I am grateful to have a vote in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 poll. I’ll publish my ballot every week and provide some reasoning for everyone to see and discuss.
Some notes at the bottom.
24. Prairie View A&M
23. William & Mary
22. Jackson State
21. UT Martin
18. South Dakota
16. Southern Illinois
15. Northern Iowa
13. Southeastern Louisiana University
12. Kennesaw State
10. Missouri State
8. Eastern Washington
7. Sacramento State
6. UC Davis
5. North Dakota State
4. South Dakota State
3. James Madison
2. Montana State
1. Sam Houston
Here are the teams on my ballot last week that lost this weekend: 2. North Dakota State, 5. Eastern Washington, 6. Northern Iowa, 7. Southern Illinois, 10. Southeastern Louisiana University, 16. Weber State, 17. VMI, 19. William & Mary, 25. Eastern Kentucky.
So while every week I move my order around regardless of wins and losses, this week saw somewhat of a purge of my ballot.
I say somewhat because only two teams left my Top 25 (Weber and EKU), replaced by Dartmouth and Prairie View A&M. But the order got shaken up.
Sam Houston remains No. 1 and JMU remains No. 3 from last week. I’ve been over this exhaustedly every week, but I think SHSU is the most balanced team in the FCS despite its strength of schedule. I know their QB, RB, WRs, OL, DL, LBs, etc. are good because I saw it in the spring. That has carried over and the Bearkats are doing what they’re supposed to do against inferior opponents. They will get the benefit of the doubt from the playoff committee and be a Top 2 seed.
Montana State jumped to No. 2. The Bobcats are undefeated against the FCS with two ranked wins over Weber and EWU. Their defense is legit, as proven against EWU, and the offense is playing at a high level. JMU is 8-1 with an FCS loss to Villanova. The Dukes have one win against a currently-ranked team, Weber State, and beat the Wildcats more handily than MSU did. But I favor MSU’s two ranked wins and zero FCS losses over JMU’s one FCS loss and one currently-ranked win. Both have about the same strength of schedule (MSU 50th, JMU 54th). Weber, for what it’s worth, won’t be a ranked team anymore when the poll comes out Monday.
The full body of work would suggest keeping NDSU ahead of SDSU. But the Jacks are trending up, and the Bison are trending down since a good early October win against UNI. NDSU hasn’t really had a performance yet this season that suggests this is one of the very best teams in the FCS. SDSU has had two — against Colorado State and NDSU. Now the Jacks need to prove they are that level of team in the final two weeks, and this wasn’t a one-time elite performance they needed to have.
I dropped EWU to No. 8 behind conference mates UC Davis and Sac State. UC Davis is 8-1 overall with an FBS win and Sac State is 7-2 overall and 7-1 against the FCS. UC Davis plays both teams to finish the regular season, and that will help order these three better.
Villanova is 7-1 against the FCS, but the decisive loss to W&M recently makes me pause on having the team any higher for now. But other highly-ranked teams have had bad losses and got back on track, so Nova can move up and is definitely in position for a Top 8 seed if it wins out with a good October win over JMU.
Missouri State rises into the Top 10 after beating SIU. This team can be dangerous in the playoffs and maybe can sneak into the seeds if other results help it out.
ETSU, Kennesaw, and SLU are right outside of the Top 10. ETSU is 8-1 overall with an FBS win and a loss to UTC. Kennesaw is still unbeaten against the FCS, but none of those wins are against currently-ranked teams. And SLU just suffered its first FCS loss to UIW. I kept SLU ahead of UIW because the game was as 50/50 as you can get, and UIW has a couple of bad losses to McNeese and YSU but does have an FBS win.
Montana, UNI, and SIU are the kind of teams that can beat anyone in the Top 25, but also could lose. So they’re in the middle.
USD, VMI, and UTC are all 6-3 overall and 6-2 against the FCS. I like USD’s performance at UNI the best. VMI has the head-to-head win versus UTC, although UTC has beaten ETSU. VMI just lost to ETSU, so there’s a circular firing squad in the SoCon going on right now.
UT Martin and Jackson State are undefeated against the FCS, but their strength of schedules are 60th and 107th. W&M took a tough loss to Delaware, but is still 6-3 overall and 6-2 against the FCS and has a good win against Nova. Prairie View A&M is 7-1 overall with a 40-9 loss to UIW that it has since recovered well from with six straight wins. Dartmouth is 7-1 overall with a 41-3 win against NEC favorite Sacred Heart, a 38-21 win against the CAA’s UNH (3-6 overall), and a 19-0 loss to Columbia.