FCS Roundup: Spiders moved to Friday; Dukes, Tribe take on FBS foes

RICHMOND SPIDERS:

HUNTSVILLE – As the remnants of Hurricane Harvey continue to pound Houston and the surrounding areas, including Huntsville, Sam Houston and Richmond officials have decided move the game to McLane Stadium in Waco. The game will take place Friday at 6 p.m. at the home of the Baylor Bears.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by the floods,” Interim Athletic Director David Walsh said. “We want to thank the Sam Houston State staff for working together to find a solution. We’re excited about the opportunity to start our season against one of the top teams in the country.”

The game was originally scheduled for Aug. 31 at Bowers Stadium and was then moved to Aug. 27 for a national television game on ESPNU. Broadcast coverage for the game is still developing and will be released once that is finalized.

“I want to thank Senior Associate AD Greg Hinze for his work with David Walsh, the interim director of athletics at Richmond, for their work to make this game happen,” said Director of Athletics Bobby Williams. “Hinze deserves a lot of credit for making this game work. With everything that has happened to our area since Friday, and to still be able to come up with a solution for this game to be played is a credit to the hard work he has put into this.”

Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a category 4 storm on Friday, the city of Huntsville has received nearly 20 inches of rain. The campus is currently closed and is not scheduled to reopen until Sept. 5.

The Baylor Bears are set to open their season at home on Saturday against Liberty. Despite the short turnaround, Baylor officials have agreed to open the stadium and admission will be free of charge to any fans wishing to attend the game.

“I want to give a thanks to Baylor Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades, and everyone at Baylor for their help in making this game happen,” Williams said. “It has taken a true team effort from a lot of different people to be able to keep one of the premier FCS games this season on the schedule.”

Any Sam Houston fans who have already purchased tickets can contact the Sam Houston ticket office at 936-294-1729 for more information about their tickets.

This is the third football game at Bowers Stadium to be altered by a hurricane in the last 12 years. In 2005, the Bearkats had a home game against Missouri State cancelled when Hurricane Rita made landfall near Sabine Pass.

In 2008, the Bearkats cancelled a home game against Prairie View A&M because of Hurricane Ike which made landfall in Galveston and was the third-most costly hurricane in U.S. history.

JAMES MADISON DUKES:

HARRISONBURG, Va. – The defending national champions get set for its 46th season of football, as No. 1 James Madison opens to the 2017 campaign on Saturday, Sept. 2 at ECU.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, and the game can be seen live on ESPN3 or the ESPN app. It can also be heard on the JMU/Sprint Broadcast Network, with Dave Thomas and Clint Estes on the call.

The 2017 JMU football season is presented by CarMax.

SERIES HISTORY
This is the first-ever meeting between JMU and ECU. However, the Dukes are 1-0 against the American Athletic Conference, having beat SMU, 48-45, back on Sept. 26, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.

JMU AGAINST THE FBS

Saturday marks JMU’s 26th meeting against the Football Bowl Subdivision, with the Dukes holding a 5-20 record. JMU’s most recent FBS win came in 2015 at SMU.

JMU also owns a pair of wins against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, taking a 21-17 win at Virginia in 1982 and claiming a historic 21-16 triumph at Virginia Tech in 2010. The Dukes also won back-to-back games at Navy in 1989 (24-20) and 1990 (16-7).

JMU has played a FBS team in each of the past 10 seasons, going 2-8 in that span.

SCOUTING ECU
The Pirates are coming off a 3-9 season in 2016, which included a 1-7 mark in American Athletic Conference play. ECU was picked to finish fifth in the AAC East Division. Each division is split into six teams.

The Pirates return 12 of 22 positional starters with six on each side of the ball. Two players were named to preseason watch lists as Davon Grayson was honored on the Wuerffel Trophy Watch, while Jimmy Williams is up for the Biletnikoff Award.

ECU ranked sixth nationally in 2016 in passing offense (334.7) and was third in the league in total offense (467.1).

DUKES IN SEASON OPENERS
The Dukes are 24-20-1 all-time in season openers dating back to 1972’s inaugural season. JMU has won the past two season openers, both against Morehead State. The Dukes have outscored the Eagles 136-14, which included an 80-7 victory last year.

JMU’s last five season-opening defeats have all come at the hands of FBS programs, while the last FCS team to beat JMU to open the year was Hampton in 2002.

ATOP THE PRESEASON POLLS
Fresh off its second national championship, JMU enters the 2017 season as the team to beat, holding the No. 1 spot in both major Football Championship Subdivision polls.

It is the second time in program history the Dukes start a year ranked first, joining the 2005 season, which was also the year following JMU’s first title. JMU received 134 of 163 first-place votes in the STATS FCS Top 25 while garnering 20 of 26 first-place votes in the FCS Coaches Poll.

Following the Dukes in both polls are teams they beat in the 2016 FCS playoffs. North Dakota State comes in at No. 2, while Sam Houston State stands at No. 3. JMU is one of five CAA teams to be ranked in at least one poll, being joined by Richmond (#7/7), Villanova (#10/9), New Hampshire (#13/16) and Albany (#24/RV).

WILLIAM AND MARY TRIBE:

The William and Mary Tribe open up the 2017 season Saturday at 3:30 PM in Charlottesville. the Virginia Cavaliers are the opponent. Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said Tuesday he is still trying to pick a quarterback.