Villanova at James Madison ATS Picks
By Adam Markowitz
For the eighth time in College GameDay’s history, the best pregame show in college football is heading to an FCS game. The James Madison Dukes have not dropped a single FCS game since Mike Houston took over the coaching duties for the team last year. James Madison knocked off all the big boys on its way to its second national title in 2016, and has looked untouchable so far this year too. The Villanova Wildcats have the unenviable task of being their opponent this weekend.
Villanova Wildcats at James Madison Dukes
Date and Time: Saturday, October 14, 2017, 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Bridgeforth Stadium, Harrisonburg, Virginia
Week 7 College Football Odds at BookMaker.eu: James Madison -15.5 O/U 43.5
Villanova at James Madison TV Coverage: CSLC, MASN
The Dukes are 5-0 and have beat everyone on their schedule by at least double digits. James Madison cruised to a 20-point victory over FBS East Carolina in its opener, and has only been tested once, two weeks ago in a road trip to Delaware. Quarterback Bryan Schor did not have his best performance and that kept the Blue Hens close.
Mark Ferrante is picking up right where Andy Taylor left off with Villanova. The Wildcats have one of the best defenses in the country once again this season, and have only allowed 28 points over their last four games. This defense was the reason that Villanova almost knocked off Temple earlier in the season, and if the Wildcats are going to keep this one close it will be because of the defense.
Player to Watch
For Villanova, all eyes will be on the player taking snaps under center, redshirt freshman Jack Schetelich. Schetelich was thrust into the spotlight after star quarterback Zach Bednarczyk went down with an injury against Towson. Although the Wildcats have kept winning without Bednarczyk, it hasn’t been because of Schetelich.
Schetelich has been a liability since taking over the job. Ferrante does not trust him to throw the ball much, because when he does disaster strikes far too often. On the year, Schetelich is 8-25 for 120 yards with two touchdowns and five interceptions, and has been sacked six times. It’s hard to put too much blame on a young kid for being put into a situation like this, and it’s a testament to Villanova that it has kept winning with that production.
One of the big things to watch in this game is whether or not James Madison can run the ball on Villanova’s defense. The Dukes are averaging six yards a carry this year and boast one of the most efficient ground games at the FCS level.
However, the ground game has lost some steam without Cardon Johnson. Johnson lit up East Carolina for 265 yards on the ground in the Dukes’ season opener, and the run game hasn’t been as productive without him in the lineup. Trai Sharp and Marcus Marshall have done a decent job, but aren’t as explosive as Johnson.
They will be facing their toughest test so far this season. Villanova has the second-best run defense in the country, allowing just 1.8 yards per carry. The big boys up front have done a great job all year, and have kept this team’s postseason hopes alive.
Villanova at James Madison Free Picks
It’s hard to run on Villanova, but you can throw the ball on this secondary. The unit took a massive hit when it lost Rob Rolle for the season with a torn ACL, and has been vulnerable to good quarterbacks. Lehigh and Temple both found success throwing on this defense and James Madison should be able to do the same thing with Bryan Schor.
Villanova’s defense has thrived on turnovers too. The Wildcats knocked off Maine by forcing six turnovers in a 31-0 rout. James Madison is very good at keeping possession of the football and it’s hard to imagine the Wildcats doing the same against this defense.
This is going to be a long day for Schetelich. James Madison had a bye week last week, and has had ample time to prepare for Villanova. The Wildcats will be lucky to score more than twice against this Dukes defense, and this should be a blowout win for James Madison.
Villanova at James Madison ATS Pick: James Madison -15.5
Villanova at James Madison Score Prediction: James Madison 38 – Villanova 10