Gathered together inside Bridgeforth Stadium, JMU football sat in anticipation, waiting to hear its playoff fate. The Dukes watched in near silence as the FCS Selection Show announced JMU as the No. 3 seed, behind No. 1 Sam Houston and No. 2 North Dakota State.
“It’s good to be playing — that’s what we want to do,” JMU head coach Curt Cignetti said. “Obviously, we would’ve liked to play every game at home, but that’s water under the bridge now.”
JMU’s position guarantees home-field advantage through the quarterfinals with a first-round bye.
The Dukes sit in the same half of the bracket as NDSU — meaning a potential trip to the FargoDome for the semifinals — but host the winner of South Eastern Louisiana and Florida A&M University in the second round.
“Our defense and our special teams are playing really well right now,” redshirt senior quarterback Cole Johnson said. “But I think we’re in a really good position to make a run in the playoffs.”
Other names on JMU’s side of the bracket include No. 6 Montana, which could become a quarterfinals matchup for the Dukes if both teams advance. Eastern Washington and Northern Iowa play to determine who faces the Grizzlies. Montana earned the higher seed after a 29-10 win over rival Montana State.
With the first-round bye, JMU has this week off after nearly 20-straight weeks of football. The Dukes will watch the SE Louisiana vs. FAMU game Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. to prepare for their next opponent but get to enjoy Thanksgiving break first.
“It’s not just like the CAA where you face the same opponents — you’re playing teams from across the United States,” redshirt senior defensive tackle Mike Greene said. “Out of the whole year, it’s been about 50% playing football … so the break is huge for us.”
Contact Madison Hricik at email@example.com. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.