Which side of the Mountain ⛰ πŸ€” deserves more attention Tomorrow Afternoon ? App State @ James Madison or Duke @ UVA?

     ESPN's College GameDay will be live on the Campus of JMU tomorrow at 9:00 am until Noon with the Sun Belt Conference showdown between the Dukes & Appalachian State University getting started at 2pm on ESPN+.
   Meanwhile, on the otherside of Afton Mountain ⛰ the Virginia Cavaliers are set to host Duke University in an Atlantic Coast Conference tilt at 3:00 pm.
  In years past these two College Football games simply would not warrant a Tale of the Tape comparison but in 2023 they do.
  The two stadiums sit just over 50 miles apart and the Home teams operate on different levels of FBS Football 🏈🏈🏈.
  How different you ask ? James Madison sits at 10-0 heading into the contest but just lost their latest appeal to have their two year postseason ban lifted in time for a possible New Years Six Bowl invitation. On the flip side of the conversation the Cavaliers and Blue Devils have combined to win eight contests thus far.
   But the ACC game is Power 5 Football and their budget dwarfs that of the Sun Belt. One can fire back that App State and JMU have combined for 5 National Championships in their recent history at the Football Championship (FCS) level.
   As someone who has serious ties to all four programs and a pair of tickets 🎟 to both games Saturday, the question is relatively simple - which game should one go to ???
Per the norm, when I'm stuck on a subject I reach out in search of those smarter than me! For the third time in my Life I am going to attend all 12 (this year 13) Football games that Duke plays in so I know which side of the Mountain I will end up on but it still leaves the question about which is the Better game ? For that I turn to the ever so logical Chris Graham....
Harrisonburg has an undefeated team looking for win #11 over a conference rival. But the NCAA doesn’t care, and neither do I.

I’ll be in Charlottesville on Saturday, where two teams who are nowhere near undefeated – sorry, Jerry – will battle it out over, I’m not sure.

Duke is 6-4, has that nice win over Clemson, should’ve beaten Notre Dame, and its coach, Mike Elko, might be on his way to his next big job, in College Station or East Lansing.

Virginia, meanwhile, is 2-8, and its coach, Tony Elliott, who had his choice, as it turns out, between the Virginia and Duke jobs two years ago, chose the one at Virginia, and has gone 5-15 in two seasons there, isn’t playing for much.

Actually, what the ‘Hoos are playing for is something positive to build on for next season.

It only seems like forever that Virginia has been in the mix for a New Year’s Six game. Bronco Mendenhall had UVA in the Orange Bowl in 2019.

The donors are spending $80 million on a new football operations facility.

Duke has spent ungodly sums on its stadium down there in Durham to try to compete.

JMU (and Liberty) are both 10-0, but they’re forever stuck in conferences that don’t pay out anything appreciable in TV revenue to their members.

Liberty, at least, has big Baptist money willing to throw down the big bucks to try to get Liberty Football to be the Notre Dame of the South.

JMU doesn’t have the alum base to be much more than they are now.

Which is why it’s frustrating to JMU fans and alums that the NCAA won’t budge on the bowl ban.

This may be the year for JMU Football.

Remember, this 10-0 team that should be knocking on the door of a New Year’s Six game had to get some divine intervention (in the form of a weather delay, and UVA players playing out the delay on their mobile phones) to beat a 2-8 team by one.

You need a break or two like that to go unbeaten, and more years than not, the breaks play to the disadvantage of those not named Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, etc.

JMU will have a sellout crowd that will be in a lather on Saturday.

Virginia, on the other side of the hill, will play, as it usually does, to about two-thirds capacity.

That still means 15,000 to 20,000 more people in Scott Stadium to watch 6-4 play 2-8 than there will be in Bridgeforth to watch JMU shoot for 11-0.

The first game is on national TV; the second, on the internet.

I don’t make the rules, I just write about them.

Chris Graham
Editor, AugustaFreePress.com (Virginia/U.S. news, politics, sports)
Author of seven books, including Team of Destiny (2019)
Winner of 17 Virginia Press Association 
Thanks as always Chris!
P.S. - I wish Coach Elko and his family πŸ‘ͺ well if he heads back to College Station. But nobody will convince me that going to East Lansing would be a better move.


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