The top teams in the Colonial Athletic Association’s South Division meet on Saturday in a critical battle for sole possession of the top spot. The No. 1 James Madison Dukes (4-0, 2-0 away) take on the No. 15 Richmond Spiders (3-0, 2-0 home).
The matchup is the 38th meeting between the programs, with JMU leading the all-time series, 19-18. Kickoff, initially scheduled for March 20, is set for noon ET inside Robins Stadium in Richmond, Va.
Looking at the online sportsbook for this contest, James Madison is a 10.5-point favorite.
What to Know – James Madison Dukes
FCS powerhouse and top-ranked James Madison plays its final road contest. The Dukes have played three straight games away from home after back-to-back home games were postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.
The Dukes are ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense (36.5 points) and scoring defense (10.8 points). JMU averages 448.5 yards of total offense per game while holding opponents to 169.5 yards per game on defense.
Redshirt senior Cole Johnson is the quarterback for the Dukes. Johnson has put together a mixed spring season, completing 52-of-76 passes for 672 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Johnson had arguably his best game last week, completing 16-of-22 of his passes for a season-high 220 yards and one touchdown.
The Dukes like to spread the wealth with a handful of ball carriers getting meaningful carries Two of those backs have carried the ball over 40 times, led by senior Percy Agyei-Obese with 49 carries, 303 yards, and four touchdowns.
At wideout, JMU likes to get the ball out to leading receiver Kris Thorton. However, he is not listed on the two-deep roster for the Dukes this week.
If he can’t suit up, look for Antwane Wells Jr. (11 receptions, 147 yards, two touchdowns) and Scott Bracey (seven receptions, 77 yards) to fill the void.
What to Know – Richmond Spiders
The Spiders will take the field looking to erase the 48-6 defeat they took against JMU at home last season. Richmond is coming off consecutive victories against Elon after playing the Phoenix two weeks in a row.
Richmond has looked good on both sides of the ball, averaging 30 points per game offensively and holding opponents to 15 points. The Spiders are seventh in the country in time of possession, averaging 34:27 per game.
Redshirt senior quarterback Joe Mancuso leads the conference in total offense, averaging 250.7 yards per game. Mancuso leads all quarterbacks in the conference in rushing with 120 yards and is second in the CAA with 581 passing yards. The signal-caller has yet to throw an interception.
Sophomore running back Aaron Dykes leads the way on the ground with 27 carries for 193 yards and three touchdowns. Mancuso is second on the team, and sophomore backup Savon Smith adds 168 yards and one score.
Richmond has six different players in the passing game who have logged six receptions or more. Junior wide receiver Leroy Henley is the team’s leader, hauling in 13 receptions for 176 yards and a touchdown.
The Pick Is In
Richmond will come into this game with a chip on its shoulder, having been blown out at home the last time these teams faced each other. Unfortunately for the Spiders, there is a reason why the Dukes are the top team at the FCS level.
If Mancuso can continue to protect the football, the Spiders could keep this one close, but JMU’s defense is too good to allow it to happen.
When making your college football picks, go with James Madison to win and cover.