JMU football: Dukes open with UNC

The James Madison University football team will have five home games along with a road game at Football Bowl Subdivision school North Carolina on its 2011 schedule, announced today. Time for the home games will be announced in the coming weeks.

Coming off seven straight winning seasons, JMU will open the season on the road in Chapel Hill, taking on the Tar Heels on Sept. 3. This will be the second-ever meeting between the two programs. The Dukes will then return home to open the renovated and expanded Bridgeforth Stadium on Sept. 10, hosting Northeastern Conference runner-up Central Connecticut State. A road trip to four-time defending Big South Conference champion Liberty is next on Sept. 17 to wrap up non-conference action.

“Playing North Carolina is a great opportunity for our program and our University,” JMU Director of Athletics Jeff Bourne said. “It gives us not only a chance to play a FBS and Atlantic Coast Conference opponent but gives our fans throughout the region another time to see the Dukes. It also helps that this game has a significant positive impact on the athletic budget during challenging economic times. We really appreciate the hard work by the athletic staff at UNC in making this game happen to fit our schedule.”

Madison heads on the road to open Colonial Athletic Association play, traveling to Williamsburg, Va., to play defending CAA co-champion William & Mary Sept. 24. JMU then comes back to Bridgeforth for a three-game homestand, starting with Richmond on Oct. 1 for Homecoming. The Maine Black Bears follow on Oct. 8 with the third being the Family Weekend contest against Villanova on Oct. 15.

Following an off-week, the Dukes will make their first trip to Norfolk to take on CAA-newcomer Old Dominion, Oct. 29. Another road game follows at New Hampshire, Nov. 5., before JMU returns home for Senior Day on Nov. 12 against Rhode Island in the Rams first trip to Harrisonburg since the 2006 season and the first meeting since 2007. The regular-season slate wraps up on Nov. 19 at Massachusetts.

“It’s the most challenging, if not difficult, schedule we have ever had,” JMU coach Mickey Matthews said. “Having two road non-conference games against top-flight opponents, and having three of our last four on the road with two of those being in New England, makes it a daunting task.”

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