Dukes’ Defense Stands Tall, JMU Makes Case to be Ranked, Defeat South Alabama, 31-23

    Rank the Dukes! JMU cruises past South Alabama to improve to 5-0 and should be favorites to win every game on their schedule.

    The James Madison Dukes mean business in their second year in the FBS. After a well-traveled and hard-fought undefeated mark in their non-conference schedule, JMU continued their second season in Sun Belt play with a dominant victory over South Alabama, 31-23.

    JMU Defeats South Alabama, 31-23

    The beatdown of South Alabama may not quite be indicative in the final score, but watching this contest, it was never in question who was the better team on the field.

    JMU’s defense put forth arguably the most impressive performance of the season, essentially limiting the high-flying South Alabama offense on all but two drives. They felt so comfortable coming out of the halftime break that they all but took the air out of the ball and tried to get out of Bridgeforth Stadium with the win in the third quarter.

    The Dukes were led by a trio of defensive players on Saturday, most notably their linebacker duo of Aiden Fisher and Jalen Green. Combining for 14 total tackles and 6.0 tackles for loss, Fisher and Green were everywhere for Curt Cignetti’s group.

    Fisher led the way with five solo tackles, while Green recorded 2.5 sacks and 3.5 total tackles for loss.

    Freshman D’Angelo Ponds recorded a handful of pass breakups in the victory after earning his first start outside for the Dukes.

    JMU held South Alabama to just 27 yards on the ground. Outside of two big pass plays, the Dukes limited the Jaguars to 5.9 yards per pass attempt through the air.

    JMU Deserves to be Ranked After Defeating South Alabama

    The national attention may have been elsewhere on Saturday at noon Eastern, and that’s fine. But, be that as it may, JMU is absolutely deserving of being ranked inside the AP Top 25 this coming week.

    The responsibility of the AP Top 25 voters should be to watch as much football as they can and rank the teams according to their success on the field this season. And it should be said that there are absolutely not 25 teams more deserving of a ranking than James Madison University this season.

    JMU hounded the Jaguars all game long on Saturday. They held on against a high-flying Utah State team in Logan a week ago. The Dukes have a Power Five win over Virginia. And JMU has a road victory over perennial Sun Belt power Troy.

    They’ve lost multiple starters due to injury and continue to battle and win contests. Their performance on the field speaks for itself, as this team is built to last. They have seven games left on their schedule, and they should be favorites to win each of them.

    Pencil in the November 4 contest at Georgia State as the biggest Sun Belt game of the year.

    All told, this JMU team — though they can’t compete for a Sun Belt Championship this season — is absolutely one of the best Group of Five teams in the country, if not the best.

    Any excuse to keep this JMU team out of the AP Top 25 is asinine.

    Don’t just take my word for it; take a look at Curt Cignetti’s cell phone.

    College Football Transfer Portal Tracker

    Never miss a beat with the CFN-exclusive College Football Transfer Portal Tracker, listing the student-athletes entering and exiting the transfer portal.

    Related Articles