The FCS poll that HERO Sports' Sam Herder and I vote in is the official media poll put out by Craig Haley and STATS. Below you'll find my weekly take on where I think teams should fit in, based on the final results of the weekend, etc etc.
A precursor (so readers understand the reasoning) … if an FCS team lost to an FBS team, they won't drop massively (or at all) because of that loss — and if they took it down to the wire, I may even reward the FCS team if the circumstances allow for it. If an FCS beat up on a D-2 or NAIA team? I'll never vote for them to rise. An FBS win or a D-2/NAIA loss will always significantly affect my vote. I want my ballot to basically reflect FCS on FCS action, with an FBS win being a bonus, or a lower division loss being reason to drop a team several spots. I also will never drop a team and rarely will float a team up if they're idle that weekend. I'll wait for the next result.
[divider]MORE FCS FOOTBALL:
EXPLAIN YOUR WORK
(full ballot is below)
QUICK SUMMARY: Want a quick summary? Truly? Here's the quickest way to sum up this past weekend and really the past couple of weeks — a Top 25 ranking on this ballot must be like handling a hot potato. It just seems the No. 10 through No. 25 spots are about as stable as the ground near the San Andreas Fault when there's an 8.2-magnitude earthquake going on. Nobody seems to want to stay there, and it's creating a mass chasm between the elite programs in the FCS and the rest of the pack. There are five weeks left, and FCS playoff at-large bids are-a-plenty for the grabbing, but apparently they're piping hot. Well, grab an oven mitt and hang on to one of those puppies, folks!
THE RISE: This was easy, as we've seen two Big Sky teams really turn it up a notch in recent weeks while other FCS programs have stalled. Sacramento State and Weber State both move into the Top Five on my ballot. Both programs feature Top 20 ranked scoring defenses, and they're setting up for a monster matchup in Sacramento in a couple of weeks. Also, Wofford continues to look like it has fixed the glitch it had early and now with Furman's big loss to an up-and-down team (The Citadel) you have to say the Terriers look like the SoCon frontrunners. Of course, Wofford and Furman get to settle that on the field in the last month of play.
THE FALL: Austin Peay, Jacksonville State, Youngstown State and New Hampshire have to drop for now, but again … there are five weeks remaining on the schedule and can always bounce back in. It's just that the comparative scores and this past week's losses make it tough to argue to keep them on the ballot.
STAYING STATIC: I'm still just not ready to bump up Kennesaw State too highly. I liked that the Owls could hang with FBS Kent State, and if they'd won that game and finished 12-0 this year I'd give the Owls a low seed right now. But with KSU trailing Missouri State (now 1-5) at the half before bouncing back to win, I just feel like there's more we have to see here. The Monmouth matchup coming up will be a good measuring stick, as will the road trip to Campbell. If KSU can win these decisively, I'll begin to float it into the Top 10.
NEW BLOOD: They're only "new blood" for this week because Sam Houston State, SEMO and Southern Illinois have been in and out of consideration. Some may question SIU being in with a 3-4 record, but the Salukis also have a blowout win over an FBS team (UMass, a big win over a good Youngstown State team this weekend, and SIU is the only FCS team to beat the OVC-leading UT Martin Skyhawks, who also are on my ballot for the first time at No. 25. I just don't feel like I can give UT Martin a vote and not give SIU and SEMO (who beat SIU) votes, but we are beginning to hit that part of the season where it's more determined by "what have you done for me lately" and less "Team X beat Team Y in week one".
MORE DATA: How about we just ask for "more data" from the entire FCS? There are so many teams I'm curious about now that we're heading down the stretch. For instance, if you'd told me last year that SEMO, Incarnate Word and Lamar would pick up playoff berths while we were sitting in October? I would have told you to seek help, immediately. What I've listed below in the "also considered" list are teams that have won several games in the row or have a key result that grabs your interest. We'll see what they do from here.[divider]
B-MAC'S FCS POLL BALLOT
|NO||WEEK 8 BALLOT||REC||STRK||WEEK 8 RESULT||WEEK 8 NOTES|
|1||NDSU||7-0||W7||Won vs. Mo. State 22-0||Took awhile to get going|
|2||JMU||7-1||W7||Won at. William & Mary 38-10||Still rolling – good run defense|
|3||SDSU||6-1||W6||Won at Indiana St. 42-23||Only loss was to P5 Minnesota|
|4||SACRAMENTO ST.||5-2||W3||Won vs. Montana 49-22||Undefeated vs. FCS|
|5||WEBER||5-2||W4||Won vs. NAU 51-28||Massive comeback – 2 FBS losses|
|6||VILLANOVA||6-1||L1||IDLE||Don't drop idle teams|
|7||ILLINOIS ST.||5-2||W2||Won at WIU 28-14||Two losses: FBS and NDSU|
|8||UNI||4-3||W1||Won vs. So. Dak. 42-27||Do have some quality wins|
|9||MONTANA||5-2||L1||LOST AT Sac. State 49-22||Griz ran into a wall this week|
|10||PRINCETON||5-0||W5||Won at Brown 65-22||Really rolling at this point|
|11||MONTANA ST.||5-2||L1||IDLE||Don't drop idle teams|
|12||KSU||6-1||W5||Won at Presbyterian 55-10||Continues to roll but sked is weak|
|13||FURMAN||4-3||L1||LOST VS The Citadel 27-10||2nd half doomed Paladins|
|14||WOFFORD||4-2||W4||Won vs. West. Carolina 59-7||Terriers have found themselves|
|15||UCA||5-2||W2||Won at NW State 31-30||Survived against 0-7 team|
|16||DARTMOUTH||5-0||W5||Won at Marist 49-7||Hosts Princeton in 3 weeks|
|17||FAMU||6-1||W6||Won vs. N.C. A&T 34-31 (OT)||Lone loss to FBS UCF|
|18||NC A&T||4-2||L1||LOST AT FAMU 34-31 (OT)||Only other loss is P5 Duke|
|19||CCSU||6-1||W3||Won vs. Bryant 52-14||Lone loss in final seconds to FBS|
|20||STONY BROOK||4-3||L2||IDLE||Don't drop idle teams|
|21||SAM HOUSTON ST.||5-3||W1||Won vs. Nicholls 17-0||Bearkats now lead Southland|
|22||NICHOLLS||4-3||L1||LOST AT Sam Houston St. 17-0||Inconsistency kills Nicholls|
|23||SEMO||4-3||W1||Won at Jville St. 24-21||Has won 3 of last 4|
|24||SOUTHERN ILL.||3-4||W1||Won vs. Youngstown 35-10||FBS win, YSU win, beat OVC leader|
|25||UT MARTIN||5-2||W4||Won vs. EIU 27-18||Have cruised since SIU loss in Sept.|
|AC||TOWSON||4-3||W1||Won vs. Bucknell 56-7||3-game losing streak ended|
|AC||YALE||4-1||W1||Won at Richmond 28-27||Still reeling from Dartmouth loss|
|AC||MONMOUTH||5-2||W3||Won vs. Gardner Webb 49-28||Only FCS loss is to Montana|
|AC||ALBANY||5-3||W2||Won vs. Rhody 35-28||Big 4-game stretch coming up|
|AC||ALCORN ST.||5-2||W4||IDLE||Don't drop idle teams|
|AC||SAN DIEGO||4-2||W4||Won vs. Valpo 42-17||Lone two losses to Big Sky teams|
|AC||BETH-COOKMAN||6-1||W5||Won vs. Norfolk St. 35-22||Lone loss to P5 Miami, Fla.|
|AC||UIW||5-2||W4||Won vs. Lamar 35-17||Bad loss to SHSU early|
|AC||PORTLAND ST.||5-3||W3||Won at No. Colo. 38-30||Losses?: Two FBS & Idaho St.|
|AC||DELAWARE||4-3||W1||Won vs. UNH 16-10||Played Pitt tough, lost to NDSU|
|AC||THE CITADEL||4-4||W1||Won at. Furman 27-10||Key wins, head scratching losses|
|AC||CHATTANOOGA||4-3||W3||Won vs. ETSU 16-13||Mocs have warmed up – tough sked|
|DRP||AUSTIN PEAY||4-3||L1||LOST AT Tennessee St. 26-24||Govs slipped up after 2 big wins|
|DRP||JVILLE ST.||5-3||L1||LOST VS. SEMO 24-21||Have to drop now|
|DRP||YOUNGSTOWN||4-3||L3||LOST AT SIU 35-10||Have to drop now|
|DRP||NEW HAMPSHIRE||4-3||L1||LOST AT Delaware 16-10||4-game win streak cut short|
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