So FCS fans, are there any weekend discussion topics out there? How's the weather, right? No? Nothing? What, there's that old "pimple" discussion of NDSU and James Madison to discuss? Imagine that … after the past three or four years. To answer the question via Tweeter (sorry, my version of spelling) … of course, North Dakota State deserves my No. 1 vote in this week's poll. And that will be released Sunday when I do the Top 25 ballot vote.
Do you all think I'm a "fan?. I'm not a fan, folks, I'm a well-researched voter who uses reason and logic to make decisions. The NDSU showing at Illinois State was beyond impressive. ISU is no slouch, and I seriously doubt the Redbirds are out of the postseason discussion. And James Madison traveled up to Long Island and the Dukes received all they wanted from a pretty damned good Stony Brook team. It was a definitive weekend.
So yes, you Green and Gold plated diehards with horns from the Plains … of course, NDSU gets my No. 1 vote this week. Duh.
[divider]MORE FCS FOOTBALL:
So yes, to elaborate, NDSU apparently doesn't miss a beat. Now, will the Bison be challenged this month? Yes they will. I still think the road trip to SDSU and the road trip to Youngstown State and the home game against Northern Iowa are hardly worth ignoring. And do I think the Bison will lose one of them? Yep, I do. But, judging by the results so far? How can you not be impressed? My main question, how quickly (not "if") Trey Lance would become the monster we thought he'd be. Folks, I had him No. 21 overall in my 2018 FCS recruiting rankings. Trey and I connected during recruiting and I could tell this guy was a big-time leader. He was a quote machine and in love with Fargo. The only question was … how would he immediately (not eventually) follow in the massive footsteps of two straight NFL Draft picks?. Also, he didn't have a whole lot of starting experience returning behind him. Well, so far? It would appear that didn't matter. At least so far.
Your job as NDSU fans is faith, my job is reason. I don't put national championship-caliber winning "faith" in a redshirt freshman, no matter how highly I ranked him as a recruit or how much I enjoyed conversing with the kid during recruiting. Did I enjoy connecting with Trey during recruiting? Absolutely. Am I in love with Trey? No, that's not my job. That's yours. Hell, even Trey doesn't deserve that pressure. You all can pile that on, but I won't.
On the flip side? James Madison this weekend was punched in the mouth but survived in overtime to beat a rankable Stony Brook team, and turnovers once again nearly derailed the Dukes train (just like West Virginia). Now, the real test is the only 6-0 team in the FCS Nation — Villanova. Next week is Family Weekend at Harrisonburg, Va. And I get to fly up there and see it first hand. What Coach Mark Ferrante has done at 'Nova is incredible. I'm pretty certain that if JMU had beaten West Virginia instead of just dominating the Mountaineers statistically? Yeah, I'm pretty sure this would be ESPN Gameday's stop this weekend. It should be a big one.
WEEK SIX PICKS: See which ones B-Mac messed up
Now, for those of you who are sick of listening to the NDSU-JMU BS? We come to the next segment of this column.
Montana is crushing the competition and considering that lone loss to what appears to be a pretty good Oregon team? I'm beginning to wonder if this might be the best Griz team since the 14-1 team in 2009 that went down to the wire with Villanova in the national title game. Just in case you were wondering, Bobby Hauck is back in Missoula, and he was the head coach who orchestrated that 14-1 season. Funny how things repeat, eh? It's only been his second season of his second stint. Pretty impressive so far and I think as of today? We're looking at a high seed team. The Griz have "fixed the glitch" and become the monster the FCS needs it to be, based on results through this week.
Another program crushing the competition and looking to "pick a fight?" Villanova. The 'Cats have finally beaten their biggest adversary — the injury bug — and have become the only 6-0 team in the FCS. And guess what? The last time Villanova did this? It was 22 years ago in 1997. The 'Cats have played stellar and become a monster in the FCS Playoff picture, by my estimation.
And another program that we've touted? Furman. I'm ready to make the argument that this may be the top Furman team since 2006 when the Paladins knocked off Appalachian State in regular season play but fell by less than a touchdown to ASU in postseason play. This is a very special Furman team, and the two FBS losses have been late by 13 combined points, to Georgia State who knocked off Tennessee on Rocky Top, and also Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Furman is a serious player in this year's game, folks.
PS — We see you South Dakota State, all you've done is keep winning. The Jacks will have their day.
OTHER GAME BALLS
No. 1) The Ivy Three – Princeton, Yale and Dartmouth have been the top three programs in the league the past three seasons, and they're all 3-0 heading into the "meat" of Ivy League play in October and November. It will be interesting to see where this heads once we get into "chop it up" time in the league.
No. 2) Nicholls – We talked all week about the Colonels needing a signature win. They got one and then some this weekend by knocking off a very strong Central Arkansas team by 20 points in Louisiana. This program is now 3-0 vs. the FCS with two FBS losses. But this was clearly the best showing from Nicholls. UCA owns an FBS win and this is its lone FCS loss so far.
No. 3) VMI – Head coach Scott Wachenheim has this team 3-3 and 2-1 in SoCon league play. Folks, the Keydets won 19 total games the past decade, but just knocked off The Citadel convincingly on the road (34-21) … just a few weeks removed from The Citadel knocking off the ACC's Georgia Tech.
VMI SEASON PREVIEW: The Story
No. 4) North Carolina A&T – The Aggies have looked strong and have non-conference FCS wins to their credit and the only loss is to an ACC team (Duke). Could this be a Celebration Bowl winner once again? Alcorn State is beginning to roll a bit, but it sure looks like these two teams have a collision course in December. We'll see if that holds up because FAMU and Bethune-Cookman are both at 2-0 in MEAC play too.
No. 5) Campbell– The Camels have won four games in a row since falling to FBS Troy, and that includes a potential Pioneer League champ (Davidson), a SoCon team and now the program is 1-0 in league play. Campbell's two-year starting quarterback Daniel Smith is up at Villanova (6-0) pushing the Wildcats, but freshman QB Hajj-Malik Williams is performing well in Smith's stead.
SWING AND A B-MAC WHIFF
WEEK SIX PICKS: See which ones B-Mac messed up
Well, it would appear I have no one to apologize to this week because I went 7-0 in my picks. I will rub that in with my colleague Sam Herder (he went 5-2 this week — disagreement? Nicholls-UCA and Sac. State-EWU). But Sam can alternately turn around and crow that he's still five "corrects" ahead of me for the season (I will get you Gadget … next time!). So maybe I shouldn't crow too much eh? No. I'll crow. Hey, Sam …
Listen to this week's episode of B-Mac and Herd's FCS Podcast, which is also available on iTunes, Spotify, iHeart, Stitcher and Spreaker.