Coastal Carolina will travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia in hopes that his stay in the top 25 will outlast that of his opponent, former ranked James Madison.
The Dukes (7-3, 5-2 Sun Belt) spent a week ranked 25th earlier this season, their first on the poll, but a 45-38 loss at Georgia Southern began a three-game losing streak. Since then, they have won back-to-back, including rebounding from a 20-point deficit in a 42-40 win over Georgia State.
The No. 23 Chanticleers (9-1, 6-1), whose game in Virginia was canceled last weekend after the killing of three Cavaliers players, are attempting to win 11 games for a third straight season. But Coastal Carolina will likely be without quarterback Grayson McCall, who threw for 21 TDs with an interception but missed last week with a foot injury and likely won’t play this week. Jarrett Guest was 7 of 14 with two interceptions in a 26-23 win over Southern Miss.
“I thought he did a good job in our game,” said coach Jamey Chadwell. “I think he handles our offense well. He just needs more opportunities. There are some good things he has done, things to learn from. We believe in him and (Reserve QB) Bryce (Carpenter) doing a good job with our offense. But he just needs more opportunities. ”
Dukes coach Curt Cignetti thinks highly of the Chanticleers.
“They played a lot of close games, but they won them,” he said.
Here are things to watch when Coastal Carolina plays at James Madison:
McCall is a two-time reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year, having set an NCAA mark last fall with a 207.6 passer efficiency rating. McCall is out of his walking shoes and rehabilitating himself for a chance to return by December 3 when the Chants will play for a championship title. Chadwell said McCall has yet to practice and is unsure if a return is possible any time soon.
While Coastal Carolina has secured its trip to the Sun Belt Conference championship, the Dukes are still playing for a chunk of first place in the East Division. Coastal is 6-1 in conference play while the Dukes are 5-2. JMU is not eligible to play for the postseason due to their transition to FBS, but in years to come it would be for the championship.
DO YOU REMEMBER AS
Coastal Carolina and James Madison previously played twice while both were part of the Football Championship Subdvision. The first was a 31-27 victory by the Chanticleers in September 2005, ending a six-game winning streak for the then-Defending Division I-AA champions. Two years later, JMU defeated Coastal 45-10. Coastal joined the Sun Belt Conference in 2016, while James Madison was one of four new members this year.
CHASING A SIX PLACE IN THE NEW YEAR
Coastal Carolina started 6-0 but didn’t make the top 25 until they defeated Southern Miss 26-23 on November 12. It’s the third straight season the Chanticleers have climbed the ladder, and Chadwell wants his team to focus on more. Should they beat James Madison and win the Sun Belt Conference title a week later, the Chants have a chance to represent the Group of Five at a New Year’s Six Bowl game. “It’s there,” Chadwell said.
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