Bucknell Football Kicks Off 2011 Campaign Saturday at Home vs. Duquesne

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Frank DeNick runs after a catch vs. Duquesne last September.
Frank DeNick runs after a catch vs. Duquesne last September.

Aug. 31, 2011

What: Duquesne Dukes (0-0, 0-0 NEC) at Bucknell Bison (0-0, 0-0 PL)
Where: Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium, Lewisburg, Pa.
When: Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011, 6 p.m.
Promotions: Winter/Spring Patriot League Championship Teams Recognition, Presidents’ Cup Presentation, Domino’s Pizza Crazy Fan Giveaway, Bisonettes Performance, Bison Land Inflatables
Tickets: 570-577-1000 or www.bucknell.edu/boxoffice
Internet Video: Bison Vision
Radio: Eagle 107 (107.3 WEGH)
Internet Radio: SportsJuice.com
Live Statistics: GameTracker
Game Notes 

Offense - Probable Starters
QB 14 Brandon Wesley (So., 6-2, 195) - 2010 Patriot League Rookie of the Year
RB 32 Tyler Smith (Jr., 5-9, 195) - Team’s leading rusher in 2010 (426 yards)
FB 33 Travis Friend (So., 6-2, 235) - First Bison freshman named All-PL since 1993
WR 11 Victor Walker (So., 6-1, 195) - 20th player in Bison history w/two 100-yard rec. games
WR 15 Robert Owoyele (Jr., 5-9, 185) - Started 2010 opener at Duquesne at RB
LT 70 Andre Shields (Sr., 6-4, 290) - Started final five games at LT in 2010
LG 62 Carson Rohrbaugh (Sr., 6-3, 280) - Started first six games at LT in 2010
C 61 Ian Dal Bello (Sr., 6-1, 280) - Moving to C after starting at LG last three years
RG 59 Anthony Carter (Sr., 6-0, 280) - 32 career starts ranks third among current Bison
RT 76 Josh Phillip (Sr., 6-4, 259) - Started all 11 games last season
TE 42 Nick Gatto (Jr., 6-2, 230) - 14 catches for 112 yards in 2010

Defense - Probable Starters
DE 40 Sean Sellers (So., 6-0, 225) - Moving to DE after playing LB in 2010
DT 24 Robert De La Rosa (Sr., 6-2, 290) - Two-time Second Team All-Patriot League (2009 & 2010)
NG 90 Tracey Smith (So., 6-1, 255) - Career-high six tackles in first appearance (vs. Marist) in 2010
DE 92 Josh Eden (Sr., 6-4, 280) - Two-time First Team All-Patriot League (2007 & 2010)
Mike LB 12 Beau Traber (Jr., 5-11, 233) - First Oklahoma nativs on Bison roster since 1994
Sam LB 51 Tim Bolte (Sr., 6-1, 230) - Member of Academic All-Patriot League Team
SS 43 Sean Rafferty (Sr., 6-0, 215) - Team co-captain, along with Josh Eden
CB 2 Derrick Palmer (So., 5-10, 175) - Moving to CB after playing safety in 2010
FS 20 Ryan Morgan (So., 5-11, 180) - Expected to make first career start
Whip DB 36 Jordan Dudas (Fr., 6-0, 195) - Only freshman expected to be in starting lineup
CB 5 Bryce Robertson (Sr., 5-9, 180) - 109 career tackles

With a Victory over Duquesne, Bucknell Would ... 
- win its season opener for the fourth time in the last six years
- improve to 86-39-1 all-time in season openers
- defeat the Dukes for the sixth time in the last eight meetings
- win its home opener for the third time in the last four years
- improve to 7-0 at home vs. the Dukes
- snap a five-game losing streak
- halt a six-game home losing streak

About the Game
Bucknell kicks off its 126th season of football Saturday at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium against Duquesne. These two teams know each other very well, having met all but two years since 1997. This is the eighth time in the last 10 years they have squared off in the season opener, and the 10th time overall. Experience is the name of the game as Bucknell returns 25 players who have started at least one game, including 11 that have at least 10 starts in their careers. Duquesne’s depth chart lists 20 juniors and seniors as starters for the season opener as 14 starters return. The Bison are coming off a 1-10 season, while the Dukes posted a 7-4 mark last year en route to a third-place finish in the eight-team Northeast Conference.

Bucknell vs. Duquesne Series Notes
- This is the 15th all-time meeting between Bucknell and Duquesne. The Bison lead the series 9-5.
- Bucknell has won nine of the 12 meetings since 1997, including five of the last seven.
- Bucknell is 6-0 against Duquesne at home, 3-5 on the road.
- The 30 combined points scored in last year’s game were the fewest in a Bucknell-Duquesne contest since 1934.

Last Time vs. Duquesne
Duquesne 17, Bucknell 13 (Sept. 4, 2010 - Pittsburgh, Pa.)
- Third straight meeting between Bucknell and Duquesne decided by less than a touchdown.
- Tyler Smith returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown by a Bison since 2008, and it was tied for the 17th-longest touchdown in program history.
- Freshman QB Brandon Wesley came off the bench and rushed for 48 yards and passed for 81 in his first collegiate contest. He became the first Bison freshman quarterback to ever play in a season opener.
- Bucknell’s defense posted six tackles for loss, led by two apiece by Robert De La Rosa and Josh Eden, who was playing in his first game since 2007.

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.

126th Season
Bucknell opens its 126th season of football Saturday against Duquesne. Only Princeton (142), Yale (139), Harvard (137), Penn (135), Dartmouth (130), Lafayette (130), Massachusetts (129), Lehigh (128) and Richmond (128) have played longer among FCS teams. Bucknell ranks 20th among all FCS programs with 565 all-time victories.

Season Openers
Bucknell is 85-39-1 in season-opening contests. The Bison are 3-2 in their last five season openers.

Most Common Season-Opening Opponents
Saturday’s contest marks the 10th time Bucknell will meet Duquesne in a season opener. The Dukes are the second most common opponent for the Bison on opening day.

Most Common Opponents in Season Openers
1. Gettysburg - 12
2. Duquesne - 9
3. Lafayette - 5
    Wyoming Seminary - 5
5. Hofstra - 4
    Lebanon Valley - 4
    Penn - 4

Starting Experience
Bucknell’s current roster enters the 2011 campaign with 288 combined starts. The 2010 squad had 216 total starts entering last year’s season opener. Eighteen of the 22 projected starters for Saturday’s game have started at least one game, while 10 of the 11 offensive players have at least five career starting assignments.

Career Starts by Position 2010 2011
Quarterbacks 0 11
Running Backs 9 21
Receivers 8 11
Tight Ends 1 13
Offensive Linemen 56 88
Defensive Linemen 59 64
Linebackers 15 11
Defensive Backs 68 59
Total 216 288

Dudas First Since De La Rosa
Freshman Jordan Dudas is expected to start on Saturday at the Whip defensive back position for Bucknell. If he is part of the starting unit, he will become the first freshman defensive player to start a season opener since current senior Robert De La Rosa in 2008.

Team Captains
Senior DL Josh Eden and senior DB Sean Rafferty were voted team captains in the preseason by their teammates. Eden, who was a captain last fall, is the team’s first two-time captain since Greg Jones held the role in 2008 and 2009. Eden is a two-time First Team All-Patriot League choice who enters his final campaign with 144 tackles and 13 sacks in his career. Rafferty was one of six Bison to start all 11 games a year ago. He enters his final season with 73 career tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions, including one that proved to be the game-winning score at Georgetown last October.

Wesley Expected to Start at QB
Sophomore QB Brandon Wesley made starts in 10 of 11 games last year. The only game he did not start was the season opener against Duquesne. He is expected to be part of the starting unit Saturday, giving him starts against every team the Bison have played in his brief career. Wesley completed 12 of 21 passes for 81 yards and rushed 19 times for 48 yards last September against the Dukes, coming off the bench in place of starter Burke Batten. He will be the first Bison sophomore to start at quarterback since Marcello Trigg in 2007.

Position Change
A number of Bison changed position during the offseason, but one of the most closely watched will certainly be senior OL Ian Dal Bello shifting from his customary left guard to center. The Allen, Texas, native has started all 33 games in his career, tying him with Josh Eden for most on the team.

Patriot League Preseason Poll
Bucknell was picked sixth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll this year.

Patriot League Preseason Poll
1. Lehigh - 58 (8 first-place votes)
2. Colgate - 55 (6)
3. Holy Cross - 38
4. Lafayette - 36
5. Georgetown - 19
6. Bucknell - 16

Returning All-League Players
Bucknell had four players honored by the Patriot League in end-of-season awards in 2010. All four of those players return to the team in 2011, including two-time First Team All-Patriot League selection Josh Eden. Also honored by the Patriot League last year were second-team choices Robert De La Rosa and Travis Friend, as well as Rookie of the Year Brandon Wesley.

Night Games
Bucknell is 11-13 in night games (6 p.m. or later starts) since 2000. The Bison and Dukes have met six times at night during that stretch and Bucknell owns a 4-2 advantage in those contests. Bucknell, which has five night games on its 2011 schedule, has played at night at least twice every year since 2003.

Recent Night Game Results (11-13)
Sept. 2, 2000: L, Richmond 10, Bucknell 7
Sept. 8, 2001: L, Kent State 38, Bucknell 17
Sept. 22, 2001: W, Bucknell 23, Columbia, 21 (OT)
Sept. 21, 2002: W, Bucknell 14, Cornell 3
Aug. 30, 2003: W, Bucknell 28, Duquesne 21
Sept. 27, 2003: L, Columbia 19, Bucknell 16
Sept. 2, 2004: L, Villanova 20, Bucknell 14
Sept. 18, 2004: W, Bucknell 15, Cornell 9
Sept. 25, 2004: W, Bucknell 42, Columbia 13
Sept. 3, 2005: L, Georgetown 19, Bucknell 16 (OT)
Sept. 10, 2005: L, Stony Brook 21, Bucknell 18
Sept. 2, 2006: W, Bucknell 31, Duquesne 28
Sept. 9, 2006: L, Lafayette 31, Bucknell 0
Sept. 16, 2006: W, Bucknell 20, Cornell 5
Sept. 1, 2007: W, Bucknell 28, Duquesne 19
Sept. 8, 2007: L, Stony Brook 48, Bucknell 20
Sept. 15, 2007: L, Cornell 38, Bucknell 14
Sept. 29, 2007: W, Bucknell 38, Marist 7
Sept. 6, 2008: W, Bucknell 48, Duquesne 42
Sept. 20, 2008: L, Cornell 38, Bucknell 14
Sept. 5, 2009: L, Duquesne 24, Bucknell 19
Sept. 12, 2009: W, Robert Morris 26, Bucknell 23
Sept. 4, 2010: L, Duquesne 17, Bucknell 13
Sept. 11, 2010: L, Marist 14, Bucknell 3

Second-Year Success
No Bison coach since George Landis in 1987 has finished under .500 in his second year at the helm. Second-year coach Joe Susan will try to make it four consecutive coaches to post winning records in their second campaign at Bucknell, following Lou Maranzana (1990, 7-4), Tom Gadd (1996, 6-5) and Tim Landis (2004, 7-4).

Defensive Scheme Changes
After utilizing a standard 4-3 defense last year, Bucknell is expecting to use five defensive backs on a regular basis in 2011.

Success in Close Games
Bucknell has had success in close games in recent years. In fact, the Bison have posted an 11-5 record in games decided by seven points or less since 2006.

Bucknell’s 11 2011 opponents posted a combined 54-66 record in 2010. Five opponents, including Duquesne, finished the season with above-.500 records.

Keeping Travel to a Minimum
Outside of Patriot League road contests at Georgetown and Holy Cross every other year, Bucknell has played all but two of its games since 2003 in its home state of Pennsylvania or New York. The Bison will play road games at Harvard and Princeton this year. The Harvard contest will mark Bucknell’s first non-league game in Massachusetts since 1997 (at Harvard). The Princeton contest will be the Bison’s first game in New Jersey since playing at Princeton in 1995.

2011 Schedule
Nine of Bucknell’s 11 opponents from 2010 dot the 2011 schedule. Ivy League teams Harvard and Princeton replaced fellow Ivy League squads Dartmouth and Penn. Bucknell has three Ivy League teams on its slate for the second straight year, marking the first time that has occurred since 2003 and 2004.

Bison Vision
Live video broadcasts of seven of Bucknell’s 11 games this year are slated to air on Bison Vision. All five home contests, plus road games at Lafayette and Fordham, will air live. Fans can sign up for Bison Vision by clicking on the Bison Vision logo on the front page of www.BucknellBison.com. Monthly subscriptions are $9.95, while yearly subscriptions are $79.95.

Radio Coverage
Once again, Bucknell football games can be heard locally on Eagle 107 (WEGH 107.3 FM). Doug Birdsong will handle the play-by-play duties, while Kevin Herr, who is the operations manager at Sunbury Broadcasting, will serve as color analyst for a fourth consecutive year. The radio broadcasts will also be available free of charge via www.SportsJuice.com.

2011 Promotional Schedule at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium
Sept. 3 – vs. Duquesne, 6 p.m.
s Winter/Spring Patriot League Championship Teams Recognition, Presidents’ Cup Presentation, Domino’s Pizza Crazy Fan Giveaway, Bisonettes Performance, Bison Land Inflatables
Sept. 10 – vs. Marist, 6 p.m.
s Lewisburg Youth Football Halftime Game, Domino’s Pizza Crazy Fan Giveaway, Bisonettes Performance, Bison Land Inflatables
Oct. 1 – vs. Georgetown, 1 p.m.
s Junior Bison Club Party Day, Take-A-Kid to the Game Day, Youth Cheerleader Day, Bison Bash Pregame Party, Domino’s Pizza Crazy Fan Giveaway, Bisonettes Performance, Bison Land Inflatables
Oct. 8 – vs. Lehigh, 1 p.m.
s Community Recognition, Men’s Basketball Season Kickoff, Domino’s Pizza Crazy Fan Giveaway, Bisonettes Performance, Bison Land Inflatables
Oct. 22 – vs. Holy Cross, 1 p.m.
s Homecoming, Hall of Fame Induction, Senior Day, POWERade Day, Domino’s Pizza Crazy Fan Giveaway, Bisonettes Performance, Bison Land Inflatables

Up Next
Bucknell will continue its season-opening homestand next Saturday against Marist. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. The Bison are 5-1 all-time against the Red Foxes, including 3-0 in Lewisburg. This will be the seventh consecutive year Bucknell and Marist will face each other.