Appalachian State ruins James Madison’s undefeated season, dampening bowl hopes

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The Madisonians entered Saturday’s game against Appalachian State with a 10-0 record. However, the No. 1 team suffered 18 in the AP Top 25 poll their first loss of the year.

The Dukes are currently in the mandatory two-year transition period after making the jump from the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision level to college football’s highest level, the FBS.

The school has sought a voluntary permit, which would allow full bowl capacity. But these requests were rejected.


An Appalachian State player tries to outrun a James Madison player

Appalachian State wide receiver Kaedin Robinson (2) tries to get over James Madison safety Jacob Thomas (27) after cornerback Chauncey Logan (2) and linebacker Noah Holmes, right, on their way to scoring the game-winning goal during NCAA overtime. college football game in Harrisonburg, Va., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. (Daniel Lin/Daily News Record via AP)

James Madison was hoping to improve his record to 11-0 on Saturday. The team jumped ahead in overtime courtesy of a 25-yard field goal. Video review confirmed that Appalachian State’s Kaedin Robinson got the football over the goal line to secure Duke’s 26-23 win.


James Madison is not included in the College football game the selection committee’s weekly rankings because the team is not eligible for a bowl. The team is also not allowed to play in the conference tournament.

The Dukes finished last season with an 8-3 record.

James Madison is running with the football

James Madison running back Ty Son Lawton (7) tries to avoid a tackle by Appalachian State cornerback Ethan Johnson (19) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Harrisonburg, Va., Saturday, November 18, 2023. (Daniel Lin/Daily News Record via AP)

Last month, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares wrote a letter to the NCAA pleading the school’s case. He has also hired a law firm that is arguing to bring JMU into bowl consideration based on the Dukes’ record, national ranking and success in its two-year process of reclassifying from the FCS to the FBS.

Miyares is a James Madison alum.

Teams must win six games to qualify for a bowl. There are currently 41 bowl games scheduled for the end of the season, which would pit 82 teams against each other. However, there will likely be a lack of teams with enough wins to qualify for all the bowls this year.

James Madison quarterback throws the football

James Madison quarterback Jordan McCloud (2) completes a pass under pressure from Appalachian State defensive end Michael Fletcher (5) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Harrisonburg, Va., Saturday, Nov. 18 , 2023. (Daniel Lin/Daily News Record via AP)

If there are vacancies for a bowl game, James Madison will likely be one of the schools at the top of the list to fill an empty spot. However, the Dukes hoped to finish the year with a clean record as they sought consideration for a New Year’s Six bowl game.

The Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl are the FBS bowl games that make up the New Year’s six bowls.

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Robinson finished Saturday’s game with four catches for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Appalachian State quarterback Joey Aguilar threw for 318 passing yards and three touchdowns, against one interception.

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Appalachian State coach Shawn Clark praised his team for going up against a ranked opponent.

“It’s a big win for our program against a ranked football team in James Madison,” Clark said. “I was very proud of everyone involved. This was not confusing. This was the next game on our schedule. I think it shows you that things are still going through Boone, North Carolina, and we’re not backing down from them.

“You have to give credit to James Madison, they have one of the best defenses in the country,” Clark said. “They’re first in rushing yards every game and we knew that. So we wanted to protect the quarterback and let Joey go through his strides. Joey played a good game and our backs ran well enough to move the bats, but Joey and our receivers. had a great game.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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