Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications
By An Intelligent Sports Mind
JMU fans are rightfully excited to be in the Sun Belt. The league is filled with college football juggernauts. Opposing fanbases care about the weekly results, and Sun Belt East atmospheres are amazing — did you see Boone this weekend??
Another positive of the Sun Belt move? Competitive conference games. The Dukes were the obvious top dog of the CAA, mashing opponents even when they showed up on Saturdays with their “C” game.
Bad news, JMU fans. The wait for competitive conference games will take at least one more week. I fully expect JMU to demolish Appalachian State this weekend.
Whoa, whoa, whoa! App State recently defeated Texas A&M. Why would they possibly get blown out at home by MU?
Well, for starters, Saturday is a prime spot for an App State hangover. The Mountaineers upset Texas A&M and followed that up with a miraculous home win over Troy with ESPN’s College GameDay in town. It would be natural for the Mountaineers to come down off those emotional highs.
Let me be the first to say, beating Texas A&M, hosting College GameDay, and beating Troy on a Hail Mary was the worst possible scenario for the Appalachian State program. What were they thinking??
Former JMU head coach Everett Withers led JMU to its first College GameDay experience in 2015. The season derailed after that.
Withers, one of the brightest defensive minds of his generation, then went to Texas State. The head ball coach intentionally ran that program into the ground, making tackling completely optional in the process. Why? To avoid winning, which meant avoiding the plague that is the College GameDay curse.
When reached for comment this week on the dangers of GameDay and how the show’s presence could negatively impact App State in future games, Withers replied, “I’ll have to watch the film.” We eagerly await his response.
Mountaineer mouse traps
I’m also concerned about the health of Appalachian State players. Shawn Clark, App State’s head coach, put mouse traps throughout the facility last week to send a message to his team to not take the “cheese” — A.K.A. all the positive media coverage surrounding the team. He wanted them to stay focused on the goal of winning the Sun Belt.
But was the motivational tool worth the risk?
You’re telling me a team of about 100 college-aged kids all remained humble despite multiple national outlets telling them they’re the greatest sports team since the 2021 JMU softball team? I’m guessing at least 5-10 guys broke fingers in mouse traps reaching for the cheese. Realistically, another 5-10 players accidentally stepped on the traps.
Hello, bruised big toes. Goodbye, the perfect health of 10-20 players.
Dukes own North Carolina
In JMU’s last two trips to the great state of North Carolina, the Dukes are 2-0 with an average margin of victory of 19 points. The last time JMU played a Group of 5 team in North Carolina, the Dukes won by 20 points.
Appalachian State’s first game of the season, which was played in North Carolina, was a 63-61 loss to the University of … you’re not going to believe this: North Carolina. The Mountaineers needed a Hail Mary to win their other game in North Carolina this season. Getting the point yet?
Appalachian State is listed as the home team — a silly technicality — but all history suggests the Dukes will feel more at home Saturday.
JMU has outscored Appalachian State, which is famous for barely beating Michigan one time, 35-11 in the last 30 minutes of football played between the two teams. If you expand that pace over 60 minutes, history says JMU should defeat Appalachian State 70-22.
Recent history confirms this math, as Appalachian State gave up 63 points to North Carolina in Week 1. Based on internal calculations (don’t ask for these, they’re confidential) provided by the mathematicians at JMU Sports News, JMU’s offense is seven points better than UNC’s. JMU scoring 70 points is an obvious prediction, given what the Tar Heels did to the Mountaineers.
We love the Sun Belt. We love what App State brings to the Sun Belt. But Saturday, it looks like a true “Dukes by 90” situation.