Colgate Raiders — 2020 Syracuse Football preview

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Syracuse head coach Dino Babers speaks with the media. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each week over the summer. SU will continue its 2020 non-conference schedule on September 19th against Colgate.

STEP BACK YEAR

Colgate took a step back in 2019 after a historic season.

In 2018, the Raiders went 10-2 behind a stingy defense that allowed an FCS best 9.3 points per game. Colgate won the Patriot League, and along the way knocked off powerhouse James Madison. Their only regular season loss came against FBS Army.

The magical season ended against eventual FCS champion North Dakota State, but Colgate wanted to show in 2019 that they weren’t flash in the pan.

But with 25 seniors gone from that team, Colgate stumbled to a 4-8 overall record, and 3-3 in conference. Still, the Raiders closed out the season in impressive fashion, allowing a combined 27 points over their last three games.

That coincided with a three-game winning streak and a 16-0 shutout of Lafayette in the season finale.

ROSTER ANALYSIS

Colgate has a chance to build on their 2018 finish, with 14 projected returning starters.

But one of those starters who graduated was defensive lineman Nick Wheeler, a third-team AP All-American. He recorded 33 sacks throughout his career, which landed him third in Patriot League history and first on Colgate’s all-time list.

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But rising senior Abdoul Kouyate is finally healthy again after an injury that sidelined him for the entire 2019 season. The former three-star recruit was one of Colgate’s top signings in the 2017 class, and he started four games in the 2018 season with 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Defensive back Collin Heard was named Second Team All Patriot League as just a sophomore and will lead the secondary.

Quarterback Grant Breneman is back for his senior season. Breneman struggled in 2019, but that was a direct result of a shoddy offensive line that allowed an Patriot League worst 49 sacks. Much of that unit is returning in 2020, including two-time All Patriot League offensive lineman selection Jack Badovinac.

The Raiders also return senior running back Malik Twyman, who rushed for 461 yards and six touchdowns on 4.5 yards per carry in 2019.

PARITY IN PATRIOT LEAGUE

Holy Cross is an early favorite to repeat as Patriot League Champions in 2020, with 16 starters returning from last year’s team. But they’re also transitioning in transition under new offensive coordinator Justin Roper and graduated Patriot League offensive player of the year Domenic Cozier.

That might leave an opportunity open for Colgate in a parity-rich league. An October 24 matchup against Holy Cross should be a good litmus rest for the Raiders.

A home game against Lafayette (another early favorite to compete for the conference title) on Nov. 14 in the penultimate game of the regular season could sway the balance of the conference.

Aside from Syracuse, the Raiders also play at FBS Western Michigan in their season opener.

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Wes Cheng
About Wes Cheng 2598 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.