No. 1 James Madison at No. 11 Elon
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 18, noon ET
WHERE: Rhodes Stadium, Elon, NC
Elon's loss to New Hampshire dampens the excitement surrounding this game, but a JMU win still gives the Dukes consecutive outright CAA titles. With a victory over the Phoenix standing between the Dukes and an undefeated regular season and the nation's No. 1 seed in the playoffs, I expect to see a motivated JMU squad. I expect Elon to hang tough for the first half before JMU's offense heats up and the Dukes pull away for a 28-3 victory.
This game scares me a little bit, it seems like a trap game for the Dukes. JMU is coming off an emotional home win over their biggest rival. While Elon is coming off their first conference loss of the season in a tough road game. JMU travels to Elon in the regular season CAA championship in a game that means a lot this Elon team looking to cement their place in the FCS playoffs, and a win against the undefeated number one team in the country would look pretty good on their resume.
This could be the final home game Elon plays this year, which means the seniors for the Phoenix will play with a little extra on Saturday. That being said I think JMU will fall behind early, but come up big in the second half. I like JMU 28-17 over Elon.
Let's just admit it. Elon is overrated. The Phoenix are a playoff team, but they aren't in the same class as JMU. Losing Malcolm Summers last month was a killer for Elon, and this team absolutely does not have the same depth as JMU at running back. (Or any other position.)
Austin Peay and Elon are two of the best stories in FCS football this year, but I fully expect JMU to trash Elon on Saturday. The Dukes will earn a second-straight outright CAA title and lock down the No. 1 overall seed.
The Colonial Athletic Association has to be thrilled to be getting what amounts to a de facto conference championship game in its final weekend before the playoffs start – not to mention actually having three teams still in the running for the auto bid. Despite the fact that both teams are likely in the playoffs regardless of the result of Saturday’s game, there is still plenty on the line for both teams.
For Elon, there is the chance to win its first CAA title, a chance at a top-eight seed, and avoiding a two-game losing streak heading into the playoffs. For Madison, it has already clinched a share of at least its third consecutive conference title – a first since Boston University won claimed the title from 1982-84 – but it can claim its second-straight outright title with a win on Saturday. It can also assure itself that it will receive the top-seed in the I-AA playoffs allowing it to play at home through the semifinals.
As for the game, I believe it was be close, but with JMU not allowing more than 14 points all season and not having given up more than 20 points since last season’s playoff game against New Hampshire, I have to believe that trend will continue. The Dukes’ defense continues to dominate and helps secure the win.
Elon is one of the best stories in the FCS this year, and we're all about stories. What the Phoenix and Coach Cignetti have done as been impressive and they will make the playoffs, which is a big positive for the program. True freshman Davis Cheek is going to be a quarterback to watch until 2020, and he's going to pile up the headlines.
Alas, Elon is running into a buzzsaw at home this weekend. Now, will Elon concede 63 to JMU this year like they did last year? No way. But JMU's defense is giving up what, 9 points a game? James Madison will finish up 11-0 in the regular season, only the second time a JMU team has gone undefeated (the other was 1975). It'll be the 23rd straight win for the program, as it continues to inch up the win-streak record ladder in the FCS.
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