App State vs James Madison Odds & Pick: Dukes to Win Big?
Pictured: Jordan McCloud. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
App State vs James Madison Odds
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The NCAA announced Wednesday night that James Madison’s appeal to become immediately bowl eligible has been denied.
The NCAA refuses to acknowledge the Dukes' excellence, but ESPN does, which is why “College GameDay” will be live on campus this weekend.
So, let’s get to our App State vs. James Madison pick for Saturday afternoon's fun Sun Belt East matchup.
The Mountaineers need a little help, but they are still alive to grab a spot in the Sun Belt title game.
Appalachian State has won three in a row, including a pair of dominant performances against division foes Marshall and Georgia State. The offense is clicking at a high level right now behind quarterback Joey Aguilar.
Aguilar has posted impressive numbers this season, throwing for 2,657 yards with 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He's also completing 63.8% of his passes. Aguilar keys a passing attack that is efficient (15th in passing success rate) and creates big plays (19th in passing explosives).
The rushing attack has been Appalachian State's bread and butter for ages, but this isn't a particularly great unit, despite Nate Noel's gaudy stat line. Noel has rushed for 766 yards and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, but the success rate and explosives are both in the middle of the FBS pack.
The ground game will likely be erased by James Madison’s incredible run defense, which will leave things in the hands of Aguilar and his receivers.
App State’s defense has been a mess this year and ranks 98th in SP+. This is also one of the worst run defenses in the sport as it ranks 113th in success rate allowed on the ground.
James Madison is better through the air than on the ground, but everyone can run on the Mountaineers.
The undefeated Dukes won’t end up in the New Year’s Six, but they still have plenty to prove. Head coach Curt Cignetti has his team motivated to repeat as “Kings of the Sun Belt East” — even if they can’t be the champions.
The offense is led by veteran quarterback Jordan McCloud, who seems to get better each week after an inconsistent start to the season. He has completed 69.9% of his passes for 2,800 yards, 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions. McCloud’s game is all about efficiency as the Dukes rank seventh in the country in passing success rate.
He has also contributed 310 yards and six scores on the ground as part of a rushing attack that splits the ball up pretty evenly between Kaelon Black, Ty Son Lawton and McCloud.
Receivers Reggie Brown and Elijah Sarratt form one of the best one-two punches in the Group of Five. Brown is the big play threat (20.1 yards per catch, 903 total yards) and Sarratt is the efficiency monster (60 catches for 841 yards).
But the star of the show is the incredible defense, coordinated by Bryant Haines. The defensive line is a handful and nose guard James Carpenter is one of the best defenders in the country.
All of Carpenter's work frees up a tremendous pass rush. Despite losing NCAA sack leader Jalen Green for the season, the Dukes will still heat up Aguilar’s pocket with Jamree Kromah and Mikail Kamara, who each have eight sacks this season.
The Dukes' front is one significant advantage they'll have Saturday as App State ranks only 91st in the country in PFF’s pass-blocking grading.
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Appalachian State and James Madison match up statistically:
Appalachian State Offense vs. James Madison Defense
James Madison Offense vs. Appalachian State Defense
Pace of Play / Other
|Special Teams SP+||36||28|
|Seconds per Play||26.1 (49)||28.3 (93)|
|Rush Rate||55.1% (44)||53.3% (64)|
App State vs James Madison
Betting Pick & Prediction
Don’t fall into the trap that James Madison has “nothing to play for” after the NCAA’s decision. This program has never been motivated strictly by a bowl game.
The Dukes are well built to win this matchup as their efficient offense can play ball control while looking to hit the game-breaking plays to Brown. The defense will shut down Appalachian State's running game and the pass rush will terrorize Aguilar.
Appalachian State has dominated the Sun Belt East in the past decade, but James Madison now runs this division. I'll lay the points at -9, and play it to -10.