(The following article is the ninth entry in a reverse-jinx preview series for JMU Football. If you don’t already know the premise, you can find the first article here.)
Welcome to November. What mighty CAA foe do the JMU Dukes face this week?
DOOMED DUKES: WHY JMU WILL TOTALLY LOSE AT RHODE ISLAND
Ahh, November. The air in the Valley is finally getting crisper. There's a light film of ice coating my windshield once a week. It's a beautiful, perilous month where the Dukes will finally lose one of these wretched football games.
Not so fast. Don't slip on the melted butter, lobster lovers. This weekend won't just be some scenic walk through New England, where JMU wins by 11 touchdowns. What year do you think you're living in, 2016?
Rhode Island isn't just improved from last season — they're improved from last month. This isn't the same team that got doubled up by Maine, New Hampshire and Stony Brook in its first three conference games of the season. Two weeks ago, Rhode Island gave first-place Elon all they could handle, playing the Phoenix to a near-draw in a 35-34 loss.
I know what you're probably thinking right now. "Wait. Elon is in first place in the CAA?!"
Yes. Like JMU, the Phoenix are still undefeated in conference play. JMU and Elon are on a collision course to play a de facto conference title game on November 18 it both schools' regular season finale.
That's right, Dukes fans. Get those mouth glands salivating.
Keep overlooking little old Rhode Island.
Rhode Island is fresh off a 17-point road win against a Colonial Athletic Association opponent, which probably hasn't happened since actual Colonial times.
Meanwhile, JMU is sailing into classic trap game waters. What else would you call a noon game at a school 500 miles away, sandwiched between two of your most important conference games, the week after your star quarterback sets the all-time record for career passing touchdowns in a 21-point shutout victory?
Oh, so you think Mike Houston doesn't do trap games? Well, how about JMU's brittle offensive line, going up against a pair of defensive linemen who both check in as top-7 sack maestros in the CAA?
That's right. Sophomore Brandon Ginnetti and senior Jose Duncan are both defensive linemen for the Rams. Duncan has five sacks on the year, which puts him in a log jam for 7th, tied with several other players. Ginnetti is tied for second with six sacks, along with JMU's Kyre Hawkins.
That sounds like a defensive front that could find a fair measure of success against an increasingly banged up JMU offensive line. (LT Aaron Stinnie is expected to play, as of this writing.)
So yeah, just keep on overlooking those Rhode Island Rams. A sleepy start time and a key matchup advantage might just give URI its biggest win in years.
It's Week 10, and the Dukes are Doomed.