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FCS Top 25: Who Moved and What Changed in the National Rankings for Week 9

The new set of rankings is out and two new teams have entered the poll.

NCAA Football: Lafayette at Duke James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Top 25

#1 South Dakota State (7-0) - Last Week: #1

Another week another South Dakota State win, although this one didn’t come quite as easy as most of the others. Southern Illinois put up a gallant effort but once more the Jackrabbits were just too much. Mark Gronowski threw a touchdown, Isaiah Davis ran for another while the defense stepped up and forced two big turnovers. Whether it be by a wide margin or a narrow escape, the Jacks just keep on winning and are one of the few undefeated teams remaining. A big road trip to South Dakota awaits.

#2 Montana State (6-1) - Last Week: #2

It took a little bit to find their traction on offense but once they did Montana State was all but impossible to stop, even for a defense like Sac State’s. Tommy Mellott and Sean Chambers did what they do best, combining for 285 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns but it was running back Julius Davis that gave MSU its signature moment in the win over the Hornets. Davis leapt over a defender on a long run that led to a touchdown, finishing his night with 110 yards on 12 carries. The Bobcats remain unbeaten in Big Sky action with the 42-30 win and now they’ll look ahead to another big showdown this weekend against Idaho.

#3 Furman (6-1) - Last Week: #4

Last Saturday’s game against Western Carolina may have very well been the de facto SoCon championship and Furman picked up a huge win to improve to 6-1. Dominic Roberto carried the load, as he always does, for a season-best 154 yards. The Paladins were excellent on third down, picking up 9-of-13. That resulted in the high-powered WCU offense staying off the field and Furman’s own controlling the clock. Tyler Huff tossed a pair of touchdowns and when the dust settled the Paladins were on the right side of it. Now controlling their own destiny, Clay Hendrix’s team gets ready to host East Tennessee State.

#4 South Dakota (6-1) - Last Week: #6

Indiana State hung around for a good long while but USD managed to pull away in the second half to pick up their sixth win of the year. Aidan Bouman never found the end zone passing but Charles Pierre Jr. and Nate Thomas both did on the ground and that was enough. Both Pierre and Travis Theis ran for over 100 yards and the Coyotes defense allowed just three points despite ISU holding the ball for more than 35 minutes. The ‘Yotes are now 4-0 in MVFC action as they get ready for their biggest test of the year. South Dakota State pays a visit this weekend and it’ll be a huge one.

#5 Delaware (6-1) - Last Week: #7

The Blue Hens blew the hinges off Hampton 47-3 and have firmly established themselves as the team to beat in the CAA going into the final month of the regular season. Ryan O’Connor didn’t play but it hardly mattered as Zach Marker took the reins and threw for 239 yards and had two total touchdowns. Kyron Cumby paced the rushers with 70 yards and the defense surrendered just nine first downs all afternoon. Punter Ryan Kost only had to take the field twice. That’s the formula to win a lot of games and the Hens are sitting pretty heading into the last weekend of October. Now on deck is a road trip to Towson.

#6 Sacramento State (5-2) - Last Week: #3

The Hornets gave it a heck of a go but Montana State was simply too much to handle. With running back Marcus Fulcher sidelined, the Sacramento State turned to Elijah Tau-Tolliver and he had a big night going 100 yards and two TDs on eight runs. Kaiden Bennett slung it around for 254 yards but also had a pair of bad interceptions, both of which directly led to MSU points. The defense got sliced for well over 300 yards on the ground and they couldn’t withstand the physicality of the Bobcats offensive line for all 60 minutes. Now at 2-2 in conference play, Sac State looks for a rebound against Idaho State on Saturday.

#7 Montana (6-1) - Last Week: #9

The Grizzlies didn’t play last week but still climbed two spots. They’ll get ready to host Northern Colorado this Saturday.

#8 Incarnate Word (6-1) - Last Week: #5

East Carolina transfer Ryan Stubblefield started for the Cardinals under center on Saturday but it was Richard Torres that would end up playing hero in Incarnate Word’s big comeback win over McNeese. The Cowboys jumped out to a 24-7 lead before UIW finally found its rhythm. Brandon Porter hauled in two big touchdowns while both Timothy Carter and Isaiah Robinson went over 100 rushing. Zach Calzada should be back under center sooner rather than later but Torres proved himself as a viable option with three total touchdowns. Struggling to beat a winless Cowboys team, though, will drop Incarnate Word a few places. Now the Cardinals will get ready to see Lamar.

#9 Idaho (5-2) - Last Week: #10

No game for the Vandals in Week 8. Idaho will welcome in Montana State this weekend.

#10 Western Carolina (5-2) - Last Week: #8

For the first time since seeing Arkansas back in Week 1, WCU’s offense looked inept, or at least relatively speaking. The usually-sharp Cole Gonzalez threw two picks and Desmon Reid, still not 100% back from an injury he suffered two weeks back, only had ten yards on two carries. The Paladins didn’t run away with it by any means but the Catamounts only managed 17 points, their second lowest total of the season. The dream of a SoCon title took a big hit but their playoff hopes are still very much alive and well. WCU will face Mercer this weekend.

#11 Southern Illinois (5-2) - Last Week: #12

It’s not often a team moves up after losing but it’ll happen for Southern Illinois this week. SIU fell to South Dakota State at home but has a lot of positives to take away from a gritty loss to the #1 team in the country. The Salukis defense held SDSU to its lowest point output of the year so far and Nic Baker was on fire, completing 20-of-24 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown. To only lose to the Jacks by a score is a feat that only one other team has accomplished this season. Up next is Western Illinois.

#12 North Dakota State (5-2) - Last Week: #14

Western Illinois didn’t stand a chance against a disgruntled NDSU squad and the Bison made their frustrations known. North Dakota State dropped 52 on the Leathernecks and had six total touchdowns on the ground. TK Marshall ran for three of them, a new career best, while quarterbacks Cam Miller and Cole Payton combined for 200 yards and one more score through the air. It was the kind of performance that the Bison needed to get back on track. Now they’ll turn their focus to Murray State.

#13 North Carolina Central (6-1) - Last Week: #16

The Eagles picked up their sixth win of 2023 last Thursday but they had to earn it against a scrappy Morgan State squad. Latrell Collier only managed 43 yards rushing but Davius Richard saved the day again, throwing for 122 yards and a score. The defense forced a pair of turnovers which turned out to be the difference. MEAC play has officially begun and it seems as though the conference will run straight through NCCU. The Eagles will host South Carolina State on Thursday.

#14 UT Martin (6-1) - Last Week: #17

The Skyhawks maintain their hold on the Big South-OVC lead with a shutout win over Charleston Southern. Sophomore Sam Franklin keeps showing why he's one of the best running backs in the nation, putting up his fifth 100-yard game of the year. Kinkead Dent tossed a touchdown and the UT Martin's defense delivered its first shutout of 2023. The Skyhawks will take on Gardner-Webb this weekend.

#15 North Dakota (4-3) - Last Week: #11

Times change fast in the Missouri Valley. One week after thumping North Dakota State, the Hawks laid an egg against Northern Iowa, losing 27-0. Everything that fueled the Hawks to the big upset last week was nowhere to be found against the Panthers. The ground game managed a measly 15 yards while the defense had no answers for Amauri Pesek-Hickson who racked up 180 rushing yards on his own. Tommy Schuster threw an interception and lost a fumble. All the good feelings from the NDSU win are now all but erased entirely. UND will try to get it right against Indiana State next.

#16 Florida A&M (6-1) - Last Week: #19

The Rattlers have a stranglehold on the SWAC and have improved to 5-0 in league action thanks to a 31-21 win over Texas Southern. Trailing by seven at halftime, FAMU dropped 21 unanswered points in the third quarter. Jeremy Moussa threw for 180 yards along with two touchdowns. Lovie Jenkins came down with a big interception and two different ball carriers found the end zone. Florida A&M is still undefeated against FCS competition as they prepare to host Prairie View A&M this Saturday.

#17 Chattanooga (6-2) - Last Week: #21

The good news for Chattanooga is that they now have six wins but the bad news is they will be without All-American running back Ailym Ford for the rest of the way. Ford didn’t suit up to play against ETSU and it came out that he had suffered a torn ACL that will effectively end his stellar collegiate career just 125 yards short of the program’s all-time record. While that is a tough pill to swallow, what isn’t is the fact that the Mocs dominated the Buccaneers. Chase Artopoeus threw for 249 yards and a pair of TDs. The defense shut it down, allowing just 120 yards of total offense and forcing three takeaways. VMI is next on the slate.

#18 Central Arkansas (5-2) - Last Week: #20

UCA got a week off and used that extra time to get ready for a big game with Tarleton State.

#19 Villanova (5-2) - Last Week: #22

The Wildcats sat idle last weekend as they look ahead to a matchup with winless Stony Brook.

#20 Austin Peay (5-2) - Last Week: #24

It took a mighty comeback and two overtimes but Austin Peay nabbed its fifth win of the year over Southern Utah. Jevon Jackson and Mike DiLiello each ran for two touchdowns and receiver Trey Goodman even tossed a score. The Govs, despite being down 35-14 in the third quarter, stormed back. Goodman hauled in the game winner in the second overtime and Austin Peay will stay right in the UAC race. North Alabama will pay a visit this weekend as the Governors look to win their third conference game.

#21 Lafayette (6-1) - Last Week: NR

A surefire way to get into the rankings is upend the heavy favorite in your conference. That’s exactly what Lafayette did last week against Holy Cross and now suddenly the Leopards have sole possession of first place in the Patriot League and have their toughest test in the rear view mirror. Jamar Curtis had a monster day, rushing for 229 yards on 30 carries. Quarterback Dean DeNobile threw for 262 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. The epic performance now has Lafayette in the Top 25 and positioned well for a run at a league championship. They hit the road next to take on Georgetown.

#22 William & Mary (4-3) - Last Week: #13

The slide continues for an ailing William & Mary squad. The Tribe fell to Towson last week and it was ugly. Both Darius Wilson and JT Mayo lost fumbles and the defense surrendered 31 points in the final 30 minutes, all resulting in the team's third loss of the year. The Tigers had more first downs, total yards, a greater time of possession and were better on third down. Once a CAA frontrunner, William & Mary is now in real danger of missing the postseason altogether. They'll need a bounce back this weekend against Monmouth.

#23 Northern Iowa (4-3) - Last Week: NR

Just two weeks ago, Northern Iowa was an afterthought to most but after just beating North Dakota and doing it convincingly, the Panthers are back in the Top 25. UNI's defense was stellar against the Hawks, giving up more rushing plays (22) than rushing yards (15). They also allowed just one third down conversion. Amauri Pesek-Hickson had a huge day, rushing for 180 yards and Theo Day threw for nearly 300 and two touchdowns. The Panthers will look to keep it rolling against Illinois State.

#24 Youngstown State (4-3) - Last Week: #25

The Penguins kept their playoff hopes alive by taking a back-and-forth shootout over Illinois State. Andrew Lastovka drilled the game winning field goal to lift YSU to a 41-38 victory. Mitch Davidson was electric in the passing game, throwing for four touchdowns and no picks while Tyshon King ran for 148 yards on 24 carries. Youngstown State ran it and ran it a lot. In fact the Penguins opted to run 50 times and it was too much for the Redbirds to handle. They'll see Missouri State at home this Saturday.

#25 UC Davis (4-3) - Last Week: #23

UC Davis had a bye last week. The Aggies hit the road to face Northern Arizona this weekend.

Dropped Out

Holy Cross (4-3) - Last Week: #15

Things have not been going according to plan for the Crusaders this season and last weekend’s loss to Lafayette is the post puzzling result yet. Matthew Sluka had a record-breaking 330 rushing yards but he got little help from the rest of his team and it resulted in a 38-35 defeat. The Holy Cross defense gave up nearly 500 yards and couldn’t stop the Leopards rushing attack. The leading receiver was Jalen Coker and he didn’t even manage 50 yards. Surprising as it is, the Crusaders are no longer in possession of first place in the Patriot League. Once a lock to win the conference, now it seems their postseason status altogether may be in question. Up next is Fordham.

Harvard (5-1) - Last Week: #18

Harvard is unbeaten no more thanks to a seven-point defeat at the hands of Ivy League rival Princeton. The Crimson tumble from the rankings after the 21-14 defeat. Charles DePrima struggled for the first time this year, throwing a season-worst three interceptions. Harvard found itself in third down situations all too much and, despite fixing things defensively in the second half, couldn't get it done. The now unranked Crimson get their rebound opportunity against Dartmouth at home.