College GameDay Week 12 Odds: Why Is ESPN at James Madison vs. Appalachian State?
Odds for College GameDay are for a more under-the-radar matchup this week. ESPN heads to Harrisonburg, Va., to showcase the undefeated James Madison Dukes (10-0) in its Week 12 showdown against Appalachian State Mountaineers (6-4). JMU is a home favorite in the contest, which carries an over/under of points. This is GameDay’s third trip to James Madison, but the first time since the Dukes rose to the FBS ranks. App State pits a three-game win streak against JMU’s undefeated record.
The NCAA Division I Board Administration Committee denied James Madison’s second waiver attempt for full bowl eligibility Wednesday. JMU is a second-year FBS team. Unless there aren’t enough 6-6 bowl teams, it is not allowed to play in a bowl game.
College GameDay: James Madison Vs. App State Odds
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James Madison vs. App State Quick Look
|James Madison||Stat||App State|
|2.62 (38th)||PPD||2.67 (34th)|
|1.45 (15th)||PPD/A||1.97 (43rd)|
|6.3 (23rd)||YPP||6.4 (14th)|
|4.6 (14th)||YPP/A||5.8 (88th)|
|6-0||Sun Belt Record||4-2|
Table key: Power (TheLines aggregate power rating), KFord (KFord Rating), PPD (points per drive scored), PPD/A (points per drive allowed), YPP (yards per play), YPP/A (yards per play allowed)
James Madison Dukes Preview
In just their second year as a member of the FBS, James Madison is off to the races. Behind a stellar defense, the Dukes won their first 10 games despite no postseason eligibility. However, the unit sank when national sack leader Jalen Green suffered a season-ending injury. Green is just one of four strong defensive linemen, highlighted by Jamree Kromah and Mikail Kamara (8 sacks each). JMU leads the country in rushing success rate allowed, stands fifth in sack rate, and 11th in PFF’s coverage grades.
Despite losing a prolific quarterback last season, Jordan McCloud filled the shoes well, passing for 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. McCloud leads the Sun Belt in passer rating and completion rate (min. 100 dropbacks). JMU’s offense crutches on the passing game due to an inefficient run game. The Dukes are the sixth-worst rushing team nationally in EPA and have just a 36.6% success rate on the ground (123rd).
Receivers Reggie Brown and Elijah Sarrat are second and third in the Sun Belt in receiving yardage this year. Brown is one of the best downfield receivers in the conference, while Sarrat is utilized as the intermediate chain mover.
Appalachian State Mountaineers Preview
App State has fallen a tier since being the bastion of FCS-to-FBS movers. This year, more than most, is a frustrating one for Mountaineer fans, as the team is 1-4 in one-score games. However, App State converts third downs at a respectable clip (43.8%, 29th-best) and finds success in the red zone (top-30 numbers both offensively and defensively). The biggest strength of this team comes in the passing game – one that’s come alive under Joey Aguilar. Aguilar was made the starter in Week 2 after preseason starting QB Ryan Burger went down with an injury.
However, running the ball has been an issue for App State lately. Star running back Nate Noel suffered an injury, missing most of three games before returning at 50% workload for the last two. His progression matters to the Mountaineers in the long run, though Noel likely sees light work against a stout JMU run defense this week anyway.
The biggest pitfall for App State this season comes on the defensive side of the ball, particularly against the run. Although the past two weeks have been much better, the Mountaineers allowed 200+ yards on the ground in four straight games prior. That unit does get another reprieve against the inefficiencies of the Dukes’ run game this week; however, one of those sides has to give.
KFord Rating assessment
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JMU has 3.5 more wins than my preseason realistic expectations projected through Week 11 at 10-0, which makes the Dukes No. 1 on my overachievers list. With three of the four units power-ranked in the top 40, this should be a really fun game. This team is currently power rated a season-best No. 38 and is in the top 40 on both sides of the ball.
Bottom line, I have James Madison -10, with a 23% chance App State spoils the Dukes’ perfect season.Kelley Ford, TheLines College Football Podcast
App State at JMU College Gameday Odds: Best Bets
James Madison is on a mission. Should their postseason ineligibility be exempted by the NCAA, the Dukes would be allowed to compete for the Sun Belt Championship – a position in which they’d be favored to do so. Not just a conference title and a bowl berth, but JMU would likely be in the driver’s seat to be the Group of Five’s representative in a New Year’s Six bowl, too. The bottom line is a lot is on the table for them.
Because App State’s most significant liability is also an inefficiency for JMU – and because JMU fields the Group of Five’s best defense – this is a lean to under 55.5 points for me. App State runs a middle-of-the-pack pace on offense, and JMU a below-average pace on offense. I don’t trust the Mountaineers’ offense to score enough points on the Dukes to carry this total. And I can’t ask JMU, who is outside the top 100 in seconds per play, to carry this many points.
Although this game plays out on ESPN+, the eyes of the nation are on JMU with GameDay in town. The Dukes want to make a statement after the waiver for a bigger bowl games was denied.
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