November is here and the playoff push for several teams around the country is in full swing. While the weekly rankings don’t have a lot to do with what the selection committee will decide in a few weeks, they do at least give a solid idea of where teams sit on the national stage. With just three weeks to go, here’s what things look like in the Top 25...
The Top 25
#1 South Dakota State (8-1) - Last Week: #1
The Jacks will hold steady at the top again thanks to a dominant win over Indiana State. Mark Gronowski threw three touchdowns for the second straight week and Isaiah Davis ran for two more. SDSU has now won eight straight games and has not lost to an FCS opponent all year. They’re a lock for the playoffs at this point and probably for a seed as well. The name of the game now for the Jackrabbits is maintaining that top spot to get homefield advantage throughout. They’ll try for nine straight when they hit the road this weekend to take on a UNI team that’s heating up.
#2 Sacramento State (8-0) - Last Week: #2
If there was any question that Sacramento State wasn’t the class of the Big Sky, there shouldn’t be after last week. The Hornets survived Idaho on Saturday night to stay undefeated and, although Jake Dunniway struggled, Asher O’Hara and Cameron Skattebo were there to save the day. Skattebo now has four consecutive outings of at least 100 rushing yards and O’Hara added another touchdown to his season total which is now at 14. Sac State has another tough test this week at Weber State but as of right now, they’re the team to beat out west.
#3 Montana State (7-1) - Last Week: #3
Montana State had a week off and it came at a good time for the banged up Bobcats as they prepare for Saturday’s contest at Northern Arizona.
#4 North Dakota State (6-2) - Last Week: #4
With a bye last week and the loss to SDSU the week before, it had been a while since the Bison had tasted victory and they took those frustrations out on Illinois State. The Redbirds may have scored first but after that it was all North Dakota State. Cam Miller threw for a score, ran for another and accounted for 214 of the team’s 373 offensive yards. The defense stepped up and held Illinois State to just 76 rushing yards and the Bison started to look like the team we’re used to seeing again. Now they turn their eyes to Western Illinois.
TOUCHDOWN, Bison!— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) October 29, 2022
Cole Payton puts NDSU up 24-7 on Illinois State. pic.twitter.com/t20OQxmINf
#5 Weber State (7-1) - Last Week: #T-5
Weber State needed a bounce back in the worst way and they got just that against a struggling Montana squad. It wasn’t the most decisive of wins but the Wildcats are back on the right track. Dontae McMillan ran for 100 yards, Bronson Barron passed for two touchdowns and Ty MacPherson added another score to his resume. The special teams still needs some work (aka don’t kick to guys like Malik Flowers) but overall it was just what the doctor ordered after a tough loss two weeks ago. Now WSU is still in the conversation for a seed but they aren’t out of the woods yet as Sac State comes to town this weekend.
#6 Holy Cross (8-0) - Last Week: #T-5
Everyone knew that Holy Cross’ bout with Fordham would be a good one but no one expected the game the Crusaders delivered. Bob Chesney’s team weathered storm after storm against the high-flying Rams and came out on top thanks to a tremendous game by quarterback Matthew Sluka and some gutsy play calling at the end. Sluka put the team on his back and ran for 174 yards and passed for 291 while accounting for five touchdowns. It was a gut-check for Holy Cross and they survived. Now the Patriot League title should be well in hand. Lehigh comes in this weekend.
#7 Incarnate Word (8-1) - Last Week: #8
The Cardinals will continue their steady climb up the polls as they ascend one spot this week after a 35-7 win over Southland newcomer Texas A&M-Commerce. Lindsay Scott Jr. had a slow day (by his standards) and only threw one touchdown but Marcus Cooper picked up the slack and ran for 183 yards and three scores. The defense nabbed two picks, recovered a fumble and held the Lions to just 2.8 yards per rush play. It was another all-around dominant performance and UIW keeps proving why it’s one of the best teams in the subdivision this year. Houston Christian is next on the docket.
#8 William & Mary: (7-1) - Last Week: #10
It’s seeming more and more like the CAA is William & Mary’s to lose. Last weekend the Tribe survived four turnovers and made a late stop on a two-point try to get by Rhode Island with a narrow one-point win and pick up their fourth consecutive victory and keep pace with UNH in the conference standings. Darius Wilson didn’t throw for any touchdowns but the running backs combined for four with Bronson Yoder going over 100 yards for the fourth time this year. There’s things that need cleaned up but at the end of the day, W&M still only has one loss and has positioned themselves nicely for the postseason. Up next is Hampton on the road.
#9 Jackson State (8-0) - Last Week: #9
It was a big week for the Jackson State faithful. Not only was their program and school showcased on ESPN’s “College GameDay” but the Tigers blanked SWAC rival Southern 35-0 in the “Boombox Classic”. Shedeur Sanders was all over the place yet again as he ran for two touchdowns, passed for another and racked up 246 total yards. He’s fifth best among FCS signal callers with 2,425 passing yards this year and has showed zero sign of slowing down. JSU looks as if they can’t be stopped and it should be only a matter of time before the league title is officially theirs. They’ll travel to Texas Southern this Saturday as they look to stay undefeated.
#10 Samford: (7-1) - Last Week: #13
Samford hasn’t lost since Week 2 against Georgia and have rightfully entered the Top 10 after trouncing The Citadel last weekend. Michael Hiers is now over 2,000 pass yards this fall and tossed three touchdowns in the win while Kendall Watson notched his second 100-yard receiving game in a row. The defense made huge strides after allowing 45 points against ETSU a couple weeks ago and kept The Citadel out of the end zone all day. Efficiency was the name of the game as Samford didn’t even have the ball for 22 minutes but scored 38 points and only had to punt once. Now they’ll get ready for VMI as they look to go 6-0 in conference play.
#11 Chattanooga (6-2) - Last Week: #7
Whether they were still flying high from their win at Mercer or if they just simply weren’t ready for Fordham, Chattanooga had a rough day in Greenville last week. The Mocs didn’t look up to snuff against a very good Paladins team and they suffered their first FCS loss because of it. Preston Hutchinson tossed a pick on the first play of the game it rattled the team for the rest of the afternoon. He finished with two interceptions and the team couldn’t muster 100 yards on the ground. The defense forced three turnovers but couldn’t get off the field when it mattered. Now they hit the road to face The Citadel as they look for a rebound.
#12 Mercer (7-2) - Last Week: #16
Mercer rebounded in a big way last week after their tough loss to Chattanooga by thumping VMI 55-14 on the road. Fred Payton continued his recent struggles with interceptions, throwing three, but also managed to toss four touchdowns to counter it. CJ Miller ran for 105 yards and a score as well while the Bears defense added to its FCS-best 17 interceptions by snagging two more against the Keydets. It looked like the type of win we’re used to seeing from Drew Cronic’s team and they’ll rise four spots because of it. They’ll get a bye week now but the sledding won’t get any easier as a date with Furman looms after the time off.
#13 Furman (7-2) - Last Week: 24
The Paladins will make a massive jump in the rankings this week and they should after taking down Chattanooga. Tyler Huff did it all for Furman as he passed for 203 yards and ran for 132 more while finding the end zone twice. Tight end Ryan Miller hauled in his ninth touchdown of the season, tying him for fifth among all FCS receivers in that category this fall. The special teams stepped up big also as the Paladins recorded a blocked punt late to help seal it. They’ve now won four in a row and are making a serious push in the deep SoCon race. There’ll be no game this week but if they can get by a really good Mercer bunch in a couple weeks, it’s almost a lock they’ll be in the playoffs.
Blocked punt by Jack Barton! pic.twitter.com/NxbuPQAvh9— Furman Football (@PaladinFootball) October 29, 2022
#14 Richmond (6-2) - Last Week: #17
Richmond keeps handling its business and came away with another solid win over Maine last weekend. Two different pass catchers went for over 100 yards with Jakob Herres and Leroy Henley going for 174 and 119 respectively. Each also had a touchdown while quarterback Reece Udinski threw for over 300 yards for the fifth time this season. The Spiders did well staying ahead of the chains as they found themselves in a third down situation just seven times all game, converting three. In total they racked up 517 yards of offense. The road gets bumpier now, however, as they welcome in high-flying New Hampshire this Saturday.
#15 Idaho (5-3) - Last Week: #14
They may have come up just short to #2 Sac State but the Vandals have nothing to hang their heads about. Freshman signal-caller Gevani McCoy threw three touchdowns and no interceptions against a stingy Hornets defense and tight end Hayden Hatten continued to wow with 113 yards and three more touchdowns. Idaho gave it a mighty effort but in the end they couldn’t quite get it done but will only fall one spot. With three winnable games left, the Vandals can still reach the postseason if they run the table. It’ll start this weekend when they play host to a reeling Eastern Washington squad.
#16 Montana (5-3) - Last Week: #11
Things aren’t looking great for Montana right now. Once a consistent Top 3 team, the Griz have tumbled far and do so again this week after losing their third straight. Quarterback Lucas Johnson didn’t play against Weber State and the offense struggled in his absence. Backup Kris Brown only threw for 72 yards and didn’t record any touchdowns while the rushing attack didn’t fare much better with a mere 42 yards. Justin Ford did grab a pick and Malik Flowers had a big day in the return game but UM needs some sort of spark on offense if it wants to right the ship. They’ll try to stop the slide this weekend when Cal Poly comes to town.
#17 New Hampshire (6-2) - Last Week: #19
UNH got to sit back and watch as its CAA brethren beat themselves up last weekend and still moved up two spots. Now coming of their bye, the Wildcats will hit the road to face a tough challenge in Richmond.
#18 Delaware (6-2) - Last Week: #12
Delaware had a really bad week. A desperate Elon team came to Newark and put the clamps on a usually-prolific Blue Hens offense. Nolan Henderson played in spite of a shoulder injury but only had one touchdown while the ground attack finished with a measly 19 yards. Delaware turned the ball over three times and couldn’t force any of their own. With two losses in conference play now, a CAA championship is probably out of reach and maybe a seed is too. Ryan Carty has his work cut out for him to get the team back on track with games against Richmond and Villanova still on the slate. This week, though, they’ll have Monmouth.
#19 Elon (6-3) - Last Week: #NR
Elon’s time out of the Top 25 was short-lived and they rocket back in this week after dismantling Delaware. The Phoenix held UD to its lowest point total all year and Matthew McKay and Jalen Hampton looked like their old selves again. McKay tossed three touchdowns and no interceptions while Hampton ran for 136 yards on 32 carries. It was a win Elon absolutely needed to have and they left no doubt. Now with Albany coming up next, the Phoenix need to keep it rolling if they’re to have a shot at reaching the playoffs.
#20 UT Martin (5-3) - Last Week: #21
It certainly seems as if UT Martin has shaken off that blowout loss to Tennessee well. They dropped 52 on Houston Christian thanks Zak Wallace’s monster day of 155 yards and four touchdowns. Sam Franklin also hit the century mark on the ground with 139 and a TD of his own while receiver Colton Dowell went off for 141 yards on six catches. The Skyhawks offense was unstoppable and the defense was on point as it forced a whopping seven takeaways. Kennesaw State rolls in this weekend but if UT Martin plays like it did last week then the 4-4 Owls shouldn’t be much of an issue.
#21 North Dakota (5-3) - Last Week: #23
Abilene Christian gave them a run but UND put together a beautiful, long drive at the end to kill the clock and earn their fifth win of the year. Tommy Schuster was good for two touchdowns as was running back Tyler Hoosman. Bo Belquist hit 100 yards receiving and, although kicker Brady Stevens missed a field goal, he nailed two others making the difference in a three-point game. The Hawks still need to likely win out if they want an at-large bid but the win over the Wildcats was a step in the right direction. Indiana State is on deck.
#22 Southeast Missouri State (6-2) - Last Week: #15
Several Top 25 teams had a tough week and SEMO was one of them. Eastern Kentucky handed the Redhawks their first FCS loss of the year and there was plenty of blame to go around. Paxton DeLaurent threw two uncharacteristic interceptions after not having any since September and Geno Hess didn’t eclipse 100 yards despite having 19 carries. The only bright spit was Ryan Flournoy who had 256 receiving yards and 15 catches. Even he, though, only found the end zone once. Southest Missouri State will try to shake off the mistakes this weekend when they travel to Tennessee State.
#23 Rhode Island (5-3) - Last Week: #18
It was a gallant effort by the Rams against William & Mary but their last-ditch two-point attempt came up short and they’ll fall five spots in the polls this week. Marques DeShields had a solid day on the ground and Kasim Hill threw two scores but penalties were a problem as URI was flagged nine times and lost 69 yards because of it. The defense did come out with four takeaways so there’s a lot to be optimistic about still but with three losses now it feels like they need to win the rest of the way and it has to start this Saturday with Maine.
#24 Fordham (6-2) - Last Week: #22
Fordham put up a heck of a fight and forced Holy Cross into overtime but they came up empty in the end. Tim DeMorat did what he does best and tossed five touchdowns behind 256 yards while both Trey Sneed and Julius Loughridge ran for over 100 yards. Dequece Carter even brought in three scores but for everything the Rams did, the Crusaders had an answer. With six wins still, Fordham has a good shot at making the playoff field if they can win out but the Patriot League title seems unlikely. They’ll play Bucknell on the road this weekend.
#25 Princeton (7-0) - Last Week: NR
For the first time this year, the Ivy League is represented in the rankings. Princeton has now won nine straight dating back to last year and is the only Ivy who is unbeaten right now after downing Cornell last Saturday. Blake Stenstrom has thrown for 1,859 yards and 12 touchdowns in seven games this year and receiver Andrei Iosivas has four games of at least 100 receiving yards. The Tigers defense has still not allowed 20 points in any game this fall and forced five turnovers against the Big Red. Next up is a big game with Dartmouth this weekend.
Southern Illinois: (5-4) - Last Week: #20
Southern Illinois has been streaky this season and, unfortunately for the Salukis, they’re on a bad one right now. The dropped their second straight last week after a lackluster showing against Northern Iowa and now they’ll likely need to run the table to make the postseason. The defense struggled get off the field on third down as UNI went 7-for-10 and gave up 461 yards. There’s still reason to be optimistic on the offensive side as Nic Baker threw three touchdowns and Avante Cox averaged over 20 yards per catch but it all may be for naught if they can’t start winning. SIU has a week off now and they’ll need the extra time to get ready for North Dakota State.
Austin Peay (5-3) - Last Week: #25
It’s been an up-and-down year for the Govs to say the least and last weekend’s 40-16 loss to Jacksonville State has to be one of the lowest points. Mike DiLielo was picked off twice and the defense surrendered nearly eight yards per pass. The AQ7’s auto-bid is slipping further out of reach and with a game against FBS Alabama still on the schedule it doesn’t look great for Austin Peay. They absolutely need a win this weekend against struggling North Alabama or the season is all but over.