BETHLEHEM, Pa. (STATS) - Neither Colgate nor Lehigh finished first or second in the Patriot League last season. It hadn't happened since 1992.

Most of the players in the league last season weren't even born at that point.

During that stretch, Lehigh captured 10 league titles and Colgate seven.

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It's a whole new league today.

Football scholarships are in play at every program except Georgetown, which refuses to offer them. There's been a different league champion in four straight seasons - Lehigh in 2011, Colgate in '12, Lafayette in '13 and Fordham last year.

This year, the Patriot League could have one of its more parity-filled seasons, with Fordham needing to overcome huge senior losses and Bucknell hoping to take the final step in its climb up the standings. Everybody else is hopeful.

The old guard? Colgate tied for third place last season and had its second straight losing season. Lehigh tied for fifth place in its worst season since, well, 1992.

"It shows that you can't be content with where you are in the league," Lehigh junior linebacker Colton Caslow said. "Even if you're on the top, there's always somebody after you - someone up-and-coming."

"It's a different time right now," Colgate coach Dan Hunt said. "I think with the era of scholarships and where rosters are, it's going to be a league where 1 to 6, 1 to 7, it's going to be real, real tight.

"I believe this league is about retaining kids and developing kids."

Strong upper classes, consistent play at quarterback and remaining healthy are always keys in the Patriot League race. The pieces appear in place for a turnaround at Colgate, which was picked third in the league's preseason poll. Lehigh was picked fifth in the poll and has a less experienced lineup, especially on offense.

The sense across the league is that close games and upsets will fill each Saturday afternoon.

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PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH=

1. Bucknell

2. Colgate

3. Fordham

4. Lafayette

5. Holy Cross

6. Lehigh

7. Georgetown

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TEAM CAPSULES=

1. BUCKNELL BISON

LOCATION: Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

STADIUM: Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium

COACH: Joe Susan (24-31 in five seasons at Bucknell; 34-31 overall)

LAST SEASON: 8-3 overall, 4-2 Patriot (2nd)

STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (6 offense/7 defense)

KEY LOSSES: WR Jake Hartman, OL Lonnie Rawles, OL Nevin Hagman, OL Brandon Noblett, LB Lee Marvel, LB Evan Byers, DL Demetrius Baldwin-Youngblood, PK/P Derek Mauer

OFFENSIVE STAR: Will Carter, WR, Jr., 5-10, 180 (53 receptions, 959 yards, 9 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Clayton Ewell, S, Sr., 6-1, 195 (53 TT, 7 TFL, 4.5 SK, 4 INTs, 2 PBU)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: R.J. Nitti, QB, Jr., 6-4, 230; C.J. Williams, RB, Jr., 6-0, 210; Matt DelMauro, RB, Sr., 5-7, 185; Bobby Kaslander, WR, Sr., 6-2, 200; Julie'n Davenport, OL, Jr., 6-7, 315; Ramy Kased, OL, Sr., 6-6, 315; Ned Bent, C, Jr., 6-2, 290; Abdullah Anderson, DE, So., 6-4, 295; Doug Whitlock, DE, So., 6-2, 250; Ben Richard, LB, So., 6-1, 235; Mark Pyles, LB, So., 6-0, 220; Louis Taglianetti, S, Sr., 5-11, 200; Connor Golden, S, So., 6-0, 195; Colin Jonov, CB, So., 5-11, 195; John Burdick, PK, So., 6-0, 185

OUTLOOK: The accomplishments climbed high for the Bison last season - the third in the last four with a winning record. The Bison played Fordham for first place in November and wound up finishing second in the league. Their always physical defense had a unit which led the league in scoring defense (21.7 ppg), total defense (302.4 ypg), rushing defense (107.8 ypg) and sacks (38). But among its three all-league losses was Byers, the 2014 Patriot League defensive player of the year. Ewell, Taglianetti and Jonov will keep the secondary's play at a high level and emerging DE Anderson will grab the spotlight. The concern on offense is the need to replace three starters who formed the interior of the line. With strong play from the line, the skills position players will go to work behind QB Nitti, who passed for 1,553 yards and 13 touchdowns in an injury-plagued season. Also battling back from injuries are RBs Williams (901 yards, 9 TDs in nine games) and DelMauro (588 yards, 6 TDs). There isn't a more-feared wide receiver in the league than Carter or offensive lineman than the 6-foot-7 Davenport. The Bison's visit to Army West Point will be their first FBS game since 2001.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - vs. Marist

Sept. 12 - vs. Duquesne

Sept. 19 - at Cornell

Oct. 3 - at VMI

Oct. 10 - vs. Lehigh*

Oct. 17 - at Army West Point

Oct. 24 - vs. Georgetown*

Oct. 31 - at Lafayette*

Nov. 7 - at Fordham*

Nov. 14 - vs. Holy Cross*

Nov. 21 - at Colgate*

* - Patriot League game

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2. COLGATE RAIDERS

LOCATION: Hamilton, New York

STADIUM: Andy Kerr Stadium

COACH: Dan Hunt (5-7 in one season at Colgate)

LAST SEASON: 5-7 overall, 3-3 Patriot (Tie/3rd)

STARTERS RETURNING: 15 (9 offense/6 defense)

KEY LOSSES: FB Ed Pavalko, C Spencer Wallach, LB Kris Kent, LB Vinny Russo, DB Mike Armiento

OFFENSIVE STAR: Jake Melville, QB, Jr., 6-1, 195 (91-for-155, 1,028 yards, 6 TDs, 2 INTs; 83 carries, 435 yards, 4 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Victor Steffen, DE, Sr., 6-3, 265 (57 TT, 12.5 TFL, 4.5 SK, 1 PBU, 1 FF, 3 BLK)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: John Wilkins, TB, Jr., 5-11, 240; Demetrius Russell, TB, Sr., 5-10, 190; Alex Greenawalt, WR, So., 6-3, 200; John Maddaluna III, WR/RS, Jr., 6-0, 180; John Quazza, TE, Sr., 6-6, 245; Jordi Dalmau, OL, Jr., 6-2, 300; John Weber, OL, Sr., 6-3, 290; Brett Field, DL, Jr., 6-4, 280; Kyle Diener, LB, Jr., 6-0, 235; Cameron Buttermore, LB, Sr., 6-2, 220; Charles Cairnie, LB, Jr., 6-5, 235; Pat Afriyie, LB, So., 6-2, 230; Adam Bridgeforth, DB, Sr., 6-0, 190; Chris Morgan, DB, Jr., 6-0, 195; Jonah Bowman, PK, Jr., 6-1, 210

OUTLOOK: A close look at the league race suggests long-time power Colgate is ready to reclaim the top spot. Hunt, who while liking the upperclassmen returning for his second season, senses the opportunity because the Raiders will have a strong run game and a physical defense. Mobile QB Melville appears healthier after being limited to seven games last season and will keep the chains moving along with RBs Russell (703 yards, 2 TDs) and Wilkins (421 yards, 9 TDs). Greenawalt hopes to break out at wide receiver and the Raiders already have the league's best tight end in Quazza (34 receptions, 400 yards). On defense, the front seven could be dominant. LB Afriyie is primed to be one of the league's better pass rushers, hoping to join DE Steffen on that level. While only LB Diener returns from the team's top four tacklers of a year ago, the defense developed quality depth. PK Bowman was an impressive 14-of-16 on field goal attempts, all within 43 yards. The Raiders hope a tough September schedule will pay off in the Patriot League. Perhaps the Nov. 21 home game against Bucknell will decide the league title.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - at Navy

Sept. 12 - vs. New Hampshire

Sept. 19 - vs. Yale

Sept. 26 - at Holy Cross*

Oct. 3 - at Cornell

Oct. 10 - at Princeton

Oct. 17 - at Georgetown*

Oct. 31 - vs. Fordham*

Nov. 7 - at Lafayette*

Nov. 14 - vs. Lehigh*

Nov. 21 - vs. Bucknell*

* - Patriot League game

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3. FORDHAM RAMS

LOCATION: Bronx, New York

STADIUM: Coffey Field

COACH: Joe Moorhead (29-10 in three seasons at Fordham)

LAST SEASON: 11-3 overall, 6-0 Patriot (1st)

STARTERS RETURNING: 4 (3 offense/1 defense)

KEY LOSSES: QB Mike Nebrich, WR Brian Wetzel, WR Tebucky Jones Jr., TE Dan Light, DE/OLB Brett Biestek, CB Ian Williams, PK Michael Marando

OFFENSIVE STAR: Chase Edmonds, RB/KR, So., 5-9, 185 (294 carries, 1,838 yards, 23 TDs; 19 receptions, 121 yards, 1 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Stephen Hodge, LB, Gr., 6-2, 212 (injured last season)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Kevin Anderson, QB, Jr., 6-2, 195; Kendall Pearcey, RB, Jr., 5-10, 192; Jorge Solano, WR, Jr., 5-9, 180; Phazahn Odom, TE, Sr., 6-8, 245; Garrick Mayweather, OL, Sr., 6-3, 314; Anthony Coyle, OL, So., 6-5, 295; Justin Vaughn, DL, Jr., 6-5, 265; Manny Adeyeye, DL, Jr., 6-5, 270; Marlon Crook Jr., DL/OLB, Jr., 6-5, 232; George Dawson, LB, Jr., 6-2, 224; J.Q. Bowers, DB, Sr., 5-9, 189; Jihaad Pretlow, CB, Jr., 5-11, 190 (Temple transfer); Marcus Fulmore, DB, Jr., 5-9, 190; Lourenzo Smith, DB, Gr., 5-11, 190; Joe Pavlik, P, Jr., 5-11, 185

OUTLOOK: The Rams are replacing 15 all-league performers and return only four starters from last year's league champions and a second straight playoff squad. Yet they were picked first in the league's preseason poll. No pressure, fellas. At least the Rams feature RB Edmonds, the 2014 FCS freshman of the year, and LB Hodge, the 2013 Patriot defensive player of the year, who was sidelined by injury last season. Edmonds racked up a league single-season record 2,473 all-purpose yards last year, one year after Hodge had a 124-tackle campaign, including 16 for loss, with five forced fumbles. QB Anderson, coming off a redshirt season after beginning his college career at Marshall, faces the unenviable task of replacing Nebrich, who won the last two Patriot League offensive player of the year awards. Mayweather and Coyle bring back experience on the offensive line. LB Dawson (68 TT, 5.5 TFL) is the only returning starter to the defense. But Crook and Vaughn are expected to be formidable on the defensive line and CB Pretlow made nine starts for Temple last year. Ironically, the Rams open the season against Army West Point and Villanova, giving them the chance (although unlikely) to avenge their only regular-season defeats from last season.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 4 - at Army West Point

Sept. 12 - vs. Villanova

Sept. 19 - vs. Columbia

Sept. 26 - vs. Monmouth

Oct. 3 - at Lafayette*

Oct. 10 - at Penn

Oct. 17 - vs. Holy Cross*

Oct. 24 - vs. Lehigh*

Oct. 31 - at Colgate*

Nov. 7 - vs. Bucknell*

Nov. 14 - at Georgetown*

* - Patriot League game

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4. LAFAYETTE LEOPARDS

LOCATION: Easton, Pennsylvania

STADIUM: Fisher Stadium

COACH: Frank Tavani (81-89 in 15 seasons at Lafayette)

LAST SEASON: 5-6 overall, 3-3 Patriot (Tie/3rd)

STARTERS RETURNING: 13 (5 offense/8 defense)

BIG LOSSES: RB/KR Ross Scheuerman, OT Luke Chiarolanzio, OL Zach Mazur, WR Justin Adams, DE James Coscia

OFFENSIVE STAR: Drew Reed, QB, Jr., 6-1, 195 (113-for-186, 1,022 yards, 7 TDs, 9 INTs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Matt Smalley, CB/KR, Sr., 5-10, 195 (61 TT, 5 TFL, 2 SK, 1 INT, 11 PBU)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Blake Searfoss, Jr., 6-2, 210; DeSean Brown, RB, So., 6-0, 200; Kyle Mayfield, RB, Jr., 6-1, 220; Dan Dellovade, FB, Sr., 6-1, 255; Matt Mrazek, WR, So., 6-4, 205; Tim Vangelas, WR/PR, Jr., 6-2, 200; Connor Staudle, RG, Jr., 6-6, 320; Nick Zataveski, RT, Sr., 6-6, 305; Cam Smith, LT, So., 6-5, 305; Steve Mercado, DT, Sr., 6-1, 275; Matt Rothrock, DT, Jr., 6-2, 280; Robin Cepeda, DT, Jr., 6-2, 280 (injured last season); Collin Albershardt, DE, Jr., 6-2, 255; Darren Wright, DE, Sr., 6-3, 245; Mark Dodd, LB, Sr., 6-1, 230; Chris Brockman, LB, Sr., 5-11, 225; Brandon Bryant, LB, So., 5-11, 225; Jared Roberts, S, Sr., 6-2, 205; Phillip Parham, CB, So., 5-10, 180; Ryan Gralish, PK, Sr., 5-11, 245

OUTLOOK: The 2013 Patriot League champs hope to rebound from a subpar season, although they earned a big win over Lehigh at Yankee Stadium in the 150th meeting of college football's most-played rivalry. They have dedicated the 2015 season to Brian Keller, their starting tight end who died in a car accident in June. The Leopards will test themselves against a rugged non-league schedule. Their experienced defense is settled around the return of eight starters, including a secondary stocked with Smalley, already a two-time All-Patriot first-team selection, and Roberts, who joined him with the honors last year. At linebacker, seniors Dodd (89) and Brockman (77) led the team in tackles, joined by Bryant, who was terrific as a freshman. Tavani, the dean of league coaches, has work to do with the offense. While battling shoulder and foot injuries, QB Reed was turnover-prone last season (seven TDs to nine interceptions), but he figures to come back strong as a junior. In losing Scheuerman, the Leopards are going to have to make up 1,868 all-purpose yards - the sixth-highest individual total in the FCS last season. Brown and Mayfield may combine in that effort, and two of the linemen in front of them - Staudle and Zataveski - earned All-Patriot preseason honors. The kickers were only 6-for-14 on field goal attempts last season.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - vs. William & Mary

Sept. 12 - at Delaware

Sept. 19 - vs. Princeton

Sept. 26 - at Wagner

Oct. 3 - vs. Fordham*

Oct. 10 - at Georgetown*

Oct. 17 - vs. Harvard

Oct. 24 - at Holy Cross*

Oct. 31 - vs. Bucknell*

Nov. 7 - vs. Colgate*

Nov. 21 - at Lehigh*

* - Patriot League game

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5. HOLY CROSS CRUSADERS

LOCATION: Worcester, Massachusetts

STADIUM: Fitton Field

COACH: Tom Gilmore (60-64 in 11 seasons at Holy Cross)

LAST SEASON: 4-8 overall, 2-4 Patriot (Tie/5th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 14 (7 offense/7 defense)

KEY LOSSES: WR Tyler Artim, C Jay Knighton, OT Blake Berresford, LB Shane Thompson, LB John Zakrzewski

OFFENSIVE STAR: Peter Pujals, QB, Jr., 6-2, 196 (225-for-375, 2,353 yards, 10 TDs, 12 INTs; 170 carries, 705 yards, 6 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Matt Bhaya, SS, Sr., 6-0, 190 (40 TT, 1 TFL, 4 PBU)

KEY PLAYERS: Gabe Guild, TB, Jr., 5-11, 189; Diquan Walker, TB, So., 5-10, 180; Jake Wieczorek, WR, Jr., 6-0, 193; Kalif Raymond, WR/RS, Sr., 5-9, 160; Brendan Flaherty, WR, Jr., 6-2, 200; Lucas Nikolaisen, TE, Jr., 6-5, 255; Hunter Hudgins, LT, Jr., 6-5, 298; James Murray, C, Jr., 6-5, 290; Mike Galantini, DT, Sr., 6-3, 282; Dean Doe, DE, Jr., 6-3, 235; Richard Barber, DT, Sr., 6-2, 252; Ryan Smith, OLB, Sr., 6-4, 220; J.T. Frank, OLB, Sr., 6-3, 202; Nick McBeath, ILB, So., 6-1, 210; Steven Martinez, CB, Sr., 5-11, 192; Alim Muhammad, CB, So., 5-10, 160; Luke Ford, FS, Jr., 6-2, 211; Connor Fitzgerald, PK/P, Sr., 6-2, 198

OUTLOOK: Holy Cross has had a successful run in Gilmore's tenure, but the Crusaders have suffered through three straight losing seasons because of a failure to win close games. They finished 2-6 in games decided by seven points or less last season, which makes the Crusaders 4-17 in such games over the last three seasons. So they likely maintain they're not far off from returning to good fortune (they had six straight winning records from 2006-11). The Crusaders should have a terrific offense, led by All-Patriot preseason QB Pujals, who troubles opponents with his dual-threat talents. Also returning to the skills positions are TB Guild (588 yards, 5 TDs) and WRs Wieczorek (50 receptions, 694 yards, 5 TDs) and Raymond (39 receptions, 305 yards, 2 TDs). An experienced defensive line will be key for the Crusaders, with DT Galantini leading the way there. SS Bhaya had a superb sophomore campaign in 2013, but played in only eight games a year ago. He returns to a veteran secondary, also featuring CB Martinez (four interceptions). The Crusaders should be much improved this season.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - at Monmouth

Sept. 19 - at Towson

Sept. 26 - vs. Colgate*

Oct. 3 - vs. Albany

Oct. 10 - vs. Brown

Oct. 17 - at Fordham*

Oct. 24 - vs. Lafayette*

Oct. 31 - vs. Bryant

Nov. 7 - at Lehigh*

Nov. 14 - at Bucknell*

Nov. 21 - vs. Georgetown*

* - Patriot League game

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6. LEHIGH MOUNTAIN HAWKS

LOCATION: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

STADIUM: Goodman Stadium

COACH: Andy Coen (62-41 in nine seasons at Lehigh)

LAST SEASON: 3-8 overall, 2-4 Patriot (Tie/5th)

STARTERS RETURNING: 14 (6 offense/8 defense)

KEY LOSSES: RB Rich Sodeke, WR Josh Parris, OL Ned Daryoush, DL Tim Newton, LB Isaiah Campbell

OFFENSIVE STAR: Nick Shafnisky, QB, Jr., 6-1, 210 (187-for-313, 2,373 yards, 14 TDs, 12 INTs; 177 carries, 526 yards, 6 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Colton Caslow, ILB, Jr., 6-1, 215 (67 TT, 1.5 TFL, 2 PBU, 1 FF)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: D.J. Kee, RB, Sr., 5-11, 190; Nana Amankwah-Ayeh, RB, So., 5-11, 220; Troy Pelletier, WR, So., 6-3, 195; Stefan Sansone, WR, Sr., 6-0, 195; Derek Knott, WR, Sr., 5-9, 170; Matt Ford, OG, Sr., 6-4, 290; Brandon Short, C, Jr., 6-3, 280; Tyler Cavenas, NG, So., 6-5, 295; T.J. Stubbs, DL, Jr., 6-4, 270; D.J. Bourgeois, DL, Sr., 6-2, 245; Matt Laub, DE/LB, Sr., 6-3, 235; Pierce Ripanti, ILB, Jr., 6-0, 225; Noah Robb, OLB, Sr., 6-3, 215; Olivier Rigaud, CB, Sr., 6-0, 190; Brandon Leaks, CB, Jr., 5-11, 170; LaQuan Lambert, S, Sr., 6-1, 210; Stephen Wilmington, S, Sr., 6-0, 195; Quentin Jones, DB, So., 5-10, 190; Austin Devine, P, Sr., 6-3, 205

OUTLOOK: In posting their worst record since 1992, the Mountain Hawks nearly had as many losses last season (eight) as they did in the four previous seasons combined (a 39-9 mark). Coen feels his program lost its culture, but he thinks it can come back quickly if the seniors display leadership. Perhaps overlooked in the losing season was the development of QB Shafinsky, who was second in the league in total offense (263.3 ypg). His top returning receiver, Pelletier, kept getting better as a freshman, finishing with 49 receptions for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. But the Mountain Hawks are known for the run game, and the running backs are virtually all new. Conversely, the defense has to improve against the run after allowing 208.5 yards per game. LBs Ripanti and Caslow broke out as sophomores to finish 1-2 in tackles with 75 and 67, respectively. The secondary was young entering last season, but now is a strength with all of its key personnel returning this season. Although the road portion of the schedule is daunting, they can probably open the season strong against Central Connecticut State.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 3 - at Central Connecticut State

Sept. 12 - at James Madison

Sept. 19 - vs. Penn

Sept. 26 - at Princeton

Oct. 3 - vs. Yale

Oct. 10 - at Bucknell*

Oct. 24 - at Fordham*

Oct. 31 - vs. Georgetown*

Nov. 7 - vs. Holy Cross*

Nov. 14 - at Colgate*

Nov. 21 - vs. Lafayette*

* - Patriot League game

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7. GEORGETOWN HOYAS

LOCATION: Washington, D.C.

STADIUM: Multi-Sport Field

COACH: Rob Sgarlata (3-8 in one season at Georgetown)

LAST SEASON: 3-8 overall, 1-5 Patriot (7th)

STARTERS RETURNING: N/A

KEY LOSSES: RB/WR Danny Wright, WR Michael Cimilluca, OL Mike Roland, OL Nick Quintans, DT Jordan Richardson, DE Alec May, LB Nick Alfieri

OFFENSIVE STAR: Jo'el Kimpela, RB, Sr., 5-11, 195 (159 carries, 838 yards, 3 TDs)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Ettian Scott, CB, Sr., 6-1, 180 (40 TT, 4 INTs, 12 PBU, 1 BLK)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: Kyle Nolan, QB, Sr., 6-5, 225; Jake DeCicco, WR, Sr., 6-1, 190; Justin Hill, WR, Jr., 6-2, 195; Kevin Liddy, OL, Sr., 6-6, 300; Matt Buckman, TE, Jr., 6-3, 235; Dezmond Richardson, DT, Sr., 6-3, 260; Hunter Kiselick, DE, Sr., 6-1, 245; Phil Novacki, DE, Jr., 6-4, 255; Matthew Satchell, LB, Sr., 6-1, 225; Tyrell Williams, LB, Jr., 6-1, 220; Garrett Powers, S, Sr., 6-1, 192; Cameron Gamble, DB, Sr., 5-11, 192; Porter Huntley, DB, Jr., 6-2, 185; Harry McCollum, P, Jr., 6-2, 190

OUTLOOK: The scholarship classes are building throughout the league - it's the third full year - which makes it increasingly difficult for the Hoyas to remain relevant aside from an occasional upset of a Patriot opponent. Last year's lone league win during Sgarlata's first season occurred in the finale against Holy Cross. This year, the Hoyas feature an influential senior class. Their 13.5 points per game didn't compute to a league-best plus-nine in turnover margin, so they are hoping for quickness improvement. QB Nolan (176-for-343, 1,763 yards, 9 TDs, 6 INTs) has to raise his 51.3 completion percentage, but he has two returning wideouts in DeCicco and Hill, who combined for 74 receptions a year ago. Plus, Kimpela is one of the league's better running backs. The defensive losses were significant with DE May and LB Alfieri. But LB Satchell was second on the team with 92 tackles, CB Scott made the All-Patriot preseason team, and DE Novacki, after working behind May, appears primed for a breakout season.

SCHEDULE:

Sept. 5 - at Saint Francis (Pa.)

Sept. 12 - vs. Marist

Sept. 19 - vs. Dartmouth

Sept. 26 - at Columbia

Oct. 3 - at Harvard

Oct. 10 - vs. Lafayette*

Oct. 17 - vs. Colgate*

Oct. 24 - at Bucknell*

Oct. 31 - at Lehigh*

Nov. 14 - vs. Fordham*

Nov. 21 - at Holy Cross*

* - Patriot League game