Nothing less than a national championship will suffice for head coach Curt Cignetti and James Madison in 2021.
The Dukes were knocked out of the FCS playoffs by Sam Houston State in the semifinals last spring, falling short of their quest to return to the championship game for the fourth time in five years. JMU hasn't won the national title since the 2016 season — under previous head coach Mike Houston — so Cignetti will be tasked with breaking the trend in 2021.
First up on the schedule is Morehead State, which lost to JMU 52-0 in last season's opener. The combined score of the previous three games between these two programs is 188-14 in favor of the Dukes. The Eagles will look to pull off a shocker in this Week 1 contest.
Here's everything you need to know about the game.
MOREHEAD STATE vs. JAMES MADISON HOW TO WATCH
What: Morehead State (0-0) vs. James Madison (0-0)
Where: Bridgeforth Stadium, Harrisonburg, VA
When: Saturday, Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Morehead State vs. JMU will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports channel finder)
Live Stream: You can live stream Morehead State vs. JMU on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page
MOREHEAD STATE vs. JAMES MADISON TV SCHEDULE
6:00 PM: Morehead State vs. James Madison (LIVE)
MOREHEAD STATE vs. JAMES MADISON WHAT TO WATCH
-After losing to Davidson in the Pioneer League championship last spring, Morehead State returns to the fold with a senior-laden roster that should give the Eagles an opportunity to make it back to their conference title game. Though JMU has presented a sturdy obstacle for Morehead State in seasons past, head coach Ron Tenyer has Morehead State in good shape to put up another winning season in 2021.
-JMU has lost just two conference games in the last five years, making them easy favorites to win the Colonial Athletic Conference once again this season. The Dukes' season-opening game will give them a tune-up ahead of their conference opener against Maine the following week. If recent history is any indication, JMU will score early and often in what figures to be a lopsided matchup.
MOREHEAD STATE VS. JAMES MADISON PLAYERS TO WATCH
Morehead State: R-Sr. QB Mark Pappas (228 attempts, 1,568 pass yards, 14 TDs)*
Pappas led the Pioneer League in just about every quarterback category last season. He'll look to make up for his performance in the last game between these two teams, when he completed just five of 14 passes for 28 yards and an interception.
James Madison: R-Sr. RB Percy Agyei-Obese (145 carries, 741 rush yards, 8 TDs)*
The Dukes' leading rusher of the last two seasons is back and poised for another big year as the bell-cow rusher in JMU's backfield. Agyei-Obese was named to the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) FCS watchlist this summer after finishing ninth in rushing among FCS running backs last season.
*Stats from 2021 spring season