The James Madison Dukes are looking to stay undefeated with a home game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Saturday.
The Dukes aren’t allowed to play in a bowl game or the Sun Belt Championship due to James Madison switching from the FCS to the FBS level.
It’s a rule that many have questioned over and over again. But the NCAA has done nothing about it and continues penalizing student-athletes for a conference change.
The Dukes are petitioning, but it’s unlikely that anything will get done.
With that said, James Madison can still put together a perfect season. The Dukes have made the transition easily and should be a powerhouse in college football for years to come.
Before we get too excited, can James Madison get past one of the most consistent programs in the SunBelt?
Oddsmakers have James Madison sitting at -10.5 at home. Meanwhile, the Over is slightly juiced at Over 55.5, at -112 odds.
Let’s dive deeper into the App State vs James Madison odds for Saturday’s SunBelt showdown.
Location: Bridgeforth Stadium
App State vs James Madison Odds
The James Madison Dukes have been a covering machine this season. The Dukes have won ten straight games while going 7-3 against the spread this year.
Meanwhile, the Over has hit in six of their last ten games, hitting in each of the previous three games for the Dukes this year.
On the other hand, Appalachian State has covered in its last two games. But the Mountaineers are still 4-5-1 against the spread this college football season. The Over has also hit in six of their last ten games this year. However, the Under has hit in the Mountaineers’ previous two games.
Appalachian State and James Madison have only had one previous game against one another. That was last year when James Madison earned a 32-28 win as six-point underdogs on the road.
How Joey Aguilar Became The Guy
At the start of camp, Joey Aguilar and other Mountaineers quarterbacks competed for the starting job this year.
He was fighting redshirt freshman Ryan Burger for the starting job. So once Burger suffered a finger injury, Clark made the change in the first college football game of the season against Gardner-Webb.
Aguilar’s first pass was a 32-yard touchdown. Head coach Shawn Clark never looked back.
Aguilar has thrown for 2,657 yards with 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His QBR of 72.8 is the 25th-best in the nation.
James Madison Still Seeking To Make FBS Postseason
The James Madison Dukes are undefeated. Almost all FBS schools that pull this feat off are recognized. However, James Madison won’t be.
James Madison is ineligible for a bowl game or any postseason play because they switched from the FCS to the FBS level.
This week, the university wrote a letter to the NCAA Board of Directors requesting that the Dukes be eligible for a college bowl game. The Sun Belt Conference even vouched for JMU in a different letter to the board.
If the NCAA allows the Dukes to become bowl-eligible, the Sun Belt has acknowledged that they will enable James Madison to compete for the conference title this year.
It’s unlikely that the NCAA will allow James Madison to play in the postseason. But we like the effort.
Teams Can’t Run on James Madison
The James Madison Dukes have averaged 34.3 points per game this season. That’s fewer points per game than Appalachian State, who have averaged 34.8 points per game.
But the difference is the defense.
James Madison has allowed 232.6 yards per game in the air. However, opponents have also earned just 61.6 yards per game on the ground this season.
James Madison’s run defense is spectacular. But while the pass rush isn’t always as effective, the secondary is elite for the Dukes.
Appalachian State gets 182.7 yards per game on the ground this season. That number will likely trend downward against James Madison. Joey Aguilar has been fantastic, but he’s also playing behind an offensive line that should struggle to keep James Madison in front.
On the other hand, the Dukes are rolling with Jordan McCloud under center. He’s thrown for 2,800 yards with 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. McCloud has a 75.9 QBR, which is the 18th-best in college football.
But he’s not just a thrower. He’s rushed for over 300 yards with six more touchdowns. With Appalachian State allowing 187 yards per game on the ground, James Madison should succeed in running the football. Then, eventually, when the Dukes start to have success on the ground, McCloud will find his favorite target in the air, Reggie Brown, who has over 900 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
If it weren’t for stupid rules, James Madison would be ranked inside the college football playoff rankings. The NCAAF odds will favor the Dukes in the rest of their games. So when you check the NCAAF scores today and don’t see James Madison listed in the Top 25, it’s because they’re ineligible to play in the postseason.
The Dukes are still a top-25 NCAAF team in the nation this year. The Dukes still have a chip on their shoulder. After looking at the App State vs James Madison odds, we’ll back James Madison at -10.5 (-110) at home.