(STATS) - The 2017 season will be one of the most anticipated for James Madison football as the Dukes seek to defend their recent FCS national championship, starting with an 11-game regular-season schedule announced Wednesday.
JMU, coming off a 14-1 record in coach Mike Houston's first season, will kick off the new season at East Carolina and play six times at home inside Bridgeforth Stadium.
"We'll treat our schedule the same way we do every year," Houston said. "Our goal is to win the CAA (Football) championship and we're going to take it one game at a time. We'll focus on that one game each week and that will be the biggest game of the year for us. It's going to be a tough slate, there's no doubt about it. It's not something you can take a look at the whole thing and start worrying about it all at once. You have to focus on the game right in front of you, so for us, the only game that matters is ECU."
The Sept. 2 trip to East Carolina will mark the 10th straight season in which the Dukes will face an FBS opponent. They beat another team from the American Athletic Conference two years ago, 48-45 over SMU.
JMU will host East Tennessee State (Sept. 9) and Norfolk State (Sept. 16) out of conference, and their CAA home games will be against the teams that finished second through fifth behind the Dukes this past season - Maine (Sept. 23), Villanova (Oct. 14) and new coach Mark Ferrante, New Hampshire (Oct. 28, Homecoming) and Richmond (Nov. 11) and new coach Russ Huesman.
The road CAA games are against Delaware (Sept. 30) and new coach Danny Rocco, William & Mary (Oct. 21), Rhode Island (Nov. 4) and Elon (Nov. 18).
2017 James Madison Schedule
Sept. 2, at East Carolina
Sept. 9, East Tennessee State
Sept. 16, Norfolk State
Sept. 23, Maine*
Sept. 30, at Delaware*
Oct. 14, Villanova*
Oct. 21, at William & Mary*
Oct. 28, New Hampshire* (Homecoming)
Nov. 4, at Rhode Island*
Nov. 11, Richmond*
Nov. 18, at Elon*
* - CAA Football game