Teams located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and New England are automatically eligible, while teams in surrounding states (Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia) must play half of their games against eligible Eastern teams. An extension of that rule allowed several southern teams to become eligible; as part of the old Big East, Miami and South Florida were included. Similar rules apply to the different levels of college ball, with separate polls and trophies for the Championship Subdivision (1-AA), Division II and III.
Dating back to 1936, the champion has finished unranked just 7 times, yet 4 of those have occurred since 2010. In 2013, Penn State (7-5) finished with the lowest win percentage ever by a Lambert champion. Historically, Lambert champs tend to finish in the top 10 and play in major bowl games - several eras of National Champions have roots in the Lambert region.
This year, 10 FBS (Division 1-A) teams are eligible:
Army, Boston College, Buffalo, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple
2015 Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy Preview
As stated above, this is by all accounts the only Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy Preview on the internet or elsewhere. It is apparent that the ECAC (organization behind the Trophy) uses a mix of total wins and strength of schedule/conference to determine their rankings and eventual champion. Penn State and Rutgers are members of the Big Ten, the strongest conference in this region, while Boston College, Pitt and Syracuse come from the ACC. These five have the clear nod in schedule strength and fittingly have more leeway when it comes to win/loss. The other 5 are mid-majors from non-Power 5 conferences, and would need a more impressive record to account for that. Despite being in the non-AQ AAC, Temple looks strong enough for 8 or 9 wins and fittingly could finish above the pack of 6-6 teams.
From my Big Ten Preview, you can see that I have Penn State pegged at 9 wins, with Rutgers closer to 5 or 6 wins. The three ACC teams are very close, but Pittsburgh and Boston College appear to be a step above Syracuse, who looks to finish 6th in the Atlantic. We are calling for 6-6 finishes from BC and Pitt, and a 4-8 season by Syracuse.
Last August, I selected a tie at the top between 7-5 Boston College and 7-5 Penn State. I selected BC because at the time they had bowl eligibility and a chance for an 8th win -- Penn State did not. In an ironic twist, PSU's sanctions were lifted and the two teams actually met in the Pinstripe Bowl. Penn State won the overtime thriller after a BC missed extra point. Turns out, Rutgers' bowl win added an 8th win, which earned them the 2014 Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy.
This season, I am calling for Penn State to win their 30th Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy behind a 9-3 regular season record.
So there you have it, the only Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy Preview on the internet. Penn State will be football kings of the Northeast!