James Madison put up 687 total yards in its season opener last week, led by CAA Offensive Player of the Week Cole Johnson, who passed for five touchdowns. Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP

The coaches and players on the University of Maine football team hear the encouraging words spoken about their effort in last week’s opening 34-24 loss against Delaware, then ranked fifth in the nation (now sixth) among Football Championship Subdivision teams.

But as Coach Nick Charlton stressed this week, “We’re a results-driven business. These players don’t want to hear about what a great effort we had last week.”

And the schedule-makers did the Black Bears no favors. Now Maine has an even greater challenge – a trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia, for a game Saturday against James Madison, ranked second in one national poll and third in another. Not only are the Dukes one of the premier FCS programs in the nation, they have won 18 consecutive home games.

“Our schedule is always tough,” said Charlton. “We’ve just got to play every opponent the same way. … We’re not concerned about the rankings. We’ve just got to play well and execute to win.”

A win over James Madison would establish the Black Bears as not only a contender in the Colonial Athletic Association, but for a national playoff bid. A loss would almost ensure that Maine would have to win its six remaining CAA games – and possibly one of its two Football Bowl Subdivision games – to even receive consideration for a playoff bid.

“I think it is a really big game,” said center Michael Gerace. “Just like every other game is a big game. We have to attack every game the same way, in terms of preparation, showing up on game day, executing on game day. You don’t want to attack this one any different from the Delaware game or any future games.”

But James Madison is a different animal compared to other CAA teams, even Delaware. The Dukes have played in three of the last five FCS national title games, winning it all in 2016. In the spring, they advanced to the semifinals.

James Madison is coming off a 68-10 season-opening win over Morehead State, a game in which the Dukes set a program record by holding Morehead to an stunning minus-57 yards rushing. The Dukes put up 687 total yards, led by CAA Offensive Player of the Week Cole Johnson, who passed for five touchdowns.

Charlton said there really is no secret to the Dukes’ success.

“They’re not running a million different concepts, 15 different run schemes. They stick to what they do and do well,” he said. “It’s about stopping that and getting them to do things they don’t practice all the time and put them in adverse situations. (James Madison) is very talented and do what they do well because they can.”

Maine showed it could play with the big boys last week –at times. Trailing 17-0 early in the second quarter, the Black Bears ripped off 24 consecutive points to take a seven-point lead into the half. Then they were driving to regain the lead late in the third quarter when a fumble into the end zone resulted in a touchback, giving Delaware the ball.

Now, Charlton said, the Black Bears have to become consistent and play well for four quarters.

“We just have to be more efficient,” he said. “At the end of the day, it comes down to execution.”

And belief, according to senior safety Fofie Bazzie.

“In order to win, we have to play fast, physical, play as one, communicate well, believe in each other,” he said. “We’ve just got to know we can win. We just played a Top 5 team and damn near beat them. Why not do it against another Top 5 team? Believe, believe, believe.”

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