Betting Preview: JMU Favored By Double Digits Against App State

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Blake Pace

What a weekend.

James Madison football continued its embark on a perfect season, separating from the UConn Huskies in the second half in a 44-6 rout to move to 10-0 on the year. Just a few hours later JMU Nation was sent into a tizzy when it was announced that ESPN’s College GameDay would be making its way to the Quad for this week’s battle with the App State Mountaineers.

I would give up absolutely anything to be a student during this era of JMU athletics, but my old ass will have to enjoy this experience from the comfort of my couch as this one-of-a-kind university gets the recognition it deserves.

Now let’s talk about our bets. 

The Week 6 Recap: JMU 1H -13.5 (L), JMU -24.5 (W), o48.5 (W) & JMU TTo37.5 (W)

(Overall Record: 10-10)

This week was so needed: our three wins and one loss brought us all the way back up to .500 on the season. We just need to hit 55 percent for me to feel more than pleased with our results this year and have two weeks to do just that.

The Dukes quiet first quarter had me stressed for the majority of the game, starting 0-1 as they stumbled to a 13-3 first-half lead, but the miraculous “Paco” pick six to close the game helped cement the 24.5-point cover as well as hit the full game over and JMU’s team total over.

Lucky? Sure, but that’s gambling.

Editor’s note: Thanks to Christopher William Jewelers for their advertising support this season.

The Lines: App State at JMU (-11.5), o/u 55.5

James Madison found itself a 12.5-point favorite when this line first dropped Sunday, but sharp action has come in heavy on the Mountaineers to the point where you can even find JMU -10 on some books. You always have to worry about the sharps in this early movement: the Dukes are receiving 71% of bets and 79% of the money, but the line keeps shrinking regardless? Experts are thinking this line is too large. The total, meanwhile, has only danced between 55.5 and 56.5 the last couple of days.

A few nuggets: App State has yet to fail covering the spread as an underdog this season, going 2-0-1 in such contests, and the Mountaineers are averaging over 31 points on the road this season. Both teams have combined for a record of 10-5 on overs this year set at 55.5 points or fewer, and the Dukes have now hit the over in three straight contests.

The Picks: 1H o28.5, App State +11.5, App State TTo21.5

There’s a reason I listed the spread at JMU -11.5 (still available on FanDuel) instead of the -10 it’s shrunken to on some books; I think the Mountaineers are going to keep this one close this weekend.

I’d like to imagine the College GameDay environment and the very short road standing between James Madison and a perfect season won’t cause a distraction, but it’s human nature to get caught up in the spotlight regardless of what the coaches may preach to the team this week. It’s not just that, though, as the Mountaineers bring a talented offense to Harrisonburg in hopes of avenging their late-game collapse a year prior.

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The Mountaineers have a great run/pass balance that include four rushers of 250-plus yards on the season, and their quarterback Joey Aguilar (one of those four mentioned rushers) has had a very effective season with 2,657 passing yards and a nearly 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio. They aren’t terribly terrific at protecting the football, but are sound in just about every other offensive metric. The story of this game will be how the terrific, but injured, JMU defense holds up against the App State offense.

Watching JMU’s passing offense continue to blossom in the late parts of this season has been the biggest factor to its continued success, but the Dukes would be wise to lean on the run game Saturday against a team that brings a bottom-10 run defense into town. I’m not saying the Dukes should abandon the pass entirely, especially given how amazing Jordan McCloud has looked as of recent, but keeping a sneaky Mountaineer offense on the sideline and dominating the time of possession would be the best way to assure the 11th victory of the year.

It’s tough to say just how a result from a year prior will impact a team the second time around, but after App State watched an 18-point first half lead over the Dukes dissipate I have a hard time feeling like the Mountaineers will take their foots off the gas early on — thus the first half play of over 28.5 total points. James Madison’s offense shouldn’t have much issue going up and down the field on this defense, but App State’s offense will keep them within 10 points and cover while still losing.

Sparks fly in the first half and App State covers (and hits their team total over) in a nerve wracking victory for the Dukes.

James Madison 31, App State 24

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