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James Madison vs. Air Force: Picks, best bets for Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth

The Dukes and Falcons meet in a battle of once-beloved Group of Five schools from 2023.

James Madison v Coastal Carolina Photo by Isaiah Vazquez/Getty Images

The James Madison Dukes face the Air Force Falcons in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl on Saturday, December 23. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET from Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

James Madison (11-1, 7-1 SBC) had a phenomenal year that did not end in a conference championship, despite the fact that their record qualified them for the Sun Belt title game. Their recent move to Division I left them ineligible for the postseason. The Dukes defeated Sun Belt champion Troy earlier in the season, and fell to conference runner-up App State in overtime in their sole loss of the season. Quarterback Jordan McCloud is entering the transfer portal, but will play in the bowl game before leaving JMU. He finished the regular season with 3,400 passing yards, 32 passing TDs, nine interceptions, and eight rushing scores.

Air Force (8-4, 5-3 MWC) started their season 8-0 before going on a four-game losing streak to end the year. Quarterback Zac Larrier sustained an injury toward the end of the season that sidelined him for the games that the Falcons lost. With Larrier, they grabbed wins over San Jose State, Colorado State, and Wyoming. Larrier was one of three players to finish the season with over 500 rushing yards and five or more rushing touchdowns.

Here’s everything you need to know and a pick for the bowl.

SP+ Rankings

JMU: 18 overall, 19 offense, 37 defense
Air Force: 45 overall, 76 offense, 29 defense

List of injuries and players opting out of game

JMU

DL Abi Nwabuoku-Okonji - Out (leg)

Air Force

QB Zac Larrier - Questionable (undisclosed)
WR Dane Kinamon - Questionable (undisclosed)
WR Jared Roznos - Questionable (undisclosed)

ATS/Total

Against The Spread in 2023

JMU: 8-4 ATS
Air Force: 5-7 ATS

Total in 2023

JMU: Over 7-5
Air Force: Over 6-6

Team Pace

JMU: 27.5 seconds per play
Air Force: 31.0 seconds per play

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: James Madison -1.5
Total: 40.5
Moneyline: James Madison -120, Air Force +100

Weather

67 degrees, cloudy with showers, 9 MPH winds SSE with 23 MPH wind gusts

Our Best Bet for the Armed Forces Bowl

James Madison -1.5

Despite JMU quarterback Jordan McCloud’s intent to enter the transfer portal, he will play in the bowl game. Larrier may return to the field for this game, but JMU has something to prove in this matchup after being snubbed in the conference championship. Air Force has a good defense, but their offense won’t be able to produce enough points to match the Dukes’ game pace. JMU covers.