Time and Date: 12 PM ET - October 14
Broadcast Network: ESPN2
Location: Bridgeforth Stadium - Harrisonburg, VA
Records: Georgia Southern 4-1 (1-0 Sun Belt), James Madison 5-0 (2-0 Sun Belt)
Line: James Madison -6
Point Total: O/U 58.5
All-Time Series: Georgia Southern is 8-1 all-time against James Madison, with the Eagles having won last season in Statesboro, 45-38.
Georgia Southern Outlook
The Eagles will look to face their toughest test, maybe of the entire season, on Saturday when they face off with James Madison on the road.
Georgia Southern’s offense has rebounded since a disastrous performance against Wisconsin a few weeks back, averaging 39 points per game on offense in wins over Ball State and Coastal Carolina.
Southern’s passing attack has once again become the backbone of this team, and will be needed against a JMU team with a stout front-seven. Davis Brin has been sacked 11 times this year so far, which makes for a bit of concern against the Dukes.
Brin has played mistake-free football since the loss to the Badgers, having thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions after having six turnovers in one game at Wisconsin.
Defensively, Georgia Southern has been much improved from last season’s debacle and now ranks 60th in the country in total yardage allowed on that side of the ball. Players like Latrell Bullard, Marques Watson-Trent and Damel Hickman leading the defensive line, linebacking corps and secondary, respectively.
The one area the defense has been lacking is in getting pressure, however. Southern currently ranks 110th in the country in getting to the quarterback, having notched just 8 sacks through five contests.
Each position group on the defensive side of the ball will need to be prepared for a varied attack, as the Dukes present a legitimate challenge both through the air and on the ground.
If the defense can hold up against JMU, I feel pretty confident in Georgia Southern’s chances of walking away with a victory. If it turns back into a contest like last season that becomes a race to 40+ points, I don’t feel as strongly about it.
James Madison Outlook
One would think that the loss of Sun Belt player of the year Todd Centeio would have set James Madison’s team back a bit, but newcomer Jordan McCloud has done an admirable job picking up the slack on that side of the ball.
The biggest thing about McCloud is, he doesn’t make mistakes with the football often, giving JMU a shot to stay in games behind the Dukes’ stellar pass rush. McCloud is currently completing about 65% of his attempts with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 11:3.
Receivers Reggie Brown and Elijah Sarratt do most of the damage when McCloud is slinging it; both pass catchers average 15+ yards per reception this year, so Southern’s secondary needs to be on high alert when McCloud drops back.
Defensively, JMU’s line is an absolute beast. Each of Jalen Green, Mikail Kamara, James Carpenter, and Jamree Kromah are forces to be reckoned with, as the Dukes rank third in the country in sacks, with 23.
If JMU’s defensive front does not get to Brin early and often, it may be a long night for the Dukes’ secondary however. James Madison’s pass defense is currently 131st in the country and is giving up 311.4 yards per game.
I went into my reasoning behind this pick here:
Final Score: Georgia Southern 27, James Madison 24