The final week of the FCS regular season is upon us and that means one final set of rankings to sift through before the committee meets to decide the playoff field. This week's rankings are as close as we're going to get to what the accurate depiction of this season was for everyone. Teams are, more or less, where they ought to be. That's not to say, though, that there isn't still some notable movement.
The poll is in and here's what it looks like following the penultimate weekend.
The Top 25
#1 South Dakota State (10-0) - Last Week: #1
The Jackrabbits ran in, around and through Youngstown State last weekend to improve their FCS-best record to 10-0. Mark Gronowski and Isaiah Davis once again put up the big numbers with Davis rushing for 130 yards and a TD and Gronowski throwing for 295 yards and three more scores. The SDSU defense pitched a shutout and kept the Penguins offense off the field for much of the day. The Missouri Valley title now officially belongs to the Jacks who are looking pretty unbeatable with one week to go. South Dakota State will finish out the regular season hosting Missouri State.
#2 Furman (9-1) - Last Week: #2
Even without Tyler Huff the Paladins made it look easy against VMI. Carson Jones threw four touchdowns and completed 18-of-23 passes for 226 yards. The defense forced a pair of takeaways and only allowed three points to the Keydets. Nearly all of Furman's 37 points came in the first 30 minutes and from there it was cruise control. The Paladins are just one of three teams without an FCS loss and they already have the SoCon auto bid locked up. They'll close the season this weekend with Wofford.
#3 Montana (9-1) - Last Week: #3
Portland State didn't stand much of a chance Saturday night and the Grizzlies cruised to their ninth win of the season. Clifton McDowell ran for three scores while Eli Gillman added another. The Griz scored on every drive in the opening half and posted 489 yards of offense. The defense held the Vikings to just 11 first downs and four third down conversions (11 attempts). Montana is clicking right now and they'll need to keep it up as Montana State rolls into town this Saturday. The program’s first Big Sky title since 2009 is on the line against the Bobcats.
#4 Montana State (8-2) - Last Week: #5
The Bobcats demolished Eastern Washington at home and did so in nearly-flawless fashion. Sean Chambers was responsible for five total touchdowns, going a perfect 4-for-4 passing with 119 yards through the air and another 75 rushing. Tommy Mellott also didn’t have any incompletions as he threw for 98 yards. MSU racked up 275 yards on the ground and scored 57 points to pick up their 26th straight win at home. Now the Bobcats hit the road for an ultra important “Brawl of the Wild” with in-state rival Montana. The winner gets the Big Sky championship outright and likely a Top 3 seed.
#5 South Dakota (8-2) - Last Week: #6
It was another grinder of a game but, as they’ve seemed to all year, South Dakota got it done. After giving up a touchdown on the opening kickoff, the Coyotes locked it down, allowing just three more points all day. Aidan Bouman threw for 307 yards but did have an interception. Carter Bell had another impressive performance, hauling seven passes for 126 yards. Right behind him was fellow receiver J.J. Galbreath with 101. Now at 8-2 overall, the ‘Yotes have their sights set on a seed as they face winless Western Illinois this Saturday.
#6 Idaho (7-3) - Last Week: #4
Idaho watched a golden opportunity slip away last weekend at Weber State and suffered an upset loss that will keep them from a Big Sky title this year. The Vandals fell behind by ten late and their last gasp Hayden Hatten touchdown was a day late and a dollar short. Despite putting up 418 yards of offense and holding the ball for over 36 minutes, Idaho couldn't capitalize on their chances while the Wildcats did. They lost two fumbles and didn't force any turnovers going the other way. Now they'll welcome in Idaho State to close out the regular season as they cling on to seed hopes.
#7 Delaware (8-2) - Last Week: #8
The Blue Hens are vying for a playoff seed and made that very known last Saturday when they trounced Campbell on the road. Ryan O’Connor tossed four touchdowns and accounted for 265 total yards. Khalil Dawsey snagged two interceptions for the Delaware defense, one of which he took the distance for a score. Things couldn’t have gone much better for UD and now they’ll have a chance to take home the CAA hardware when they face Villanova this weekend.
#8 Sacramento State (7-3) - Last Week: #9
Sacramento State didn’t look overly impressive in their win over Cal Poly but it was an important victory to grab nonetheless. Carson Conklin got the start at QB and threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns. Marcus Fulcher ran for 121 yards while fellow back Elijah Tau-Tolliver averaged 11 yards a pop. Jared Gipson even brought in five catches for 154 yards. It was the Hornets defense that saw some struggles, allowing 539 yards to the Mustangs. A win is a win, though, and Sac State needed one. They’ll take on UC Davis in the “Causeway Classic” this Saturday.
#9 North Dakota State (7-3) - Last Week: #12
The Bison got back on the right track last weekend with a much-needed beatdown over Southern Illinois. The offense looked like shades of its old self, putting together long, sustained drives that resulted in touchdowns. Cam Miller threw for 232 yards while Tamerik Williams ran for two touchdowns. RaJa Nelson averaged 20.3 yards per catch and the Bison D held SIU to a mere 55 rushing yards. North Dakota State will finish up its regular season against Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls.
#10 Villanova (8-2) - Last Week: #13T
Villanova continues their steady rise up the rankings after another big win, this one over Towson. All three of Connor Watkins’ touchdowns came in the first half and two of them went to Rayjoun Pringle who had a huge day. Pringle caught five passes for 180 yards. The Wildcats defense was phenomenal also, allowing just 53 passing yards and keeping the Tigers offense off the field. In fact, Towson didn’t even have the ball for 19 minutes. The decisive victory sets up a huge matchup with Delaware this weekend with at least a CAA title share and possible seed at stake.
#11 Florida A&M (9-1) - Last Week: #13T
The Rattlers just keep winning and winning handedly. Florida A&M took it to Lincoln (CA) last week to improve to 9-1. The defense blanked the Oaklanders and featured a Deco Wilson pick six. Jaques Yant ran for two touchdowns to carry the load for the offense in the absence of Jeremy Moussa. There’s just one more game for FAMU before they can look ahead to the SWAC Championship. This weekend they’ll head to Orlando to take on “Florida Classic” rival Bethune-Cookman.
#12 Albany (8-3) - Last Week: #18
The CAA is really interesting with one week to go and that’s because the Great Danes haven’t gone away quietly. Last week Albany put the boots to Stony Brook to hit eight wins. Griffin Woodell ran for 136 yards on 23 carried and had a touchdown while QB Reese Poffenbarger threw four touchdowns and completed 20-of-28 passes. Albany’s offense was excellent on third down, converting 10 of their 13 tries. The defense stifled the Seawolves rushing attack, holding the unit to just 59 yards. The Great Danes are eyeing at least a share of the conference title this weekend when they host Monmouth.
#13 North Dakota (6-4) - Last Week: #10
The season may be slipping away from North Dakota as the Hawks dropped another tough one last weekend at South Dakota. After taking the opening kickoff for a touchdown, UND went ice cold and couldn’t muster anything in way of scoring. Tommy Schuster had no TDs and a pick. No receiver had more than 30 yards and the defense surrendered 332 yards through the air. Now at four losses, there’s no guarantee North Dakota makes the postseason cut but there’s still an outside chance. They’ll need to defeat Illinois State at home this weekend.
#14 Western Carolina (7-3) - Last Week: #17
The Catamounts got exactly what the doctor ordered with a dominant showing over East Tennessee State. Desmond Reid still is out with an injury but quarterback Cole Gonzalez more than made up for his running backs absence. Gonzalez tossed five touchdowns and eclipsed 350 yards through the air. Branson Adams carried the ball 17 times for 110 yards and another score. The WCU offense was full go, racking up a whopping 687 yards. The defense forced four turnovers as well. It was a total team win and now the Catamounts are on the cusp of the playoffs as they face VMI this Saturday.
#15 Austin Peay (8-2) - Last Week: #20
The Governors handled their business against Utah Tech in a 30-17 win last weekend. Jevon Jackson got a staggering 38 touches and ran for 192 yards but it was Kam Thomas who got the team’s only rushing TD. Mike DiLiello had an up-and-down day, throwing two touchdowns along with two picks. When all was said and done, though, it was a comfortable win to remain unbeaten in league play. The UAC auto bid will decided this weekend when Austin Peay hosts Central Arkansas. The Govs are also in the conversation for a seed if they win against the Bears.
#16 Southern Illinois (6-4) - Last Week: #11
The Salukis find themselves in real danger of missing the playoffs following a lopsided 34-10 defeat at North Dakota State. It was close for a while but SIU gave up 21 unanswered points in the second half. Ro Elliot was the leading rusher with only 25 yards and Nic Baker was kept out of the end zone all day. The defense struggled getting off the field on third down, allowing NDSU to maintain possession for over 38 minutes. Southern Illinois will have one more chance to get it right as they host Indiana State this Saturday.
#17 North Carolina Central (8-2) - Last Week: #7
For really the first time this year NC Central got manhandled and it was an odd sight. Howard scored seven touchdowns and held Davius Richard to just 77 passing yards. The Eagles got torn for over 500 yards, their worst defensive showing of the season. The loss not only kept NCCU from clinching the MEAC crown and a spot in the Celebration Bowl but actually gave the Bison the clear path to it now. They'll wrap things up with Delaware State this weekend and they need Howard to lose to Morgan State. The Eagles still may be in play for a playoff berth, though, depending on how it all shakes out.
#18 Chattanooga (7-3) - Last Week: #19
The Mocs sat idle last week which didn’t help them make up any ground in the playoff race. Also not helping is the fact that their season finale this Saturday is at Alabama.
#19 UT Martin (8-2) - Last Week: #21
UT Martin grabbed its eighth win of the year with by thrashing Southeast Missouri State at home. The Skyhawks ran for 316 yards while holding the Redhawks to just six of their own. Kinkead Dent threw for three touchdowns while both Sam Franklin and Narkel Leflore each ran for well over 100 yards. Leflore picked up two TDs as well. The Skyhawks keep themselves alive in seed consideration and can make a legitimate argument for one with a win over Samford this weekend.
#20 Incarnate Word (7-2) - Last Week: #16
UIW didn't play last weekend as their scheduled game with Northwestern State was canceled last month. The Cardinals will wrap up their season with a must-win contest against Houston Christian.
#21 Mercer (8-3) - Last Week: #23
The Bears wrapped up their season a week early and did so with a win they so desperately needed over Samford. Carter Peevy’s third touchdown run came midway through the fourth quarter and it served as the dagger in Mercer’s 28-21 victory. Peevy didn’t do a lot through the air but made up for it with his production on the ground. Lance Wise grabbed a big interception and Devron Harper tacked on a rushing score as well. It certainly seems, at eight wins, that the Bears will reach the playoffs for the first time in school history but their fate is up to the committee now.
#22 Northern Iowa (6-4) - Last Week: #15
In a shocker, Missouri State outclassed UNI last Saturday and may well have effecrively ended the Panthers season. Theo Day threw two interceptions while the defense gave up four passing touchdowns to the Bears. Northern Iowa was penalized 12 times which didn’t help matters either. Those dozen flags ended up costing them over 100 yards. The bad day came at a really bad time as now the Panthers need to beat North Dakota State in the finale to keep their slim postseason hopes alive.
#23 Harvard (8-1) - Last Week: #24
At least a portion of the Ivy League title is going to Harvard after a narrow 25-23 win over Penn. The Crimson needed three overtime periods to get it done but a thrilling two-point conversion from Cooper Barkate sealed the deal. Jaden Craig was under center for the injured Charles DePrima and played well, throwing for 235 yards and rushing for a pair of scores. Harvard will now get ready to travel to face rival Yale for the change to take the Ivy title outright.
#24 Lafayette (8-2) - Last Week: #25
The Leopards did what they needed to against Fordham last week, picking up their eighth victory of the season. Jamar Curtis put up another monster performance, rushing for 204 yards, good enough to put him over 1,100 on the season. Curtis found the end zone once while quarterback Dean DeNobile did so twice. Lafayette has set themselves up with a chance to take home the Patriot League championship this weekend if they can get by Lehigh.
#25 Youngstown State (6-4) - Last Week: #22
Not many thought the Penguins would take it over SDSU but that didn’t make them need the win any less. Youngstown State, though, got blanked and now it’s really do or die heading into the last week... that is if they aren’t dead already. YSU only managed 47 rushing yards and converted just two third downs all day. Mitch Davidson tossed a pick and the defense got cooked for almost 500 yards. It was not a banner day and it may have cost the Penguins their shot at the playoffs. If there’s any hope remaining, they need to beat Murray State on Saturday.