JMU Is +400 To Win FCS National Championship, But Virginians Can’t Bet It

Written By Dann Stupp on September 22, 2021
James Madison University

We often hear about the Virginia colleges and universities that Virginians can’t legally bet on.

Yet, despite having some of the best odds to win a national title in college football this season, James Madison University is rarely part of those conversations.

And that’s too bad for the Dukes.

After all, when it comes to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), JMU is a juggernaut. The Dukes are, naturally, also one of the favorites to win this year’s championship.

James Madison +400 to win FCS title at BetRivers

In the past two decades, James Madison has won two national FCS titles while also posting two runner-up finishes.

And sure, the FCS isn’t the Football Bowl Division (FBS). The latter involves national powerhouses such as Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and LSU. In all, there are 130 FBS schools in 10 conferences, including the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, and Pac-12. Those are the schools that fill the major sports channels every Saturday afternoon and evening during pigskin season.

The other subdivision, the FCS, doesn’t have those programs with instant name recognition. The stadiums and crowds aren’t as big. The TV rights don’t pay as much. And the top prospects usually opt to play at FBS programs instead.

However, the FCS does have some of its own perennial contenders. They include:

  • North Dakota State: Eight FCS championships in the past 10 years
  • James Madison: 2016 and 2004 titles
  • Sam Houston State: 2020 title
  • Eastern Washington: 2010 title

Perhaps as no surprise, some of those schools are among the 2021-2022 FCS Championship favorites. BetRivers, one of eight Virginia sportsbooks currently in operation, offers the special betting FCS futures market.

Of course, if you live in Virginia and bet on sports, you already know what the issue is.

No betting on JMU in Virginia

So far in 2021, the James Madison football team is gelling. The Harrisonburg-based university defeated Morehead State (68-10), Maine (55-7), and Weber State (37-24) heading into next week’s road game at the University of New Hampshire. Now, at BetRivers, JMU has the second-best odds to win the 2021-22 FCS title.

Those latest BetRivers odds include:

  • South Dakota State: +380
  • James Madison: +400
  • North Dakota State: +400
  • Montana: +700
  • Sam Houston State: +700
  • Southern Illinois: +800
  • Montana State: +2000
  • Eastern Washington: +2500
  • Delaware: +2500
  • Jacksonville State: +2500

So, say you want to plop down a wager on James Madison to win it all. You think the chances of the Dukes winning a title are better than the current 4-1 odds, and you want to take a chance. Well, if so, you need to take yourself across state lines.

Because Virginia doesn’t allow in-state bettors to wager on games involving VA colleges and universities, you can’t actually bet on JMU here.

Just like the Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, and Liberty Flames, the JMU Dukes are off-limits from a betting perspective. In fact, at BetRivers in Virginia, you can’t bet on any FCS futures. Sure, you have a full menu of college football options here in VA. They just don’t include Virginia schools.

Instead, you’d need to use BetRivers in Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, or – the closest option to Virginia – Tennessee to make that bet on JMU.

James Madison vs. UNH

James Madison and head coach Curt Cignetti venture to UNH next Saturday, Oct. 2 (3:30 p.m., FloFootball), following the current bye week.

The upcoming Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) clash pits two undefeated and top 25 teams against each other. JMU is ranked No. 3 in the latest FCS Top 25 poll, and the UNH Wildcats are No. 21.

James Madison is currently leading all FCS schools in scoring average (53.3), thanks in part to kicker Ethan Ratke, who recently set an FCS record by making a successful FG in 24 straight games. The Dukes also have one of the stingiest defenses in FCS this year.

Senior quarterback Cole Johnson has been a steady performer for JMU, and receiver Antwane Wells Jr. has been a frequent target of his. Running back Latrele Palmer is also finding his stride this season.

JMU looks in great shape to enter the 24-team field for the 2021-2022 FCS Playoffs with a first-round bye. The postseason concludes with the national title game on Jan. 8 in Frisco, Texas.

Will JMU be there? We can’t hope for it, even if we can’t bet on it, here in Virginia.

Photo by AP / Sam Hodde
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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN, and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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