Nov 7 / Todd

JMUSB Game Preview #10: New Hampshire at JMU

The Basics

Matchup: #10 New Hampshire (5-3, 4-1 CAA) at #2 JMU Dukes (8-1, 5-0 CAA)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., Bridgeforth Stadium, Harrisonburg, VA

Weather: Partly Cloudy, High 45. Finally some great football weather. Cold Friday night, cool Saturday night, and it’ll be dark by halftime.

Broadcast: MadiZone and MASN (hallelujah!). And note that legendary JMU alum and former JMUSB podcast guest Steve Buckhantz will be in the booth doing color commentary alongside Curt Dudley this week. Can we make this a thing forever please?!

Boys in the Desert: JMU -17.5, O/U 38.5, ML -1080 (YIKES)

A Few Important, and Funny, Notes About New Hampshire

Get Well Coach – Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that long-time Head Coach Sean McDonnell had to step away from the program on the eve of the season due to complications from cancer. We wish nothing but the best to Coach and the whole UNH program and community.

Coach Santos – UNH’s Interim HC in Coach Mac’s temporary absence is none other than former QB Ricky Santos. Santos was already the only player in CAA history to have played more seasons than Andrey Semenov, and now he’s back, and he has the ‘Cats right back where they’ve always been. On the cusp of a playoff birth.

DMV Kids – Also like always, the Wildcats have a smattering of players from DMV programs that will know the Dukes well. This year’s group has players from Westfield, St. John’s, Damascus, West Springfield, among others.

Marty Scarano lives! – This is a super deep cut for only the nerdiest of FCS superfans, but those who have followed the FCS, and in particular the inner workings of the Selection Committee that is seemingly always led by the UNH AD, you know that their appearance in the Committee’s first rankings this week should come as no surprise. We kid because we love. Well, not really, but only because we will always kind of hate the football-only CAA poachers.

How the Wildcats Can Win

Play “Perfect plus.” In other words, UNH needs to play nearly their best game. “Plus” they really need to turn the Dukes over just like last year. Their defense has been solid for a long stretch now and dominant at times. But the offense hasn’t shown it’s capable of outscoring a team like JMU all year without things really breaking their way. This begins with penalties, turnovers, and short fields. As we all saw to our horror, this is exactly what happened up in Durham last year when UNH whipped the Dukes ass all over the field. Everyone remembers this is the game when DiNucci turned it over the first two series, got benched, and then Cole promptly turned it over two more times. Force that kind of thing again, and the Wildcats will be all over the seed discussion next week no matter how surprising it was to see them slide into the Committee’s first top 10 this past week.

How the Dukes Can Win

Don’t turn the ball over. That’s it. New Hampshire hasn’t really exploded offensively on anyone. In fact, they flat-out cannot score as they are last in the CAA in total points scored with 161. And it’s not even close; JMU leads the conference with 349, but no one else except UNH is below 211. That’s Hideous. But the Cats play extremely strong on the other side of the ball, matching JMU in almost every major defensive category statistically. And if they can force the Dukes into the kind of shield-your-eyes debacle we saw last year, where JMU simply gives the game away by burying themselves under an avalanche of turnovers, UNH is absolutely capable of winning again.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Tree House Brewing’s Haze NE IPA. Oddly, for as much as we’ve been IPA guys over the years (and taken a lot of crap from our “OK, Boomer” audience), we’ve been a little put off at times the last couple years as seemingly every brewery has moved away from the piney/hoppy-but-clean West Coast style towards the “dank” and unfiltered/cloudy New England IPA. Done well it can be great, but more often than not, it just tastes exactly how it looks. That is to say cloudy, unfiltered, and generally crappy. But thanks to our tailgate crew, we got to try this young legend from Massachusetts’s Tree House. Complete with a gorgeous purple tall-boy can, this beer has all the citrus notes so many of this style try for while still maintaining that huge hop profile we love.

Official JMUSB Prediction

Dukes 31, UNH 10 – Wildcats simply cannot score. They’ve played inspired football after losing Coach Mac on the eve of the season and stumbling – understandably – out of the gate. Like they always do, they’ve grinded their way to maximizing the talent they have and putting themselves in position for a playoff berth. But if you can’t score, you can’t beat this Dukes team. We are very bullish on the Dukes this week.

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