Before we dive vigorously into JMU’s CAA schedule, let’s take a moment for self-reflection.
All this winning is noteworthy for several different reasons. For the purposes of this column, though, it means one very important thing.
The reverse-jinx is working.
I mean, I don’t necessarily think so. If you read my first Doomed Dukes piece from start to finish — and judging by most of the comments on these articles, many of you certainly have not — you know that I’m not superstitious. Personally, I think JMU is undefeated because they haven’t really played anyone all that good.
Norfolk State? Bad.
So, as usual, there is a perfectly logical explanation for what’s going on. No cosmic power. No rabbit's foot. Just killer play between the tackles.
But I hear you whispering out there. A few fans have come up to me around the Valley, offering high-fives on the idea for this series. I’ve seen the comments on these posts. Many are similar: “the reverse-jinx is working!”
And if it ain’t broke, who am I to fix it? This one’s for you, Uncle Ron:
DOOMED DUKES: WHY JMU WILL TOTALLY LOSE TO MAINE
This week, things get really serious, you guys. We’ve got a CAA team coming to town.
In week 1 of CAA play, James Madison draws the Black Bears of Maine. In other words, the avatar for the man responsible for the US Bill of Rights is going to fight a bear.
That’s about as American as it gets. Nobody would love this Saturday’s game more than Stephen Colbert.
This weekend, Maine might offer JMU its toughest test yet. Teams like ETSU and Norfolk State were scrappy, but they didn’t necessarily have the personnel to compete with a juggernaut like JMU. Last weekend, for instance, Madison ended up with more than 10 times the rushing yards of the Spartans.
Moxy can get you far in life, but it can’t run-block for you.
Maine is an abrupt departure from a September schedule of games that were over before the tailgate started.
Seasoned rooters know what happened last year in Orono. Despite a cool temperature and a howling wind, JMU heated up in the second half and outlasted Maine. Fans may remember how the Dukes outscored Maine 21-7 in the second half, en route to an 11-point win; they may not recall how the Dukes were losing at halftime.
Maine is a tough team. The Black Bears might offer the stiffest test for JMU along the line of scrimmage, where the Dukes haven’t been pushed all that much up to this point. Tailback Josh Mack is second in Division 1 (first in FCS) with 179 yards per game. He runs behind a big, powerful offensive line that clears space for him.
JMU, on the other hand, has only allowed 170 net rushing yards in total this season.
That’s the key matchup during JMU’s opening foray into conference play. How will JMU’s defensive front fare against one of the best rushing attacks in the country?
We’ll have to wait until Saturday to know for sure. But in 2017, we all know offense always beats defense.
It doesn’t help that Maine is coming off a bye, either.
The big boys from up north are coming to Harrisonburg, hoping to end the winning streak they helped start. If you believe in things coming full-circle, the nation’s longest winning streak could come to an end on Saturday.
It’s week four against Maine, and the Dukes are doomed.