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FCS Top 25: Who Moved and What Changed in the National Rankings for Week 3

More rising and falling in the national FCS polls this week. The top looks familiar but things get interesting towards the middle.

Syndication: Reno Gazette Journal JASON BEAN/RGJ / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Top 25

#1 North Dakota State (2-0) - Last Week: #1

Again the Bison will hold steady at the top. They put a 43-3 beatdown on North Carolina A&T in Fargo. On a day where the offense wasn't quite their usual selves, the defense picked up the load and forced three turnovers. It never seems to matter which phase does it, the Bison always dominate. NDSU now gets ready for a big game at Pac-12 Arizona.

#2 South Dakota State (1-1) - Last Week: #2

The Jackrabbits a survived a scare on Saturday night but did enough to get by UC Davis at home. Mark Gronowski passed for a touchdown and ran for two more and Isaiah Davis had another 100-yard game. Without Tucker Kraft, though, the offense isn't as potent but there's hope that he can return in a few weeks with that ankle injury. The Jacks got it done without him last week as they look ahead to Butler.

#3 Montana (2-0) - Last Week: #3

It wasn't quite as smothering as their Week 1 performance but Montana's D showed out again against South Dakota. Although the Coyotes were turnover free, the Griz still only allowed 209 yards and just one touchdown bringing their grand total points given up this season to seven. The offense averaged over six yards per pass and did enough to pull away in the end. UM now looks ahead to their first road trip of the year as Indiana State waits.

#4 Montana State (2-0) - Last Week: #4

The Bobcats absolutely thrashed visiting Morehead State on Saturday, scoring 63 points. The offense was humming all game long as quarterback Sean Chambers was responsible for four touchdowns, and he isn't even MSU's starter. Tommy Mellott threw for 265 yards and two more scores. The special teams even registered a punt return house call. The real kicker? The 'Cats did all that without their top two running backs. Everything is clicking right now but things will undoubtedly get tougher this week as Montana State heads to Portland for a matchup with Oregon State.

#5 Missouri State (2-0) - Last Week: #5

Jason Shelley put on a show last Thursday night as the Bears toppled UT Martin in a 35-30 shootout. MSU’s offense was a finely tuned machine for much of the evening, putting up 436 total yards against a very formidable Skyhawks team. The only real bugaboo for Missouri State was penalties but even with ten of those the Bears were able to beat a Top 15 team. The hype around MSU grows again as the squad prepares for its last non-conference game of the season, a trip to Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks.

#6 Incarnate Word (2-0) - Last Week: #8

No team in the country is off to a better start to 2022 nor has more quality wins than UIW. Lindsay Scott Jr. threw for four touchdowns as the Cardinals shocked FBS Nevada on Saturday night. The offense tallied six touchdowns and the defense got another. Receiver Darion Chafin had a mind-boggling game with 262 receiving yards and two scores. There simply isn’t a better offense in the FCS right now and no one wants to face Incarnate Word. Arkansas Pine-Bluff will have to this weekend though.

#7 Villanova (2-0) - Last Week: #6

Villanova bested LIU 38-21 last weekend but it didn't come without struggles. Quarterback Connor Watkins did complete 7-of-12 passes but four of those five incompletions were picks. That will definitely need to be addressed but overall there were still more positives. Two rushers went over 100 yards, Jaaron Hayek had 120 receiving yards and Dez Boykin looked good in the return game. If the Wildcats can clean up the turnovers they'll be alright. 'Nova will have a tough one next week as they travel to West Point to battle Army.

#8 Sacramento State (1-0) - Last Week: #7

The Hornets were off this week and that’s just what Sac State probably needed as they look ahead to a big non-conference matchup with Northern Iowa.

#9 Delaware (2-0) - Last Week: #10

Delaware State proved to be no challenge for Ryan Carty’s team on Saturday. The offense notched 400 yards on the dot while the defense held the Hornets to just nine points. Nolan Henderson tossed three touchdowns and Marcus Yarns ran for another. The Blue Hens rolled out to a 35-9 victory and confidence is building as the team now turns its attention toward the meat of its schedule. The Hens will look ahead to their first CAA matchup of the year at Rhode Island.

#10 Chattanooga (2-0) - Last Week: #11

The Mocs have done a good job of supporting the notion that they’re the class of the SoCon this fall. Another convincing win has Chattanooga sitting at 2-0 and looking strong in the final week of non-conference play. The rush defense was excellent against Eastern Illinois, giving up just 77 yards. The offense averaged 10.3 yards per pass and 5.5 per run. Sure, there’s some things to sharpen up, but right now things are working in a big way for the Mocs. Homecoming against North Alabama is next on the docket.

#11 Jackson State (2-0) - Last Week: #13

Maybe people were expecting another blowout performance after what the Tigers did to FAMU a couple weeks ago but Tennessee State proved to be a much different monster. Jackson State still won but 16-3 looked a lot different than 59-3. What should be taken from that, though, is that JSU’s defense has only allowed six points over two games. TSU battled but Jackson State is still the top of HBCU ball right now and until someone can dethrone them, they sit firmly atop that perch. Grambling State is up next for Deion Sanders’ squad.

#12 Weber State (2-0) - Last Week: #16

Weber State didn’t just beat FBS Utah State on Saturday night, they ran away from the Aggies 35-7. The Wildcats looked deadly as receiver Ty MacPherson hauled in two touchdowns and Josh Davis ran for 94 yards and another score. Bronson Barron did throw three picks but he survived them thanks in large part to the WSU defense that recorded four takeaways. After one of the biggest FCS wins over the weekend, Weber State now preps for Utah Tech.

#13 Holy Cross (2-0) - Last Week: #15

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Holy Cross at Buffalo Photo by Joshua Bessex/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Fans in Worcester are still probably shaking from that miraculous Hail Mary that sealed the win over Buffalo on Saturday night. Matthew Sluka's third touchdown of the night was one that will be replayed in Crusaders lore for years to come. Holy Cross is the real deal this year and their confidence has to be through the roof right now. 457 total yards, 10.8 yards per pass and 23 first downs all against an FBS program? That's a really good look for the Crusaders who now turn their attention to Yale this weekend.

#14 Eastern Washington (1-1) - Last Week: #12

It’s never fun for FCS teams when they play Oregon and Eastern Washington found that out again on Saturday night. The Ducks dropped 70 and ran the Eagles out of the building in a bad way. Gunner Talkington did have two touchdowns but also threw two picks. The defense was gashed for over 600 yards and the offense only picked up 11 first downs all evening. Of course you can’t put a ton of stock into games like this but there’s a very sour taste in the mouths of EWU fans right now nonetheless. The team gets an early bye this week before welcoming in Montana State in their Big Sky opener.

#15 William & Mary: (2-0) - Last Week: #20

If William & Mary was a stock, it would be trending up in a big way right now. The Tribe got another impressive win this weekend over a very talented Campbell squad. Running back Malachi Imoh rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns and cornerback Jalen Jones grabbed an interception which he ran back for a score. It’s clicking on both sides of the ball right now for W&M and suddenly they have to mentioned in the CAA conversation. Lafayette awaits on Saturday.

#16 UT Martin (1-1) - Last Week: #14

The Skyhawks will fall a little this week but not a lot because they put up a heck of a fight as 14-point underdogs at Missouri State. Dresser Winn had the offense looking sharp despite the loss and UT Martin stayed with the Top 5 Bears from wire to wire. The defense has some work to do after giving up over 400 yards but falling just five points short to a team like MSU on the road is forgivable. Now the Skyhawks get ready for a big FBS game with a trip to Boise State is on the horizon.

#17 Rhode Island (2-0) - Last Week: #22

Rhode Island is quietly off to a strong start this season but no one seems to be talking about it much. Sure, the Week 1 win over Stony Brook was anticipated but last week the Rams took down a very skilled Bryant team behind another solid performance from Kasim Hill and running back Marques DeShields. If any team in the country understands the importance of racking up every win they can, it’s this URI bunch that missed out on the playoffs despite a 7-3 record last year. So far it seems like the Rams are hellbent on avoiding that again this fall. They now look ahead to a big CAA battle with Delaware.

#18 East Tennessee State (1-1) - Last Week: #9

Not exactly the week ETSU was looking for as they fell victim to The Citadel’s triple option attack and they’ll pay for it with a nine-spot fall this week. The Bucs defense gave up 238 yards on 58 rush attempts in the 20-17 defeat. The Bulldogs are clearly no slouch and a loss to an unranked team... and a conference one at that ... sends the Buccaneers falling in this week’s rankings. They’ll look to right the ship in another SoCon battle this weekend as Furman comes to town.

#19 Eastern Kentucky (1-1) - Last Week: NR

If there’s one word to sum up EKU so far this season it’s undoubtedly “grit”. If it wasn’t evident with the way the program has handled head coach Walt Wells’ absence due to a concerning cardiac episode, it was made very clear in the way they outdueled Bowling Green in seven overtimes the other night. The Colonels went blow for blow with the Falcons and came out on the right side of an incredible 59-57 win. Parker McKinney threw three touchdowns, Braedon Sloan ran for two more and Jaden Smith had over 100 receiving yards. Now they get ready to face Charleston Southern.

#20 Mercer (1-1) - Last Week: #23

#21 Stephen F. Austin (1-2) - Last Week: #18

The more SFA plays, the more that Week 0 loss to Jacksonville State hurts. Last Saturday, the Lumberjacks got torn apart by Louisiana Tech and suddenly they're already at two losses before AQ7 play has even started. Trae Self is struggling, going just 9-of-22 on his passes last weekend. The offense as a unit turned the ball over three more times against the Bulldogs. Lots of facets of the team need help right now but if there's one bright spot, it's the fact that the Lumberjacks get a week off before taking on an NAIA team in Warner.

#22 North Dakota (1-1) - Last Week: NR

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 10 Northern Iowa at North Dakota Photo by Jacob Kish/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Hawks grinded out a big-time win over Northern Iowa to start 1-0 in MVC play. Tommy Schuster had a phenomenal day passing, completing 20 of his 23 throws for 275 yards and two scores. The UND offense kept the ball away from UNI for much of the game, holding possession for nearly 40 minutes. There’s certainly some areas to work on defensively but all in all, it was a huge victory for the Hawks, big enough to jump them into the rankings. Northern Arizona is up next.

#23 Kennesaw State (0-2) - Last Week: #19

It hasn’t been a banner start to 2022 so far for KSU. After the upset loss to Samford a couple weeks back, Kennesaw State got trounced by Cincinnati last Saturday. Xavier Shepherd wasn’t able to get anything going in the run or pass game and the offense turned it over twice. The Bearcats are a top-tier G5 team so losing here isn’t as much of a knock. Still, the Owls aren’t looking like a top FCS squad like many thought they might be before the season started. They’ll get a much-needed bye before having Wofford come to town.

#24 Samford: (1-1) - Last Week: #25

Samford doesn’t fall at all this week despite the loss, in fact they climb a spot. The Bulldogs did lose to last year’s FBS champs after all. They held Georgia to only 33 points and as odd as that might be to hear, 33 isn’t bad. The offense, though, was unable to produce anything. Only three first downs all day is never going to get it done, no matter who the opponent is. Expect Samford to turn things around as they get back into FCS play. The Bulldogs now hit the road to square off with Tennessee Tech.

#25 New Hampshire: (2-0) - Last Week: #NR

The Wildcats make a move into the rankings this week after a close win over Albany. Dylan Laube had a monster day with 202 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries. The offense didn’t do anything special through the air but they didn’t commit any turnovers and did enough to come away with the win. The defense has some work to do after giving up over 400 yards of offense to the Great Danes but at the end of the day, New Hampshire is 2-0 and that’s big as CAA play looms. They’ll welcome in NC Central this weekend.

Dropped Out

Southern Illinois (0-2) - Last Week: #17

SIU takes a big dip out of the Top 25 after another rough loss, this time to Southeast Missouri State. Nic Baker tried his best with 248 passing yards and two touchdowns but it still wasn’t enough. The Salukis were penalized 13 times for 108 yards against SEMO and that makes it really hard to win games. The defense was sliced for 332 passing yards and once more Southern Illinois is left licking their wounds. It won’t get any easier from here. Up next is the Big Ten’s Northwestern Wildcats.

Southeastern Louisiana (0-2) - Last Week: #21

FAU had their way with the Lions last weekend and now Frank Scelfo’s group is 0-2. Let’s remember that both losses are to FBS opponents and the schedule, in theory, gets easier from here. That being said, the Southland is no cakewalk with Incarnate Word doing what they’re doing right now. The SLU defense is going to have to pick things up if they want a chance of keeping pace because last time out they gave up over 600 yards. Things need to start turning around when Central Connecticut comes in this weekend.

Northern Iowa (0-2) - Last Week: #24

It was a tough week for UNI when they really needed a bounce back against a conference foe. North Dakota got it done and left the Panthers with a head-scratching loss. The Hawks put up 438 total yards and averaged over 11 yards per pass. Theo Day had a solid game passing for UNI but only mustered up one touchdown. Simply put, the Panthers will need to be better if they want a prayer of staying relevant in the Missouri Valley this season. A big one against Sacramento State awaits on Saturday.