Nov 21 / Rob

Prediction Contest: Playoff Edition, Dukes vs. Delaware

The regular season is done and now things really heat up. No more time to whine about the bracket. It’s time to get ready for our old friends the Delaware Blue Hens, who the Dukes welcome for an opening round match-up in the ‘burg this weekend. You know the drill by now. Leave a comment below letting us know who you think will win and what the final score will be. The person who comes closes to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. That’s it. And while we’re at it, please not that we’re going to have the winner from the Towson prediction contest, post next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. That’s it. Now go prep the Turkey and get ready to root. Happy Thanksgiving and Go Dukes!

Nov 20 / Rob

New JMUSB Pod: FCS Playoffs Preview With Brian McLaughlin from Hero Sports

Here’s our latest episode of the JMUSB pod just in time for your morning commute (or Thanksgiving drive). It’s a particularly good one, because it features less of us and more of a guy who really knows what he’s talking about. Brian McLaughlin from Hero Sports is our guest. He’s the top FCS writer in the country and one of our favorite recurring guests. He joins us to break down the bracket, talk about if JMU deserved a seed, and make his picks for Frisco. We also talk about the Dukes’ big win over Towson and then end things with a few music recommendations.

Also, we’re doing another run of JMUSB t-shirts. They’ll be on sale for 2 weeks only and you can order them here. They make perfect gifts and will arrive by Christmas if you order soon.

As always, the JMUSB Podcast is brought to you by Pale Fire Brewing. Stop by the brewery for a beer and let them know JMUSB sent you and you’ll go home with a free pint glass.

Be sure to subscribe to the JMUSB Pod via Apple Podcasts or Spotify. And give us a rating if you haven’t already.

Nov 18 / Rob

JMU Drops Towson, But Misses Out on Playoff Seed

Well, there’s pretty much nothing that could dampen fans’ enthusiasm after JMU’s outstanding win over Towson yesterday. What’s that? The playoff bracket came out. And JMU wasn’t seeded? Oh.

More on the playoff situation later, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the Dukes’ awesome performance on the road to close out the regular season. Nooch and his teammates put together their most impressive game of the season, defeating Towson by the score of 38 to 17. After a quick start by both teams, it looked like were headed for a “defense optional” type shootout. That wasn’t to be however. JMU’s offense kept scoring, but the defense made adjustments and put the clamps on QB Tom Flacco and the Tigers. Townson managed a garbage time TD, but were otherwise kept the Tigers off the scoreboard for the final 3 quarters. read more…

Nov 16 / Todd

2018-19 JMUSB Game Preview #11: JMU @ Towson

A big one is here! Just like we all thought, JMU’s hugest game of the year would be at Towson on the season’s final day. Or maybe none of us actually envisioned the enormity of this one in the preseason, but as the Dukes approach this weekend’s game outside Baltimore, all of their goals are still possible. To achieve them, they really need to start on Saturday with a performance to launch them not only into the postseason on a high note, but hopefully even in the heavily advantageous position gained with a potential bye. More simply, this is a HUGE game. And this is the type of game we should all fully enjoy.


The Basics

Match-up: #7 JMU Dukes (7-3, 5-2 CAA) at #15 Towson Tigers (7-3, 5-2 CAA)
Kick-off: 2:00 PM on Saturday, November 17 at Johnny Unitas Stadium, Towson, Maryland
Weather: Sunny, high 46
Broadcast: College Sports Live (, free this week but prepare to switch to audio if necessary with this platform.

How They Got Here

Towson has been one of many surprises in the CAA. And of those unexpected teams, probably the most legitimate, and the most surprising, in that strength. After stints at Western Michigan and Rutgers, Tigers QB Tom Flacco moved right around the corner from big brother, and Ravens star(?) Joe when he transferred to Towson last summer with two years of eligibility remaining. His arrival supercharged the program, and in particular the Tigers’ offensive capability. Towson has varied and explosive offense with a whole crew of receivers for Flacco to throw it around to. They haven’s scored less than 20 all year (in an FBS blowout loss at Wake Forest) and not less than 29 (in a win over William & Mary) in FCS play. They’ve scored 40 plus in fully half of their first 10 games this year. Three weeks ago, Towson looked like they might be on track to run away with the CAA, but they’ve lost two straight tights ones against Delaware and Maine before bouncing back against a wounded Elon team last week.

The Dukes steadied themselves with a 48-31 win over Rhode Island after a real setback at New Hampshire the week before. Both teams have earned their 7-3 marks and the winner of this game is both a lock for the playoffs no matter what happens elsewhere in terms of the CAA auto-bid and likely a top-eight seed (with a bye), while the loser will sweat a bit before Sunday’s selection show and find themselves playing in the first round.

How Towson Can Win

39 points per game, 280 passing yards per game. Towson can absolutely sling it and light up the scoreboard. And Joe Flacco has probably played better than any QB the Dukes have seen all season. And unlike his “elite/not elite” brother, he can really run too. If Towson can follow the playbook laid out by Davis Cheek (Elon), Trevor Knight (UNH), and JaJuan Lawson (URI), they’ll likely be able to move the ball over the top and score on the Dukes. In many ways, Towson is a URI-upgrade though and they’ll need to slow down the Dukes enough to win a shootout. They also can’t afford to turn the ball over and give the sometimes-maligned JMU offense easier opportunities to keep up on the scoreboard.

How JMU Can Win

This is the most complicated version of this section we’ve written all year. First, the Dukes have to win the battle of turnovers and big plays. If they give the Tigers easier/more chances, there may not be enough bulbs on the scoreboard. Second, and probably most importantly, the JMU offense HAS to both move the ball and finish drives. 3 and outs will not cut it if you’re forcing the defense back on the field against Flacco and co. time after time. The best way to control Towson’s offense is for them not to be on the field. But the Dukes are almost certainly going to need 30+ points to win this one so they can’t be relying entirely on the defense and specials for the big plays.

On defense, this will be one of Coach Trott’s most interesting gameplans. We’re guessing a lot of the “speed package”  on the D-Line to contain Flacco in the pocket with a lot of five-DB packages featuring Tutt and Oliver. The real challenge in that setup is for Holloway, Word, and the linebacking corps to stop Tigers RB’s Shane Simpson and Kobe Young. While that’s a lot to digest, we’re really looking forward to seeing this very capable unit try to meet the challenge this week with so much on the line.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Natty Boh-er, just kidding, don’t drink that pisswater. In fact, don’t act like Towson fans in any way. The entire “Towson state university” fanbase is essentially the human embodiment of a Preakness infield port-a-john. What? Too much? Who cares, it’s time to get the real fires burning. Until the last few years when Elon entered the conference, Towson was JMU’s traditional end-of-season game/playoff clincher and it’s time to bring that soul-crushing spirit back! So grab some Blue Mountain Dark Hollow for your road trip to make sure you’ve got a bit of Virginia love with you and get ready to root!

Official JMUSB Prediction

This one is going to be tight. There is no result (Dukes blowout, Tigers blowout, close game either way) other than a low-scoring result that would surprise us. And we all better buckle up for a wild one because these two teams’ track records suggest they won’t be held down all day. But our feeling off last week’s mojo-restoring win is the Dukes step up big and the defense limits Towson as well as anyone has all year. Doesn’t mean they’ll keep the Tigers out of the end zone, but we think the offense really drops the hammer against a middling Towson D after revving back up last week and JMU gets the one big play they need on specials.

Dukes 34, Tigers 31

p.s. Enjoy the Preakness infield compilation here.



Nov 15 / jmusport

Guest Post: Stay All Four Quarters

Cody won last week’s prediction contest and earned the right to guest post. Here’s his plea for students to stay all four quarters.

Enter the prediction contest, they said. Win a guest spot, they said. Never did I ever think I would actually win. What’s my secret, you ask? I google each team, average the scores I see (without realizing google sometimes includes games from a long time ago) and see if it’s a plausible football score. Try it.

Anyway, since I never thought I’d win, I never really had an idea of what to write about. So I’ll just beat a dead horse, but maybe from a different angle (and all doped up on a co-created-with-my-doctor concoction of  azithromycin, 800mg ibuprofen, possibly expired Wal-Phed (poor man’s Sudafed), cough drops, Gatorade (the white one, of course), probiotics, and Monster Energy):
4 Reason Why Students Need To Stay Through The Entire Game
1. JMU Is A Special Kind Of Atmosphere
If I’m being honest, I wasn’t the best JMU fan during my time in undergrad. I think I went to 4 football games my first year and this what during the time when all you needed to do was show your JAC at the gate to get in. Hell, I lived in Eagle Hall, too, so really I had no excuse other than I didn’t particularly care. My love for the university really didn’t start to take root until my junior year, and by then it was tough to get in (pre-order free tickets – what?). But, what I do know is that each game I went to was an atmosphere of love, fun, excitement, thrill, etc. It’s been a while since I’ve been back (looking at you, homecoming 2014..I think?), so I can’t even imagine what that feeling is now. But, it can only have grown. Fast forward beyond earning my M.Ed. and working for two years at a school whose football team has been undefeated since 1908, I’m now living and working in Knoxville, Tennessee, home of the Tennessee Volunteers. This was/is a culture shock in the size/sports world that I’m used to. But, with all the hype that surrounds SEC culture, I have not been impressed with the fan base/atmosphere of UT football. Even at JMU’s worst, we were proud and excited (yes, even those of us who weren’t that tied to sports or the school). Shoot, one of my fondest memories is watching JMU lose to William & Mary in the cold and rain, behind the MRDs, with all my friends. Here, it’s just different.
So, students, soak it in now. Because once you leave for the “bigger and better” life of the SEC/ACC/OTHERCONFERENCESIDONTKNOWTHENAMESOF, the atmosphere won’t be the same.

read more…

Nov 14 / Rob

Prediction Contest: JMU vs. Towson

It’s the regular season finale. Our beloved JMU Dukes are headed up to Towson to take on the Towson Tigers. The winner could find itself with a seed in the playoffs. It’s a big, big game. And we want to know how you think it will play out. Leave a comment below with your prediction for the game. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. It’s that easy. So give us your prediction below and Go Dukes!

Nov 11 / Todd

Good, Bag, Ugly from JMU’s Win over Rhode Island

Some things never change. Thanks to Jimmy and all the seniors for a helluva run!

The Dukes, for a week at least, righted the ship in downing Rhode Island 48-31 on Senior Day in a game that had to feel great for the offense in that it was really the week they won a game for the good guys. JMU gets to 7-3 (5-2 CAA) and gives themselves a chance to possibly play for a seed at fellow CAA-heavy Towson next week. Given results around the country, the Dukes have likely punched a playoff ticket but a win would make all the difference in the world if it gets them a bye and a guaranteed home game. We still have no idea what the ceiling or the floor is for this squad, but let’s all sit back and enjoy having a HUGE game on the horizon this week.

The Good

Zaire Bathea and the O-Line – It wasn’t perfect, but yesterday’s O-Line performance was the best we’ve seen in some time. Bathea in particular stood out in the pull game and this is hopefully something to build on. Cardon’s longish run early and his TD late were two of the best-blocked plays we’ve seen all year.

Jimmy – Gamechanger. Always. Fitting Senior Day highlight.

Good Nooch – What can we say? There was a whole lot of good Nooch going on yesterday. Getting everyone involved and  a the kind of fearlessness to tuck and run that we saw back in Raleigh. Still don’t love every decision on the read option but the swag was back and it might’ve been just in time to make something of this season yet! His first TD pass (of four!) was exactly the kind of play – making a great move to avoid a sure-fire sack and improvising for a short toss – that separates him when he’s at his best.

Spreading the ball around – Not sure who to credit here but DiNucci and Donnie K probably deserve the most credit. After weeks of “run for two yards on first down, run for one yard on second, try and force it to Riley on third” we saw all kinds of name involved in the offense right from the jump. Dean, Brown, Sims, Dylan, Riley, Percy, Eldridge, CJ, and Sharp all got great opportunities in places they could do things yesterday and it made all the difference.

Trott using depth – Make no mistake, URI can throw the ball with anyone in the nation. These are the Rams point totals from the games Lawson has played in this year: 21 (win over UD), 45 (win over Albany), 49 (loss to FBS UConn), 23 (win over a good Harvard team), 48 (shutting out Brown), 36 (nail-biting loss to likely CAA Champ Maine), 21 (three-point loss to Elon), 31 (JMU). What we’re saying is yes, JMU’s defense got beat some yesterday in the air. We’ve learned that the Dukes D is susceptible to teams that can really sling it, probably as much based on their style (stop the run, leave everyone vulnerable and rely on talent in the back) as their ability. The Dukes needed to find pressure yesterday. When they didn’t, they got roasted. But they found a way to manufacture enough pressure to make quite a few huge negative plays for URI in the form of multiple sacks and of course the huge Jimmy pick. A lot of this was DC Bob Trott keeping everyone fresh by using all of JMU’s considerable depth. Solid second-half shifts from Matt Terrell and Paris Black helped layer in behind the game changers like Rondell Carter and John Daka.

Charles Tutt getting healthy – Burst was back. He missed that INT, but he was a real factor on the back end yesterday and having him running around with Jimmy and Amos could make a huge difference against the high-flying Tigers next week.

Also, Tyler Gray got engaged after the game with the whole team cheering. And it was as great as that sounds! Congrats!

The Bad

Bad Nooch – The first pick was the only real appearance of Bad Nooch in this game. Real tough look for our guy. But if one per game is the ratio, the Dukes offense has a lot more room to grow. More on the second pick later, but that was NOT bad Nooch.

URI punt return – Ugh. Talk about giving away any chance of a comeback with a mental mistake. That was hideous. And thank you from the bottom of our purple hearts!

The Ugly

CAA Officiating – Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Every week is a sh*tshow with the CAA, but this was comically bad and thankfully not consequential in the outcome.

Ole! – On DiNucci’s second interception, there was a whiff of a block by a TE that would’ve made a matador proud. Watch it again for a laugh and even the staunchest anti-Noochers out there have to admit that ain’t on the QB. We were just glad to see Houston get into the blocker and not Ben after the play.

Nov 8 / Rob

2018-19 JMUSB Game Preview #10: JMU vs. Rhode Island

My family spends a lot of time in Rhode Island. It is a wonderful place. A tiny little state famous for its beautiful beaches, abundant seafood, luxurious mansions of Newport, coffee milk, white people, and giving ill advised $75 million loans to ex-ballplayers who run companies into the ground. It it not however, known for college football. The state’s flagship university, and JMU’s opponent this weekend, has had only 3 winning seasons in the past 33 years. A tradition of winning it is not. But things might be changing. Head Coach Jim Fleming has the Rams playing better than they have in decades. They’ve proven to be a very tough out for some of the CAA’s top teams this season, and even knocked off current first place squad Delaware on the road. This 2018 Rhode Island team is light years better than the one the Dukes threatened to hang a hundred on two years ago. Let’s get on with it.

The Basics

Match-up: #9 JMU Dukes (6-3, 4-2 CAA) vs. Rhode Island Rams (5-4, 3-3 CAA)
Kick-off: 2:00 PM on Saturday, November 10 in Bridgeforth Stadium
Weather: Sunny and cold with a high of 40
Broadcast: MASN, SNY, and Streaming via Madizone

How They Got Here

Not sure if you heard, but JMU lost to New Hampshire last weekend. It’s true. We went into great depths on the latest episode of pod, but the wheels basically came off. Whether it was a one game blip, or a harbinger of truly dark days remains to be seen. In the loss, the Nooch had 2 turnovers, which the Wildcats took advantage of to jump out to an early lead. Cole Johnson came on in relief and made some very nice throws. He also threw 3 picks and fumbled once. It was ugly folks. All told, it was a rough game. Coach Houston has played his cards close to the vest all week and refused to name a starting QB. Not much more to be said that hasn’t been said about the game already. It was clearly the lowest point of the Mike Houston era. Now the Dukes have an opportunity to rally around each other and show folks what they’re made of.

Rhode Island also lost weekend, but in a much less crushing fashion. The Rams went down to Carolina and fell to Elon 24-21. It was a moral victory. And while Rhode Island is a much improved program, they’re still at the level where moral victories are a thing. Sure, they probably feel like they let a potential upset slip through their grasp. They rallied for 2 touchdowns in the 4th quarter to pull within 3 points, but failed to recover an onside kick with just over a minute left. Talented QB JaJuan Lawson returned from injury to throw for for 349 yards and 3 scores. Naim Jones managed 54 yards running on only 10 carries. All told, the Rams have to be feeling pretty good about the effort and confident that they can hang with the top teams in the CAA.

How Rhode Island Can Win

Let is all hang out and attack. The Rams have absolutely nothing to lose. They’re an improved team, but practically nobody expects them to beat the Dukes in Bridgeforth. Elon and New Hampshire got after the QB all day, and tried to dictate things on offense. Stony Brook tried to play conservative, taking what JMU gave them, and waiting for big mistakes that never came. Guess which approach was more successful?

The Rams are at a disadvantage defensively, needing to prepare for both Nooch and CoJo. Either guy will beat them if he’s allowed to sit back there and make plays. But we saw last week that both guys are susceptible to pressure. On offense, the Rams need to take their shots. Lawson can sling it. If he plays aggressively, instead of trying to wait for JMU to make mistakes, he and his teammates will have a shot to pull off the upset.

How JMU Can Win

By QB TBD taking control. Despite what some hyper partisan fans on both sides of the debate might tell you, Nooch and CoJo each have clear strengths. Nooch is dangerous with his feet and up until last game, good about protecting the ball. Johnson has a lively arm and good accuracy. JMU can win if the coaches call the game in a way that leverages the QB’s strengths.

Earlier in the year, we all wanted Nooch to stand tall in the pocket instead of tucking a running when the pocket collapsed, so that he could progress as a QB. Well, let’s worry about progressing in the offseason. It’s time to win. Maybe Nooch will eventually become a classic drop back QB. If he gets the start on Saturday however, we’re all for him scrambling and moving the chains.

If Johnson is the guy, then it’s time to go vertical-ish. Folks are somehow convinced that he was dropping 50 yard bombs on the dime against UNH. He wasn’t. He was hitting guys in stride on 15-20 yard throws. The Dukes will succeed if he can consistently connect on those sorts of throws. The running game will open up and eventually the talent gap will become evident. And some better offensive line play wouldn’t hurt.

Defensively, JMU needs to keep it simple and let guys do their jobs. The Dukes don’t need a ton of sacks or to create multiple turnovers (although neither would hurt). This defense is very good, when it plays straight up and pounces on the opponents missteps. It’s good enough to shut down the Rams’ running game and make them one dimensional. From there, it’s all about limiting big plays.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Temps in the 40s? Seems a little early for that, but the cold definitely makes it stout weather. Let’s go with a winter warmer like Virginia Black Bear by Lickinghole Creek. It’s an imperial stout with lots of roasted chocolate maltiness. And at 9.3 ABV it will keep you nice and toasty at the tailgate. Or put you to sleep if you have one too many. Good beer though.

Official JMUSB Prediction

The o-line bounces back, seniors step up, D gets back to business, and the team rallies around QB TBD. Dukes roll 31-10. This JMU team has flaws, but we believe it also has heart. And while I can’t believe I just typed that cheesy sentence, I do think it matters. JMU got pushed around last week and is facing adversity for the first time in the Mike Houston era. We don’t think the Dukes will fold in these circumstances. We think they’ll thrive. JMU is gonna roll on Saturday.

Nov 7 / Rob

Prediction Contest: Dukes vs. Rhody

The Dukes are basically in playoff mode. Sure, JMU could sneak into the playoffs with only one more win, but Houston and the boys really need to win the next two to remove all doubt. They’ll welcome the much improved Rhode Island Rams to Bridgeforth on Saturday. We’re fairly confident, but want to know what you think. Leave a comment below with your prediction for the game. The person who comes closest to nailing it (winner & score) will get to write a guest post. We had no winner last week, because everyone picked JMU to win (just like against Elon). Will everyone be as confident this week? Let us know below and Go Dukes!

Nov 6 / Rob

JMUSB Pod: Turning the Page

In this episode of the JMUSB podcast, we discuss the brutal and disappointing, but not quite devastating, loss to New Hampshire. And of course we talk about the QB controversy and try to figure out what the heck is going on with the offense. Then we wrap things up with a bit of a palate cleanser, while we talk about some of the college hoops venues we’d most like to visit.

As always, the JMUSB Podcast is brought to you by Pale Fire Brewing. Stop by the brewery for a beer and let them know JMUSB sent you and you’ll go home with a free pint glass.

Be sure to subscribe to the JMUSB Pod via Apple Podcasts or Spotify. And give us a rating if you haven’t already.