JMU Football Three Notch’d Game Preview: Dukes Hit Road for Georgia State Clash

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

With another week comes another meaningful Sun Belt East game for JMU football. This weekend, the Dukes hit the road to face a much-improved Georgia State squad. 

The Panthers are bowl bound (6-2, 3-2 SBC) this season, and they’re arguably the toughest test left on JMU’s schedule. Here’s our preview of what should be an enjoyable game Saturday. 

The game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET. 

Saturday’s weather 

Saturday’s high temperature is 71 degrees, and the forecast calls for sunny skies and minimal wind. The overnight low is 43 degrees, but the temperature likely won’t get close to that during the game. It should be an ideal day for football in Atlanta. 

For the second consecutive week, you couldn’t ask for better weather on a JMU football game day. 

Editor’s note: Thanks to Three Notch’d Brewing for their advertising support this season. 

How to watch 

The game will air on ESPN2. More big-time TV billing for the 23rd-ranked Dukes. 

If you want to listen to the radio broadcast and are in Harrisonburg, tune in to WSVA 550 AM or 92.1 FM. You can stream the radio broadcast online at WSVAOnline.com and on your phone with the The Varsity Network app.

Getting to know Georgia State

Record: 6-2, 3-2 SBC

Head coach: Shawn Elliott is 40-40 at Georgia State, with this being his seventh season leading the program. His record is somewhat misleading as a 2-10 record his second year pulls down what would otherwise be a 38-30 record. He led the Panthers to four bowl games, including three bowl wins. The Panthers will make their fifth bowl appearance under Elliott later this season. 

Elliott went 1-5 in 2015 as South Carolina’s interim head coach. 

Key contributors: Darren Grainger is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback, and running back Marcus Carroll leads the Sun Belt in rushing yards per game with just over 130 per game. Robert Lewis is a dynamic wide receiver, pacing the team with 46 receptions for 658 yards and six touchdowns. 

Georgia State’s offense has some of my favorite playmakers in the Sun Belt. It’s a strong unit. 

Defensively, linebacker Jontrey Hunter is one of the team’s top players. He leads all Panthers with 65 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss. He’s forced a pair of fumbles and broken up three passes. Bucknell transfer cornerback Gavin Pringle has been stellar defensively, snagging a team-high three interceptions. 

What to expect

I anticipate a competitive game between two of the best teams in the Sun Belt East. Georgia State is coming off a disappointing 17-point loss to Georgia Southern – the team’s second lopsided loss this season – but the Panthers are still one of the better teams in the league. 

When they don’t lose the turnover battle, they’re dangerous. The offense can score in bunches, and the defense stops the run well. Georgia State isn’t the best team in the Sun Belt, but it’s fair to say the Panthers fall into the top half of 2023 Sun Belt teams. They’re good enough to beat JMU if the Dukes struggle. 

For JMU, the matchup favors the Dukes’ passing attack. Georgia State’s run defense is strong, but the passing defense is suspect. Can Jordan McCloud, who just threw for 340 yards against Old Dominion, go for another 300 yards through the air this weekend?

I like JMU’s chances Saturday, but the Dukes will need to play well to leave Atlanta victorious.

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