Texas State vs. James Madison Odds, Picks: How to Bet on Dukes in Week 5
Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images. Pictured: Payton Hunter (James Madison)
- One week after defeating App State on the road, James Madison will take on Texas State as part of its Sun Belt schedule.
- The Dukes have adjusted well to the FBS level, as they are 3-0 overall, including wins over the Mountaineers and Middle Tennessee.
- Dan Keegan breaks down the bet to make on the Dukes.
Texas State vs. James Madison Odds
This Sun Belt matchup is a story of two programs going in opposite directions.
Texas State head coach Jake Spavital is in the fourth and likely final year of his tenure. Spavital has eschewed high school recruiting to focus on transfer-portal rebuilding, and the results have been lacking.
James Madison just wrapped up two decades as one of the most consistent FCS programs outside of Fargo, and the Dukes announced they belong in the FBS with a huge come-from-behind win vs. Appalachian State last week.
The Dukes host the Bobcats in Harrisonburg in what looks like a pretty big mismatch.
Also, the game should be wet and rainy thanks to the tails of Hurricane Ian.
This is, quite frankly, not a very good FBS team. The Bobcats are 125th in Beta_Rank, 110th in SP+ and 116th in TAN Power Ratings.
Spavital’s seat is one of the toastiest in FBS, and it seems he’ll be out after this season, barring a miracle turnaround.
The Bobcats have actually won a pair of games on the season, one over FCS Houston Christian and one over FIU, another bottom-dwelling FBS team. They dropped the opener to a rebuilding Nevada squad and lost to Baylor in a game where the Bears could have named the score.
The quarterback is Layne Hatcher, an intra-Sun Belt West division transfer from Arkansas State. Hatcher has compiled some decent counting stats — 275 yards per game and 10 touchdowns — but his nine Big Time Throws are almost outdone by his eight Turnover-Worthy Plays.
The counting stats are less impressive for the run game, with Calvin Hill being the leading rusher at 307 yards and 4.7 yards per carry. But EPA numbers suggest the running game could be the more effective unit; the Bobcats rank 63rd in rushing EPA, but 106th in passing EPA.
Despite this split, the Bobcats have relied on 170 Hatcher dropbacks to 123 running back carries. Some of that might be game script — although they have two blowouts wins and two blowout losses.
The defense hasn’t fared much better, although there is one strength: a pair of strong veteran cornerbacks. Kordell Rodgers is in his sixth year with the Bobcats and can line up in multiple spots in the defensive backfield. Jarron Morris, in his fifth year, sticks exclusively to the slot.
Anchored by these two, the Texas State passing defense ranks No. 1 in preventing explosive pass plays.
Unfortunately, that’s about the Bobcats' only strength. Their pass defense is 78th in Success Rate Allowed, so teams have been moving the ball through the air even if they can’t hit the home runs.
Opponents can also keep it on the ground to much success — Texas State’s rush defense is 94th in EPA.
What a first month in FBS for the Dukes! They started the season with two blowout wins, over Middle Tennessee State and FCS Norfolk State.
After a bye, the Dukes went to Boone, NC, home of Appalachian State, America’s college football sweetheart. After an avalanche of a second quarter where they fell behind 28-3, the Dukes' defense did its thing, and clamped down on the vaunted App State rushing attack.
The offense whittled away, and the Dukes escaped Boone with a memorable 32-28 win.
While James Madison might be new to FBS and new to America’s consciousness, this program isn’t new to winning. The Dukes have been one of the steadiest and winningest programs in the FCS this century.
The defense is outstanding. Multi-year standout linebackers Kelvin Azanama and Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey (an FCS All-American who transferred to Texas) have moved on, but a pair of second-year players in Taurus Jones and Jailin Walker have stepped in and haven’t missed a beat.
The two have combined for 36 tackles — while only missing one tackle each — and each has a takeaway, as well, for good measure.
The pair is free to roam behind one of the best defensive lines in the Group of Five. The unit holds opponents to a 25% Rushing Success Rate, the second-best mark in the country. The defense is No. 1 in the country in Havoc rate, as well.
The offense is led by Colorado State transfer Todd Centeio, who stepped in and has immediately produced impressive numbers. Centeio has been strong passing the ball, with 661 yards and 11 touchdowns, and only one Turnover-Worthy Play.
His mobility has added a critical dimension for the offense, and he has been equally dangerous on scrambles (7.9 yards) and designed runs (8.3).
It can be tough to get a read on James Madison from an analytics standpoint. This early in the year, power ratings like SP+ and TAN rely on previous years’ data to add stability, but JMU’s FCS data serves little predictive value here.
Some metrics, like EPA-based stats or Beta_Rank, weigh in-season data more heavily, and are also struggling to capture JMU this early in the season because the Dukes have only played two FBS games.
But if you watched the App State game, you saw a fast defense that shut down one of the best Group of Five offenses.
JMU defenders were flying to the ball and the scheme was sound. App State sports a dang good rushing attack, and the Dukes shut it down, despite App having the advantage of a positive game script thanks to a second-half lead.
The offense is multiple. WR Kris Thornton is one of the best skill players in the Sun Belt, and Centeio is a dual-threat in complete control of the offense right now.
The game got away from them for about 10 minutes in the second quarter, but the Dukes otherwise outplayed App in Boone for the rest of the game.
It’s hard to properly assess it on paper, but this is one of the best Group of Five teams in the country.
Texas State vs. James Madison Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Texas State and James Madison match up statistically:
Texas State Offense vs. James Madison Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
James Madison Offense vs. Texas State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||82||88|
|Seconds per Play||25.8 (48)||27.9 (97)|
|Rush Rate||47.0% (104)||.0% ()|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Texas State vs. James Madison Betting Pick
Normally I would take James Madison to cover the spread here. I think it significantly outclasses Texas State.
The rain and wind from the remnants of Ian give me pause, though. Texas State prefers to pass — although it isn't very good at it — and I think Hatcher will struggle mightily against this defense in these conditions.
James Madison will be happy to pound the rock and control the game. Texas State’s excellent pass defense won't be a factor in a game where the Dukes stick to the ground and push around this accommodating run defense.
To avoid the backdoor cover — or any full-game weirdness with weather and slow pace of play — I’ll take the Dukes in the first half. I see them getting a safe early lead before the Harrisonburg home faithful.