Takeaways from JMU Football’s 2023 Schedule

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

JMU football’s 2023 schedule is here!

We knew who the opponents would be previously, but now we have official dates. It’s February, and the time has come to plan your fall Saturdays!

Here’s the rundown of the schedule, and then let’s share some big-picture takeaways:

Sept. 2 – Bucknell

Sept. 9 – at Virginia

Sept. 16 – at Troy

Sept. 23 – at Utah State

Sept. 30 – South Alabama, family weekend

Oct. 7 – Bye week

Oct. 14 – Georgia Southern

Oct. 19 (Thursday) – at Marshall

Oct. 28 – Old Dominion, homecoming

Nov. 4 – at Georgia State

Nov. 11 – UConn

Nov. 18 – App State

Nov. 25 – at Coastal Carolina

This schedule is awesome. I am stoked for the beginning of football season because the Dukes play in an elite Group of Five conference, and the nonconference slate includes a trip to Charlottesville.

10/10, no notes. Well, actually, here are some notes.

Tough opening

JMU opened the 2022 season 5-0, taking advantage of games against Middle Tennessee, Norfolk State, App State, Texas State, and Arkansas State. Playing at App State is no cakewalk and Middle Tennessee was OK, but that was a relatively easy five-game opener.

The Dukes have no such luxury in 2023.

Bucknell should be an easy win, but three consecutive road games against Virginia, Troy, and Utah State is a grind. UVA isn’t expected to be great, but that game carries significant weight in the state. Troy was stellar in 2022, and the Utah State trip is a lengthy road trip after a pair of key games.

The fifth game of the season comes at home against South Alabama, a quality program. JMU doesn’t play an FBS home game until Sept. 30! That’s a tough starting stretch.

Major Thursday showdown

JMU will make an appearance on an ESPN Network on Oct. 19 in a Thursday night game at Marshall. I’m stoked for that contest for a couple reasons.

First, it’ll be great to see JMU have a national spotlight against a competitive conference peer. That’s great for the program.

Secondly, I prefer the mid-week game being on the road. I’m sure it’ll be fun when JMU eventually hosts a weeknight SBC game, but for now, sign me up for six SATURDAY home games.

ODU an ideal homecoming opponent

JMU’s homecoming game is on Oct. 28 against Old Dominion. I love it!

I’d expect a tremendous atmosphere in Harrisonburg all weekend with alumni coming back to the area and the Dukes hosting a rival. Part of me wishes JMU-ODU was played on rivalry weekend, but another part of me really enjoys playing ODU a few weeks earlier.

A late October game in Harrisonburg against an in-state rival sounds downright delightful.

Incredible finish

JMU hosts App State on Nov. 18. On Nov. 25, JMU ends its regular season at Coastal Carolina. What a finish!

Even if JMU falls short of lofty expectations in 2023, JMU fans will be engaged for the entire season with a finishing stretch that dramatic and meaningful. If JMU meets expectations, those games could be crucial in determining the Sun Belt East champion.

On the other side, games against Georgia State and UConn on Nov. 4 and 11 could be emotional letdown spots for the Dukes. Those opponents aren’t quite as intriguing as the games against ODU, App State, and Coastal.

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