in 2004 and 2007 and three in 2006. Bucknell is 7-3 in night games at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium since 2002. Last year the Bison were 2-2 overall under the lights and 1-6 during the day.
Kizekai Lone Returning All-Patriot Leaguer
Bucknell had a pair of First Team All-Patriot League selections last year (OL Chad Glasser, RS A.J. Kizekai) and one second-teamer (DL Josh Eden). The lone returning all-league choice is Kizekai, who led the team in rushing (432 yards), receiving (363 yards) and kick returns (1,113 yards).
Veterans at "Skill" Positions
While Bucknell still has a lot of youth on its team, its offensive "skill" positions are teeming with experience. Saturday's expected starting backfield contains two seniors (RB Kevin Mullen and RB Nolan Applegate) and two juniors (QB Marcello Trigg and RB A.J. Kizekai). The two wide receiver positions have experience as well with senior Alex Odenbach and sophomore Shaun Pasternak expected to start. The youngest of the group is Pasternak, but he spent the last half of his freshman campaign in the starting lineup.
- Junior A.J. Kizekai enters the 2008 campaign needing 709 kickoff return yards to equal the school record. Kizekai comes in with 1,134 kickoff return yards, including a school record 1,113 last year. The current record-holder is Dan Scocca, who logged 1,843 yards from 1987-90. Kizekai also needs 698 all-purpose yards to move into the top seven on Bucknell's career list in that category.
- Elsewhere, senior K Will Carney needs 62 points to equal the school mark for points by a kicker. The current record is 192 by Chris Lundburg (1999-2002). Carney brings a school-record streak of 58 straight made PATs into the 2008 season, and he needs 29 conversions this season to match Lundberg's record total of 96. fí Senior P Phil Azarik broke the school record with a 41.1-yard punting average last season. Azarik enters 2008 with a career average of 40.0. No Bison punter has ever finished a career with a 40-yard average. The current career mark is 38.2 by Ken Durr (1979-81).
Bucknell will have seven players on its roster that will be especially excited to play Duquesne this weekend. Those seven players are the Western Pennsylvania natives who grew up not far from the Pittsburgh campus of the Dukes. Those same players will be even happier next weekend when the Bison play at Robert Morris, which is located just to the northwest of Pittsburgh.
Western Pennsylvania Natives on Bucknell Roster
Chris Hayes (Beaver Falls, Pa./Blackhawk)
Andre Shields (Greensburg, Pa./Greensburg Salem)
Julius Hopson (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic)
Casey Williams (Moon Township, Pa./Moon Area)
Kevin Mullen (Export, Pa./Penn-Trafford)
Nathan Zurisko (Springdale, Pa./Springdale)
Sandeep Prasad (Butler, Pa./Vincentian Academy)
In the Classroom
Bucknell posted a solid 3.07 combined team grad-point average last semester, and in the fall of 2007 the Bison placed 20 student-athletes on the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll (lettermen with a 3.20 GPA or higher). Last year starting defensive lineman and 2008 Bucknell graduate Ryan Walsh earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honors, while classmate Nick Mozal was selected by the National Football foundation and College Hall of Fame as one of 153 semifinalists across all divisions of college football for the Draddy Trophy, which is often referred to as the "Academic Heisman."
Bucknell hits the road for the first time as it travels to Moon Township, Pa., to face Robert Morris in a 1 p.m. contest. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Bison and the Colonials.