What: Bucknell (0-0, 0-0 PL) at Duquesne (0-0, 0-0 NEC)
Where: Arthur J. Rooney Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.
When: Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009, 6 p.m.
Internet Video: goduquesne.com video camera Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 WEGH)
Internet Radio: SportsJuice.com
Live Statistics: GameTracker
With a Victory over Duquesne, Bucknell Would ...
... win its season opener for the fourth straight year and the fifth time in seven years under Tim Landis.
... improve to 86-37-1 all-time in season openers.
... defeat the Dukes for the sixth straight time in the series.
... post its first winning streak since claiming the final game of the 2007 season and the first two of the 2008 campaign.
... win its road opener for the third consecutive year.
... post its seventh straight win over current Northeast Conference members.
... snap a two-game road losing streak.
... win its third straight non-league road game and improve to 5-1 in its last six non-league road contests.
About the Game
Bucknell kicks off its 124th season of football Saturday evening at Arthur J. Rooney Field. These two teams know each other very well, having met in all but two years since 1997. This is the eighth time they have squared off in the season opener. The Bison are hoping their third consecutive season finale victory will catapult them to success in 2009. Bucknell figures to have plenty of experience this fall with 17 returning starters. A total of nine seniors are expected to be in Saturday's starting lineup. In fact, the 22 expected starters on Saturday have combined for 204 career starts, 89 more than last season's opening-day unit. Duquesne dominated the MAAC for more than a decade, but struggled in its first season in the Northeast Conference last year, compiling a 3-7 record. The Dukes dropped six of their final seven contests after opening the campaign with a 2-1 mark.
Bucknell vs. Duquesne Series Notes
- This is the 13th all-time meeting between Bucknell and Duquesne. The Bison lead the series 9-3.
- Bucknell has won nine of the 10 meetings since 1997, including five straight.
- Duquesne's wins came in 1933 (6-0), 1934 (12-0) and 2002 (35-14), all in Pittsburgh.
- Bucknell is 6-0 against Duquesne at home, 3-3 on the road.
- The winning team has scored at least 28 points in the last nine games. Bucknell has scored 28, 30, 31, 28 and 48 points (avg.: 33.0) during its five-game winning streak.
- Tim Landis is 5-0 against Duquesne.
Last Time vs. Duquesne
Bucknell 48, Duquesne 42 (Sept. 6, 2008 - Lewisburg, Pa.)
- Marcello Trigg completed his first 14 passes and finished 14 of 16 for a career-high 290 yards. He fell 10 yards shy of becoming the first Bison quarterback to throw for 300 yards since 1994.
- Bucknell scored 42 first-half points, its highest point total in a half since 1987. The Bison registered 537 total yards, 15 shy of the seventh-best figure in program history.
- Bucknell led 48-7 before Duquesne scored the final 35 points of the game.
- Will Carney's consecutive PAT streak ended at 64 when a third-quarter kick hit the left upright after a high snap threw off his timing.
- Shaun Pasternak registered 166 receiving yards, the seventh-best figure in program history.
- The 90 points marked the highest combined score in a season opener for Bucknell, while the Bison had not scored more than 48 points in a season opener since 1926.
- The 42 points Duquesne scored marked the second-highest score for an opponent in a Bison victory.
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 124th season of football Saturday against Duquesne. Only Princeton (140), Yale (137), Harvard (135), Penn (133), Dartmouth (128), Lafayette (128), Massachusetts (127), Lehigh (126) and Richmond (126) have played longer among FCS teams. Bucknell ranks 17th among all FCS programs with 560 all-time victories.
Patriot League Preseason Poll
For the fourth consecutive year, Bucknell was picked sixth (of 7 tems) in the Patriot League Preseason Poll.
Under .500 to PL Champs?
Bucknell has finished two consecutive seasons under .500. The last time the Bison had back-to-back seasons with records below .500 was 1993 and 1994. Bucknell bounced back with a 7-4 record in 1995 and won the Patriot League title the following year (1996).
Strong vs. Dukes
Bucknell veterans A.J. Kizekai and Marcello Trigg have been especially strong against Duquesne in their career. Trigg has completed 22 of 30 passes for 446 yards and four touchdowns against the Dukes, while Kizekai has run for 134 yards on 22 carries.
In addition to 30 freshmen on the roster, Bucknell has a number of new coaches on staff in 2009. The Bison's six new staff members include Ed Lynett, the former defensive coordinator at Iona, Mike O'Connor, the son of former Bucknell assistant football coach Mike O'Connor and the grandson of former Bison head coach Fred Prender, Sam Perryman, a 2004 Lehigh graduate who spent the last four years at Penn State, R.D. Montgomery, a former standout player at Wake Forest, and Jason Sweet, who fills the newly created administrative coordinator position. Additionally, John Field, who was the team's strength and conditioning coach in 2008, added duties as a defensive assistant coach to his list of responsibilities.
Other Staff Changes
Along with the six new members of the coaching staff, longtime Landis aides Brent Thompson and Matt Lintal received promotions. Thompson was elevated to offensive coordinator in the offseason, adding that to his offensive line coaching duties. Lintal, who like Thompson is in his seventh year on the Bison staff, now coaches the offensive backs, wide receivers and coordinates the passing game.
The three players from Western Pennsylvania on the Bison roster will be excited to play at Duquesne this weekend. Casey Williams (Moon Township), Andre Shields (Greensburg, Pa.) and Sandeep Prasad (Butler, Pa.) all hail from close to the Pittsburgh home of Duquesne.
Offensive Line Experience
Last year Bucknell entered the season with two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior offensive line starters. The group that started the season opener had just six career starts, all courtesy of James Phelan. This year is different as projected starters Paul Brazinski, Anthony Carter, Ian Dal Bello, Nick McLeod and Phelan have 51 career starts among them. Carter, Dal Bello, McLeod and Phelan started all 11 games last year. Phelan is the only senior among the group.
Bucknell had three different players earn preseason All-America accolades during the offseason. WR Shaun Pasternak earned third-team honors from The Sports Network and honorable mention plaudits from College Sporting News. The junior was joined on the College Sporting News honorable mention list by RB A.J. Kizekai, while DB Ahkiel White was an honorable mention selection by Consensus Draft Services.
Three Bison earned All-Patriot League honors last year and two of them return. A.J. Kizekai was a First Team All-Patriot League selection as a return specialist, marking the second consecutive year he was recognized. He was also a second-team selection as a running back. Shaun Pasternak joined Kizekai and since-graduated Phil Azarik on the second team.
Just four Bison are expected to make their first career starts Saturday. DL Michael Tonge, LB Tyler Anderson and DB Sean Rafferty will make their starting debuts on the defensive side of the ball, while RB Ryan Smith will make his first start on offense. Marlon Woods has one career start under his belt (as a DB in 2007), but will be a starting wide receiver for the first time.
Will Carney and Phil Azarik were four-year starters at placekicker and punter, respectively. They both graduated in May, leaving the Bison with questions marks at both kicker positions for the first time since the beginning of the 2005 campaign. Luckily, projected kickers Drew Orth (K) and Andrew Bell (P) spent their freshman campaign in 2008 learning from Carney and Azarik. Bell did not see game action, but Orth connected on 14 of 15 extra points and was 1-for-1 on field goals midseason in place of an injured Carney. Carney holds the Bucknell record for consecutive extra points (64), while Azarik's 40.1 punting average is nearly two yards better than any other player in program history.
Keeping the Flags Away
Bucknell was the least-penalized team in the nation in 2008, marking the second straight year it accomplished that feat. The Bison averaged just 3.73 penalties per game. The only other team to commit fewer penalties than Bucknell's 41 was Princeton, which was flagged 40 times in 10 games.
Bucknell will be trying to win its season opener for the fourth consecutive year. The Bison have not won that many consecutive season openers since claiming five in a row from 1995 to 1999.
Game Captains Continuing a process started last year, Bucknell will be naming captains on a game-by-game basis this season. The captains for Saturday's contest at Duquesne are OL James Phelan (offense), LB Greg Jones (defense) and LB Casey Williams (special teams).
All 2008 Statistical Leaders Returning
2008 leader: RB A.J. Kizekai (104 att., 484 yds., 1 TD)
Leading returner: Kizekai
2008 leader: QB Marcello Trigg (104-155, 1,438 yds., 13 TD, 3 INT)
Leading returner: Trigg
2008 leader: WR Shaun Pasternak (72 rec., 1,083 yds.)
Leading returner: Pasternak
2008 leader: WR Shaun Pasternak (12 TDs, 1 2-pt. conversion, 74 pts.)
Leading returner: Pasternak
2008 leader: RB A.J. Kizekai (484 rush, 383 rec., 973 KOR, 1,840 total)
Leading returner: Kizekai
2008 leader: LB Greg Jones (40 solo, 49 asst., 89 total)
Leading returner: Jones
Bucknell opens up its home campaign with a 6 p.m. game against Robert Morris next Saturday (Sept. 12). The Bison defeated the Colonials 17-14 last year thanks to a blocked field goal in the closing seconds by Sam Nana-Sinkam. Bucknell is 1-0 all-time against Robert Morris.