Betting Army-Colgate: Time to Brush Up on Your FCS Knowledge

Betting Army-Colgate: Time to Brush Up on Your FCS Knowledge article feature image
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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

  • Army will play its second consecutive FCS opponent this Saturday when it hosts FCS Colgate at noon ET on CBSSN.
  • Colgate, the No. 6 FCS team, boasts a defense that only allows 1.87 yards per rush, which leads all FBS and FCS teams.
  • At least one streak will end this weekend: Army's twelve game home winning streak or Colgate's perfect 9-0 record.

While all of you figure out if Alabama will beat Citadel by 50, 60 or 70, I’m more focused on another FBS-FCS matchup: Army vs. Colgate — and not for the ferry ride you can take to the game or the official Colgate polka band.

The Raiders (that’s Colgate’s mascot) are by far the best FCS team playing an FBS opponent this weekend. They will arrive in West Point as the No. 6 ranked FCS team, sporting a perfect 9-0 record — thanks to an absolutely dominant defense.

Let’s dig into these eye-popping numbers before getting into which side (or total) I would recommend for those that dabble in the FCS betting market.

Colgate at Army -11 

Noon ET on CBSSN

Colgate doesn’t play in the most impressive conference, but there has been nothing flukey about its unblemished record. The Raiders’ defense has absolutely dominated every team in their path. Just take a look at some of these 2018 defensive statistics:

  • 192.3 yards per game (No. 1 in nation)
  • 3.22 yards per play (No. 1 in nation)
  • 22.7% third down conversion (No. 2 in nation)

Those are undoubtedly impressive numbers, but just some appetizers. Take a look at Colgate’s scoring defense:

You read that correctly — 3.2 POINTS PER GAME. Only five FCS teams have allowed fewer than 14 PPG and none have allowed fewer than 10, but Colgate has allowed just over one field goal per game.

And if we exclude the first game of the season, Colgate has only allowed 12 total points over its past eight games (1.5 PPG) and have pitched an astonishing FIVE shutouts.

I get that it plays at the FCS level and not in one of the better divisions, but those are stunning numbers at any level.

Just look at Lafayette, a bad team in Colgate’s division, which just scored 13 points at Army this past weekend. Colgate not only crushed that same Lafayette squad 46-0, it hasn’t allowed its last eight opponents combined to get that many.

Rush Defense

That said, overall defensive numbers don’t really matter against Army — a team that averages an NCAA-high 65.7 rush attempts per game. (Georgia Tech ranks second at 60.3.) It’s all about the rush defense.

Well, that’s the most impressive aspect of this Colgate defense, which has allowed 510 total yards on the ground on 273 carries this season for one single touchdown. That’s a stunning average of 1.87 yards per rush, which leads the nation — as does its 56.7 rushing yards per game allowed.

To put that 1.87 number in perspective, here are the top-3 rush defenses at the FBS level since 2008:

Bet to Watch

If Colgate wants to move to 10-0 this season, its run defense will have to translate at the FBS level against the best rushing offense it has seen this season …. by far. But from the little I have watched of the Raiders, I trust their linebackers.

Army does have a perfect 12-0 record at Michie Stadium over the past two seasons, but seven of the 12 wins have come by seven points or less. It simply doesn’t blow teams out that have competent run defenses, which I believe Colgate will show at the minimum on Saturday.

This is more of just an interesting note, but Army has lost to two FCS teams in recent years: Fordham (another Patriot League team) at home in 2015 and Yale in 2014.

I personally wouldn’t be shocked if Colgate pulls off this upset in a game that means a lot more for their season. While Army is playing its second straight home game against an FCS opponent, Colgate has a chance at a program-defining win. The Black Knights have clinched a bowl and have Navy on deck.

However, considering S&P and Sagarin both make this line over 14, I think it has a good shot at rising. If I see a 14 or better, I will immediately bet it. If not, I will wait until Saturday morning to see the best line I can get.

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