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JMU Football Practices in Bitter Cold in Preparation for Saturday's FCS Championship

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JMU football practices on New Year's Day JMU football practices on New Year's Day
JMU used heaters on the sidelines at practice JMU used heaters on the sidelines at practice
The temperature at JMU was in the teens Monday The temperature at JMU was in the teens Monday

The JMU football team practiced outside in the bitter cold on New Year's Day at Bridgeforth Stadium in preparation for Saturday's FCS national championship.  The Dukes will face North Dakota State for the title Saturday, January 6th in Frisco, Texas.

Last year in Frisco it was unseasonably cold for practice leading up to the championship game.

The temperature was in the teens Monday at JMU and many guys were forced to briefly warm up on the sidelines with heating machines, but JMU coach Mike Houston says it's important to toughen his team up practicing in the cold.

"They know they better stay away from the heating machine.  They know they can go over there for five seconds and get their hands warm but if I catch them standing next to the blowers I'm gonna climb them," says coach Mike Houston.  "You don't control the weather on game day.  I don't know what the temperature is going to be like Saturday but I know it was cold last year in Frisco.  Having that kind of mindset is why you've seen us thrive in cold weather games the last couple years."

"I grew up in Northeast Pennsylvania so I've had my fair share of snow, rain, cold games so it's not something that I'm not used to, says senior quarterback Bryan Schor.  "It toughens you up for games so I think it's good for us."

JMU senior left tackle Aaron Stinnie says, "Not everyone can practice out there in the cold, I think it's probably around ten degrees today.  It definitely toughens you up a little bit."

JMU will be aiming for back to back FCS national championships and will leave for Frisco, Texas on Wednesday.  

"There's a lot of things you have to do that doesn't really involve football once you get to the championship game," adds Stinnie.  "So having the experience from last year really helps you to not by into the hype or get distracted by some of the things you have to do when you are there."

North Dakota State will be going for a record-tieing sixth FCS national championship.     NDSU won five straight titles from 2011-2015 before JMU broke the streak last year.