Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE
The Raiders are playing almost as many neutral site dates -- two -- as games in Hamilton.
Colgate may have the weirdest scheduling situation in the country. This year, the Raiders -- due in part to the fact that they'll play two neutral site games this year (one of which would have definitely been a road game anyway) -- will only play four games in Hamilton, three of which are conference games that were going to be played at Andy Kerr Stadium unless they were otherwise pried out of the joint's cold, dead bleachers. This is due, in part, to how Colgate has put together its schedule over the last few years and the inherent issue in trading home-and-home games:
- 2013: 4 home; 8 away; 2 neutral
- 2012: 9 home; 5 away
- 2011: 6 home; 9 away
- 2010: 7 home; 5 away
- 2009: 6 home; 8 away
That's weird, right? This isn't a game or two imbalance that has been created in the last few seasons (as it was late in Jim Nagle's tenure); these are around four game differences, which isn't particularly common. That isn't necessarily a good or a bad thing -- it's just a thing -- but it did make me wonder if the Raiders will try and square things off starting in the 2014 season.
February 9: @ Bryant; March 2: @ Cornell; May 4: @ Maryland
There isn't a ton of heat in the non-conference portion of the Raiders' schedule, but that's not too much of an issue considering all the strength that Colgate will see in its Patriot League slate. There are, however, three out-of-conference games that the Raiders put on their run -- all away games, of course -- that will carry some national interest and help define what kind of team Colgate will be next spring:
- Right out of the gate the Raiders will face a dangerous Bulldogs squad that hung with Colgate last season in a similar situation;
- Everyone will likely characterize Colgate v. Cornell as Baum v. Pannell -- which is just stupid; they aren't competing against each other directly, after all -- but that game, filled with all kinds of Central New York pride and interest, should start to sort out what the top 10 of the country will look like; and
- Colgate has kind of had Maryland's goat over the last few seasons, winning two of the last three meetings. The Terrapins look like a national title contender again in 2013, and if the Raiders can close their regular season on a high note in College Park, it could be a good indication of whether Colgate is ready to make a run at Championship Weekend in Philadelphia.
The Hottest Fire Makes the Strongest Steel
March 9: Holy Cross; March 23: v. Navy; March 31: Army; April 6: @ Lehigh; April 13: @ Lafayette; April 20: Bucknell
The Patriot League -- in terms of automatic qualifying conferences -- may be the toughest league in the country next spring. Outside of Lafayette and Holy Cross, which aren't necessarily breaks but both teams should reside somewhere toward the bottom third of the country, the conference boasts all kinds of difficulty. While Colgate does get some balance in their conference dates, a three week stretch of Navy-Army-Lehigh is going to help determine the hierarchy of the Patriot League: The Midshipmen took a big step forward in 2012 under Rick Sowell, and having that game at M&T Bank Stadium as part of the Face-Off Classic could create an interesting situation; Army, under Joe Alberici (Mike Murphy's former boss), has serious talent in Garrett Thul and John Glesener which will challenge the Raiders defense right from the opening whistle; and nothing much needs to be said about Lehigh -- the Mountain Hawks will stand as Colgate's biggest opposition to hoisting hardware in May.
Then there's the sneaky game against Bucknell to close the Raiders' regular season slate. The Bison are kind of existing on the fringes of the national chatter right now, but it's hard to dispose of Frank Fedorjaka before seeing what exactly the team has. That game is potentially loaded with consequence, and may be the fulcrum for where Colgate pivots in its season.