Division II James Madison’s upset of Virginia Tech shocks nation, unexpected for Dukes as well

first_img Comments Fresh off the biggest win of his career, James Madison quarterback Drew Dudzik just wants to continue keeping things simple. Simplicity turns into wins, he says. At least that’s how it went when James Madison knocked off then-No. 13 Virginia Tech last Saturday — only the second time in history a Football Championship Subdivison team beat a Top 25 Football Bowl Subdivision team. Yes, simple for Dudzik, even if the win came across as monumental for the rest of the nation. ‘I don’t think it’s really hit me yet,’ Dudzik said. ‘But that will go down in history as one of the greatest games ever.’ On Virginia Tech’s home field, the 32.5-point underdog Dukes beat the Hokies 21-16 in a game that stayed close throughout. Moving forward, James Madison expects to take what it did well in that game and apply it to the rest of the season. Even if the rest of the season almost assuredly will not compare with last Saturday.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Before Saturday, the team expected to hang with the Hokies, but had no thoughts of beating them. With the 48-14 massacre the Hokies perpetrated on Boston College last year, James Madison wanted to make sure it kept the first quarter close. Past the first quarter, the Dukes were willing to take whatever. ‘(Virginia Tech) has such a home-field advantage,’ Dukes head coach Mickey Matthews said. ‘We just wanted to stay in the game in the first quarter.’ The Dukes’ defense kept them around in the first half of the game. By halftime, the score was 13-7, with Virginia Tech leading. That ‘whatever’ had just become a one-score deficit. In the second half, Dudzik began leading his team. The small things started to click for the Dukes. Short-yard plays turned into longer gains, as the Dukes drove twice into Hokies territory to take the lead. With the luxury of a lead came unexpected management. In the second half, this FCS team was suddenly managing and overseeing a game in which the vaunted Virginia Tech was left to chase. And it put the Hokies on the defensive, starting with James Madison’s prime offensive weapon in its quarterback. ‘I kind of let the game come to me,’ Dudzik said. ‘It’s all about managing the game.’ Even with three Virginia Tech turnovers, the game remained close into the fourth quarter. The Dukes took the ball back with 5:23 to play and ran the clock out, with Dudzik taking a knee for time to expire. Taking a knee. Just like the last play the Dukes practice each week. A simple and, truth be told, familiar way for the Dukes to end a football session. Whether it be a practice in front of just the Dukes coaching staff or in front of an entire nation suddenly piped in via national television. But even with the sudden exposure, the Dukes still have a goal in mind. An obscure goal in mind. An FCS goal in mind. For back in the obscurity of Virginia and FCS football lies the remainder of their season. The Dukes won’t play again until they meet Liberty on Sept. 25. This week’s bye allows the team to regain its focus and get back to the basics in practice that propelled them to success against Virginia Tech. Even obscurity can provide room for growth. ‘We’re still just trying to get better,’ Matthews said. ‘The biggest room around here is the room for improvement. We’re not going to delay or anything. We still need to improve. We’re getting back to addressing fundamentals.’ The Dukes hope to keep their offense scheme working efficiently. Matthews will keep emphasizing the zone offense, along with play-action pass schemes. As for the defense, which propelled them to their victory at Virginia Tech, Matthews figures they should just keep doing more of the same, too. The same for Matthews is the simplicity for Dudzik. It goes hand in hand. And simplicity starts with the defense, just as it did in the program’s biggest win ever. Said Matthews: ‘Defensively, we try to play like our hair is on fire.’ Maine at Syracuse Prediction: Syracuse 42, Maine 10 Fresh off a game that featured some serious performance-anxiety problems down the stretch for the Orange, the football team will look to rebound this week against FCS team Maine. With the celebrations of the Carrier Dome’s 30th anniversary, the Orange won’t lay an egg in the midst of the tribute. SU should be able to handily put away Maine. Clemson at No. 16 Auburn Prediction: Auburn 30, Clemson 17 The two teams haven’t met in the regular season since 1971, and Clemson hasn’t won since 1951. Yikes. All signs point to Auburn walking away with this. Auburn features a solid quarterback, Cameron Newton, who could cause havoc for the Clemson defense. Auburn’s defense will need to be on its A-game again this week, too, after holding Mississippi State to just one offensive touchdown last week. And that’s not mentioning the fact that it’s Clemson first away game of the season. No. 9 Iowa at No. 24 Arizona Prediction: Iowa 17, Arizona 9 Iowa thrives off its defense — look for that to be the biggest part of the game. In the past two games for the Hawkeyes, the killer defense has held its opponents to just two touchdowns total. It features a variety of standouts, including former Orange Bowl MVP Adrian Clayborn. Arizona poses a strong offense, ranked 12th in the nation, with quarterback Nick Foles completing over 80 percent of his passes. Not enough, though, to break through this strong Iowa defense. No. 8 Nebraska at Washington Prediction: Nebraska 34, Washington 27 Coming off a decisive win against Syracuse last week, Washington will look to upset the Cornhuskers. UW quarterback Jake Locker certainly dazzled Syracuse fans last week, scoring often and late into the game. Many are calling for an upset — but look for Nebraska to put the brakes on Washington at Husky Stadium. Nebraska’s quarterback, Taylor Martinez, and a strong Huskers defense will dispel any notion of Locker’s invincibility this week. No. 12 Arkansas at Georgia Prediction: Georgia 24, Arkansas 10 Another tough SEC battle between these two teams. Arkansas has enjoyed early success this season, despite three turnovers in each game so far this season. Here, the Bulldogs have a home-field advantage and will turn it to their strength in this upset. Georgia fell out of the Top 25 when it lost to South Carolina, so the team will be out for redemption here and will have a bigger reason to win than Arkansas. [email protected] Published on September 15, 2010 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img