Takeaways From JMU Football’s 2024 Schedule Reveal

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Ben Hofer

The 2024 JMU football schedule was announced today, and the 2024 JMU football hype train officially starts right now. We are 184 days from watching the best college football team on planet Earth (allegedly) take the gridiron.

Lets’ break down the 2024 slate, which sets up well for a team with significant roster turnover and a new coach. Some of the Dukes’ toughest tests seem to come in the second half of the season. Below is a screenshot of the schedule from FBSschedules.com.

Limited travel

Overall, this is a good schedule for JMU fans. JMU will play the majority of their games within a day’s drive of Harrisonburg. The only games that will be difficult for fans to travel to are ULM and Georgia Southern. This schedule should encourage JMU diehard fans to make the trip to cheer on the Dukes. Expect JMU nation to rise to the occasion and fill sections in Boone, Chapel Hill, and Charlotte, especially. 

The lack of cross-country travel benefits fans and the team. The Dukes looked exhausted in the second half of their 2023 win over Utah State, the team’s third consecutive road game. JMU’s 2024 schedule only features one stretch (at ODU and at App State in mid-November) with consecutive road games.

Having two bye weeks (Sept. 14 and Nov. 2) placed beautifully also helps. The Dukes have an extra week to prepare for North Carolina and receive an early November week.

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

Not a brutal schedule

At least on paper, this is a relatively weak schedule for both nonconference and conference play, with possible outliers being UNC and App State. JMU has a chance to go 11-1 or 12-0, if Chesney has the Dukes rolling in Year 1.

A manageable schedule is both a good and bad thing. JMU fans need to hope that teams like Marshall, Coastal, Carolina, and App State are good in 2024, otherwise a run at the College Football Playoff could be tough if other G5 teams secure better wins. A win against UNC early could look really good, if the Tar Heels over-perform the rest of the way.

JMU’s body of work (from a CFP perspective) will be highly dependent on the overall strength of the Sun Belt East, as well as North Carolina. Strength of schedule could be an issue if the Dukes get compared to another one-loss or undefeated G5 champion.

For any of that to even matter, however, the Dukes will need to have a special season. Winning 11 games against any schedule is a challenge.

And while the schedule looks manageable on paper, a three-game stretch of at Old Dominion, at App State, and home against Marshall to end the season will be physically and emotionally demanding. November could be electric.

Recruiting/attendance notes

The Dukes will play three teams in North Carolina, as they face Charlotte, UNC, and App State all on the road. This could be huge for recruiting in the Tar Heel State.

Exposure to a lot of high quality talent in NC could be huge for the recruiting staff, which lost a few recruiters with the Cignetti departure who focused on NC. Winning all three of those games will be a challenge, but the Dukes have a chance to make a recruiting impact in the state by beating those opponents on the road.

A Thursday home game with Coastal Carolina is ideal for TV viewership (it’ll air on national TV), but not as great for in-person attendance. Still, the matchup and potential SBC East implications should attract a lively student section.

JMU hosts Southern Miss on Homecoming Weekend on Oct. 26. This game may only be notable because JMU has not played Southern Miss since its FBS transition. This isn’t the sexiest Homecoming opponent, but we’ve been spoiled with great homecoming games the past two years, so I can’t complain.

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