There’s still three weeks to go and that’s how James Madison views it.
“It really doesn’t matter where you are right now,” Dukes coach Curt Cignetti said. “It only matters where you are in the end.”
But as of Wednesday night and the Division I Football Championship Committee’s lone public reveal of its rankings prior to the unveiling of the tournament field later this month, JMU is the second best team in the country.
If the Dukes hold the No. 2 position, they would host playoff games at Bridgeforth Stadium all the way through the national semifinals.
“It’s going to be completely different in the next three weeks when they come out with the final one,” JMU senior cornerback Rashad Robinson said. “So all that matters is the one that comes out after that Rhode Island game.”
JMU is home the next two Saturdays against New Hampshire and Richmond before wrapping up the regular season and its Colonial Athletic Association slate on Nov. 23 at Rhode Island.
New Hampshire, at No. 10, is only other CAA program to be ranked by the committee.
The Dukes are slotted behind defending national champion and No. 1 North Dakota State. No. 3 Weber State, No. 4 South Dakota State and No. 5 Sacramento State round out the top five. North Dakota State, JMU and Weber State are all undefeated against FCS competition this season.
Northern Iowa came in at No. 6 followed by Central Arkansas at No. 7, Montana at No. 8 and Furman at No. 9.
The committee’s rankings were released on ESPN2 during halftime of the Mid-American Conference football game between Miami (Ohio) and Ohio University.
The short trip to Blacksburg will net James Madison a large payday.
On Wednesday, Dukes assistant athletic director for communications Kevin Warner said Virginia Tech will pay JMU $500,000 to play the Sept. 20, 2025 future non-conference game.
The two schools announced the matchup last week.
That guarantee is exactly what North Carolina is contracted to pay JMU next season when the Dukes play in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Nov. 21, 2020. JMU will get $600,000 from Louisville to face the Cardinals on Nov. 5, 2022.