The Middlebury football team is in Clinton, New York today to play Hamilton (1-5) in a game that is not-so-popularly known as the Rocking Chair Classic. The “rivalry,” as Wikipedia calls it, began in 1980 when friends on the Board of Trustees of each school decided that the game would be played for the Mac-Jack Rocking Chair, named after the two men who thought this would be a good idea. In reality, this matchup has been anything but a rivalry. Middlebury has won 24 of the 32 meetings since the series was formalized, and the matchup has been even more lopsided than even that would suggest. Middlebury has won each of the last 16 meetings between the two teams and only two of the last 12 meetings have been decided by one score. With that in mind, here are a couple of things to keep in mind for this game.
Weather: 35° F, 10-15% precipitation, 15 mph winds
Keys to the game: We write this every week it seems, but Middlebury really needs to get out to a quick start today. After failing to get started last week whatsoever, the Panthers want this game to be over at halftime. Hamilton comes into the game allowing a league-worst 34 points per game. The last thing the Panthers want to do is allow the Continentals to hang around and have to make plays in the second half to ensure a win.
Matchups to watch: Middlebury’s offensive line vs. Hamilton’s front seven. While the Continentals have defended the pass well this weekend, they have been the NESCAC’s second worst defense against the run, allowing 225 yards per game against the run. Middlebury’s offensive line, meanwhile, has been terrific protecting Mac Foote this weekend despite struggling last week against Trinity’s pass rush, but has struggled to open running lanes for running back Remi Ashkar. Ahskar has topped the century mark on the ground just once so far this year, but expect him to do it again today behind a motivated offensive line.
Prediction: Middlebury 52 – Hamilton 10. The Panthers will return to form today and trounce an overmatched Hamilton team.