It has been 692 days since James Madison football lost a game to an FCS opponent. Will that streak end this homecoming weekend when the Dukes welcome New Hampshire to Harrisburg? Read on to find out.
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New Hampshire is going to throw the ball a lot because… well, it's New Hampshire. I think it's likely that the CAA interception leaders add a couple more picks to their total here, and JMU gets another big win on its march to the No. 1 seed. But I also think New Hampshire breaks that seemingly unbreakable 15-point mark that no one has been able to reach yet against this vaunted JMU defense, and that, in itself, is a win for the Wildcats.
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I expect JMU to really get the offense going this week. New Hampshire has a “bend don’t break” type of defense that relies on the offense to put up points. JMU should win the battle in the trenches and be able to run the ball effectively throughout the game. New Hampshire can move the ball offensively and put up some serious points, and with a dual-threat QB running their offense, the Dukes have to play smart football and keep Trevor Knight in the pocket. JMU’s defense is second in the country in passing yards allowed and first in pass defense efficiently, they'll rely on that to win this game. I’m taking JMU in this one 45-14.
The Dukes haven't had a defensive hiccup all season long, even against the elite CAA competition. The Wildcats are solid and have played themselves back into the mix for an FCS Playoff spot, but JMU's defense will do the usual stranglehold thing and will pull away in the second half.
JMU beat New Hampshire twice a year ago, including a home win in the playoffs, but the Wildcats have often caused the Dukes trouble. There have been some wild games and surprise upsets sprinkled throughout the series.
It’s hard for me to get a read on this year’s UNH team. They appear to be a very good home team, going 4-0 in Durham. They’ve lost their only two true road games, getting blown out by Holy Cross and falling at Stony Brook a few weekends ago. Fortunately for Madison this game is at home on homecoming and should create a hostile environment for New Hampshire. The combination of JMU defense, home field advantage, and a reliable Bryan Schor-led Dukes’ offense should carry the day. I’m always leery of these Wildcats, but I’ll still take the JMU win.