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Some Love for the Dukes

5 January 2018 Views From The Booth Sports

Greetings from the Booth!

Well, the holidays are now over as we settle into 2018 and face the so-called Winter Doldrums, and long for the warmth of May, the crack of the bat, and greens n’ fairways. Until then, basketball and hockey take center stage, not to mention a Winter Olympiad in February.

There is also the approaching Super Bowl, and a month of NFL playoff games, starting with Wild Card Weekend.  In addition to the usual suspects like the Steelers and Patriots, we have teams that haven’t made the show for awhile, like the Bills, Jags, and Rams.  And the Eagles have been maybe the surprise team in the NFL this year, although with the loss of their QB, they have struggled down the stretch.

As for your Hornet update, Shenandoah University men’s and women’s basketball teams are both 6-6, and having pretty good seasons so far. The men are on a 3-game losing skid, while the gals had a great win this past week against 9-1 Randolph Macon. Both squads are fun to watch, and it will be an exciting time for Hornet hoop as we get set to move into the Wilkins Center.

We close with some college football.  The College Football Playoff Championship will be decided Monday night as Alabama takes on Georgia in Atlanta.  Death, Taxes, and the Crimson Tide in a national championship game. Although this year has a different feel. Of this year’s final 4 teams, ‘Bama has been the outsider. Many felt they didn’t belong, because they didn’t win the SEC, didn’t even win their own division, lost to Auburn, and didn’t have a strong strength-of-schedule. The Tide had a chip on it’s shoulder and a healthy defense in disposing of #1 Clemson 24-6 last weekend.

I like Alabama Monday night against a Georgia team that beat Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma in one of the best college football games I’ve ever seen, 54-48 in 2 overtimes.  I wonder how much the ‘Dogs have left in their emotional tank after that “instant classic.” I believe that ‘Bama has the defense to stop the vaunted Georgia running game and make them one-dimensional. Then, there is the Nick Saban championship game experience. All of that will result in a 23-21 win for the Tide on Monday night.

Finally, how about some love for the James Madison University Dukes, who will be defending their FCS national championship against North Dakota State Saturday at noon in Frisco, Texas.  JMU is located just an hour south of this Winchester, Va. area, but there seems to be little buzz about what should be a really big deal.  I don’t know if it’s because of the wide variety of fans here: Virginia Tech, Virginia, WVU, etc., but I just don’t feel the love for the Dukes.

For those that don’t know, JMU has won 26 football games in a row (the last to beat them was an FBS team, North Carolina,  early last season). They are led by coach Mike Houston, who is 28-1 in his 2 years in Harrisonburg.  QB Brian Schor is a playmaker, and his post-season touchdown-to-interception ratio of 21-4.

On defense, JMU’s 43 takeaways set an FCS single-season record, and the Dukes’ defensive lineman Andrew Ankrah is one of 3 first team AP All-Americans on the JMU roster.

Good luck to the Dukes, as they try to bring another FCS championship back to the Shenandoah Valley. They have flown under our radar for far too long.

That’s it from the Booth! Stay warm, make some veggie soup, and enjoy this great sports weekend! Until next time,