Another hectic week in the FCS is in the books and once again the polls reflect the chaos with a great deal of shuffling. Two teams enter the Top 25 while several in the Top 10 moved around. With just three weeks left, here’s where everyone stands.
The Top 25
#1 South Dakota State (8-0) - Last Week: #1
For all the hype going into last week’s game with rival USD, South Dakota State left zero doubt over their position as #1. The Jackrabbits, after falling behind 3-0 early, stomped the ‘Yotes for 37 unanswered points and left the DakotaDome silent. SDSU’s offense posted nearly 500 total yards and the defense held South Dakota to just 50 on the ground. It was the first time all year the Coyotes couldn’t break the goal line. Amar Johnson ran for two touchdowns and Hunter Dustman only had to punt once all afternoon. The Jacks will look for their ninth win this weekend in the Dakota Marker matchup with North Dakota State.
6 more!— SDSU Football (@GoJacksFB) October 28, 2023
Amar Johnson cuts back and gets a block from quarterback Mark Gronowski on his way to the end zone for the second time today — both from 20 yards out.
SDSU has scored on six straight possessions en route to a 30-3 lead
Video: Midco#InterstateSeries x #GoJacks pic.twitter.com/FkDS5suXsL
#2 Furman (7-1) - Last Week: #3
It wasn’t necessary a win that will earn them any style points, but Furman grabbed its seventh victory of the season against ETSU. Ian Williams stepped up and made three field goals that turned out to be the difference, including a 52-yarder. Joshua Harris caught the only Paladins touchdown and led the pass catchers with eight receptions. Tyler Huff threw for 215 yards and a score. The SoCon title gets ever closer for Furman as they prepare to face Chattanooga in a big one this Saturday.
#3 Idaho (6-2) - Last Week: #9
Jason Eck was fired up on the sidelines as he well should have been after his Vandals upset Montana State. Idaho owned the time of possession battle against the usually-lethal MSU rushing attack, holding the ball for over 40 minutes. The defense held the Bobcats to zero points through the opening half and only gave up 128 yards on the ground (not bad against MSU); well below the average. Gevani McCoy and Hayden Hatten hooked up four times, making enough big plays to pull off the win. The Vandals hope for a conference title and Top 4 seed is very much alive. Up next is winless Northern Colorado.
#4 Montana (7-1) - Last Week: #7
Montana pitched a shutout against visiting Northern Colorado in Washington-Grizzly Stadium last weekend 40-0 and will move up to 4-1 in Big Sky action. Clifton McDowell and Keali’i Ah Yat each threw for a TDs while Eli Gillman ran for 106 yards and broke the chalk twice. The Griz defense was lights out, holding the Bears to just seven first downs and a mere 1-for-15 on third down. The only real issue that reared its head was penalties. UM was hit for nine of them in total. The Grizzlies, however, are looking like a bona fide contender right now but they’ll have a big test with Sacramento State coming in next.
#5 Delaware (7-1) - Last Week: #5
The Blue Hens continue to blow their way through the CAA schedule as they blasted Towson 51-13 last Saturday. Ryan O’Connor is still sidelined but once again the team rose to the occasion. Zach Marker threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns while Marcus Yarns found the end zone four times on the ground. Yarns had a huge day, catching a TD as well. Delaware’s offense is consistently one of the best in the country right now and the performance against the Tigers again made that obvious. The defense was phenomenal on third down and they forced two turnovers. The Hens will see Elon next.
#6 Montana State (6-2) - Last Week: #2
Idaho punched Montana State in the mouth out of the gates on Saturday and, even though the Bobcats rallied back, they couldn't get it done in the Kibbie Dome. A late missed field goal sunk MSU but there was certainly other issues that plagued them up to that point. The defense couldn't get off the field for most of the day and the offense was ice cold through the first 30 minutes. Tommy Mellott did end up throwing two touchdowns and didn't have any picks but the normally-productive Sean Chambers was quiet and so was the run game for the most part. The 'Cats will try and get it right at home this week against Northern Arizona.
#7 Sacramento State (6-2) - Last Week: #6
The Hornets get back in the win column after thumping Idaho State but it didn’t come without some uncertainty for a while. Kaiden Bennett had to leave the game whilst nursing a sore shoulder but his backup Carson Conklin delivered. The freshman threw for 235 yards and three touchdowns and helped Sac State withstand a second-quarter ISU surge. Marshel Martin went over 100 yards and a score receiving and Zeke Burnett ran for 143 yards. The Hornets will face Montana in a huge road game this weekend.
#8 Incarnate Word (7-1) - Last Week: #8
The Cardinals keep finding ways to prevail in close games, taking last week's contest over Lamar 17-7. Richard Torres was in again for the injured Zach Calzada and carried the load, throwing for over 300 yards and both of UIW's touchdowns. Brandon Porter also put up another big day, hauling in six passes for 101 yards and a TD. The defense was solid on third down and forced a pair of turnovers. The Cardinals continue to march toward the Southland title, now at 4-0 in league play. Next is Nicholls.
#9 South Dakota (6-2) - Last Week: #4
After an initial fast start against South Dakota State, the Coyotes fell completely flat and lose to their first FCS foe of the season in ugly fashion. Aidan Bouman had a rough day, tossing two interceptions and Travis Theis was held to only 29 yards on the ground, still coming away as the leading rusher. The defense gave up 266 yards on the ground and let SDSU convert seven of their 10 third down tries. The postseason is still very much in play for the Coyotes but they’ll have another tough test this weekend when they travel to Southern Illinois.
#10 Southern Illinois (6-2) - Last Week: #11
The Salukis are playing like a team who wants a seed right now as they clobbered Western Illinois 63-0. Everything was working. Nic Baker tossed three touchdowns while running back Lashaun Lester ran for three more. The defense made WIU turn it over on downs four times and kept the Leathernecks off the scoreboard. It wasn’t a completely flawless performance but it was darn close. The Salukis will have a big one this weekend when they welcome in South Dakota.
#11 North Dakota State (6-2) - Last Week: #12
NDSU put a beatdown on Murray State last Saturday in what should serve as a good "geat ready" game before the all-important Dakota Marker game. Cam Miller was the guy, accounting for four touchdowns and 247 of the offense's 377 total yards. The Bison defense looked like its old self, smothering Racer rushers and getting off the field with ease on third down. Any slim hope North Dakota State has of winning the Missouri Valley rests on the big matchup with South Dakota State in Brookings this Saturday.
#12 North Carolina Central (7-1) - Last Week: #13
NC Central dropped the hammer on South Carolina State last Thursday night to pick up their seventh win of the year. The Eagles, now 2-0 in MEAC play, still haven’t lost to an FCS opponent in 2023 and look as scary as ever. Davius Richard was a man possessed, accounting for seven touchdowns (five passing, two rushing) in the win over SC State as well as putting up 378 all-purpose yards. Devin Smith and J’Mari Taylor each caught TD passes and eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark. NCCU is on the fast track to another conference title and appearance in the Celebration Bowl it seems. They’ll play Norfolk State next.
#13 North Dakota (5-3) - Last Week: #15
It took overtime but North Dakota staved off Indiana State to avoid losing a second straight game. For much of the day, the winless Sycamores matched the Hawks blow for blow but in the end it was a Tommy Schuster to Quincy Vaughn connection that won it for UND. Schuster threw for 273 yards and four scores while Isaiah Smith ran for 109 yards and another TD. The defense, though, had some issues, giving up 388 yards and 7.2 yards per pass. A win is a win, however, and right now North Dakota needs as many as it can get to stay afloat in the postseason chase. The Hawks play Murray State this weekend.
#14 Chattanooga (7-2) - Last Week: #17
VMI gave Chattanooga everything it could handle but the Mocs still escaped with a one-point win to improve to 7-2. All-American running back Ailym Ford is done for the season with an injury but Gino Appleberry came through last weekend, rushing for 113 yards and a score. Chase Artopoeus threw another touchdown and the Chattanooga defense made enough plays down the stretch to preserve the win. The road doesn’t get any easier but the Mocs can really shake things up this weekend when they take on Furman.
#15 Florida A&M (7-1) - Last Week: #16
The Rattlers have clinched a spot in the SWAC Championship game with their seventh win of the year and it was a convincing one. Florida A&M made Prairie View A&M look helpless, racking up 453 yards and 45 points. Three different pass-catchers had touchdowns and even the defense got one in the form of a 10-yard Tevin Griffey pick six. Jeremy Moussa was solid once more, throwing for 272 yards and three TDs. FAMU will look to keep their romp going against Alabama A&M.
#16 Western Carolina (5-3) - Last Week: #10
Western Carolina staged a mighty comeback but it came up short and now the Catamounts have lost two straight resulting in another drop in the rankings. Cole Gonzalez once more put up video game numbers, throwing for 388 yards and five touchdowns but the three interceptions didn’t help the cause. Not having standout Desmond Reid is starting to take its toll as WCU only ran for 86 yards total. In all, the Catamounts turned it over six times and it’s hard to win games when that happens. They’ll try and right the ship this Saturday when they face winless Wofford.
#17 Villanova (6-2) - Last Week: #19
The Wildcats will rise in the polls again this week thanks to another dominant win, this time over Stony Brook at home. Connor Watkins threw four touchdowns and three different receivers went for over 100 yards. In fact, Rayjuon Pringle nearly hit 200. The 'Nova offense was clicking again, putting 556 total yards and 48 points in another rout. Mark Ferrante's team is sitting pretty as November approaches and should be vying for a playoff spot next month. Villanova faces New Hampshire this Saturday.
#18 Northern Iowa (5-3) - Last Week: #23
Another season seemed to be lost just a few weeks ago but now the Panthers have found new life, winning two in a row. UNI bested Illinois State last weekend and suddenly sees itself in the Top 20. Amauri Pesek-Hickson ran for a pair of scores and Theo Day threw another to help lift Northern Iowa over the Redbirds. The defense was great at stopping the run, surrendering just 45 yards on the ground. When all was said and done, UNI held the ball for over 36 minutes. The Panthers will need to keep playing at an improved pace like thus in order to be in the conversation in a few weeks. Western Illinois is up next.
#19 Austin Peay (6-2) - Last Week: #20
There appears to have been a changing of the guard in the UAC this week as Austin Peay climbs a spot after a big win over North Alabama. Quarterback Mike DiLiello tied a school record with six touchdown throws (all of which went to different receivers) and accounted for 357 total yards in the 49-39 victory. Jevon Jackson hit 160 yards rushing as well. Penalties were a problem, though, as the Govs were flagged 11 times for nearly 100 yards. If they can fix that, though, they'll be in great shape down the stretch. The Governors take on EKU next.
#20 Lafayette (7-1) - Last Week: #21
The Leopards will hold onto their lead in the Patriot League standings after taking down Georgetown on the road. Jamar Curtis ran for two touchdowns while Troy Bruce tacked on another for a Lafayette rushing attack that averaged nearly five yards a pop. Dean DeNobile did toss a couple interceptions but it wasn't anything the defense couldn't overcome, forcing three takeaways of their own. The Leopards will look to remain unbeaten against FCS competition this weekend when they battle Colgate.
#21 UT Martin (6-2) - Last Week: #14
UT Martin suffered its first loss to an FCS opponent last week on the road at Gardner-Webb. The Skyhawks defense adjusted after allowing 31 first half points but the offense couldn’t quite match it. Kinkead Dent still threw for three touchdowns and Sam Franklin had one on the ground. It was all for naught, though, and now UT Martin finds itself looking up at SEMO in the Big South-OVC standings. They have a road trip to Tennessee Tech first, though, before seeing the Redhawks.
#22 Youngstown State (5-3) - Last Week: #24
The Penguins handled business against Missouri State and will rise two spots in the rankings this week. Mitch Davidson had a career game, throwing for 390 yards and four touchdowns to pace the YSU offense that racked up 521 yards. Bryce Oliver was instrumental in Davidson's big day, bringing in six passes for 169 yards and two TDs. Even kicker Andrew Lastovka was responsible for 14 of the 44 Penguin points. It was a total team win and Youngstown State's playoff dreams live on for at least another week. Now up is Indiana State.
#23 Albany (6-3) - Last Week: NR
The Great Danes have been playing jump rope with the poll all year and are back in it this week thanks to a 37-21 win over Maine. Reese Poffenbarger threw for 324 yards and a pair of touchdowns while running back Faysal Aden ran for 141 yards and two more scores. The Albany defense, despite allowing the Black Bears to convert all three of their fourth down tries, still forced three turnovers. Maine didn't even hit 100 yards rushing either. Up next for the Great Danes is William & Mary.
#24 William & Mary (5-3) - Last Week: #22
The Tribe snapped a three-game skid by narrowly beating Monmouth thanks to a huge blocked field goal in the final seconds. Still without Bronson Yoder, W&M got a big boost from Malachi Imoh who ran 112 yards on 15 carries. Darius Wilson threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns and the special teams made the big play at the end to save the much-needee win. If the Tribe wants to keep itself in the postseason conversation, though, it will need to take down a tough Albany squad this weekend.
#25 Mercer (6-3) - Last Week: #NR
The Bears are back in the rankings and the playoff discussion after an impressive win over Western Carolina last week. Ty James hauled in six catches for 115 yards and a score while Carter Peevy accounted for three total touchdowns. Mercer rode the momentum of a 21-point first quarter and never really looked back. Keeping pace with the Catamounts has been no easy feat for teams this year but the Bears were able to, putting up 422 yards and 45
Central Arkansas (5-3) - Last Week: #18
Central Arkansas lost a tough one to a scrappy Tarleton State squad last weekend and they'll stumble out of the rankings. Will McElvain did throw three touchdowns but the defense was on the field far too long, allowing TSU to convert 10-of-17 third down tries. They gave up 208 yards on the ground and let Texans quarterback Victor Gabalis go for eight yards per pass. The late touchdown from McElvain to Jordan Owens was not enough. The Bears will take on North Alabama next.
UC Davis (4-4) - Last Week: #25
The Aggies will fall from the Top 25 once more after a less-than-inspiring performance against Northern Arizona. Lan Larison was back and in full force, rushing for over 100 yards but it didn't mask the glaring issues. Miles Hastings threw three bad interceptions and the offense turned it over on downs three times. The special teams missed two field goal tries as well. Now with four losses on the year UC Davis will need to run the table (a mighty ask in the Big Sky) and would need a miracle outside of that to even be considered for the postseason. They'll see Portland State next.