Named in honor of the fourth President of the United States, James Madison University nuzzles into the Shenandoah Valley in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Rolling mountains rise in the distance framing this campus founded in 1908. As a newer FBS member, JMU has effortlessly transferred their FCS name brand into the highest level of college football. Lesser known before, James Madison is rapidly being recognized as a notable hotspot.

The Dukes nickname stems from Samuel Page Duke, the university’s president who led from 1919-1949. Duke Dog serves as JMU’s mascot – a gray canine dressed in purple cape and crown. He is a beloved fixture on gamedays adding spirit to an already festive scene. Duke Dog, along with the spirit squad and marching band lead the team in the pregame Dog Walk. Fans gather to welcome the team as they venture toward Bridegeforth Stadium. 

The Marching Royal Dukes activate the heart beat of JMU gamedays. This colossal collection of band members is known as “Virginia’s Finest,” but arguably could compete for that title on a national level. Their spirited sound coupled with a wisp of quirkiness rattles the stands to the highest bleacher. Their halftime performance eclipses most of the gridiron’s turf and entertains with every beat. They embody the culture of college football.

Touchdown celebrations vary across the country. Fight songs are common and some places punctuate points with rifles, sirens, or canons. One of the most unique celebrations can be found at James Madison. The instant the Dukes cross the goal line, fans send skyward rolls of purple and gold streamers. The sudden burst of color flutters through the air from all directions. It’s how an explosive cheer looks – the visual sound of a joyous celebration. Add this to one of college football’s greatest traditions.

If James Madison stood where his statue at King Hall lies today, his pride would soar like a streamer. From this perspective, Bridgeforth Stadium lies below as campus rises around it toward a mountainous backdrop. Gamedays infuse campus with a spectacle saturated in vibrant sights and songs. Simply stated, James Madison belongs in the conversation of outstanding college football gameday experiences.


  1. Hello! This is Alyssa, I was the alto saxophonist in the marching band that talked with you a few times during Saturdays game. Thank you so much for visiting! We’re honored that you took the time to join us and participate in some of our favorite traditions. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your time with us. Best of luck with the rest of your FBS trips!

    1. Hello Alyssa,

      Thank you so much for reaching out. James Madison has quickly become one of our favorite spots. This is largely in part due to the outstanding hospitality we received from fantastic people like you. We will be watching JMU’s bowl game – enjoy the experience!


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