JMU Football Three Notch’d Preview: Dukes Host Rival App State

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

While JMU football’s fight for a bowl waiver may head to court, the Dukes take the field this weekend for a major game against a solid App State team. The rivalry game will be featured nationally, with College GameDay in town for the showdown. 

JMU football fans can’t ask for much more out of a weekend of football. Let’s break down the basics heading into Saturday.

Saturday’s weather

A mix of clouds and sun are expected Saturday, with a high temperature of 55 degrees. Winds are expected to be between 10 and 15 miles per hour.

It looks like it’ll be a fairly standard November Saturday in Harrisonburg. It’s a bit chilly, especially with a little bit of a breeze. Bundle up!

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

How to watch

The game, which kicks off at 2 p.m., can be streamed on ESPN+. 

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 App State

Record: 6-4, 4-2 SBC

Head coach: Shawn Clark, 32-17 overall as App State’s head coach. Clark is one of the more interesting coaches in the conference, as App State fans weren’t pleased with him after the team’s 3-4 start. Three wins later, there’s more optimism about his future job prospects. The Mountaineers went 6-6 under Clark last season, and they posted a 10-win season in 2021. 

Key contributors: Joey Aguilar is a beast at quarterback, throwing for 26 touchdowns compared to seven interceptions. Running back Nate Noel is explosive, and he broke off a 61-yard touchdown run last season. He’s a game-changer. App State’s wide receivers are dangerous, with Kaedin Robinson leading the team in receptions (41), yards (541), and six touchdowns. Christian Horn’s status is up in the air as he deals with injury. He’s a dynamic receiver. Makai Jackson and Dashaun Davis are also solid wide receivers. 

Defensively, App State’s linebackers are dangerous. Andrew Parker Jr. and Nate Johnson are capable tacklers and pass rushers at the linebacker spot. Safety Nick Ross is one of the best at his position in the conference. 

The Mountaineers are good, and they’re arguably better than their 6-4 record suggests.

What to expect

A fight. 

It’s a rivalry game, and the Mountaineers haven’t lost a game by more than one possession all season. App State is seemingly always in the game. The Mountaineers are hard to put away, even if a 6-4 record falls below program expectations. 

Aguilar is a dangerous quarterback, looking every bit as good as Jordan McCloud this season. The Mountaineers’ wide receivers are some of the best in the conference, and the secondary makes a lot of plays. 

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JMU is going to face one of its toughest tests of the season Saturday. The Mountaineers are no joke, proving that in one-possession losses to North Carolina, Wyoming, and Coastal Carolina. 

Fortunately for the Dukes, they’re playing elite football. McCloud looks special at quarterback, and the defense has been steady all season. Even with some key injuries, JMU is one of the best teams in the Group of Five. 

Coupled with an electric home atmosphere, the Dukes have a good chance to win Saturday. JMU fans should be optimistic about a victory, but don’t expect anything against a team as good as App State.

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