The excitement of Week 2 in the FCS lived up to the hype and there were some great games across the country. A lot of them went how we expected and a few certainly did not. This week’s Top 25 reflects that. A few newcomers enter the mix while a couple more slip out.
What happened in the rankings this week?
The Top 25
#1 South Dakota State (2-0) - Last Week: #1
South Dakota State proved its mettle on Saturday night but it took every last ounce of effort it had against Montana State. The Jackrabbits rallied from 10 down thanks to two Mark Gronowski touchdown throws and a big goal line stand. The defense notched a timely takeaway and bottled up the dynamic MSU offense just enough to get the job done. They are still #1 in the land and its looking as if they will be for the long haul now. The Jacks will turn their attention toward Drake whom they will play next Saturday at Target Field in Minneapolis.
#2 North Dakota State (2-0) - Last Week: #2
The sailing was smooth for North Dakota State against Maine. Cam Miller and Cole Payton each rushed for two scores and on the other side, Cole Wisniewski nabbed two picks. It was a tried and true Bison game as they ran for 264 yards and held the ball for 35 minutes. When all was said and done, NDSU was on the right side of an expected 44-7 beatdown. Up next is a date with Central Arkansas back in the FargoDome.
#3 Montana State (1-1) - Last Week: #3
To say MSU put forth a gallant effort against South Dakota State wouldn't be doing it justice. The Bobcats were a literal inch away from pulling off an all-timer in Brookings but it was not to be. Tommy Mellott suffered an injury and had to leave the game early. In his absence, Sean Chambers stepped up in a big way, rushing for 90 yards and a score and leading the team down to the doorstep at the end. The 'Cats made plays on offense, defense and even special teams but it wasn't quite enough. They'll need to dail it back on the penalties, though. Still, they'll stay put in the Top 3. Montana State returns home next weekend to host Stetson.
#4 William & Mary (2-0) - Last Week #4
The Tribe made light work of visiting Wofford, as they should have. The defense held the Terriers to not even 200 total yards while their own offense went for 382. Darius Wilson averaged 7.7 yards per pass while the rushing duo of Malachi Imoh and Bronson Yoder accounted for 178 yards and a score. Things went according to plan and that's why William & Mary hold steady at #4 this week. They'll hit the road this Saturday to take on Charleston Southern.
#5 Idaho (2-0) - Last Week #7
No team had a more impressive Week 2 win than Idaho. 2-0 for the first time since 1998, the Vandals didn’t just beat FBS Nevada, they stomped them into the dirt. Anthony Woods toted the rock 18 times and Gevani McCoy threw for 318 yards along with two touchdowns. The Idaho defense kept the Wolfpack out of the end zone all game long and picked off Nevada’s QBs twice. The result was a lopsided 33-6 blowout (and a $400,000 paycheck). It’s a great time to be a Vandal but the FBS gauntlet isn’t over just yet. Up next is Cal.
#6 Holy Cross (1-1) - Last Week #5
A lot of people thought Holy Cross could hand Boston College an upset last weekend and they nearly did. Matthew Sluka balled out, throwing for nearly as many yards (130) as he ran for (131). When a play needed to be made, Sluka was the guy. Jordan Fuller rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The Crusaders matched the Eagles in nearly every major stat category but a late fumble cost them a chance at the win. A loss like this is hardly a punishable offense, however, and it still seems very possible this team could run the table. The Crusaders will face Yale this weekend with the hopes of turning it around.
#7 Furman (1-1) - Last Week #6
South Carolina was simply too much for even the very talented Paladins to handle. Furman's normally stout defense surrendered 571 yards to the Gamecocks. The normally-reliable Dominic Roberto only got 20 yards on the ground and the team had to punt away seven times. An FBS loss is not damning by any means but now it's time to turn it around. Furman now gets ready to do just that against a Kennesaw State group that just fell to Chattanooga.
#8 Sacramento State (2-0) - Last Week #9
Sac State cruised by Texas A&M-Commerce 34-6 thanks to a big game from quarterback Kaiden Bennett. Bennett ran for 101 yards and threw for another 176 while scoring three touchdowns. As a whole the offense put up over 500 yards, 311 of which came via the run. The 2-0 start in Andy Thompson’s debut season is nice but now it’s time to face some big boys. The Hornets will take on former head coach Troy Taylor and Stanford this weekend.
#9 Weber State (2-0) - Last Week #12
Weber State struggled a week ago against a DII school and that had some worried. This last weekend, though, the Wildcats put those worries to rest with a big showing against Northern Iowa. Damon Bankston continued his early-season tear with 144 more rushing yards and three more touchdowns. Kylan Weisser spread it around to eight different receivers and the defense pushed UNI into six turnovers. It was a nice win that Weber State needed because the road is getting rockier by the week. The Wildcats’ tough slog continues with a trip to FBS Utah this weekend.
#10 Incarnate Word (1-1) - Last Week #10
UIW got the bounce back win it needed with a 42-7 thumping of Northern Colorado. Zach Calzada found his groove, airing it out for 255 yards and three touchdowns. Caleb Chapman had himself a 100-yard day receiving and overall the Incarnate Word offense showed shades of what it once was. For the third straight week, the will be on the road. Abilene Christian is next.
TOUCHDOWN CARDINALS!— Southland Conference (@SouthlandSports) September 9, 2023
Zach Calzada throws a DIME across the field into the arms of Marquez Perez in the back of the endzone and UIW takes the early 7-0 lead!#EarnedEveryDay x @UIWFootball pic.twitter.com/2IZ1Yox2KL
#11 New Hampshire (1-1) - Last Week #11
It seemed for a while like New Hampshire would take down FBS Central Michigan on Saturday. Even after falling behind by a few scores, quarterback Max Brosmer willed his team back in it. Dylan Laube torched the Chippewas as a pass catcher for a whopping 295 yards on 12 receptions. Laube was responsible for three touchdowns. Brosmer threw for almost 500 yards and four scores as well. All of it, though, was not enough as CMU escaped 45-42. The Wildcats proved that they are going to be a problem nonetheless. UNH prepares for its home opener against Dartmouth this Saturday.
#12 Montana (2-0) - Last Week #13
Montana rolled against Utah Tech to pick up its second win. Nick Ostmo piled up 118 yards and two touchdowns on the ground for UM while three different Grizzlies defenders snagged picks. The quarterback battle rages on with Boise State transfer Sam Vidlak throwing for 41 yards and a score. Clifton McDowell led the team in passing with 94 yards. The Griz return home this Saturday where they will host Division II powerhouse Ferris State.
#13 Southeast Missouri State (1-1) - Last Week #14
After a tough loss in Week 1, a blowout victory last weekend is just what SEMO needed and that's what it got over Lindenwood. Geno Hess ran for 115 yards and two scores while Paxton DeLaurent lit it up for 267 passing yards and three TDs. The Redhawks looked like the team many expected to see this year and they appear to be back on the right track. 1-0 in conference play is also good. A big test is right around the corner with Southern Illinois coming to town.
#14 North Dakota (2-0) - Last Week #17
North Dakota continues to prove its a team to keep an eye on this year after getting another solid win, this time over Northern Arizona. The Hawks never really left a doubt as Tommy Schuster threw for 259 yards and a score. Bo Belquist had a big day with 123 yards on eight catches and Gaven Ziebarth again carried a solid load on the ground. All things were clicking and they’ll need to be again this week as UND will travel to face Boise State.
#15 Southern Illinois (2-0) - Last Week: #24
The Salukis make a hefty jump this week after becoming one of the few to knock off an FBS opponent. SIU shut down Northern Illinois on Saturday and did enough to snag the win. Nic Baker and Ro Elliot each rushed for scores and the defense picked off the Huskies three times to seal it. Even though Southern Illinois got outgained and had a worse third down rate, they tightened up when it mattered most. There’s stuff to work on but they have to feel good about the start to this season. Southeast Missouri State is waiting.
Ro Elliott fights for the touchdown❗ pic.twitter.com/beL8AJSkgE— Saluki Football (@SIU_Football) September 9, 2023
#16 UC Davis (1-1) - Last Week #15
There’s not a whole lot to be taken away from UC Davis’ lopsided loss to Oregon State. The Aggies were simply outmatched in every facet. They gathered just 166 yards to OSU’s 450, Miles Hastings was yanked when the game got out of hand and the team only rushed for 47 yards. It was about what one might expect against an FBS Top 25 squad. Time to throw out the tape and move on if you’re Dan Hawkins and company. The Aggies will welcome in former Big Sky foe Southern Utah this Saturday for their home opener.
#17 North Carolina Central (2-0) - Last Week #18
Davius Richard on a show again against North Carolina A&T last Saturday, rushing for nearly 100 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for 127 more. The Eagles ran away from the Aggies 30-16 to remain unbeaten on the year thanks in large part to a strong defensive performance that only gave up 51 yards through the air. The Aggies barely had the ball for 24 minutes and NC Central smothered them all over the field. The Eagles have a huge task in front of them now with UCLA on the docket.
#18 Samford (1-1) - Last Week #8
In a surprising turn of events, Western Carolina manhandled Samford on Saturday afternoon and the Bulldogs tumble in the rankings because of it. Even though Michael Hiers threw for over 300 yards, Chris Hatcher’s team had a day to forget. They allowed 170 rush yards to a single player and didn’t even control the ball for 20 minutes of game time. WCU racked up 546 total yards on the defense and when the dust settled, Samford had only put up a measly seven points. It was not at all an expected performance and now the Bulldogs will turn around to face Auburn this Saturday.
#19 Southeastern Louisiana (0-2) - Last Week #16
SLU didn’t make life easy on itself when they set up this non-conference schedule. South Alabama was too much to handle, despite the Lions best efforts. Eli Sawyer and Zachary Clement again shared time under center with Clement seeing the majority of the snaps. Despite holding a second-quarter 7-0 lead, Southeastern Louisiana got outscored 28-10 in the second half. It’s hard to truly punish this team because it has lost to two FBS opponents but 0-2 is still never how you want to start. The Lions will have to hit the road again this weekend to take on Eastern Washington.
#20 Mercer (2-1) - Last Week #20
After a bumpy start to the season, Mercer finally looked like the team many thought it would be against Morehead State, at least in the second half. Carter Peevy completed 13 of his 19 passes for 268 yards while Ty James accounted for 146 receiving yards. A big day on offense resulted in a 48-22 blowout and that's just what the doctor ordered. The Bears will get a week off before taking on Furman in the SoCon opener on September 23.
#21 Rhode Island (1-1) - Last Week #22
URI handled its business against Stony Brook on Friday night to pick up its first win of the year. Kasim Hill racked up 299 passing yards and two touchdowns while Kahtero Summers hauled in three passes for 103 yards. The defense also notched three interceptions. Penalties, however, were a big issue. The Rams were flagged nine times and lost 95 yards when all was said and done because of it. There's stuff to fix but Rhode Island sits at 1-0 in CAA play. Up next is Maine.
#22 Delaware (1-1) - Last Week #19
There wasn’t a lot to be expected from the Blue Hens going up against Penn State but even against an opponent like that, Delaware looked exceptionally lost. The QBs only were able to muster up 58 yards between them and the defense allowed 315 rushing yards and 63 points. The Hens won’t take a huge hit in the rankings because of the caliber of team they just lost to but, that being said, a bounce back week will be important. Delaware will host St. Francis this weekend in a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff game.
#23 Florida A&M (1-1) - Last Week: #23
FAMU falls to 1-1 on the year after a hard-fought loss to South Florida. Jeremy Moussa had a rough night under center, tossing three interceptions in the 38-24 defeat. Marcus Riley fumbled twice also. Outside of the turnovers, though, the Rattlers had their chances. Terrell Jennings scored twice and the defense recorded six sacks. If the ball security issues get fixed, they should be just fine. Florida A&M will look to rebound against Division II West Florida on Saturday.
#24 Villanova (2-0) - Last Week: NR
The Wildcats make an appearance in the rankings for the first time this year coming off a dominant win over Colgate. Connor Watkins had himself a day with 310 passing yards and two touchdowns. Two different receivers, Rayjoun Pringle and Jaylan Sanchez, had 100-yard performances. The CAA looks as though it could be a slog this year so starting 2-0 before conference play is big. Now up is a tough one with UCF.
#25 Youngstown State (1-1) - Last Week: #25
As odd as it is to say, holding Ohio State to only 35 points should be seen as an accomplishment. Youngstown State expectedly lost to the Buckeyes but it wasn’t the absolute smackdown many thought we’d see in Columbus. All things considered, YSU was effective on third down (7-of-15) and only turned the ball over once. The Penguins will now prep to welcome in Robert Morris.
Northern Iowa (0-2) - Last Week #21
Northern Iowa takes a dip this week after losing at home to Weber State. Theo Day struggled, throwing three interceptions but Sergio Morancy did have 120 receiving yards. As a team. UNI gave up 390 yards and let the Wildcats score 34 points. Not exactly the type of showing you hope for when you’re at home. UNI will see another Big Sky opponent this weekend when it squares up with Idaho State.