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FCS Top 25: Who Moved and What Changed in the National Rankings for Week 4

A new team enters the Top 25 this week but that’s far from the only change.

NCAA Football: Western Carolina at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Non-conference action is wrapping up for a lot of teams around the FCS and that means the meat of the year is coming up. The new STATS Perform Top 25 is now out after three weeks of play and again there’s plenty of movement to keep track of. While things remain steady at the top, teams are climbing and falling all over the place toward the end.

Here’s where we sit.

The Top 25

#1 South Dakota State (3-0) - Last Week: #1

The #1 team in the land rolled again this week. Target Field played host as SDSU stomped Drake 70-7 in Minneapolis. The Jacks started slow but by the end they dominated every facet of the game. Mark Gronowski was a man possessed, throwing for five TDs and 226 yards. Those five touchdown passes each went to a different receiver and the ground game racked up 359 yards and five more scores. It was the type of performance you’d expect from the top dog. The Jacks will now get a week off to prep for a Top 25 matchup with North Dakota.

#2 North Dakota State (3-0) - Last Week: #2

Central Arkansas came in and gave a bit of a shootout but NDSU still ran away with it comfortably on Saturday. Cam Miller threw for 200 yards and two scores to elevate the Bison offense which put up 481 yards and picked up 26 first downs. What’s even more impressive is that Miller only had one incomplete pass all day. If he play at that clip, NDSU can beat anybody. TaMerik Williams found the end zone once and led the team with 83 rush yards. All in all, it was another productive day for the boys in green and gold. North Dakota State has a bye now. After that is South Dakota.

#3 Montana State (2-1) - Last Week: #3

Montana State will stay at #3. They did what they were supposed to do against Stetson on Saturday, even without Tommy Mellott under center. Sean Chambers and the starters only played a half as MSU cruised out to a 57-20 win. The ‘Cats ran up 618 total offensive yards and cracked down on defense, forcing a pair of turnovers. In typical fashion, the Bobcats picked up six touchdowns on the ground and eight different players carried it. It was domination from start to finish and now it’s time to turn attention to the important part of the season. Conference play begins next weekend when MSU heads to Weber State.

#4 Sacramento State (3-0) - Last Week #8

NCAA Football: Sacramento State at Stanford Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

No team picked up a bigger win last weekend than Sacramento State. First-year head coach Andy Thompson and his team rolled into Stanford and came out with a 30-23 victory. Kaiden Bennett was electric, passing for 279 yards and running for 100 more. The defense dropped six sacks and logged two interceptions in the upset. Marcus Fulcher continues to show why he’s as dangerous as any running back in the land and the D is good at forcing field goals and not allowing touchdowns. This is not a team that anyone wants to see on their slate as Big Sky play begins. Their first conference test? A really good Idaho squad on the road.

#5 William & Mary (3-0) - Last Week #4

It was not a pretty win against Charleston Southern on Saturday but William & Mary is still unbeaten. Malachi Imoh ran for 110 yards and touchdown and he needed to, because Darius Wilson struggled through the air. Wilson had no touchdowns and a pick. It was the Tribe defense, however, that really put the game on their backs. The Buccaneers didn’t even hit 100 total yards on the day and had nearly as many punts as they did first downs. W&M scrapped out a 15-7 win but they’ll have to sharpen things up if they’ll want to compete in the CAA. Maine comes in this Saturday.

#6 Holy Cross (2-1) - Last Week #6

Yale looked as though it might be a tough out as Holy Cross only led by four at halftime. The Crusaders, though, outscored the Bulldogs 28-7 in the second half and left with a solid 49-24 victory. Matthew Sluka continues to make his early case for the Walter Payton Award, accounting for 373 offensive yards and six touchdowns on Saturday. Jalen Coker was dynamite catching passes again, bringing in three of Sluka’s scoring throws and going for 124 yards. So far they’ve been everything as advertised in the early goings of this season. Holy Cross opens Patriot League action this weekend against Colgate.

#7 Idaho (2-1) - Last Week #5

The Vandals slide two spots but they gave it a might go against Cal and, actually led 17-0 at one point. The Golden Bears, though, scored 31 unanswered to avoid the upset. Still, Idaho showed its mettle. Gevani McCoy threw for 279 yards and ran for a touchdown. Anthony Woods also found paydirt as he rushed for 56 yards. Hayden Hatten, though, was kept out of the end zone; an uncommon sight. Loss aside, UI made it very clear that they mean business in the Big Sky this season. A pivotal one is up next for the Vandals. Sacramento State comes to town for a heavyweight battle.

#8 Furman (2-1) - Last Week #7

The Paladins bounced back in a big way last weekend with a gutsy win over FBS-transitioning Kennesaw State. Quarterback Tyler Huff threw for 237 yards and ran for four touchdowns to lift Furman over the Owls 31-28. Ben Ferguson led the pass-catchers with 68 yards and Dominic Roberto racked up 73 on the ground. The defense made a very timely interception late to seal the win and overall it was the type of victory a Top 10 should be able to see through against a squad that’s soon moving up a level. Mercer pays a visit this Saturday.

#9 Incarnate Word (2-1) - Last Week #10

Incarnate Word never could entirely shake Abilene Christian but they did end up pulling out a 27-20 win. Zach Calzada seems like he’s taking form more and more. The Auburn transfer threw for 373 yards this time out and ran for 66 more. Brandon Porter had a huge night with 201 receiving yards and a touchdown on ten catches and the team logged 517 offensive yards. Those numbers are starting to look like the numbers fans are used to out of the Cardinals and they should only get better this weekend as NAIA’s North American pays a visit.

#10 Weber State (2-1) - Last Week #9

It usually doesn’t go too well playing a Top 15 FBS team and it didn’t for Weber State against Utah on Saturday. The Wildcats only found the end zone once thanks to a Kris Jackson TD run in the second quarter. Outside of that, it was all Utes. Kylan Weisser threw for just 66 yards and had an interception and the offense as a whole only picked up five first downs all game. Not a lot to take away from this one if you’re Weber State. Time to shake it off and move on because a really good Montana State team rolls in on Saturday night.

#11 New Hampshire (2-1) - Last Week #11

The Wildcats hold true at #11 as they handled business against Dartmouth to grab their second win of the season. With the usually-lethal Max Brosmer held in check, Dylan Laube picked up the slack and ran for 180 yards on 33 carries. Max Oxendine and Randall Harris each recorded interceptions and punter Sean Lehane pinned three punts inside the 20. All of that helped New Hampshire ease by the Big Green on a day where the offense fell relatively quiet. They’ll have to find that spark again soon. A pivotal CAA clash with Delaware is right around the corner.

#12 Southern Illinois (3-0) - Last Week: #15

For the first time since 2014, Southern Illinois is 3-0 to start a season and that’s thanks to a big time win over Southeast Missouri State. Nic Baker shook off two interceptions to still throw for 458 yards and a pair of touchdowns, his last coming in the clutch with just 11 seconds remaining. Izaiah Hartrup hauled in two scoring passes including the game-winner right at the end. Victories like this can go a long ways in solidifying a team’s grit and morale down the line and SIU seems as gritty as anyone in the Top 25. The Salukis take a week off before they face Missouri State.

#13 Montana (3-0) - Last Week #12

Montana’s athletic department must have been second-guessing its choice to schedule Division II power Ferris State, at least for a while on Saturday evening. The Grizzlies still got the win but it was anything but easy. Sam Vidlak was running for his life against the Bulldogs defense for much of the night as he completed nine of his 15 passes for 105 yards. Nick Ostmo and Eli Gillman scored Montana’s only two touchdowns and two touchdowns was just enough to get it done. A win is a win, though, even if it won’t count toward postseason consideration. The undefeated Griz hit the road to take on Northern Arizona in Flagstaff this Saturday.

#14 North Dakota (2-1) - Last Week #14

Boise State was simply too much for the Hawks to handle and it showed across the board. UND was outgained 394 yards to 183 by the Broncos and was only able to muster up 41 yards rushing. Tommy Schuster didn’t throw any picks but he did fumble twice as did Gaven Ziebarth. Ball control aside, however, it just wasn’t North Dakota’s day. The defense allowed 42 points and got picked apart through air, allowing nearly eight yards per pass. The paycheck has been collected and now it’s time to look ahead. The Hawks won’t play next weekend as they prepare for a big one with South Dakota State.

#15 UC Davis (2-1) - Last Week #16

UC Davis had to hold against Southern Utah late Saturday night but hold on they did. Lan Larison continues to be the Aggies do-it-all guy. He led the team in carries (17), rush yards (60), receptions (eight) and receiving yards (106). Miles Hastings was productive through the air, throwing for 256 yards and two touchdowns. They kept the penalties to a minimum and didn’t turn the ball over; a tried and true formula for winning. The Aggies will now focus on Big Sky action as they host Eastern Washington in the nightcap on Saturday evening.

#16 Southeast Missouri State (1-2) - Last Week #13

The Redhawks got stung in a tough way on Saturday evening by Southern Illinois and they slip three spots because of it. Despite Paxton DeLaurent throwing for 251 yards and Geno Hess running for 99, the defense folded late and surrendered a game-clinching score with mere seconds remaining. What’s worse is that the loss was at home and now SEMO dips to 1-2 on the year. There’s plenty of time to right this ship but the schedule only gets tougher from here so they’ll have to do it soon. SEMO squares off with Eastern Kentucky next.

#17 Rhode Island (2-1) - Last Week #21

URI made light work of Maine on Friday evening. After falling behind 7-0 early, Kasim Hill and the gang outscored the Black Bears 34-10 to close it out. Ja’Den McKenzie rushed for 121 yards while Kahtero Summers hauled in six passes for 130 yards and two scores. The Rams offense was clicking on all cylinders as they went for 440 total yards. The turnovers will need to be fixed moving forward but for now, things are looking good for Rhode Island who is now 2-0 in CAA action. An important road trip to Villanova is on the horizon.

#18 North Carolina Central (2-1) - Last Week #17

Everyone knew the UCLA game would likely be a tough and it was really tough on NC Central. The Eagles surrendered 35 points in the first quarter and it never got better from there. Davius Richard saw limited snaps once the game was out of hand and the only touchdowns for Trei Oliver’s crew came via Chris Mosley. NC Central only falls one spot this week, though, despite the blowout. There’s not a ton to take away here. A bounce back opportunity awaits as Mississippi Valley State comes in this weekend.

#19 Delaware (2-1) - Last Week #22

Delaware showed that last year’s rout of St. Francis in the playoffs was no fluke. The Blue Hens did it again to the Red Flash last weekend thanks to a big day from running back Marcus Yarns who carried 12 times for 139 yards and a score. Ryan O’Connor threw three touchdowns while both Dillon Trainer and K.T. Seay snagged interceptions. SFU may have controlled the clock but they did little to nothing with their possessions and Delaware rolled to a 42-14 victory. The Hens host UNH on Saturday.

#20 Samford (1-2) - Last Week #18

The Bulldogs were one of the many FCS teams to fall victim to an P5 opponent in ugly fashion last week. Auburn trounced Samford despite the game being scoreless after the first quarter. Michael Hiers tossed two interceptions and no Bulldog ball carrier ran for more than 30 yards. Chandler Smith did finish his day with 80 receiving yards but that’s about all there was to put in the highlight reel for Samford here. The Bulldogs welcome Chattanooga next.

#21 Mercer (2-1) - Last Week #20

No game for Mercer last week. The Bears will travel to Furman this Saturday.

#22 Florida A&M (2-1) - Last Week: #23

Head coach Willie Simmons must have had some words for his Rattlers at halftime on Saturday because, after being tied with Division II West Florida at the break, Florida A&M dropped 21 points in the third quarter to cruise to a 31-10 win. Jeremy Moussa averaged 10 yards per pass and threw for three touchdowns while the defense held the Argonauts to under 80 rushing yards. The Rattlers posted 475 yards of offense and made big plays on both sides of the ball to get their second win of the year. FAMU will now see Alabama State.

#23 Western Carolina (2-1) - Last Week: NR

It seemed like it would only be a matter of time before Western Carolina appeared in the Top 25 and here they are. The Catamounts have been on a roll to start the season. After taking down Samford and, most recently, Eastern Kentucky, they’re in. Running back Desmond Reid has been a one-man show and he was against the Colonels last weekend. Reid ran for 177 yards and a score while QB Cole Gonzalez threw for 340 yards and three more TDs. If the defense can continue to keep them in games, Western Carolina could make some legitimate noise down the stretch in the SoCon. Up next is Charleston Southern.

#24 Youngstown State (2-1) - Last Week: #25

YSU did its thing against visiting Robert Morris and coasted out to a 48-28 win. Tyshon King ran for 117 yards and three touchdowns; half of the Penguins scores on the ground. Mitch Davidson threw for 339 yards and a TD as well while two receivers, C.J. Charleston and Bryce Oliver, each eclipsed 100 yards. If YSU wants to be competitive in Missouri Valley play, though, they’ll need address penalties. They were flagged nine times on Saturday. The Penguins will have a bye before facing Northern Iowa.

#25 Villanova (2-1) - Last Week: #24

Villanova was outmanned, outpaced and all around outmatched against UCF last weekend but they’ll stay in the Top 25. The Knights scored 34 first-half points and blanked the Wildcats until the fourth quarter. Connor Watkins struggled, completing just nine passes and throwing a pick. The defense did author two sacks and six tackles for loss but it wasn’t nearly enough. The Wildcats look to rebound and take a big step in the conference when they host Rhode Island on Saturday.

Dropped Out

Southeastern Louisiana (0-3) - Last Week #19

The Lions fall out of the rankings this week after losing to Eastern Washington on Saturday. Their early-season schedule has done them no favors but it just isn’t justifiable to keep a winless team in the Top 25 any longer. Zachary Clement did throw for two scores and run for another but in the end, the Eagles ran away with it to the tune of 40-29. Houston Christian awaits in the Southland opener.