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
- North Carolina Central
- Northern Iowa
- Southern Illinois
- Sacramento State
- North Dakota
- North Dakota State
- Western Carolina
- Youngstown State
- Florida A&M
- Austin Peay
- UT Martin
- Tarleton State
- Central Arkansas
Leaving: UIW, Lafayette
Entering: Tarleton State, Harvard
Lafayette moves out of the Top 25 after suffering its first FCS loss, losing 37-34 in OT to Colgate. Colgate was 3-5 entering this game.
UIW also moves out, going from No. 16 last week to unranked after losing handily to Nicholls 45-32 in a game that was once 45-19. Nicholls is now 4-4. I was skeptical of UIW’s close wins against inferior teams throughout this season, which was why I had moved them down in my rankings and why I picked Nicholls to win Saturday. And now at 7-2 overall with no ranked wins and a decisive unranked loss, UIW gets bumped out.
Harvard moves back in after getting bumped last week, now 7-1 overall with a ranked win over Holy Cross. Harvard didn’t do anything wrong last week, it just got knocked out to make room for Mercer.
And hey, check out D1-transitioning Tarleton State in here, also moving into the rankings at 7-3 overall and 6-2 vs. the FCS. The two losses were one-possession games vs. SUU and at EKU, which made me pause. But Tarleton is on a three-game winning streak and beat ranked Central Arkansas a couple of weeks ago.
The Top 5 stays the same as last week.
South Dakota State did what it wanted to vs. NDSU, winning by three scores to stay undefeated with five ranked wins. Montana solidified its No. 2 spot, rolling Top 10 Sac State and now sitting at 8-1 overall with three ranked wins, including one over Idaho.
Idaho slept walked to a win over Northern Colorado but improved to 7-2 overall with an FBS win and two ranked wins, including over Montana State. The Vandals can’t play like that again if they want a Top 3 playoff seed. But that performance isn’t a trend for Idaho, making it a different case than moving UIW or Western Carolina down after underwhelming performances.
Montana State rolled NAU to improve to 7-2 with two ranked wins. And Furman secured a gutsy road win at ranked Chattanooga without their captain and starting QB Tyler Huff, earning the SoCon title and playoff auto-bid. Furman is now 8-1 overall and 8-0 vs. the FCS, featuring three ranked wins. MSU stays ahead of Furman due to its 9th-ranked strength of schedule compared to Furman’s 50th, and my mind hasn’t changed from most of this season about MSU being the better team even though MSU suffered its second loss at Idaho a couple of games ago.
South Dakota rises back up the rankings after winning at ranked SIU. USD is now 7-2 overall and 7-1 vs. the FCS with three ranked wins. NC Central also moves up, now at 8-1 overall and 7-0 vs. the FCS, featuring a win over then-ranked Elon, who just beat Top 5 Delaware. UAlbany moves up several spots, a team that wasn’t getting enough attention and was just outside my Top 15 last week. UAlbany won decisively over ranked W&M and is now 7-3 overall but 7-1 vs. the FCS with two ranked wins.
Delaware, Southern Illinois, and Sac State dropped a few spots after their losses. Meanwhile, Northern Iowa cracks the Top 10 at 6-3 overall and 6-2 vs. the FCS with two ranked wins. Western Carolina dropped a few spots after losing some momentum while battling through injuries. WCU was on a two-game losing streak, including losing to unranked Mercer two games ago. The Catamounts got a win Saturday, but a 28-25 victory over winless Wofford moves it toward the middle of the ranking.
Apologies for the shorter, quicker-hitting ballot breakdown this time around. It was a busy day of yard work, which is getting almost as much Twitter engagement as FCS Top 25s.