How Bad is Colgate’s Schedule?

By Bennett Conlin

Well, it depends on how you define “bad.” I’ll spare you from the awful writing technique of quoting Dictionary.com and defining what “bad” means, but I will share a few stats that help give an idea of just how bad Colgate’s 2018 FCS schedule has been.

I’m not going to ignore Colgate’s FBS game against a solid Army team, but I think it makes more sense to focus the majority of this piece on the team’s nine FCS wins rather than a 28-14 loss against an FBS triple-option attack that’s the clear outlier on Colgate’s schedule. We’ll mention the game a few times, but the majority of the information focuses on FCS results. 

Sagarin Comparison

Let’s start with the Sagarin Ratings. Where do Colgate’s nine FCS opponents sit in the well-respected rating system? (For your knowledge, JMU currently ranks 75th, and Colgate sits in the 106th slot.) 

Holy Cross – 194

New Hampshire – 149

Lafayette – 239

William & Mary – 200

Bucknell – 240

Cornell – 212

Georgetown – 226

Fordham – 229

Lehigh – 225

Average Sagarin Rating of Colgate’s FCS opponents: 212.7

Army ranks 54th in the Sagarin Ratings, and Colgate held the Army triple-option offense to its worst yards-per-carry mark of the 2018 season. The competitive loss to a good Army team leads me to believe that Colgate is a strong defensive team, despite the loss. The competitive loss is impressive. 

To get a comparison to Colgate’s schedule, we looked at the current Sagarin Ratings of JMU’s FCS opponents. 

Norfolk State – 235

Robert Morris – 249

William & Mary – 200

Richmond – 185

Elon – 144

Villanova – 153

Stony Brook – 125

New Hampshire – 149

Rhode Island – 160

Towson – 141

Delaware – 138

Average Sagarin Rating of JMU’s FCS opponents: 170.8 (About 42 spots better than Colgate’s average)

JMU faced NC State in the season opener, and that FBS squad comes in at No. 28 in the Sagarin Ratings. The Dukes fell to the Wolfpack by a final score of 24-13. 

Overall, JMU’s schedule is significantly tougher, and JMU ranks 74 spots better than Colgate’s toughest FCS opponent, which was New Hampshire. The Wildcats didn’t have Trevor Knight when they met the Raiders. The Raiders have played just one team in the top 150, and it was missing its All-CAA starting quarterback. JMU has played teams ranked 160th or better in seven consecutive weeks. On the other hand, Colgate will be JMU’s toughest FCS opponent by 19 spots, according to the Sagarin Ratings. 

Opposing Offenses

When trying to figure out how good Colgate’s FCS-leading scoring defense truly is, it’s important to look at the team’s FCS schedule. Army, which owns the FBS’ 54th-best scoring offense by racking up 30.8 points per game, dropped 28 on the Raiders. The nine FCS teams on Colgate’s schedule combined for just 29 points against the Raiders. But are those offenses any good?

Well, no. In fact, they’re awful. 

Ex: Team – points per game, national rank

Holy Cross – 24.4, 87th 

New Hampshire – 17.8, 112th 

Lafayette – 13.0, 124th (worst in the country)

William & Mary – 13.6, 121st (fourth worst in the country)

Bucknell – 13.4, 123rd (second worst in the country)

Cornell – 19.1, 106th 

Georgetown – 15.6, 117th 

Fordham – 15.8, 116th 

Lehigh – 16.6, 114th 

Average points per game and national rank of Colgate’s FCS opponents: 19.6, 113th nationally 

The average rank of Colgate’s opposing offense is 113th nationally. If the scoring offenses of Colgate’s nine FCS opponents were a team, that team’s average of 19.6 points per game would rank 104th nationally. Eight of the nine FCS teams on Colgate’s schedule rank in the bottom 20 of the FCS in scoring. Colgate’s FCS schedule has been a cake walk. 

Is it impressive to hold the country’s worst offenses to just 29 points across nine games? A little bit, but it’s a stretch to consider the Raiders the country’s best defense when they haven’t played a top-85 FCS offense. 

Let’s look at JMU’s opposition to see how the Dukes’ defense stacks up. 

Ex: Team – points per game, national rank

Norfolk State – 19.0, 107th 

Robert Morris – 24.6, 85th

William & Mary – 13.6, 121st (fourth worst nationally)

Richmond – 22.2, 97th 

Elon – 24.4, 87th 

Villanova – 25, 81st

Stony Brook – 26.9, 67th

New Hampshire – 17.8, 112th

Rhode Island – 30.3, 40th

Towson – 34.5, 16th

Delaware – 24.4, 86th

Average points per game and national rank of JMU’s FCS opponents: 23.9, 82nd

JMU’s opposing offenses haven’t been all that impressive outside of Rhode Island and Towson, but it’s worth noting that eight CAA defenses rank in the top 50 nationally in scoring defense compared to just three Patriot league teams. The scoring offense ranks of CAA teams are skewed lower because of more difficult defensive competition. 

Regardless, Colgate allowed an astounding 3.2 points per game to its FCS opponents this season. The competition is bad, but the Raiders haven’t trailed against an FCS opponent all season and haven’t allowed double digits to an FCS foe since Sept. 1. That’s impressive. 

Colgate’s defensive numbers are great. The team’s 9-1 record and 9-0 mark against FCS opposition is incredible. But can the Raiders deliver against a JMU team that is exponentially better than any of Colgate’s previous FCS opponents? We’ll find out Saturday. 

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