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Syracuse football: A look at future FCS opponent possibilities

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The most exciting part of any schedule, clearly.

NCAA Football: Holy Cross at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

In the big scheme of the Syracuse Orange’s various football scheduling issues, FCS openings are the least concerning. You can usually fill the dates without issue a year or so out, you’re not doing it for recruiting or any other purpose, and it’s almost guaranteed to be a win.

Still, for those of us just wondering who we’re going to play on a year-to-year basis, it’s interesting to see who Syracuse may be targeting for that annual spot. Obviously these games don’t come cheap (you’re paying for wins, after all). But scheduling teams that are nearby at least reduces travel costs and the like that we’d be on the hook for.

So first off, here’s a list of the FCS schools we’ve faced of late, plus the years those games occurred:

  • Central Connecticut — 1 time (2017)
  • Colgate — 2 times (2016, 2010)
  • Holy Cross — 1 time (2019)
  • Maine — 2 times (2010, 2009)
  • Northeastern — 1 time (2008)*
  • Rhode Island — 2 times (2015, 2011)
  • Stony Brook — 1 time (2012)
  • Villanova — 1 time (2014)
  • Wagner — 2 times (2018, 2013)

As you’ll notice, we haven’t faced any of these schools more than twice (so far), and we largely try to space things out enough to not breed familiarity. Northeastern’s also not an option anymore, since they disbanded their football program after 2009.

But the list above shows a blueprint for the types of schools that Syracuse is going to schedule for the annual FCS game. Most of these are reasonably close to SU, reducing travel costs. Plus, following along with the old Jim Boeheim model of scheduling in-state, increased exposure/money for programs in the area does help the sport overall in New York and the region.

Looking ahead, we have games against Colgate (2020), Albany (2021) and New Hampshire (2026) already on the books. But staring out a decade, here’s who we could see on the docket for the open dates in 2022 through 2029.

Holy Cross v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

2022

NEC: Bryant, Merrimack, Robert Morris, Wagner

CAA: Albany, New Hampshire, Villanova

As noted in this week’s 2022 scheduling piece, the names above are the most likely adds based on availability and proximity. Having Albany in 2021 already probably axes them, and TBD if we ever want to see ‘Nova again after the horrors of 2014. There’s probably enough distance between the 2022 and 2026 games to schedule UNH again if we want.

2023

CAA: Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Stony Brook, Villanova

NEC: Bryant, CCSU, Robert Morris, St. Francis, Wagner

Patriot: Colgate

Could potentially toss Colgate back on by this point, but UNH is probably too close to the other matchup. Everybody else is fine.

2024

CAA: Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Stony Brook, Towson, Villanova, William & Mary

NEC: Bryant, CCSU, Duquesne, LIU, Merrimack, Robert Morris, St. Francis

Patriot: Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette

Pretty open slate here. As is the case for most of these seasons, the NEC opponents are the easier foes. Teams like Towson, W&M and Villanova also typically get in-state calls.

2025

CAA: Albany, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Towson, William & Mary

NEC: Bryant, Duquesne, LIU, Merrimack, Robert Morris, St. Francis

Patriot: Colgate, Fordham, Holy Cross, Lafayette

See above. LIU and Merrimack are interesting ones — especially LIU, who only recently joined the FCS ranks.

2027

CAA: Albany, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Stony Brook, Towson, Villanova, William & Mary

NEC: Bryant, CCSU, Duquesne, LIU, Merrimack, Robert Morris, St. Francis

Patriot: Fordham, Holy Cross, Lafayette

At this point, basically everyone who’s available for these sorts of games (Georgetown and others typically don’t do FBS pay games) is free.

2028

CAA: Albany, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Stony Brook, Towson, Villanova, William & Mary

NEC: Bryant, CCSU, Duqusene, LIU, Merrimack, Robert Morris, St. Francis

Patriot: Colgate, Fordham, Holy Cross, Lafayette

See above.

2029

CAA: Albany, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Stony Brook, Towson, Villanova, William & Mary

NEC: Bryant, CCSU, Duquesne, LIU, Merrimack, Robert Morris, St. Francis

Patriot: Colgate, Fordham, Holy Cross, Lafayette

See above.

NCAA FOOTBALL: SEP 02 Colgate at Syracuse Photo by Jerome Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For really no specific reason, I’d like to see a solid rotation of Colgate-Albany-Stony Brook-Holy Cross-Maine-Rhode Island every six years, and maybe you toss in someone like New Hampshire or CCSU every so often, just to mix things up. If we’re aiming for the absolute easiest route, then you scrap the list above and go with NEC teams only to fuel the sort of 70-3 wins that most FBS fans have bloodlust for when it comes to pay games.

Again, less important than the other openings (we’re getting to those), but interesting nonetheless. Have an FCS team or two you’d like to see us toss into the constant rotation? Share your own ideas below.