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FCS Top 25: Who Moved and What Changed in the National Rankings for Week 4

Three new names enter the Top 25 this week. Who rose and who fell going into Week 4?

Richmond v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Week 4 of FCS football is here and the new national rankings are out. Teams like Richmond and NC Central make their first appearance on the list while other teams like Southern Illinois are making a return to the Top 25. Several others fell out of the polls thanks to another exciting week of action. Here’s where we stand...

The Top 25

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

The Bison suffered a rare loss this week to Arizona. The Wildcats (barely) prevailed 31-28 on Saturday night. All things considered, North Dakota State still accumulated 407 yards of offense and won the time of possession battle. Falling to a Pac-12 opponent by a field goal is not a punishable offense in the eyes of the voters and that's why the Bison still hold the top spot. Now, they hit the road to face South Dakota, their first MVC opponent of the year.

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

As expected, SDSU handled business against Butler. The Jacks racked up 463 yards and scored six touchdowns on the day; a welcomed sight for fans after a down performance against UC Davis a week ago. The defense forced three takeaways and allowed just 53 yards on the ground. Tucker Kraft is still out nursing an injury but so far the team has carried on nicely without him. Now there's a big one on deck with Missouri State this weekend.

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

Montana v Indiana State Photo by Tommy Martino/University of Montana via Getty Images

UM wrapped up the non-conference portion of its season in a big way, outpacing Indiana State 49-14. Lucas Johnson passed for three touchdowns and defense bottled up the Sycamores both through the air and on the ground. Bobby Hauck has the team rolling right now as Montana has now outscored its first three opponents (all FCS) 120-21 to start the season. The Griz will welcome Portland State this weekend for their Big Sky opener.

#4-T Montana State (2-1) - Last Week: #4

Oregon State was simply too much for the Bobcats to handle on Saturday night. Brent Vigen's team did their best to stay afloat but ultimately OSU ran out to a big 68-28 win in Portland. Backup QB Sean Chambers ran for three touchdowns and MSU's Marqui Johnson broke a 98-yard kickoff return for a score. The 'Cats, however, were shorthanded at running back and it showed. The loss is forgivable and now conference play starts. Up next is Eastern Washington.

#4-T Incarnate Word (3-0) - Last Week: #6

UIW finally climbs into the Top 5 after a stellar start to their 2022 campaign. Following what was perhaps the biggest win in program history in Nevada, the Cardinals kept the momentum rolling against Prairie View A&M last week. Lindsay Scott Jr. is now over the 1,000 yard passing mark just three games in and the Taylor Grimes continues to be a problem on the outside. Now they have a big game against Southland foe Southeastern Louisiana.

#6 Missouri State (2-1) - Last Week: #5

The Bears’ solid effort against Arkansas fell short by 11 points - not bad against a ranked SEC opponent. Jason Shelley has 920 passing yards on the season now and still has yet to toss an interception. That MSU defense keeps on forcing turnovers, nabbing three against the Razorbacks and bringing the season total up to five. The only reason the Bears dip a spot this week is because Incarnate Word can’t be ignored but make no mistake; this team is really good. They’ll now get ready for a monster game against South Dakota State.

#7 Sacramento State (2-0) - Last Week: #8

Sac State moves up a spot after taking down UNI on the road. Asher O’Hara is an ongoing headache for opposing defenses week in and week out. He rushed for three touchdowns against the Panthers on Saturday on 19 carries and he completed seven of his eight pass attempts to boot. Defensively they’re playing just as well. The unit now has a +6 turnover margin on the season. The Hornets head to Colorado State this weekend and will look to pick up their first FBS win in Troy Taylor’s tenure.

#8 Delaware (3-0) - Last Week: #9

The Blue Hens keep on climbing. On Saturday they made light work of CAA-rival Rhode Island on the road and now sit firmly as a league favorite. Nolan Henderson looked nearly untouchable again and now has nine touchdowns on the season. Senior wideout Jourdan Townsend gassed the Rams defense for 109 yards on seven catches and two scores. The offense is humming and the defense is smothering. Delaware is not a team anyone wants to see right now. Hampton comes to town this weekend.

#9 Villanova (2-1) - Last Week: #7

It was long day in West Point as Army ran wild over the Wildcats to the tune for 472 yards. The Black Knights didn’t complete a single pass and still romped Villanova 49-10 behind a six-touchdown performance. Mark Ferrante likely wants to throw this game film in the trash and look ahead. A defeat at the hands of an FBS opponent like this is not season-derailing by any means but ‘Nova will still slide a couple spots in the polls this week. Monmouth comes into town this weekend for a big bounce-back opportunity.

#10 Chattanooga (3-0) - Last Week: #10

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 03 Wofford at Chattanooga Photo by Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Chattanooga keeps winning and is still undefeated after a 41-14 beatdown of Northern Alabama. Signal caller Preston Hutchinson was a madman last weekend, scoring three touchdowns through the air and two on the ground. Running back Ailym Ford is up well over 300 yards on the season and has four touchdowns under his belt. The offense is posting an average of 435.7 yards per contest and the defense is allowing just 266.7; that’s winning football. The Mocs will get a good chance to prove their FCS prowess this Thursday night when they take on Illinois.

#11 Jackson State (3-0) - Last Week: #11

JSU's looks tougher to stop by the week. Grambling State struggled trying to contain Shedeur Sanders and company all game long as the Tigers offense again put up gaudy numbers. 413 passing yards, 32 first downs and 66 points... this is becoming the new norm in Mississippi. Now at 3-0, JSU is off to their best start since 2011 as they welcome Mississippi Valley State to town this weekend.

#12 Weber State (3-0) - Last Week: #12

Jay Hill's team is playing lights out right now. WSU demolished Utah Tech last weekend thanks to Bronson Barron's big performance. Four touchdowns and no interceptions along with 368 passing yards gave Barron Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week accolades. The Wildcats defense held the Trailblazers to a mere 86 rush yards and grabbed three picks. All systems are a go in Ogden as the team heads to UC Davis on Saturday night to open conference play.

#13 Holy Cross (3-0) - Last Week: #13

Another week another win for the Crusaders. Matthew Sluka continues to light it up through the air as he now has 729 passing yards this season. Yale was no match for Holy Cross on Saturday as they stormed out to a 38-14 win. The Crusaders now have their first 3-0 start since 2009 (not counting the shortened spring season) and look primed to win the Patriot League title yet again. The team now looks ahead to a big matchup with Colgate.

#14 William & Mary: (3-0) - Last Week: #15

The Tribe keeps rising thanks to another big win over Lafayette. Bronson Yoder ran wild over the Leopards with 134 yards and three touchdowns. W&M has been nearly impossible to get by on third down, allowing just 2-of-14 last week. The offense is averaging almost 38 points per game and the narrowest margin of victory so far has been 16. Next on the docket is CAA foe Elon.

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

The Eagles got some time off last weekend as they now look ahead to their first Big Sky game of the year against Montana State.

#16 Eastern Kentucky (2-1) - Last Week: #19

Just two weeks ago, Eastern Kentucky wasn’t in the rankings and now they find themselves just outside the Top 15 thanks to back-to-back convincing wins. The latest victims; Charleston Southern. Against CSU, the Colonels averaged 12.1 yards per pass and converted over half of their third down tries. Parker McKinney is up to 1,027 passing yards and 10 touchdowns this fall. There’s no signs of slowing down and EKU will face Austin Peay this weekend in a big OVC clash.

#17 Mercer (2-1) - Last Week: #20

The Citadel came to town but the triple option was rendered silent in Mercer’s shutout win. On what was a slow day for the usually-potent offense, the Bears defense stepped up in a major way, allowing just 151 yards to the Bulldogs. Corner TJ Moore scooped up a fumble deep in his own territory to keep The Citadel off the board. If Fred Payton and the offense can get back to their usual selves with the defense maintaining that level of play, Mercer is going to be tough. Gardner-Webb is up next.

#18 UT Martin (1-2) - Last Week: #16

UT Martin put up a good effort against Boise State, even if it was only for a half. Ultimately Dresser Winn and the gang came up short 30-7 but there’s still plenty to be optimistic about, in spite of the 1-2 start. Colton Dowell is a ball magnet, catching five passes now making his season total 22. He scored the Skyhawks’ only touchdown as well. The offense as a whole will need to pick it up moving forward and they’ll have a prime chance to against FCS newcomer Lindenwood.

#19 North Dakota (2-1) - Last Week: #22

UND has now picked up back-to-back wins over pretty quality opponents. It took a late touchdown against Northern Arizona last week but the Hawks prevailed in a tight one. The offense is clicking well right now. Tommy Schuster still hasn’t thrown a pick yet and he hurled two big scores against the Lumberjacks. If he keeps playing mistake-free then the Hawks have a real chance to be a dark horse team in the MVC. They head to Southern Illinois this weekend to face the Salukis.

#20 Rhode Island (2-1) - Last Week: #17

There’s no real shame in losing to Delaware but the URI looked utterly dumbfounded for much of Saturday’s game. The defense gave up 610 total yards and the offense only held the ball for 23 minutes. Kasim Hill still found the end zone twice and Gabe Sloat broke off a nice scoring run but all in all, Rhode Island has plenty of work to do and things won’t get any easier as FBS opponent Pitt is looming.

#21 Samford: (2-1) - Last Week: #24

It wasn’t the prettiest but Samford squeaked by Tennessee Tech on Saturday. After trading leads all night, the Bulldogs escaped with their second win of the season over the Golden Eagles, thanks in large part to Michael Hiers’ 327 passing yards. Chandler Smith hauled in three touchdowns as well. Things are looking up for Samford as their only defeat this year so far is to Georgia. They’ll play host to Western Carolina this weekend in what could be another shootout.

#22 Richmond (2-1) - Last Week: NR

The Spiders make their first appearance in the polls this week after a solid win over Lehigh. Reece Udinski tossed two touchdowns and Savon Smith threw another on his only pass of the afternoon. The Mountain Hawks were only able to muster up 15 rush yards and didn’t fare a whole lot better in the passing game. Richmond is looking good three games in with their only loss coming at the hands of FBS Virginia. Stony Brook stops by this Saturday for the first conference matchup of the year.

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

The Lumberjacks had a much-needed bye. Now they hope to turn their season around against NAIA’s Warner.

#24 Southern Illinois: (1-2) - Last Week: NR

NCAA Football: Southern Illinois at Northwestern David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Hill’s team tumbled out of the rankings last week but hopped right back in thanks to an impressive victory over Northwestern on Saturday. Nic Baker had himself a day under center, throwing four touchdowns. The Salukis were a perfect 3-for-3 on fourth down, a major contributor in what was likely one of the biggest wins in school history. This team was not reminiscent of the one that started 0-2. An important game against North Dakota is right around the corner.

#25 North Carolina Central (3-0) - Last Week: NR

New Hampshire, who held the #25 spot last week, surrenders it to the team that just trounced them. The Eagles were dominant in their win over the Wildcats last week, especially on third down. NC Central converted 12 of their 15 tries (80%) and kept the UNH defense on the field for entirely too long. The offense played mistake-free and didn’t give up the ball. Now at 3-0, the squad is sitting in prime positioning as DII’s Virginia-Lynchburg is next on the slate.

Dropped Out

East Tennessee State (1-2) - Last Week: #18

ETSU fell far last week and they fall even further this week. Unranked Furman came to town and took care of business against the Bucs, handing them their second straight loss. The ground attack was held to just 80 yards and the offense turned it over four times. The SoCon is tough and right now it’s proving to be too tough for George Quarles’ team. They’ll prep for a trip to take on Robert Morris and hope to turn things around but for now they drop out of the rankings.

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

KSU had a bye but still falls out of the Top 25 this week. The Owls will have Wofford rolling into town on Saturday.

New Hampshire: (2-1) - Last Week: #25

The Wildcats’ stay in the polls was short-lived. NC Central came in and whooped New Hampshire 45-27. Mike Brosmer still had a great day passing with four scores but no UNH rusher passed 50 yards nor found the end zone. The defense was abysmal on third down and couldn’t really get any real momentum built up through the course of the game. Simply put, there’s work to be done. A trip to Towson for a rebound opportunity awaits.