Spurned by NCAA, No. 18 James Madison will need focus as it faces surging Appalachian State

Thu, Nov 16, 2023

Spurned by NCAA, No. 18 James Madison will need focus as it faces surging Appalachian State

Appalachian State (6-4, 4-2 Sun Belt) at No. 18 James Madison (10-0, 6-0), Saturday at 2 p.m. ET (ESPN+)

Line: James Madison by 8 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Appalachian State leads 12-5.


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James Madison's request for relief by the NCAA from automatic bowl qualification restrictions was denied on Wednesday night. When they were in that situation last season and deprived by the Sun Belt of playing for the conference title, the Dukes responded with fury on the field and beat Coastal Carolina 47-7. Appalachian State still can win the division, but a victory against the Dukes is likely necessary and would be its fourth in a row this season.


App State QB Joey Aguilar against the Dukes' defense. Aguilar took over the job in the first half of the opener, threw a 32-yard TD pass on his first attempt and has hardly slowed down. He's got 26 TD passes, tied for fifth in the FBS, against just seven interceptions. The Dukes lead the nation in sacks, but had just one last week, their first game without injured DE Jalen Green. Green, the national leader in sacks, is out for the season with a knee injury.


App State: RB Nate Noel. He saw limited duty after getting hurt Oct. 10, but is returning to form for a running game that averages 183.9 yards. He broke off a 61-yard TD run in last week's 42-14 victory against Georgia State.

James Madison: QB Jordan McCloud. Like Aguilar, he has 26 TD passes and just seven interceptions and has been superlative of late. He's thrown for 868 yards and eight TDs in his last two games while running for 173 yards and two scores.


Since joining the FBS ranks in 2014, App State is 2-10 against teams in the Top 25, but has split its last four. ... The Mountaineers have lost their last two in the series, including a 32-28 loss last season at home in a game they led 28-3. ... Reggie Brown became the first JMU player with over 200 receiving yards in a game against UConn, catching nine passes for 202 yards, including touchdowns of 80 and 55 yards. ... Elijah Sarratt tied the school record with 13 catches against the Huskies for 160 yards. ... James Madison leads the nation in run defense, allowing just 60.6 yards per game. It also leads in sacks and tackles for loss.


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