No. 25 James Madison might be the best Group of Five team in college football. Behind star quarterback Todd Centeio, the Dukes sit at 5-0 and tied atop the Sun Belt standings, having won four of their five games by more than 20 points. Despite all the success, don't expect to see the Dukes come championship Saturday. 

James Madison is in its first year as a program transitioning from the Football Championship Subdivision. Due to NCAA rules, every program that moves up to the Football Bowl Subdivision is required to undergo a two-year transition period, during which time programs are ineligible to participate in postseason play. 

Even if James Madison goes 12-0 and 8-0 in the Sun Belt, the Dukes are unable to play in the Sun Belt Championship Game or a bowl game. If JMU sits on top of the Sun Belt East at the end of the year, the No. 2 team in the standings will vie with the Sun Belt West champion for the conference championship. Since they are ineligible for postseason, the Dukes are also ineligible to be ranked in the College Football Playoff rankings, according to Jerry Palm. Even if the Dukes are the best Group of Five team in the country, another team will earn the trip to the Cotton Bowl instead. 

Typically, this FCS-to-FBS postseason ban lasts two seasons. For Division II teams transitioning to Division I, the ban lasts a full four seasons. However, usually the first FBS transition season features a hybrid schedule featuring both FCS and FBS foes. Since the Dukes sped to a full Sun Belt schedule in 2022, James Madison will apply for a waiver to be eligible for postseason play in 2023, according to the Daily News-Record

While the rule will be a frustration for James Madison fans, it's intended as a buffer for programs transitioning without putting thought into their decision. Some teams have a great quarterback or roster that could compete for national acclaim; a transition to the FBS level is supposed to be a 50-year decision, not to capitalize on one team. 

For every James Madison, there's a UMass. The Minutemen joined the MAC as a football-only school in 2011. During their 11 years at the FBS level, the Minutemen have finished with one or fewer wins six times and never gone better than 4-8. UMass left the MAC in 2016 and has floated around as an independent.

James Madison is a legit football program, though. The Dukes won Division I FCS national championships in 2004 and 2016, joining future FBS member Sam Houston as the only teams to knock North Dakota State out of the FCS playoffs in the past decade. Six of the past seven seasons have ended in a conference championship for JMU.  

That success has already transitioned to FBS play. The Dukes crushed Middle Tennessee 44-7 in their first FBS game and even overcame a 28-3 deficit to shock Appalachian State in Boone. Regardless of JMU's exclusion from the New Year's Six and Sun Belt title game, the Dukes deserve our props. Not since Georgia Southern has a program so quickly acclimated to FBS football and competed at the highest level. Already, the Dukes appear to be yet another shrewd addition by the Sun Belt to a quietly stacked conference.  

Besides, while the Dukes are ineligible for championships ... their players can still win the Heisman Trophy. The award is open to college football players at all levels. Get Centeio's 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns to New York.