There were some noteworthy upsets this last week in the FCS and the new rankings mirror the crazy results. For the first time this season NDSU is not the top dog and Idaho also made things interesting with their stunner over Montana. There’s only a finite number of weeks left before the committee makes the final say. Here’s where we sit heading into Week 8...
The Top 25
#1 South Dakota State (6-1) - Last Week: #2
It seems as though John Stiegelmeier always has his team ready for the Dakota Marker. Only one program has been able to land multiple wins over North Dakota State during their last 11 years of FCS dominance and that’s the Jacks. Isaiah Davis ran for 114 yards and Hunter Dustman drilled three field goals to take down the Bison in their building. The defense allowed no second half points either. The Jackrabbits are the clear #1 right now as they move into the top spot for the first time in program history. They might as well stay in North Dakota because they have a date with the Hawks in Grand Forks on Saturday.
#2 Sacramento State (6-0) - Last Week: #5
The Hornets may be the team to beat in the Big Sky. Yes, the top has several great teams but after what Sacramento State did to Eastern Washington in Cheney on Saturday night, there’s no question that Troy Taylor’s team is the scariest and the voters agree as they move up to #2. Cameron Skattebo ran for over 200 yards, Asher O’Hara rushed for three touchdowns and Jake Dunniway threw for two more. There’s a sizeable gap between the Hornets and several others in the conference right now. Sac State now gets to play host to Montana under the ESPN lights on Saturday evening.
#3 Montana State (6-1) - Last Week: #4
It was a rough start in Greeley but a strong second half propelled Montana State out to a comfortable win against Northern Colorado. Tommy Mellott was back from injury and he threw three touchdowns while running back Lane Sumner ran for 130 yards. Willie Patterson caught three touchdowns and all in all it ended how it was supposed to. MSU is now 4-0 against the Big Sky and because their rivals in Missoula lost, MSU will move up a spot for the first time this year. The ‘Cats will put their 16-game home win streak on the line this weekend as unbeaten Weber State comes to town.
#4 North Dakota State (5-2) - Last Week: #1
For the first time this year North Dakota State will dip in the rankings and they’ll fall three spots. The Bison suffered their first loss to an FCS opponent since South Dakota State got the better of them last year. It was the Jackrabbits again last week as Matt Entz's team couldn't hold on to a 21-7 lead. A loss to a Top 3 team isn't damning by any means but this isn't the NDSU team we're used to seeing. The Bison will have an extra week to lick their wounds as they look ahead to Illinois State.
#5 Weber State (6-0) - Last Week: #6
Weber State seems to only be getting stronger as the season progresses. Portland State stood no chance as Bronson Barron added three more touchdowns to his season total and Dontae McMillan nearly hit 100 yards on the ground. The WSU defense forced two turnovers and held the Vikings to just 69 rushing yards. Jay Hill’s team is firing on all cylinders right now and has moved into the Top 5 for the first time since the 2020 spring season. The Wildcats will face a tough test this weekend as they go to take on Montana State on the road.
#6 Holy Cross (6-0) - Last Week: #7
The Crusaders had a bye week as they get ready to travel to Lafayette to face the Leopards on Saturday.
#7 Montana (5-1) - Last Week: #3
The Little Brown Stein is going back to Moscow for the first time since 1999 and Montana is falling in the rankings. The loss to the Vandals was not only ugly, it came at just the wrong time for the Grizzlies who still have games against some of the Big Sky’s best. Lucas Johnson had an off day with two costly late interceptions and the defense gave up 30 points; the most they've allowed all year. The Griz need to turn it around quickly as they have a big one against Sacramento State on Saturday night in the primetime slot.
#8 Incarnate Word (6-1) - Last Week: #8-T
UIW made light work of Nicholls on Saturday and Lindsay Scott Jr. ripped through his old team with ease. His five touchdowns puts him just one behind Fordham’s Tim DeMorat at 32 on the year and he’s only thrown two interceptions all season. Marcus Cooper rumbled over the Colonels for 137 yards rushing while Taylor Grimes hauled in 10 passes for 125 yards and two scores. It was just another day at the office for the Cardinals offense. Incarnate Word is eyeing a national seed with a month to go and they should have no problem keeping the momentum rolling as they welcome NAIA Faulkner in on Saturday.
#9 Jackson State (6-0) - Last Week: #8-T
Bethune-Cookman didn’t stand a chance against JSU last week. Shedeur Sanders threw for five touchdowns while Shane Hooks and Dallas Daniels each found the end zone twice. The Tigers defense held the Wildcats to just 158 total yards and stymied them on third down, allowing a conversion rate of 18.8% (3-of-16). Deion Sanders has Jackson State mowing through the SWAC like it’s nothing and it seems as though one spot in the Celebration Bowl is already locked up. The Tigers will welcome in a pretty solid Campbell team this weekend, though, for what should be an interesting game.
#10 Chattanooga (5-1) - Last Week: #10
The Mocs gashed VMI last weekend to the tune of 299 rushing yards. 281 of those yards came via Ailym Ford and Gino Appleberry. Chattanooga held the ball for over 36 minutes and held the Keydets to 156 total yards and only eight first downs. Preston Hutchinson threw for 295 yards and two TDs. It was a total team effort and the Mocs are still undefeated in FCS play as they eye a return trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Now Chattanooga will head to Macon to take on Mercer in what may effectively be the SoCon championship.
#11 Mercer (6-1) - Last Week: #12
Another week another blowout win for the Bears. Mercer dropped 55 points on East Tennessee State thanks to five more Fred Payton touchdown throws. Payton is now fourth in the FCS with 21 TDs this fall and he just had his first interception last week. Michael Campbell nabbed two picks and took one back for a house call while both Ty James and Brandon Marshall went over 100 yards receiving. Drew Cronic’s squad is playing maybe the best ball of anyone in the SoCon right now with a huge game against Chattanooga right around the corner.
#12 William & Mary: (5-1) - Last Week: #11
William & Mary took a week off but fall one spot anyways due to shifting above. Towson is up next.
#13 Delaware (5-1) - Last Week: #13
The Blue Hens sat idle last weekend and will look to get back in the win column when they play Morgan State this Saturday.
#14 Southern Illinois: (5-2) - Last Week: #16
The win streak is up to five now for the Salukis as they take down Western Illinois. There were no touchdowns through the air for SIU but it was no problem as Javon Williams Jr. rushed for four. The Leathernecks couldn’t even muster up 200 total yards but they barely had the ball. Southern Illinois controlled the clock for over 41 minutes and when all was said and done they came out with a 30-7 victory. The Salukis will hit the road to face South Dakota this weekend.
#15 Samford: (5-1) - Last Week: #15
Samford took a bye last weekend and now will get ready for a big game with ETSU.
#16 Southeast Missouri State (5-1) - Last Week: #18
No game for SEMO last week. They’ll play Northwestern State this weekend as they look to improve to six wins for the first time since 2019.
#17 Idaho (4-2) - Last Week: NR
The Vandals not only enter the rankings this week but they’ll shoot up them thanks to an impressive win over a Top 3 Montana team on the road. In his first year as head coach, Jason Eck earned a victory over UM; something that hasn’t happened for the program in 23 years. Gevani McCoy was terrific, throwing for 286 yards and two touchdowns against that vaunted Griz defense and receiver Hayden Hatten was a one-man wrecking crew with nine catches for 149 yards and two TDs. The Vandals still haven’t lost to an FCS opponent this year and suddenly are making a play for a postseason spot. They’ll get Portland State this weekend at home.
#18 UT Martin (4-2) - Last Week: #19
UT Martin had a bye and it came at just the right time. The Skyhawks will head to Knoxville on Saturday for their second FBS game of the year, this time against Tennessee.
#19 Richmond (4-2) - Last Week: #21
Richmond got back in the win column thanks to a 10-point win over Villanova. Reece Udinski had a quiet day (at least compared to what he has been doing) but still did enough to get the Spiders their fourth win of the year. Wildcats receiver Jaaron Hayek, who had a monster game his last time out, was held in check by the Richmond defense that gave up only 146 pass yards. They improve to 2-1 in league action and now the Spiders will travel to take on CAA newcomer Hampton.
#20 North Dakota (4-2) - Last Week: #20
The Hawks got a week off and they needed it to prep for a huge game against South Dakota State this weekend.
#21 Elon (5-2) - Last Week: #14
It was a tough showing for Elon against Rhode Island. The Rams dealt the Phoenix their second loss of the year and their first to an FCS opponent. Matthew McKay had an uncharacteristic day with no touchdowns and a pick while Jalen Hampton barely got over 80 yards on the ground. The defense gave up over 400 yards to URI despite only holding them to 17 points. Elon has to get it right as they now have a really good New Hampshire group on the road.
#22 Rhode Island (4-2) - Last Week: #25-T
Rhode Island is working its way back up after a fall-off earlier in the year. Beating Elon was huge and gives URI the tiebreaker over the Phoenix if it comes down to it. Linebacker Evan Stewart came up with two big fumble recoveries and Jarrett Martin had a pick six that turned out to be the difference. Kasim Hill passed for over 200 yards while Marques DeShields notched his third 100-yard rushing game of the year. The Rams will travel this weekend to battle Monmouth.
#23 Fordham (6-1) - Last Week: #22
Despite picking up a win, the Rams will slide one spot but that shouldn’t take away from what they did to Stony Brook. Tim DeMorat is now the first QB to surpass the 3,000-yard passing mark after he put up 371 and three touchdowns against the Seawolves. Dequece Carter stepped up on the outside with Fotis Kokosioulis having a quiet day and brought in eight passes for 140 yards. MJ Wright caught two touchdowns in what was another big day for the offense. Fordham will now have a week off before what is likely the biggest game of the year against Holy Cross.
#24 Austin Peay (5-2) - Last Week: #24
Austin Peay demolished Murray State 52-17 thanks to Mike DiLiello’s big day. DiLiello finished with 309 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to standout receiver Drae McCrae. McCrae and James Burns each authored 100-yard receiving and even the special teams got in on the scoring action with a 94-yard return from Kam Thomas. You’ve got to believe that the Governors are favorites to grab the AQ7’s auto-big but the coming weeks will be telling. The Govs will get a rare second bye this upcoming week before facing Jacksonville State.
#25 New Hampshire (5-2) - Last Week: NR
UNH hasn’t been in the rankings since Week 2 but they’re back now after winning their second consecutive. The Wildcats pitched a shutout against Dartmouth, the first time the Big Green has been blanked since their lone loss last year. Isaac Seide toted the ball 26 times for 127 yards and QB Max Brosmer accounted for two touchdowns. The Wuldcats are now 5-0 in their CAA games but they’ll have a tough one this weekend when they play host to a disgruntled Elon bunch.
Villanova (3-3) - Last Week: #17
Villanova hasn’t quite looked up to snuff this year and their loss to Richmond will drop them out of the Top 25 for the first time since October of 2018. Connor Watkins completed only 11 of his 26 pass attempts and had no touchdowns with a pick and a fumble. Even the kicking game was struggling as Matthew Mercurio missed one of his two field goal tries. The Wildcats have now lost three of their last four as they’ll host Albany on Saturday with the hopes of turning it around.
Eastern Kentucky (3-3) - Last Week: #23
EKU has had an up and down season and, unfortunately for the Colonels, they’re hitting a down point right now. Sam Houston handed them their third loss of the year, a 25-17 defeat in which Eastern Kentucky’s offense didn’t even have possession for 25 minutes. Braedon Sloan lost a fumble and so did Jyran Mitchell and, in a one-score game with a team on its way to the FBS, that’s too much to overcome. EKU will try to get things right with North Alabama coming in this weekend.
Southeastern Louisiana (3-3) - Last Week: #25-T
The Lions took the week off but will still fall from the rankings. Surely they’ll get back in if they can beat FBS-transitioning Jacksonville State this Saturday, though.