Sep 30 / Rob

Official JMUSB 2021 Preview: JMU vs. UNH

It’s 2021. While it’s unquestionably better than 2020, things are still in a precarious state. The world is still trying to fight through the pandemic. People all over are struggling in a number of ways. Politics seem more partisan than ever. And as of right now when I’m writing this, the Yankees appear to be on the verge of making the playoffs. Times are tough. With all this sadness in the world, it seems kind of ridiculous to do our regular schtick where we mock the Dukes’ next football opponent. So we’re not going to make a bunch of cheap jokes at New Hampshire’s expense this week. That would be insensitive and inappropriate in the current climate. We’re going to focus on a topic that unifies people, instead of dividing them.

Richmond sucks. We’re not sure if the RU campus is still littered with creeps in sweater vests. It might be or it might not now. That’s a tired old trope at this point anyway, so maybe we should retire it and replace it with whatever the modern day douche-signifying uniform is. (Someone get on that.) In the meantime, let’s all relish in the fact that the Spiders suffered one of the most painful losses in recent CAA memory two weeks ago. On September 18, the same day JMU defeated Weber State, RU went on the road to face Villanova. Things started off well. The Spiders quickly fell behind 13-0. But the joy was short lived. RU stormed back with 27 unanswered points. After 18 of the most emotionally trying months ever, citizens of Earth were facing the unimaginable horror of an emphatic and potentially momentum building win for the Spiders. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. On this day, evil would be defeated. Villanova rallied to tie the game at 27 in the fourth quarter. Then with only 38 seconds left, Nova connected on a 47 yard pass for a touchdown. And just like that, light triumphed over darkness.

The Basics

Matchup: #3 JMU Dukes (3-0, 1-0 CAA) vs. #25 New Hampshire Wildcats (3-1, 2-0 CAA)

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. EST. Saturday October 2, 2021, Wildcat Stadium in Durham, NH

Weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 67

Broadcast: NBC Sports Boston or you can Go with the Flo

How We Got Here

JMU had last week off after an impressive road win at Weber State. In the victory, the Dukes offense ran for over 5 yards a carry and Cole Johnson continued his stellar play, completing 70% of his passes. Through 3 games, JMU has shown that it has a balanced offense with enough weapons to create matchup nightmares for the opposition. And the Dukes have an extremely physical defensive unit, with plenty of depth. The team has yet to be seriously challenged, but now heads into the meat of the CAA schedule.

UNH virtually took the last week off, hardly going through the motions in a 77-7 loss at Pittsburgh. Yes, Pitt is an ACC team, but 77 points is 77 points. And college football fans expected more fight from UNH after the Wildcats opened the season 3-0 with wins over Stony Brook and Towson in conference play, and an out of conference defeat of Lafayette. Granted, Stony Brook and Towson are probably middle of the pack (at best) CAA teams, and Lafayette is in the Patriot League and not Holy Cross, so we know the Leopards are not good. Still though, UNH didn’t even show up against Pitt. The Wildcats gave up 455 yards passing and 707 yards overall. That’s…not great.

How the ‘Cats Can Win

By taking care of the ball and turning it into a slugfest. The Wildcats have fumbled the ball 11 times in this young season, with 10 of them coming during their 3-0 start. That’s playing with fire. The UNH defense is probably better than last week’s performance indicates, but it’s not so good that the Wildcats can count on shutting down the Dukes all day. They’re going to need to keep JMU’s offense on the sidelines and limit the Dukes’ possessions. And while New Hampshire has a solid passing attack, these are not the QB1 Ricky Santos era Wildcats that could sling it as well as anyone. In short, they’re not built to win a shootout. Their best bet is to turn the game into a grinding affair and capitalize on mistakes. If they can run the ball just enough to keep the Dukes D-Line from pinning their ears back and attacking the QB, they could move the ball.

How the Dukes Can Win

Just do their thing. It would be smug and dismissive to say something like the Dukes would need to beat themselves in order for New Hampshire to win. We know that. Here’s the thing though, the Dukes would need to beat themselves in order for New Hampshire to win. That’s not to say this is a guaranteed victory. It’s not. New Hampshire absolutely can win. The fact is that if the Dukes play up to their potential, they’re better and they’ll win. JMU has a stable of studs running the ball, a QB who is playing with confidence, and the most dangerous receiving corp New Hampshire will see for the rest of this season. Defensively, they’ve got the sort of pass rush that can make things very difficult for a talented, but relatively inexperienced QB like UNH’s Bret Edwards. So if they stick to their gameplay and limit mistakes, the Dukes will win. But we’ve seen the wheels come off for JMU in Durham before. And it’s still too soon to talk about it.

JMUSB Beer of the Week (BOTW)

LazerSnake by 3 Floyds Brewing. The world has plenty of hazy fruit bombs New England IPAs. This is not one of them. It’s a good old fashioned throwback IPA. It’s not overly bitter and it goes down smooth. 3 Floyds has been known by craft beer fans for years, but has only recently been distributed near us. It was worth the wait. They make great beers and LazerSnake is worth trying. And at 7% ABV it will take the edge off for those of you forced to reckon with the sad reality of paying FloSports to watch this game.

Official JMUSB Prediction

The run game goes wild, another crisp day from CoJo, and the D creates a few turnovers. JMU rolls 35-17. New Hampshire caught a bad break playing a Pitt team motivated to play its best football after suffering an awful loss to Western Michigan. They’re better than last week’s result indicates. But JMU is coming into this game rested and focused. The Dukes train keeps marching with another road win this weekend.


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  1. Steve Brown / Oct 1 2021

    I don’t see how this UNH defense stops the multiple weapons that JMU has on offense. The offensive game plan has been an A+ so far in 2021 and that won’t change in Week 5. JMU will run and pass at will on Saturday with maybe 1 punt. The JMU defense will feast on an anemic UNH offense.


  2. Tidewater Duke / Oct 1 2021

    Possible letdown being off last week and looking at UNH score against Pitt. Always tough in Durham, but Dukes have too much talent. JMU 41 Kittens 10

  3. CJ / Oct 1 2021

    I think JMU’s secondary was an unheralded hero of the Weber State game. I’ve seen a pattern where opponents will throw deep balls to covered receivers, and either the receiver catches it or the JMU defender interferes. So teams have learned that their odds are in favor of taking deep shots regardless of coverage. Our secondary really tightened up in the Weber State game, and most importantly I don’t think they committed any pass interference fouls.

    Speaking of penalties, what was the story with the 15-yarder on Cignetti at the end of the 1st half against Weber?

    NH is a good team, but that Pitt blow out makes me a lot more confident. I think JMU is just as good a team as Pitt in a lot of ways, so assuming no “Crazy Ivans” occur we should take care of business without too much trouble. Of course, now that I’ve said this watch it turn out to be another Elon situation where they take us down to the wire…

  4. Mighty Oz / Oct 1 2021

    Rob, this is funny stuff! Hope the game is as entertaining as your writing. Duke 45 Mildcats 7

  5. Mighty Oz / Oct 1 2021

    Sorry bout da typo. *Dukes 45 Mildcats 7

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