Thanks to two JMU playoff wins to put the Dukes in the FCS/I-AA final four and two Maryland losses to send the Terps to the Humanitarian Bowl, my alma mater has surpassed my favorite team for college football supremecy.
Before getting to JMU’s victories and looking ahead to their Friday night matchup with Montana, let’s continue our tradition of listing notable teams rated below the 33rd-ranked Dukes by the BCS-approved Jeff Sagarin:
- 34. West Virginia — 8-4 (5-2 in the Big East)
- 43. LSU — 7-5 (3-5 in the SEC)
- 44. Virginia — 5-7 (3-5 in the ACC)
- 47. Maryland — 7-5 (4-4 in the ACC)
- 58. Notre Dame — 6-6 (0-0)
And let’s not forget that JMU continues to be the first I-AA team to earn BCS points of any kind, thanks to their 12-game winning streak and Mr. Sagarin’s adding machine. And let’s certainly not forget these past two games, playoff victories in rounds one and two, respectively, over Wofford and Villanova.
Catching up in chronological order is JMU sports correspondent Rob Abbott. First, with the 38-35 first-round win over Wofford:
Tons of offense (900 yards combined!). Almost zero defense. JMU’s defense made the one play it had to and that was enough. Rodney Landers was typically excellent: three passing TDs and 166 yards rushing with a TD. His TD run was huge, blowing up two defenders at the goal line. The rematch with Villanova on Saturday is going to be epic. I’ll be there, but it better be on TV, unlike this one, which was only available online at jmusports.com.
Two clear highlights stood out: 1) Since it was my first trip back to campus since the win over App. State, the thing I was most excited about was that at no point did a large group of undergrads “ask” me to vacate the premises with clever chanting. 2) Getting a chance to see Landers orchestrate a 4th-quarter comeback in person. The guy is just sick.
The Dukes converted a 4th-and-2 at the Villanova 46 and after that it was only a question of when, not if, JMU would score. Apparently, head coach Mickey Matthews felt the same way as he instructed Landers to take the ball and “not score” on 1st-and-goal in an effort to burn more clock. Crazy. Landers scored on the next play and the D came up with a big interception to ice the game. Next up is a rematch of the 2004 Championship with Montana Friday night in Harrisonburg on ESPN2.
JMU football. Final four. Friday night. ESPN2. Yes, please. Watch the ‘Nova highlights, and prepare thyself with this dramatically scored season recap: