Colgate at James Madison FCS Football 2015 Playoffs 2nd Round Breakdown

George Hammond

Colgate at James Madison FCS Football 2015 Playoffs 2nd Round Breakdown


Colgate at James Madison, Saturday, 1 p.m.

This is an unlikely second-round pairing as most expected the Raiders (8-4) to lose on Saturday to New Hampshire. After all, Colgate had fallen to New Hampshire, 26-8, earlier in the year and the Wildcats were playing at home where they never lose. But Colgate, which has won six straight games and eight of its last nine, controlled the contest from the outset to win, 27-20, for its first playoff victory since it went to the national championship game in 2003.

Now the Raiders face No. 5 seed James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va. The Dukes (9-2), which rested this weekend, are making their second consecutive playoff appearance after earning a share of the CAA crown. This is the first meeting between the two schools who shared one common opponent this season. Colgate defeated Lehigh, 49-42, while JMU crushed the Mountain Hawks, 55-17. But that was before all-everything quarterback Vad Lee went down for the season with a foot injury.

After starting out 7-0, JMU lost to Richmond, 59-49, on Oct. 24 in the game Lee got hurt, then fell to William & Mary, 44-41, the following week. However, the Dukes rebounded with victories over Delaware and Villanova to make the playoffs. And judging by their offensive output, the Dukes are still humming on offense as sophomore quarterback Bryan Schor has filled in nicely for Lee. Consider: JMU leads the nation in total offense (549.7 ypg), first downs and third-down conversions. In addition, the Dukes are fith in completion percentage, sixth in rushing offense and seventh in red-zone offense.

Colgate took advantage of three New Hampshire turnovers, but the Raiders controlled the clock and they would like to do the same against JMU. Colgate had possession for 12:44 of the third quarter. The Raiders also don’t beat themselves as quarterback Jake Melville has thrown just one interception this season.

The Raiders will need another stellar performance to hang with JMU, and they could chew up some yardage on the ground to keep JMU’s offense on the sideline. But the Dukes are much more explosive than New Hampshire, and it’s unlikely Colgate has an answer to stop that.

 Projected Score: James Madison 42, Colgate 20


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