Date Posted:10/25/2007, 3:00PM
This weekend Bowdoin will celebrate Parents' Weekend at Whittier Field, where two teams looking to get back on the winning track will clash as the Bowdoin College Polar Bears (1-4) host the Wesleyan University Cardinals (3-2).
Bowdoin has lost four straight games since their season-opening win over Williams, and will look to clean the slate following a loss at Trinity last weekend. Wesleyan saw their three-game winning streak snapped last weekend in a loss to Amherst.
The teams have played two common opponents so far in 2007, with both teams losing to Amherst (Bowdoin, 30-6, Wesleyan, 28-9). The Cardinals slipped past Hamilton 10-9 while Bowdoin dropped to the Continentals 23-17.
BOWDOIN BY THE NUMBERS
The Polar Bears have been effective with the pass and defending it in '07, standing fifth in the conference in passing yards per game (190.8) and in efficiency (105.3). If those numbers hold in the final three weeks, they would be a 60 yards per game and 10.0 point improvement off of last year's regular season numbers.
However, the Polar Bears have struggled mightily in the rushing game this fall, allowing 190.2 yards per game on the ground (ninth in NESCAC) while ranking last in the league with 73.2 rushing yards per contest.
Bowdoin is the second-least penalized team in the conference, having been called for 21 infractions this season in five games. Meanwhile, they rank second in the league with a +6 turnover margin thanks to a NESCAC-best 17 forced turnovers.
Individually, Oliver Kell continues to rank among the top passers in the NESCAC with 185.8 passing yards per game. Bobby Welch is tied for fourth in the conference with three interceptions.
SCOUTING THE CARDINALS
Wesleyan senior quarterback Zach Librizzi has been one of the top offensive threats in the conference this season, leading the NESCAC in total offense (267.6 yards per game). Ryan Walsh has been the top target, ranking second in the league in both receptions (26) and yards (380) over the first five games.
Thanks in part to the duo, Wesleyan ranks fourth in the league in total offense (343.4 yards per game). However, despite the high ranking, the Cardinals are sixth in the league in scoring offense (18.6 points per game) and tallied 41 of their 93 points (44%) in one game, a 41-21 win over Colby.
Defensively, Vinny Colangelo (10.6 tackles per game), Justin Freres (three interceptions) and Andrew Fiola (three interceptions) lead the NESCAC's sixth-ranked unit (333.2 yards allowed per game). The Cardinals have been more effective against the pass (156.0 yards per game, second) than against the run (177.2 yards per game, eighth) in 2007.
In swampy conditions last year in Middletown, the Cardinals blanked the Polar Bears for the first time since 1981 in an 18-0 victory. Phil Banks collected two rushing touchdowns for Wesleyan while the Cardinal defense, led by the 10 tackles of junior linebacker Tim O'Callaghan, held Bowdoin to nine first downs and 171 total yards. Oliver Kell, in his first career start at quarterback for the Polar Bears, went 11 of 22 for 90 yards and ran 11 times for 35 yards. Tyler Tennant paced the Bowdoin defense with a dozen tackles.
BOWDOIN vs. WESLEYAN
The Cards leads the all-time series 48-27-2 over the Polar Bears in one of the more bizarre rivalries in the school record books. In looking through history, Wesleyan-Bowdoin games have often been a statistical oddity.
The most fumbles ever committed by a Bowdoin team (10) came in a 1966 loss to the Cardinals, while the most fumbles ever committed by a Polar Bear opponent was Wesleyan's nine in a 1977 Bowdoin win. In the 1976 game, Bowdoin threw two passes- the fewest in modern Bowdoin history- in a 42-34 victory. In addition, the fewest yards gained in a game by the Polar Bears came in 1966 (23) against Wesleyan, while the fewest yards ever allowed by a Bowdoin defense (44) also came against Wesleyan in 1963.