I am grateful to again have a vote in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 media poll for the 2022 season. I’ll publish my ballot every week and provide some reasoning for my order.
Notes at the bottom.
FCS Top 25
25. Northern Arizona
23. Austin Peay
21. Eastern Kentucky
18. Eastern Washington
17. North Dakota
15. UT Martin
14. Holy Cross
13. William & Mary
11. Jackson State
9. Weber State
7. Sacramento State
6. Missouri State
5. Incarnate Word
4. Montana State
3. South Dakota State
1. North Dakota State
I reevaluate my order every week, which can result in big jumps and falls. I don’t like to slot teams based on last week’s order since every week of more games we get a clearer picture. So Team A can jump Team B even if both teams had similar wins.
Not nearly as much movement as last week in this ballot.
New to my Top 25 are SEMO and Furman. SEMO has looked great in its two FCS wins, beating SIU 34-31 and Nicholls 42-16. The win over SIU looks even better after the Salukis beat the Big Ten’s Northwestern on Saturday. If you rank SIU after that win, you gotta rank SEMO. And Furman beat ETSU 27-14, who was ranked No. 18 in the media poll, although I did not rank ETSU last week. Still, Furman is 2-1 and 1-0 against the FCS, and its win was deserving of getting into the Top 25.
Dropping out were Rhode Island and Southeastern Louisiana University. I ranked Rhody for the first time last week, putting them at No. 22. It was an easy choice to drop them this week after losing 42-21 at home vs. ranked Delaware in a game that was even more decisive than 21 points. Dropping SLU out was tougher considering it beat CCSU 70-6 after two FBS losses. But again, I reevaluate every week, so I can drop a team even if they win if I feel there are more deserving teams to be in front of them. And I thought SEMO and Furman deserved to be in. I kept NAU in after losing a 50/50 game vs. ranked UND that the Lumberjacks have every right to feel they should have won.
Everything else mostly stayed the same besides flipping a few teams around, like moving Holy Cross up a spot and UND up a few spots.
I kept Montana State at No. 4 and Missouri State at No. 6 for now despite Mo State nearly knocking off FBS No. 10 Arkansas and Montana State getting crushed 68-28 by FBS Oregon State. I decided to wait until this upcoming week’s games to get a better gauge before shuffling things around.
I like to judge teams more based on FCS competition than FBS results. And we’ll see some great measuring stick FCS vs. FCS games in Week 4.
Is Missouri State that good to be up 10 points against the No. 10 team in the FBS? Or was this one of those games where the Bears played out of their minds and it’s a performance they’re going to have a hard time replicating the rest of this season? They nearly beat ranked Oklahoma State last year, but then ended up losing right away in the playoffs. There are past examples of FCS teams nearly beating or even beating ranked FBS opponents, making everyone wonder if they are legit FCS contenders. And then we find out the answer is no. I’ve learned to not overreact to near wins vs. ranked FBS teams. And another reason I’ll stay patient for one more week is because Mo State is hosting highly-ranked South Dakota State this week. That will be a true gauge of how good this Bears team is.
The same patience can be had for Montana State. There are several examples, like Eastern Washington, of FCS teams getting smacked by P5 teams and still making a deep playoff run. I won’t hit the panic button on the Bobcats just yet, because they go to ranked EWU this week. A win there makes us mostly forget about the performance against Oregon State.
I certainly see the argument to elevate Missouri State and downgrade Montana State after this weekend. But we’ll get a much better grasp on how to order the top 6 when Mo State plays SDSU, Montana State plays EWU, and UIW plays rankable SLU.