Is JMU-Elon Becoming a Rivalry Game?

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

Does JMU football have a CAA rival?

The obvious answer to this questions is yes. Richmond-JMU is one of the most heated rivalries in the CAA, and maybe even the FCS. Despite a boring matchup last season, there’s no denying the energy of a typical JMU-Richmond matchup.

Outside of Richmond, however, not many of the CAA matchups bring a special feeling during game week.

Villanova feels like it could become a football rival, but those games haven’t been overly exciting in recent years, and it’s hard to develop a strong football rivalry with a school that cares significantly more about basketball.

Towson is an exciting opponent this season, but the Tigers haven’t been a consistently good FCS program.

Delaware brings intrigue, but a diminishing fanbase and mediocre play makes it tough for JMU-Delaware to be an exciting rivalry right now.

William & Mary remains a rival, but the Tribe will never be a school known for athletics, and the football program has had a few down seasons. It’s not a game JMU fans are circling on the calendar this season.

It feels like JMU and North Dakota State are bigger rivals than the Dukes and much of the CAA. The intense FCS media attention, the quality of play and the rabid fans make JMU and NDSU worthy counterparts. Unfortunately for football fans, there’s no guarantee the Dukes and Bison will meet each season.

JMU could use an intense conference rivalry to help make the regular season more exciting. With Richmond struggling, I wonder if Elon can develop into a conference football rival until the Spiders get their act together.

The Phoenix have been competitive the past few seasons, and they beat JMU last season at Bridgeforth. Elon enters this matchup in the top 25, and it will be fired up after losing head coach Curt Cignetti to JMU. There are storylines for this week’s game, and the Phoenix have a quality program.

While it’s not an in-state matchup, Elon is only a few hours from Harrisonburg. Fans can travel to each road destination in this budding rivalry, which helps add to the excitement.

JMU “stealing” Cignetti helps add fuel to a potential fire, and the Phoenix were able to knock JMU off its early-season pedestal last season. There’s potential for a rivalry.

A close, intense battle on Saturday would go a long way toward adding a CAA matchup worth circling on the calendar each season.

Do you agree? Could JMU-Elon develop into a football rivalry?

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