NEC Football 2020 Non-Conference Schedule Analysis

Northeast Conference
FCS Non-Conference Schedule Analysis
So Long Island is fully integrated into the Northeast Conference, as they played a full conference schedule last year and will from here on out. Merrimack is still technically transitioning. Last year they played four conference teams, this year they will play six. Maybe they’ll be fully integrated before 2022, but that was the original date in mind. The NEC has gradually improved their scheduling strength. Nowhere is this more apparent than the number of FBS games they’ve picked up. A few years ago, Wagner played the first. Now, the conference is up to seven. Along with that, the conference’s dependency on playing lower division opponents is decreasing. It’s hard to say when the overall strength of the league gets up to even the middle area of FCS hierarchy, maybe it’s closer than we think.
Bryant: @ Fordham, vs. Rhode Island, @ Brown, @ Central Michigan (FBS).
  • Bryant has found themselves in the middle of Little Rhodie State games the last few years, and that’s a great thing. It’s not a large state but has three schools competing in FCS football. They should play against each other. The road game at Fordham is close enough and FBS Central Michigan will help monetarily. A good schedule here.
Central Connecticut State: @ Merrimack (trans), vs. Valparaiso, @ Toledo (FBS), @ Columbia.
  • More or less, the Blue Devils are playing the same non-conference schedule as 2019. The Merrimack and Valparaiso games have changed venues. The Columbia game is still on the road. The FBS game is just a different flavor of Mid-American Conference team, Toledo this year in place of Eastern Michigan. It should afford them more success.
Duquesne: @ Air Force (FBS), @ Youngstown State, @ Coastal Carolina (FBS), vs. Virginia-Lynchburg (lower).
  • Starting the season off with three non-conference road games is going to be a grueling test. Two of those being FBS match-ups. The money will be good, but the record is probably going to hurt. Youngstown State is a team in flux, but is still an MVFC team. The home game with Virginia-Lynchburg is against college football’s Washington Generals.
Long Island: @ Montana State, @ Delaware, @ Lehigh, @ Merrimack (trans).
  • Wow! Four non-conference games and every single one of them is on the road. That is rough. True, the last three are pretty remote by nature of travel, but a trip to Montana State is way off the grid. And not just in miles, the Bobcats figure to be near a Top Ten opponent when the season begins.
Merrimack (transition): vs. Holy Cross, vs. Central Connecticut State, @ Wagner, @ St. Francis, @ New Hampshire, vs. Long Island, @ Sacred Heart, vs. Virginia-Lynchburg (lower), @ Robert Morris, @ Presbyterian, @ James Madison.
  • Oof! The life of a transitioning FCS program. Eleven games, seven on the road. It’s nice to see they have six of their future eight conference mates already on the schedule. And they played Bryant last year, so they’re acquainted there already. Holy Cross and Virginia-Lynchburg are the non-NEC home games. The non-NEC road tests at New Hampshire and James Madison figure to be lopsided losses.
Robert Morris: vs. Virginia Military, @ Bowling Green (FBS), @ Dayton, vs. Merrimack (trans).
  • A pretty good schedule here for the Colonials. VMI and Merrimack come to the greater Pittsburgh area. Dayton and FBS Bowling Green are in the next state over, Ohio. This schedule should give them a chance to compete and win a few games.
Sacred Heart: vs. Lafayette, @ Stony Brook, @ Penn, vs. Merrimack (trans).
  • As is normal, Sacred Heart was able to keep any travel they do have for non-conference in the New England area. With two home games, they should be able to profit with some home gate money also. Only one of the three figures to be leaning towards a sure loss.
St. Francis: @ Richmond, @ Buffalo (FBS), vs. Merrimack (trans), vs. Lehigh.
  • An even road/home split here, but this schedule seems much tougher than last year. The road games, in particular, will likely be against more talented and larger teams. The Lehigh game might be too. But it’ll still give the NEC a chance to prove itself against its neighbor, The Patriot League.
Wagner: @ Miami, FL (FBS), vs. Merrimack (trans), @ Monmouth, vs. Fordham.
  • Most years Wagner goes after two FBS teams. In 2020 they’ll only see one, but Miami, FL is a heck of a place to throw down your effort. Monmouth will probably be a tough road game also. The home games should be easier, but it’s a good schedule overall.
Northeast Numbers
1 vs. Big Sky
1 vs. Big South
6 vs. CAA
3 vs. Ivy
1 vs. MVFC
12 vs. NEC, games involving Merrimack (meaning six games total)
6 vs. Patriot
2 vs. Pioneer
1 vs. Southern
1 vs. FCS Independent
7 vs. FBS
2 vs. Lower Division (Div-II, Div-III, NAIA, NCCAA)