Virginia FBS Week 3 Power Ranking: JMU Tops the Commonwealth

Photo courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

Story and graphic by Daniel Merriman

Now that college football has gotten back into the swing of things, each of the five Virginia FBS programs have played two games.

Therefore we have a large enough sample size to start comparing the Commonwealth’s best. Let’s take a look at how each team stacks up against each other in this week’s state power rankings!

1. James Madison, SBC (2-0)

The Dukes are undefeated with wins over FCS program Bucknell (1-1) and in-state foe UVA (0-2). JMU won against UVA in a come-from-behind 36-35 victory on the “road” last week and will play Troy on Saturday. JMU overcame an 11-point deficit and won the game after a timely lightning delay. That stoppage could be a pivotal point in this team’s season.

The passing game for the Dukes has been sporadic but has shown signs of life with transfer Jordan McCloud at the helm. The run defense and running game have been potent to start the year. Sun Belt play will be a tall task moving forward.

Up next: at Troy, Saturday, 7 p.m.

Current ESPN SP+ ranking: 64th

Current Sagarin ranking: 76th

2. Virginia Tech, ACC (1-1)

The Hokies dealt with a similar weather delay to the Dukes last week against Purdue (1-1). However, Virginia Tech’s delay wasn’t much help in stopping the Boilermakers. The run game couldn’t get going against a Big 10 defensive line. The VT defense showed signs of how impactful it can be with eight tackles for loss and four passes defended, but improvement is needed on that side of the ball.

The passing attack led by Grant Wells has looked solid, especially in the ODU (1-1) victory where he threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns. ODU transfer Ali Jennings made his impact felt early on with two touchdown catches versus his former team. However, he was unfortunately injured against Purdue.

Up next: at Rutgers, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

ESPN SP+ ranking: 73rd

Sagarin ranking: 74th

3. Liberty, CUSA (2-0)

Liberty has impressed with its ability to win in different ways. In Week 1 against Bowling Green, the defense hauled in five interceptions, including a pick-six. The following week the Flames put up 526 yards of offense with 250 yards on the ground. 

Former Coastal Carolina head coach Jamey Chadwell has LU looking formidable, but its strength of schedule is questionable. ESPN’s SP+ rankings have BGSU (1-1) ranked 113th and NMSU (1-2) ranked 126th respectively following Week 2. The Flames travel to play Buffalo next week. 

Up next: at Buffalo, Saturday, noon

ESPN SP+ ranking: 78th

Sagarin ranking: 98th

4. Virginia, ACC (0-2)

The fact that the Cavaliers are on the field this season is an accomplishment. The tragic shooting of three members of the UVA football program, D’Sean Perry, Devin Chandler, and Lavel Davis Jr. occurred in November of 2022. Only 10 months ago, several members of this football program were taken far too soon.

On the gridiron this fall, UVA opened its season against Tennessee (2-0) and was blown out. During that 49-13 defeat, starting QB Tony Muskett suffered a shoulder injury. Muskett missed the JMU game, giving true freshman Anthony Colandrea the start against the Dukes (2-0) in Week 2. The signal caller impressed with 377 yards through the air to go with two touchdowns and an interception. This wasn’t enough to hold off the JMU comeback after most of the Cavalier faithful departed from Scott Stadium during the lightning delay. 

Muskett is scheduled to start against Maryland.

Up next: at Maryland, Friday, 7 p.m.

ESPN SP+ ranking: 93rd

Sagarin ranking: 94th

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5. Old Dominion, SBC (1-1) 

The Monarchs added to their loss column against Virginia Tech (1-1) in Week 1, as QB Grant Wilson only passed for 94 yards. The 36-17 loss wasn’t how ODU planned to start its season, but in the first Sun Belt Conference game this season it took down Louisiana (1-1).

This team returns top 2022 tackler Jason Henderson, the preseason SBC Defensive Player of the Year. I think the Monarchs will be better than most expect in the Sun Belt East this year.

Up next: Wake Forest, Saturday, noon

ESPN SP+ ranking: 112th

Sagarin ranking: 116th

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