JMU roundup: Dukes enter season ranked 12th in FCS Top 25 poll
NEW YORK – James Madison will enter the 2015 football season nationally-ranked in the major media poll as the Dukes were picked 12th in the STATS FCS Preseason Top 25, the organization announced Monday afternoon.
The Dukes were picked 13th last week in the FCS Coaches Poll, marking the first time in three years that they were ranked in the top 15 of both polls heading into the season.
JMU, which was predicted to finish second in the Colonial Athletic Association, finished last season with a 9-4 record, including 6-2 mark in league play, to finish third under first-year Head Coach Everett Withers. The Dukes reached the FCS playoffs for the first time since the 2011 season and earned a first-round home game against Liberty.
In his inaugural season at the helm, Withers led Madison’s offense to several records, including total offense (6,300), passing yards (3,499), completions (286) and passing touchdowns (30). JMU produced the most prolific offense in the CAA with 484.6 yards per game, which ranked 10th in the country. The Dukes also ranked 21st in FCS in both passing offense (269.2) and rushing offense (215.15) and boasted the 17th-best scoring team (35.7) in the nation.
Defensively, the Dukes ranked second in the country in turnover margin (+1.08), 12th in total fumble recoveries (14) and 13th in sacks per game (2.85). They also turned in one of their best seasons on record in terms of blocks, ranking sixth in total blocks (7) and third in blocked punts (4).
The Dukes were one of four CAA programs to garner a national ranking in the media poll, as Villanova was fourth, New Hampshire was ninth and Richmond was 18th. William & Mary, Delaware, Towson and Maine also received votes in the poll.
The Dukes are one of four CAA squads to garner a spot in the coaches poll, as Villanova was third, New Hampshire was seventh and Richmond was 18th. Maine and Towson also received votes. Four-time defending national champion North Dakota State was the consensus No. 1, receiving all 24 first-place votes.
Much like the FCS Coaches Poll, four-time defending national champion North Dakota State was a near consensus No. 1, receiving 144 of 147 first-place votes.
JMU ranked 19th in the final 2014 coaches poll while also placing 18th in the final media poll.
A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries selects the STATS FCS Top 25. In the voting, a first-place vote is worth 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.
The Top 25 is released every Monday afternoon during the regular season, except for Sunday morning, Nov. 22, prior to the selection of the 24-team FCS playoff field. A final top 25 will follow the FCS championship game, which will be held Jan. 9 in Frisco, Texas.
The Dukes open the 2015 season, presented by CarMax, on Saturday, Sept. 5 against Morehead State at 6 p.m. at Bridgeforth Stadium. Tickets are on sale now by visiting www.jmutickets.com or by calling (540) 568-3853.