I am grateful to again have a vote in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 media poll for the 2023 season. I’ll publish my ballot every week and provide some reasoning for my order.
Notes at the bottom.
FCS Top 25
- South Dakota State
- Montana State
- South Dakota
- Sacramento State
- North Dakota State
- North Carolina Central
- Western Carolina
- Northern Iowa
- North Dakota
- Southern Illinois
- Florida A&M
- Austin Peay
- Youngstown State
- UT Martin
- Tarleton State
- Central Arkansas
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No teams left my Top 25 from last week. But if you thought it was a chill day in the FCS, then boy, take a gander at the Top 25 scoreboard.
Chaos reigned supreme again. And it leads into Week 12 with wild playoff bubble scenarios. But bracketology will come later this week.
For this week’s ballot breakdown, I’ll explain the movement for the six teams that lost.
Because, frankly, it was difficult to figure out where to move each one. And maybe by typing it out, it will make me feel better about my decisions.
Idaho dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 after losing 31-29 at unranked Weber State. A bad loss. And a consequential loss for Idaho’s playoff positioning. I still think the Vandals will get a seed if they beat Idaho State. But they coughed up home-field advantage with Saturday’s loss. Idaho stayed in my Top 6 because of its overall body of work. The Vandals are 7-3, have two FCS losses, own three ranked wins (including over Top 10 Montana State and Sac State), and have an FBS win on Nevada.
NC Central went from No. 7 to No. 11. Another bad and shocking loss, losing 50-20 at Howard. This result is significant because Howard can seal the MEAC’s berth into the Celebration Bowl if it beats Morgan State, and NC Central could take an at-large bid into the playoffs if it beats Delaware State. The Eagles didn’t plummet too far since they are still 8-2 overall and 7-1 vs. the FCS. They have a ranked win over Elon, who beat No. 5 Delaware two weeks ago. Losing that way to Howard deserves to be punished in the polls, but I won’t sink NC Central too far.
Northern Iowa was one of the hottest teams in the FCS. But it had a clunker at unranked Missouri State, losing 35-16. The Panthers go from No. 10 on my ballot to No. 14. Again, a tough gauge on where to put UNI. It is 6-4 overall and 6-3 vs. the FCS with two ranked wins over YSU and UND.
That keeps UNI above North Dakota. UND lost 14-10 at media poll-No. 6 South Dakota. The Fighting Hawks probably feel they should have won that game. The tight battle at a highly-ranked team doesn’t see a significant drop for UND, moving from No. 13 to No. 15. UND is 6-4 overall and 6-3 vs. the FCS, featuring a dominant win on ranked NDSU. Based on Saturday performances, where NDSU rolled ranked SIU, the Bison move ahead of the Fighting Hawks at 7-3 overall.
Speaking of Southern Illinois, the Salukis lost 34-10 at ranked NDSU, getting rolled in the second half. They fall from No. 11 to No. 18. SIU has lost two straight, albeit to ranked teams, and is now 6-4 overall. The Salukis have an FBS win over Northern Illinois. They also have wins over then-ranked SEMO and now-ranked Austin Peay. It’s a decent resume, but the recent trend of games drops SIU outside the Top 15.
Youngstown State lost 34-0 vs. No. 1 SDSU. The Penguins go from No. 18 to No. 21. Losing that way to the Jackrabbits is honestly forgivable. Many ranked teams have gotten the same treatment from SDSU. But teams like Mercer and Austin Peay jumped YSU with their hot finishes to this season. The Penguins are now 6-4 overall and 6-3 vs. the FCS. They do have a dominant head-to-head on SIU, so I can see the argument to drop SIU below YSU. The Salukis stayed ahead of YSU for me due to an evenly distributed combo platter of an FBS win, better non-conference FCS wins, and playing Top 5 SDSU and USD tough in one-score losses.