HARRISONBURG, Va. -The James Madison University football squad is ranked fifth in The Sports Network FCS Preseason Top 25 poll, the organization announced today.
Returning 16 starters from a team that advanced to the second round of the 2011 NCAA Division I Football Championship, the Dukes picked up three first-place votes and 2812 points from the voters. JMU moved up the most of any school from last year's final poll as JMU moved up 10 spots from the final ranking of 15th in 2011.
Last year's national runner-up Sam Houston State is the top pick in the poll with 76 first-place votes and 3,708 points, just 83 points ahead of last year's national champion North Dakota State with 59 first-place votes and 3,625 points. NDSU and JMU met in the second round last year in Fargo, with the Bison taking a 26-14 victory, one of their closest games en route to the NCAA championship.
Ten of the 11 squads in the Colonial Athletic Association were either ranked or received votes in the poll. Towson and Old Dominion were ranked seventh and eighth in the poll, with New Hampshire and Delaware at 14th and 15th, respectively, giving the league five teams in the top 15. Maine is ranked 21st, while William & Mary, Georgia State, Richmond and Villanova all received votes in the poll.
A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the Top 25 each season. 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 Dukes have earned significant recognition in several national preseason publications, with four of the five putting JMU in the top five. Phil Steele's Annual picks JMU second in their preseason rankings, while USA Today has Madison fourth. Athlon College Football and College Sporting News both have James Madison in the fifth spot, while Lindy's College Football picked the squad 13th nationally.
Madison will open the 2012 season at Bridgeforth Stadium on Sat., Sept. 1 at 6 p.m., hosting Saint Francis (Pa.).