The FCS rarely makes it easy on poll voters, and Week 7 was no different. And for those of us trying to project the 24-team playoff field, it's already getting to the point where several teams don't seem to want to put themselves in position for a bid.
Figuring out who deserves to be a seed is difficult as well.
Four teams in the Top 10 lost on Saturday, although No. 5 Villanova had an impressive showing at No. 2 James Madison and shouldn't be punished. It was JMU's defense that took over in the fourth quarter and the offense hit some big plays to pull away in the 38-24 win. The Dukes are downright scary up front, led by John Daka's two sacks and five tackles for loss.
B-Mac was at that game and dove deeper into the matchup here:
The other game between Top 10 opponents saw No. 1 North Dakota State overcome some sloppy first-half plays and dominate No. 10 Northern Iowa in the second half. NDSU led 18-14 at halftime and went on to win 46-14. The Panthers were supposed to be a team that could test the Bison. The same thing with Illinois State last week. So far, any thought of more teams narrowing the gap on NDSU is being put to rest.
The remaining two Top 10 losses were a bit more interesting.
Look, I ranked Sacramento State No. 17 in my poll on Monday. (The Hornets ended up not being ranked in the poll.) A win at No. 6 Montana State wouldn't have shocked me going into the game. But the 34-21 final score and the way Sac State won truly impressed me. MSU was supposed to have one of the strongest defenses in the Big Sky this year, but quarterback Kevin Thomson and the offense put up 403 total yards. This now confirms to me that the Hornets are a playoff team. For MSU, who moves to 5-1 against FCS opponents, it had its weaknesses exploited after skating by against inferior opponents. The Bobcats are still a playoff team, but the conversations of this team being a potential seed have gone away for now. We'll see if they can bounce back and re-enter that discussion with improvements needed defensively and in the offensive passing attack.
And then we have No. 9 Towson. The Tigers lost 38-21 at home versus Albany, a team traditionally near the bottom of the CAA standings. That's an awesome win for the Great Danes, who are 4-3 overall now with two of those losses coming by a combined six points.
Week 7 Predictions: Where Were We Wrong?
Chaos In The CAA
And since we're on the topic of the CAA standings, what a mess it's becoming. Four ranked CAA opponents lost to unranked conference foes:
- No. 9 Towson lost 38-21 to Albany
- No. 15 Delaware lost 42-7 to Elon
- No. 18 Maine lost 24-17 to Richmond
- No. 22 Stony Brook lost 20-14 to New Hampshire
Ranked FCS Losses
Ranked losses weren't exclusive to the CAA. It was pretty widespread across the country.
The following ranked teams lost: 5. Villanova, 6. Montana State, 9. Towson, 10. UNI, 15. Delaware, 18. Maine, 19. YSU, 20. SEMO, 22. Stony Brook 23. Southeastern Louisiana, 25. SHSU
That's 11 of the Top 25 taking Ls.
Three of those ranked losses came versus other ranked teams: Nova vs. JMU, UNI vs. NDSU, YSU vs. SDSU.
South Dakota State, by the way, looked pretty dang good to finish that game. The Jacks were down 21-9 halfway through the third quarter before taking it to the Penguins and winning 38-28. Watch out for this team when it puts together a full game
S/O To The Underdogs
Eight of the 11 ranked losses came at the hands of unranked teams. And while it's easy to point to the ranked team losing, let's give a shout-out to the teams that were looked at as underdogs heading into the game, but didn't play like it.
Sacramento State, Albany, Elon, Richmond, Austin Peay, New Hampshire, UIW and Lamar all notched the "upsets."
Sac State proved it's a Top 25 team. New Hampshire is getting hot, winning four in a row after starting 0-2. And Austin Peay is off to a huge start in the OVC, sitting at 2-0 in the standings with the wins coming against playoff teams from last year: Jacksonville State and SEMO. It's the first back-to-back ranked wins in program history.
There are some other big performances as well.
In a battle of unbeaten Ivy League teams, Dartmouth took it to Yale, a team I thought would win the conference, 42-10. Kudos to the Big Green for reloading better than I expected.
FAMU continues to show it's a program with massive improvement going on, improving to 5-1 (5-0 against FCS foes) with a win against SC State.
CCSU is looking like a scary team in the NEC. The Blue Devils are 5-1 overall with the one-loss a heartbreaker to FBS Eastern Michigan.
And finally, how about VMI? What a special story for that program. The Keydets finished 1-10 last year, which was on par for them in recent seasons. But in 2019, VMI is off to a 4-3 overall start with a 3-1 record in the SoCon. Fantastic turnaround.
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