With James Madison's and Delaware's wins last week, there is now a three-way tie for first place in the Colonial Athletic Association rankings between JMU, UDEL and Towson (all 6-2). The Dukes have a fairly easy matchup this upcoming Saturday against the Wildcats of New Hampshire (2-6).
The Dukes, now on a two game win streak, will travel to New Hampshire to face the Wildcats in a game that could catapult the Dukes to sole possession of first place (depending on outcomes of Towson and Delaware) or drop them to a tie for second or third place (depending on outcomes of Stony Brook, Maine and Elon).
Defense v. Defense
James Madison's defense has been stellar the entire season, allowing just 47 points to CAA foes compared to the next best defense in the CAA, Delaware, who has surrendered almost triple the amount of points (115) to CAA teams.
The Dukes of JMU have the second best mark in the CAA allowing opposing QBs to complete just 50.9 percent of their passes (111 for 218). Additionally, their defense has allowed the fewest first downs in the CAA (107). The defense of JMU will be a very difficult matchup for the Wildcats offense. Also, the purple and gold defense has allowed the fewest third-down conversions in the CAA, allowing just 29 total third-down conversions on 112 attempts (25.9 percent).
However, the Wildcats' defense is solid — allowing 132 total first downs to opposing offenses (fourth best in CAA) and 138 total points to opposing CAA teams (also for fourth best in CAA). UNH is second in the CAA in defending third-down conversions, allowing 30 on 109 attempts (27.5 percent).
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A QB Comparison:
JMU QB Ben DiNucci has made himself at home in the Shenandoah Valley after transferring from the University of Pittsburgh. He is first in the CAA in completion percentage, completing 135 of 196 attempts (68.9 percent). He is second in the CAA in total completions. Fourth in total passing yards (1,428), tied for fifth in touchdowns (11) and sixth in passing average per game (178.5 yards). His efforts have led to JMU being a dominant offensive force that can pass the ball very efficiently.
For New Hampshire, the QB position has been cloudy with multiple players receiving a healthy amount of snaps since the first offensive drive of the season. Trevor Knight and Christian Lupoli have shared majority of the snaps with a couple others occasionally stepping in. But from the looks of the Wildcats two previous contests, it seems that Trevor Knight has won the QB battle.
The senior QB saw little action earlier on in the season but has taken the starting role into his own hands in every game since Oct. 6. In 2018, Knight has completed 82 of 146 pass attempts (56 percent) for five touchdowns, averaging 153.6 passing yards per game. Knight ranks tenth in the CAA in both pass attempts and completions. In no other statistical category does any UNH QB rank in the top ten in the CAA.
Despite the great defense UNH has displayed thus far in the season, the offense and defense of JMU will more than likely prove too powerful for New Hampshire even in their home stadium.
The Dukes simply have much greater weapons on both sides of the ball making them the overall better team. The Dukes have scored substantially more and have given up substantially less.
Expect the Dukes to come back to Harrisonburg triumphant after their battle against the Wildcats of New Hampshire.