For the last half-decade, FCS college football fans watched as the North Dakota State Bison raised the championship trophy year after year. It was a different story in 2016, as the James Madison Dukes were able to end NDSU’s 22-game postseason win streak en route to winning their first title since 2004.
The Dukes started off hot with an 80-7 win in the first game of the season and carried that momentum to a 14-1 overall record. Their only blemish came in a 56-28 loss to FBS North Carolina and Mitch Trubisky, the No. 1 ranked QB prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft. JMU actually led the game 21-14 at the end of the first quarter before UNC rattled off 28 unanswered points to pull away.
Following that loss, JMU rattled off 8 wins in a row heading into the FCS playoffs. They won their first game against #22 New Hampshire by a whopping 33 points, which set them up with a battle against #5 Sam Houston State. The Bearkats entered the game with the highest scoring offense in FCS. James Madison must not have known that because they dominated Sam Houston State 65-7 to set up a matchup with 5-time defending champion #1 North Dakota State.
NDSU has not lost in FIVE YEARS heading into their matchup with JMU. It was a hard fought battle, but the Dukes were able to knock off the Bison 27-17 to make the FCS National Championship.
Awaiting them in the title game was #13 Youngstown State; coached by former Nebraska Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini. James Madison started off strong, but YSU battled back before the Dukes were able to close it out 28-14 to win the 2016 FCS Championship.
One of the most impressive aspects of JMU’s title run was that both in the semifinals and the finals, they were without their leading tackler and No. 2 wide receiver along with 5 other players, who were suspended for undisclosed reasons. Nevertheless, they were able to overcome adversity on the way to hoisting the championship trophy on January 7, 2017.
Everyone Loves Buttons was very proud to be a part of such a special season for the Dukes. We made buttons for each of their home games for the University Outpost, James Madison’s local bookstore, all of which resulted in victories.