Sep 1 / Todd

Bucknell at JMU: Official JMUSB Game #1 Preview

Running Back Kaelon Black carries the ball against Appalachian State
Looking forward to having Kaelon back at 100%

The Basics

Matchup: Bucknell Bison (0-0, 0-0 Patriot League (FCS)) at JMU Dukes (0-0, 0-0 Sun Belt)

Kickoff: 6 p.m. EDT. Saturday, September 2, 2023, Bridgeforth Stadium, The ‘burg

Weather: Sunny, low 80s

Broadcast: ESPN+

Boys in the Desert: Good luck finding a shop that’ll take this one but the line’s gotta be a lot. And whatever it is, it isn’t enough.

How We Got Here

The Dukes had a dream start to their 1-A tenure last season, finishing atop the Sun Belt East at 8-3, spending a glorious week in the Top 25, and adding some new games to the list of legends with the comeback in Boone and the blowout of Coastal to win the East. But where last year we all entered the season thinking the MTSU game was a tossup and having no idea what to expect, fans are back to believing that a repeat of last season’s record is expected.

Bucknell struggled mightily in a Patriot League that has seen one program (Holy Cross) invest mightily in football and distance themselves from its conference mates by a wide margin over the last few years since the League finally changed its scholarship rules to allow for a more even playing field with the rest of FCS. But the Bison did finish strong last year winning their last two games. They enter 2024 with a veteran group and much higher hopes.

How Bucknell Can Win

Produce a bunch of Dukes turnovers at the perfect times. Bucknell is an extremely veteran team on both lines. The D-Line has multiple 6th year players who have seen a lot, including plenty of FBS matchups, so they won’t be scared by the atmosphere the way other FCS teams sometimes were. DE Tyler Alston will need to get in the Dukes backfield and screw things up because the skill-player disadvantage will be significant. On offense, they need to grind out just enough yards to hang onto possession behind their best players Tackle Ethan Pitzel and Guard Casey Stephenson. 3 and outs will absolutely crush them because while they may be able to anticipate the Dukes starting slowly with a new QB1, that won’t last for 60 minutes. Beyond that, they’d need to swap uniforms with the smellier Bizens up even further north to keep it close.

How JMU Can Win

Don’t beat themselves and don’t freak out. The Dukes are the better team and should roll. While nervous fans like us have long memories (don’t say Bloomsburg) of nervy opening buy-games at BFS, the squad has really handled business in these situations throughout the post-Mickey era. But with a young QB in Alonza Barnett III making his first start after a real camp competition, a veteran O-Line that hasn’t necessarily been pushed to earn their spots in camp this year, and a massive return to big expectations after coming into the season with relatively lower pressure last season, they need to just settle in and play within themselves. The rest should take care of itself. Defensively, anything more than 10 points from the Bison would be a disappointment as this team struggled to score against their peers last year. Given the talent and experience JMU has on that side, it would be a surprise if Bucknell is able to manage much beyond a big play or two that can be expected in Week One.

Couldn’t resist a shot of the Whirlies in the Panthers stadium

JMUSB Beer of the Week

Daycation IPA, Highland Brewing, Asheville, NC – Basically Asheville’s version’s of All-Day. Crisp with low ABV perfect for a long sunny tailgate on Labor Day weekend from one of North Carolina’s OG breweries.

Official JMUSB Prediction

JMU 48, Bucknell 10 – enjoy this one cause things heat up in a hurry this month

One Comment

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  1. Hart Foundation / Sep 1 2023

    Great to see the JMU SportsBlog back. Nothing to see here his week against a powder puff. I’m eagerly waiting for the all-time greatest JMU SportsBlog prior to the UVA game next week.

    I fully expect you to quit your day jobs and devote a full week to game analysis and tailgating prep for the inevitable destruction of the Boo-Hoos.

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