The Game: Dartmouth (0-0) vs. Butler (1-1)
Location: Memorial Field, Hanover, N.H.
Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m.
Series Record: First meeting
Online Video: Big Green Insider — Dick Lutsk (play-by-play), Wayne Young (analyst), produced by NSN
Radio: WFRD 99.3 FM; Online - Dartmouth Sports Network
Live StatsComplete Game Notes

Season Opener Under the Lights
The lights come on — literally — for the season opener as Dartmouth hosts Butler in the first gridiron game between the two schools. The Big Green will have plenty of new faces lining up on both sides of the ball in an attempt to continue the program’s climb back up the conference ladder.

Dartmouth finished the 2011 campaign with a flourish, winning four of its last five contests to surge into a four-way tie for second place in the Ivy League. But many of the stars of that team have graduated, including All-Americans in running back Nick Schwieger (the school’s career record holder with 3,150 rushing yards) and return specialist/cornerback Shawn Abuhoff, not to mention quarterback Conner Kempe, the Big Green’s third all-time leading passer.

Instead of focusing on what he doesn’t have, Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens likes what he does have on the field. Sophomore Alex Park, a transfer from New Hampshire, has earned the starting job behind center. He will likely split time with freshman Dalyn Williams, who has impressed the coaching staff not only with his athleticism, but his advanced football acumen.

As for running back, Teevens has junior Dominick Pierre who has the ability to be a contender for the Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League MVP, much like his predecessor. Pierre has more rushing yards after two seasons (744) than Schwieger did at the same stage of his career (707) as well as a higher rushing average (4.9 yards per carry to 4.3). Of course, the latter went on to average at least 125 yards per game in each of his final two seasons.

The receivers are a deep and talented group, especially with senior Michael Reilly (1,063 career receiving yards) returning to the fold after sitting out last year. With the two leading pass catchers from 2011 in the mix — sophomores Kirby Schoenthaler and Bo Patterson (out to start the season) — the Big Green quarterbacks will have plenty of targets from which to choose.

Another player who sat out last season, left guard and tri-captain Patrick Lahey, is back to anchor the offensive line. Fellow seniors John Scheve and Rob Bathe, plus junior Cohle Fowler, provide a veteran bunch up front to blow holes and pass protect.

The other two captains — junior linebacker Bronson Green and senior free safety Garrett Waggoner — line up on the opposite side of the ball. Green is the team’s leading returning tackler, having made 82 stops from his position on the weak side, while Waggoner is battling back from an injury that kept him out of all but two games a year after leading the team in tackles.

The defensive line will feature several seniors, with Mick Davis and John Golio on the ends and Elliot Kastner and Teddy Reed at the tackles, shuffling in and out with a number of underclassmen throughout the game to keep fresh bodies on the field. Coach Teevens will be looking to this group to provide pressure and force the opposition into quick decisions.

Handling the kicking duties will be sophomore Riley Lyons. As a rookie, he kicked off for the Big Green, but he will step into the placekicking shoes left by Foley Schmidt, the fifth all-time leading scorer in Dartmouth history. In addition, he will also take over as the punter with the incumbent, Daniel Barstein sidelined by an injury.

First meeting
• This is just the fifth time in the last 61 seasons that Dartmouth is taking on a new opponent on the gridiron, but second time in the past three campaigns (Sacred Heart in 2010).
• Each of the previous four first-time foes fell to the Big Green. The last team to win the first matchup between the schools was Fordham in 1951.
• Since 1920, Dartmouth is 22-8 when playing an opponent for the first time, with victories over teams like Washington, Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia Tech and Virginia.

Last But Hardly Least
The Ivy League football schedule always starts a couple of weeks after the rest of Division I. But with the season opener being played at night at Memorial Field, it makes Dartmouth the last FCS or FBS team to get its season started.

Third Game for Bulldogs
Meanwhile, Butler already has two games under its belt. Last week the Bulldogs earned their first victory of 2012 by steamrolling Division III Franklin College last Saturday, 42-13. Their season opened on Aug. 30 at Western Illinois, however, where the host Leathernecks sent Butler back to Indianapolis with a 23-15 defeat.

Watch Live in HD
For the second straight year, Dartmouth has partnered with Northeast Sports Network (NSN) to broadcast home games live in high-definition over the internet. To watch, you must sign up for the football package, the 12-month package or the day pass on the day of the game through Big Green Insider on Listen to Dick Lutsk and Wayne Young ’72 call all of the action and watch the game from the comfort of your own home. It is the next best thing to actually being at Memorial Field. Please note that the game against Penn will not be available live due to the national broadcast on NBC Sports Network, but will be available on-demand one week after the game.

Transfer Battle
Both Dartmouth and Butler will be starting quarterbacks who began their collegiate careers at another school. Sophomore Alex Park spent the 2010 season on the roster at the University of New Hampshire (but did not see the field) before crossing the state to Hanover to play for the Big Green. Meanwhile, Bulldog signal caller Matt Lancaster spent two seasons playing sparingly at Illinois State, amassing 311 passing yards with a pair of touchdowns while seeing action in 16 games as the primary backup quarterback, the holder and a wide receiver. He even started a game as a receiver.

Opening Day
Historically, the Big Green have been quite successful in the first action of the year. Overall they have an 85-42-3 record which includes a 49-game winning streak from 1895 to 1943. During the streak, Dartmouth outscored its opposition by a total of 1,562-52 with 39 shutouts. The Green also won 13 straight from 1960-72. Over the last 27 seasons, however, Dartmouth is just 6-21 on opening day.
Although Dartmouth is 4-8 in the first game of the season under Coach Teevens, it has won back-to-back openers versus Bucknell and Colgate.

Preseason All-Ivy
Last year, the Big Green claimed a total of 10 players who earned All-Ivy honors, five of which made the first team (including Shawn Abuhoff who was named at two positions). The six first-team selections equaled the total from the previous year. But of those 10 players, only one returns to the roster in 2012, that being Bronson Green, who was an honorable mention pick at linebacker.

It’s no surprise that Green was chosen to the preseason second team as named by Phil Steele’s College Football as well as College Sports Madness (CSM). Others to earn preseason accolades were senior OL Patrick Lahey (CSM second team), senior DT Teddy Reed (CSM third team) and junior DB Mike Banaciski (CSM third team).

The Experience Factor
It’s no secret that Dartmouth lost numerous experienced players from last year’s squad due to graduation. The Big Green lost nearly 70 percent of their rushing yards, 95 percent of their passing yards and almost exactly 50 percent of their receiving yards. Defensively, over 60 percent of the tackles have departed, 86 percent of the sacks are gone, and only two of the 12 interceptions are back (both by Bronson Green).

For the third straight season, Dartmouth has three captains guiding the squad with junior linebacker Bronson Green, senior offensive lineman Patrick Lahey and senior free safety Garrett Waggoner taking the leadership role. The last time fewer than three players were named captains was 2009 when Tim McManus ’11 began his first of three years as a captain along with Pete Pidermann ’10. It has been a decade since only one captain was appointed — Kevin Noone in 2002.