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Air Force Non-Conference Preview: Colgate Raiders

Air Force opens up its season at home against the Patriot League's Colgate Raiders

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Air Force Falcons open up with their first non-conference game when they face the Colgate Raiders at Falcon Stadium. The game kicks off on Saturday, August 31 at a yet-to-be-determined time and as of this writing, is not schedule to be seen on television.

Coach: Dick Biddle (133-65; 17 seasons)

2012 record: (8-4) (5-0)

2012 season in review: Colgate won its seventh Patriot League title in 2012, going 5-0, while outscoring its in-conference competition by an average of 51-34. The Raiders finished the year ranked 25th in the FCS polls after losing to Wagner in the first round of the playoffs by a score of 31-20. Though it was a disappointing end for the team, Colgate still managed to field one of the best offenses in the FCS, averaging 39.42 points per game (third overall), while racking up over 486 yards per game (fourth overall). Not bad for a school that just started offering full scholarships for football.

Returning Offensive Starters: 6

Returning Defensive Starters: 6

Key Returning Starters: QB Gavin McCarney (Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year), FB Ed Pavalko (All-Patriot League), LB Kris Kent

2013 Strengths: Last year's offense was guided by both McCarney and All-American running back Jordan McCord, who combined for 3,104 rushing yards and 46 touchdowns last year. But without McCord this year, McCarney will be running the show and could flourish when given the ability to make plays on the ground. He's also a very competent passer, amassing 2,372 yards and 15 scores through the air, making him a true dual-threat. On defense, it may be addition by subtraction, as the team loses several players from a group that allowed over 32 points per game in 2012.

2013 Weaknesses: Colgate's offense has long been based on a strong running game, but without a proven back (other than McCarney), it's tough to see how this team experiences similar success -- especially when they must replace four of five offensive linemen as well. The defense, though improving, is still very rough around the edges, with very few playmakers and not a lot of speed on the outside. This could prove especially problematic against Air Force's triple-option attack.