The STATS FCS rankings got their first update of the season on Monday and there’s plenty to break down. Several of the top squads stayed put but some others took mighty falls after bad losses. A few others climbed into the spotlight. Let’s take a look at where things sit as Week 2 approaches.
The Top 25
#1. North Dakota State (1-0) - Last Week: #1
No surprise here. The Bison retain the top spot after they ran through Drake on Saturday to the tune of 274 yards on the ground. Cam Miller threw two touchdowns and All-American fullback Hunter Luepke ran for another. When the dust settled, NDSU was on the right side of a 56-14 thumping and will look to keep the train rolling this week against North Carolina A&T.
#2 South Dakota State (0-1) - Last Week: #2
Iowa learned in a hurry that the South Dakota State is not a team to be trifled with this season. Yes, the Hawkeyes escaped with the win but the Jacks put on a heck of a fight and that’s why they stay still at #2. SDSU’s defense held a Big Ten offense to no touchdowns, ten first downs and just 166 total yards. A noble effort from the boys in Brookings has the Jacks still as a top three team in spite of the loss. Now it’s time for a showdown with UC Davis back at home.
#3. Montana (1-0) - Last Week: #3
The Griz put on a clinic against Northwestern State last weekend in every phase of the game. The offense exploded for 464 total yards under transfer QB Lucas Johnson. UM’s defense was as advertised and pitched a shutout. Stud linebacker Patrick O’Connell led the charge with an interception and even the special teams got in on the fun with a score. It’s all systems go in Missoula right now as the Grizzlies look ahead to South Dakota this weekend.
#4. Montana State (1-0) - Last Week: #4
Brent Vigen’s second year is off to a good start and the Bobcats look to again be contenders in the Big Sky. On Saturday night MSU rolled to a 40-17 victory over McNeese. Tommy Mellott tossed two touchdowns and ran for another. His receivers made some crazy catches and outside a couple of big plays, the defense thwarted the Cowboys all night. Some big names left the program this summer but Montana State keeps on trucking. Up next is Morehead State.
#5. Missouri State (1-0) - Last Week: #5
The Bears got off to a slow start last Thursday against Central Arkansas but when all was said and done, Jason Shelley and company did what they were supposed to do. Missouri State put up 356 yards of offense and the defense forced two turnovers en route to a 27-14 win. Shelley threw for a score, ran for another, led the team in rushing yards and averaged nearly nine yards per pass. This week will be a big playoff rematch as MSU welcomes in UT Martin on Thursday.
#6. Villanova (1-0) - Last Week: #6
Lehigh proved to be no match for Mark Ferrante’s team on Friday night. The Wildcats cruised out to a 45-17 win thanks to 451 yards of offense and two turnovers. Quarterback Connor Watkins hit three touchdown passes and three different ball carriers all found the end zone on the ground. A ranked and seeded team in last year’s playoffs, ‘Nova is off to a strong start again in 2022. On to LIU this Saturday.
#7. Sacramento State (1-0) - Last Week: #7
Last year’s Big Sky champs are gunning for a third consecutive conference title and they got off on the right foot last Saturday night. Jake Dunniway and Asher O’Hara split QB duties and threw two touchdowns each as the Hornets dominated Utah Tech. Sac State’s offense put up almost 600 yards in the blowout with 378 of those coming on the ground. Troy Taylor has his team again looking competitive out west and now they have an early week off before getting ready for UNI.
#8. Incarnate Word (1-0) - Last Week: #14
Many wondered what the new-look Cardinals would be like without last year’s stud QB Cameron Ward and head coach Eric Morris. Saturday evening showed everyone that UIW would indeed be just fine. New quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. threw for nearly 400 yards and had a whopping six touchdowns as Incarnate Word dismantled Southern Illinois. UIW rises six spots this week and shapes up to be a really scary team in the Southland this year, especially if they clean up those penalties. Nevada will be a good test.
#9. East Tennessee State (1-0) - Last Week: #11
The Buccaneers had DII’s Mars Hill buried by halftime in the first game of the post-Randy Sanders era. Tyler Riddell threw three touchdowns and running back Jacob Saylors ran for anther two in the 44-7 win. ETSU’s defense grabbed two picks and recovered a fumble. All in all it was a solid showing, as it should have been, in George Quarrels’ debut. They rise a couple of notches this week and now some DI opposition awaits as the Bucs prep to take on The Citadel this weekend.
#10. Delaware (1-0) - Last Week: #19
Of all their ranked counterparts, Delaware might have picked up the most quality win of the weekend when they took down Navy in Annapolis. The Blue Hens forced three turnovers and did just enough to sneak by the Midshipmen with a 14-7 victory in Ryan Carty’s head coaching debut. Nolan Henderson tossed two touchdowns and Chandler Harvin hauled in three passes for 59 yards. Johnny Buchanan was a man possessed as he registered a career-best 23 tackles and forced a fumble. Delaware might be here to make some noise in the new-look CAA this year. The “Route 1” rivalry is on this weekend as the Blue Hens prepare for Delaware State.
#11. Chattanooga (1-0) - Last Week: #12
The SoCon race is going to be a fun one to keep an eye on this fall and the Mocs will likely be in the thick of it. A shutout win over conference foe Wofford has Chattanooga bumped up one spot heading into Week 2. Ailym Ford ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns while the defense grabbed three takeaways in last week’s win. The Mocs will hit the road this weekend to take on Eastern Illinois.
#12 Eastern Washington (1-0) - Last Week: #13
The Eagles escaped with the win but Tennessee State gave them a run before they did. The biggest question going into the season was what life would look like without last year’s Walter Payton Award winner Eric Barriere throwing passes. Gunner Talkington put some worries at ease, though, as he threw for 348 yards and five touchdowns against the Tigers. Efton Chism III helped Talkington out greatly with six receptions and two of those scores. All in all EWU’s offense looks to be potent again, it’s the defense that might need some touch ups after surrendering 547 yards in the opener. A very dsigruntled Oregon team is next on the docket.
#13. Jackson State (1-0) - Last Week: #15
You couldn’t ask for a better start to the year if you’re head coach Deion Sanders. JSU stomped a pretty solid Florida A&M team (who has been struggling with personnel issues) last Sunday 59-3 and put up video game-type numbers while doing so. Shedeur Sanders was lights out as he completed 29 of 33 passes for over 300 yards and five touchdowns. The defense and special teams units also got in on the scoring and last year’s top prospect Travis Hunter made his debut that went really well. The Tigers are rolling as Tennessee State awaits.
#14. UT Martin (1-0) - Last Week: #18
Coming off the best season in recent memory, the Skyhawks are a hot pick to win the OVC again this fall and made a strong case for that argument against Western Illinois. Dresser Winn, who led the team in the playoffs last year, has the reins solely now and looked quite comfortable under center, throwing for three touchdowns and over 300 yards. Sophomore running back Zak Wallace also notched three scores and had 139 yards on the ground. UT Martin looked very solid all around but now a rematch with one of their playoff victims last year in Missouri State awaits.
#15. Holy Cross (1-0) - Last Week: #16
Merrimack hung around for a little bit but in the end the cream rose to the top and the Crusaders got the win. Quarterback Matthew Sluka led the offense that dropped over 500 yards as he was responsible for three touchdowns. The rush defense looks solid as Jacob Dobbs and company gave up just 91 yards on the ground. There’s certainly some dust to knock off but all’s well that ends well. Holy Cross will square up with FBS Buffalo this Saturday.
#16. Weber State (1-0) - Last Week: #20
Weber State rolled Western Oregon last weekend 41-5. Cornerback Maxwell Anderson grabbed two interceptions and the rush defense was smothering, allowing just three yards all game. The Wildcats own ground attack was explosive as four different ball carriers got touchdowns and five total scores came by way of the run. Jay Hill and his team are coming off a disappointing 2021 but 2022 has gotten off to a good start. Up next is Utah State.
#17. Southern Illinois (0-1) - Last Week: #9
What happened in San Antonio? Incarnate Word dropped the hammer on the Salukis on Saturday and handed them one of the most disheartening losses in Nick Hill’s tenure. SIU surrendered 550 yards of offense and six touchdowns through the air. By the end of the night, UIW had dropped a whopping 64 points and Southern Illinois was left starry-eyed by a blowout loss. Lots has to change as they prepare for Southeast Missouri State this Saturday.
#18. Stephen F. Austin (1-1) - Last Week: #10
It hasn’t been the smoothest of starts for the Lumberjacks this season. After a big Week 0 loss to Jacksonville State, SFA got in the win column last weekend against Alcorn State. Still, they had to earn every bit of the 31-27 victory and come from behind late to secure it. Things seem a little off right now but with talents like Trae Self and Xavier Gipson on the team, they should be able to right the ship. A date with Louisiana Tech is right around the corner.
#19. Kennesaw State (0-1) - Last Week: #8
It was a rough week for the Owls after the upset loss at Samford sent them tumbling in the polls. Kennesaw State is still good and will probably be just fine in the long run, but there’s certainly plenty to fix after Xavier Shepherd and the triple option offense was stymied by the Bulldogs. No KSU player rushed for more than 64 yards and they only put up 17 points, atypical stuff from Brian Bohannon’s group. Another tough game sits on the horizon with Cincinnati.
#20. William & Mary: (1-0) - Last Week: NR
What a week for the Tribe. They didn’t just beat Charlotte, they ran with away a 17-point victory. Darius Wilson was very effective, completing 12 of his 18 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns. The offense put up 559 total yards on the 49ers and didn’t turn the ball over at tall. The D made several critical stops including two on fourth down. The performance was good enough to propel W&M into the national rankings and now a good-looking Campbell team waits.
#21. Southeastern Louisiana (0-1) - Last Week: #17
The Lions had a hard time finding their footing against Louisiana on Saturday but they won’t be punished too much for the 24-7 loss. Cephus Johnson is taking over in the post-Cole Kelley era and had an okay first game, completing 22 passes for 149 yards. He did have an interception in there but he also made some things happen with his legs. The SLU defense held the Cajuns ground attack to just 133 yards but they didn’t get a takeaway. There’s definitely some things to work on this week in practice as a road trip to FAU approaches.
#22. Rhode Island (1-0) - Last Week: #22
It was closer than they wanted for a while but the Rams got it done against CAA-foe Stony Brook last Thursday. Kasim Hill threw two touchdowns and ran for one more. Three different ball carriers got 10+ carries and DB Jordan Jones had a stellar night with two interceptions and touchdown of his own on the other side. Front to back it was a solid showing from Rhode Island and now a very good Bryant squad is waiting.
#23. Mercer (1-1) - Last Week: #23
It’s easy to forgive the loss to Auburn after seeing what the Bears did to Morehead Sate in Week 0. Mercer looked clean, efficient and a little mad in their blowout over the Eagles back in the opener. This last week, the Tigers flexed their FBS muscles but Drew Cronic’s squad looked alright. Fred Payton threw touchdowns in the loss while Devron Harper caught five passes and both of those scores. The defense grabbed two interceptions and the offense was turnover free. They’ll have a week off now to get ready for The Citadel.
#24. Northern Iowa (0-1) - Last Week: #21
There’s certainly some work to be done for UNI’s rush defense after they gave up almost 600 yards on the ground against Air Force. Sure, the service academies like to run a lot but that’s still way too many. Mark Farley is one of the more seasoned coaches in the FCS so you have to believe he’ll get things right but every win will be critical in the deep Missouri Valley and the Panthers will have their first shot at a conference opponent this weekend when they hit the road to take on North Dakota.
#25. Samford: (1-0) - Last Week: NR
A win against a Top 10 is just what it takes to jump into the rankings. Samford’s defense was dominant in their 27-17 upset win over Kennesaw State last Thursday night and the offense wasn’t too shabby either. Michael Hiers tossed for 289 yards and four touchdowns and Jay Stanton paced the rushers with 90 yards on 16 carries. The Bulldogs defense made the normally-dynamic Xavier Shepherd look average and held the triple option attack to under 200 rush yards. Now Samford gets the honor of taking on Georgia.
Richmond (0-1) - Last Week: #24
Richmond held their own against Virginia but in the end the Cavaliers were just too good on offense. The Spiders surrendered 505 total yards and gave up four touchdowns. The good news is, they didn’t turn the ball over and Savon Smith was solid on the ground with 13 carries for 88 yards and a score. Things should look better this weekend against St. Francis but for this week Richmond falls out of the Top 25.
UC Davis (0-1) - Last Week: #25
The Aggies had a tough go of it against Cal but that’s to be expected. Ulonzo Gilliam Jr. still looked good, rushing for over 100 yards and breaking the chalk once. Miles Hastings had his ups and downs under center, throwing two interceptions but also completing 32 passes. Down the stretch, UC Davis should be fine and not a ton of stock should be put into a 21-point loss to an FBS team. This week they’ll get ready for another tough one with South Dakota State.