Defending National Champion JMU Football Ranked #1 in Preseason FCS PollPosted: Updated:
James Madison University Media Release
CHICAGO – The defending national champions will enter the 2017 season as the Football Championship Subdivision’s team to beat, as James Madison was overwhelmingly ranked No. 1 in the STATS FCS Top 25 in a vote by sports information directors and members of the media.
This marks the second time in program history JMU will enter the season as nation’s No. 1 team, joining the 2005 season, in which the Dukes were also coming off a national championship from the previous year. JMU received 134 of 163 first-place votes to garner the top spot.
The Dukes finished last year with a 14-1 overall record, which included winning their final 12 games for the nation’s longest active win streak in both the FCS and FBS. After completing the Colonial Athletic Association gauntlet with a perfect 8-0 mark, the Dukes earned the No. 4 seed for the FCS playoffs.
JMU's run to the championship included playoff wins over New Hampshire (55-22), No. 5 Sam Houston State (65-7), at top-seeded North Dakota State (27-17) and against Youngstown State (28-14) in the title game.
JMU set several conference records last season, including marks for scoring (700), rushing offense (4,125), total offense (7,612) and first downs (380). Nationally, JMU led the FCS in winning percentage (93.3%), completion percentage (70.8%), team pass efficiency (181.69), first downs (380), defensive interceptions (21) and punt return average (26.65).
The Dukes also ranked second in scoring (46.7), fourth in third down conversions (50%), fifth in both rushing (275.0) and turnovers gained (30), sixth in fumbles lost (4), eighth in turnover margin (1.13) and 10th in turnovers lost (13).
Defensively, JMU saw a drastic improvement from the previous two seasons, as it ranked 17th in scoring defense (21.2) and 30th in total defense (344.3). The Dukes allowed 7.5 fewer points per game this past season and nearly 60 yards fewer per outing from 2015 to 2016. JMU forced seven more turnovers and nearly doubled its interception production, going from 11 in 2015 to a nation-leading 21 in 2016.
JMU returns three All-Americans and 14 total starters, including reigning CAA Player of the Year Bryan Schor. Other All-Americans from 2016 include offensive lineman Aaron Stinnie and safety Raven Greene.
Following JMU in the top five are North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, South Dakota State and Eastern Washington. The Dukes were one of five CAA teams to be ranked in the season’s first poll, as they were joined by Richmond (#7), Villanova (#10), New Hampshire (#13) and Albany (#24).
JMU opens the 2017 season, presented by CarMax, on Saturday, Sept. 2 at East Carolina.