Sep 2 / Todd

MTSU @ JMU – Official JMUSB Game #1 Preview

It’s Just So Beautiful!

Matchup: JMU Dukes (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) vs. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (0-0, 0-0 CUSA)

Kickoff: 6:00 p.m. EST. Saturday, September 3, 2022, Bridgeforth Stadium, Rocktown

Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 83 at kickoff, humid, dropping into low 70s

Broadcast: ESPN+

Boys in the Desert: JMU -5.5, O/U 58

How We Got Here

To paraphrase Clark W. Griswold, “Hallelujah, holy shit!” Needless to say, this one has been in the works for a little while. 18-24 months. Monitoring the situation. Hell, there was a plane hired with a banner at one of the Gamedays (we have no comment on funding for said plane). In the end, when it looked like JMU might be allowed to be the first team ever to move up in one year, and play a full FBS schedule right away, the Dukes needed to find one more home Out-of-Conference game to make that a reality. MTSU had an open date after a bigger fish bought out a previously scheduled game and JMU dug up the cash to make this a reality. On one hand, having the first game of the Sun Belt era against a legit team is a tad scary. But really IT’S FREAKING AMAZING! Let’s ‘effin go!

How Middle Can Win

This section has been an afterthought for years for most regular season games. Well afterthought no more. The Raiders, like every team except Norfolk St. on the schedule this year, can absolutely beat the Dukes if the boys don’t play well. Middle’s defense led the nation in turnovers forced last year and a nervy, over-hyped first-FBS game from JMU could be a recipe for that to continue. Especially because Defensive End Jordan Ferguson (#9) is a serious problem. If he spends too much time in the backfield and/or in Centeio’s grill, that will cause major issues. On offense, the Raiders need to be steady. They have a solid line led by Center Jordan Palmer (#62). They need to avoid turnovers themselves as this isn’t a flashy group despite vague recollections of early Stockstill teams being more innovative (he’s in his 17th year as HC!) but if their defense is slowing JMU down, they won’t need to light it up. That said, it seems obvious everyone will try to test the Dukes young/inexperienced Corners at every turn and with the return from injury of veteran QB Chase Cunningham that’s a sure bet here too.

How JMU Can Win

Survive the hype and nerves of the first half, don’t squander scoring chances, and get to the QB. This game is going to be an adventure early with what will surely be a revved up (and well-oiled given the late kick) crowd. JMU needs to avoid trying to do too much early and simply avoid mistakes through the first few drives. In what seems like it may be the recipe all season, the Dukes offense has to find a way to grind things out in the running game. Avoiding down and distance challenges and setting up manageable third downs will do wonders to slow down the Raiders pass rush and stay away from risky throws against an opportunistic group. Really looking forward to seeing Percy and Kaelon back from injury to join Latrele! And more than anything, JMU has got to take advantage of scoring chances better than last season. Trips inside the 10 have got to be TDs and kicks inside 45 need to split the uprights. The margins are just going to be so much tighter this year that the Dukes can’t afford to squander chances.

On defense, it would be easy to focus on stopping the run given the camp churn at the NG/DT spots, but really the Dukes have to find ways to pressure the QB to help out the back end of the defense by not forcing guys to cover all that long.

JMUSB Beer of the Week

NoDa Brewing’s Hop, Dop & Roll. Fortunate to have a few of these glorious bastards coming to the tailgate with an old friend from Charlotte. Big, but clean, crisp IPA with great hops but none of that dreadful haze/food that makes a 6 p.m. taste too chunky.

Official JMUSB Prediction

It may just be the fluttering excitement in our guts, but our best guess is the Dukes, with their champion’s DNA intact, are just flat-out better than a CUSA mid-packer from last year. Thornton, Latrele, Kidwell, Ukwu, Chuk. These guys can compete anywhere and with the reinforcements from the portal on-board, the Dukes will weather the first half and then get rollin’!

JMU 31, MTSU 23


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  1. Tidewater Duke / Sep 2 2022

    JMU. 29
    MTU. 20

    So, sorry I can’t make it to Bridgeforth. I’m old and getting back to Tidewater about 1;00 am is just too tough. Need for the crowd to get there early and be LOUD!!!

  2. Hart / Sep 2 2022

    This has been a long time coming.
    The Dukes are a little down on talent this year, but Middle Tennessee State is a below avg FBS team. Home field makes the difference.

    Dukes 24
    Raiders 23

    JMU Nation celebrates its first FBS home game with suds galore…pre-game, in-game, and post-game.

  3. CJ / Sep 3 2022

    Mixed feelings as we begin our FBS career. On one hand, I’m excited and optimistic that JMU can be competitive on this level. On the other hand, my more realistic side is going to miss the excitement of every season being a potential national championship run and now the new normal will be .500 seasons if we’re lucky. I guess by the end of September we’ll have a good idea what to expect.

    I think the biggest spotlight will be on the head coach. Make no mistake, I think Cignetti is a good coach and he’s done a good job for us. My only nagging concern is whether he’s a GREAT coach. While we gave WVU and NDSU a good fight, Cignetti still doesn’t have a signature win that would distinguish him as a GREAT coach. Not to be nit-picky, but there were a few times last season when I questioned whether he had the team adequately prepared and ready to play. Just a lingering concern as we jump into the FBS…in order to compete and succeed you really need a GREAT coach at this level.

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