Football is back and, now with the first week officially in the books, so are rankings and their weekly updates. The FCS saw its fair share of change in the Top 25 this week.
Let’s dive into it.
The Top 25
#1 South Dakota State (1-0) - Last Week: #1
The Jackrabbits won big in their opener last Thursday night but there's not a lot to be gleaned from a beatdown over a DII opponent like Western Oregon. Star linebacker Adam Bock didn't suit up but that didn't matter in the slightest. SDSU's Jimmy Rodgers era is off to an expected 1-0 start and will of course retain the top spot in the rankings. Now a real test awaits as Montana State looms on the horizon and a lot will be learned from the early-season Top 3 matchup.
#2 North Dakota State (1-0) - Last Week: #2
Minneapolis was very kind to the Bison as they poured it on for a decisive 35-10 win over Eastern Washington so they’ll stay put at #2. Sophomore QB Cole Payton rushed for 106 yards on six carries while the main starter, Cam Miller, threw for two touchdowns. NDSU held the ball for over 36 minutes and smothered the Eagles with strong defense. North Dakota State looked like its former self again as it looks ahead to the home opener against Maine.
Cole. Payton.— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) September 2, 2023
70 yards to the house. pic.twitter.com/DbjnxFYUS6
#3 Montana State (1-0) - Last Week: #3
No change here either. As expected, it was full throttle for Montana State against Utah Tech on Saturday night. The Bobcats ran for 407 yards and seven touchdowns in their 63-20 win. The quarterback duo of Tommy Mellott and Sean Chambers picked up right where they left off last year and the defense allowed just 49 rushing yards while forcing three turnovers. MSU gets ready for a mammoth game against #1 South Dakota State on the road this weekend.
#4 William & Mary (1-0) - Last Week #4
It took a while to get going against new CAA-foe Campbell last Thursday but the Tribe got it done nonetheless. Darius Wilson threw two touchdowns and Bronson Yoder ran for two more. William & Mary is already 1-0 in conference play and that has to be a good feeling. Despite only winning by ten, they dominated on defense, forcing a pair of turnovers and keeping the Camels to under 100 yards rushing. Up next is the home opener against Wofford.
With his two TD runs in the win at Campbell, Bronson Yoder moved into 8th on W&M's career rushing touchdowns list. The All-America standout and Payton Award Watch List selection has 23 career TD runs.#GoTribe pic.twitter.com/tdYIXNpBtE— William & Mary Tribe Football (@WMTribeFootball) September 2, 2023
#5 Holy Cross (1-0) - Last Week #5
Merrimack hung around for longer than Holy Cross would have liked but when it mattered, the Crusaders pulled away and got it done. Matthew Sluka threw for 190 yards and ran for 91 more. Jordan Fuller hit 120 on the ground and racked up four rushing TDs. Jalen Coker hauled in four passes for 136 yards and a score. All in all, the Crusaders had a good day even if it took a while to get going. Boston College is next up on the slate.
#6 Furman (1-0) - Last Week #6
It was all systems go for the Paladins against Tennessee Tech on Thursday evening. Furman got a big lift from its defense which authored six takeaways, two of which went directly for scores. Dominic Roberto ran for two touchdowns and, on a night where quarterback Tyler Huff struggled, the team as a whole stepped up around him. It was a stellar start to what could be one of the best seasons for the Paladins in recent memory. Now up is a big contest with South Carolina.
#7 Idaho (1-0) - Last Week #8
All the preseason hype for the Vandals appears to be well-founded. Hayden Hatten and company put the boots to Lamar in a big way. The star receiver accounted for three touchdowns, one of which was a nifty pass to Nick Romano. Gevani McCoy was as advertised with 162 yards and a pair of scores. Anthony Woods ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns. All in all Idaho did exactly what they were expected to do for a solid Week 1 win. Now it’s onto bigger fish. Nevada is right around the corner.
#8 Samford (1-0) - Last Week #9
The 2023 season is off to a good start for the Bulldogs who decimated Shorter on Thursday. Samford nearly broke 70 as it gained 560 yards of total offense. Michael Hiers was nearly flawless with 375 yards and three scores. Chandler Smith and Ty King each hauled in five passes and the defense nearly pitched a shutout from the second quarter on. Again, however, what can really be said for a thrashing of a Division II program? A better test lies ahead with SoCon rival Western Carolina on Saturday.
#9 Sacramento State (1-0) - Last Week #10
Nicholls was pesky but Sac State handled business. Carson Camp got the nod at QB but didn’t do a lot to impress. Kaiden Bennett came in off the bench and threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns. Marcus Fulcher ran for two more and when the dust cleared, the Hornets got the 38-24 win. They did let some scores in late which is never ideal but it worked out okay this time. Head coach Andy Thompson has his first victory with the team and now it’s time to look ahead to the home opener against Texas A&M-Commerce.
#10 Incarnate Word (0-1) - Last Week #7
Many folks thought that Incarnate Word would have a real shot to upset UTEP on Saturday but it wouldn't come to be. The Cardinals began the Klint Killough era with a 28-14 loss at the hands of the Miners. Transfer QB Zach Calzada looked solid with 245 passing yards but as a whole the explosiveness of last year's offense wasn't there. UIW only ran for 63 yards and went just 5-of-17 on third down. They'll have a bounce back opportunity against Northern Colorado next week.
#11 New Hampshire (1-0) - Last Week #11
Max Brosmer and the boys from UNH started fast and never let up on Stonehill. Brosmer tossed five touchdowns while Dylan Laube ran for 89 yards. After dropping 27 points in the first quarter, it was cruise control for the rest of the way. The only real downside for New Hampshire was the fact that they were penalized 15 times for 145 yards. That'll have to be cleaned up in a hurry. The Wildcats take on Central Michigan next Saturday.
JUMP BALL for the TD! Make that a career-high 5 TD passes for Max Brosmer as Logan Tomlinson skies over the defender for his first TD as a Wildcat. The 5 TD passes have been to 5 different receivers.— New Hampshire Football (@UNH_Football) September 2, 2023
Game Day Central https://t.co/lszZglS7O9#Cat2Unt4med pic.twitter.com/RauqpgJfYy
#12 Weber State (1-0) - Last Week #13
The Wildcats looked less than convincing for a while against DII Central Washington last week but they pulled away late to secure their first win of the Mickey Mental era regardless. The special teams was the bright spot as return ace Abraham Williams picked up his fifth career kickoff return touchdown. Damon Bankston ran for two scores as well. There’s still certainly some things to clean up, however, before they hit the road this weekend to take on a tough Northern Iowa squad.
#13 Montana (1-0) - Last Week #14
Montana's youth and inexperience showed for a while against visiting Butler but in the end the Griz still got the win. Quarterback Sam Vidlak threw for 180 yards and found the end zone once but also tossed two picks. Eli Gillman rushed for 119 yards and safety Nash Fouch delivered one of the biggest hits you'll see at any level for a highlight moment. Bobby Hauck and company have work to do but 1-0 is 1-0. UM hits the road this weekend to take on Utah Tech.
Wow, Nash Fouch.— FCS Football (@FCS_STATS) September 2, 2023
Montana beat Butler 35-20.pic.twitter.com/7iDtm985lm
#14 Southeast Missouri State (0-1) - Last Week #12
It was a week to forget for SEMO outside of a nice payday. Kansas State never let up in the 45-0 rout. The Redhawks only gathered six rushing yards despite actually winning the time of possession battle. The defense gave up nearly 600 total yards and let K State convert big play after big play. Some positives? They didn’t turn the ball over and no one got injured. A potential rebound game awaits against Lindenwood.
#15 UC Davis (1-0) - Last Week #16
Many folks think the Aggies will be a contender in the Big Sky this season and Thursday night gave credence to that notion. UC Davis pummeled Texas A&M-Commerce 48-10 behind a three-touchdown performance from junior running back Lan Larison. Miles Hastings threw for 238 yards and the defense forced three takeaways. Even more, the Aggies weren’t flagged at all. Now if they can just clean up their own turnover issues they’ll be golden. Still, it was a nice start the season. They’ll take on Oregon State this weekend.
#16 Southeastern Louisiana (0-1) - Last Week #15
Things started out okay for the Lions against Mississippi State but longevity was not their strong suit as the Bulldogs ran away in the second half. SLU’s offense was stagnant for much of the night. Quarterback Eli Sawyer didn’t even hit 100 yards through the air and Harlan Dixon was the squad’s leading rusher with 51. No one got hurt and that was about the only positive to take away. Southeastern Louisiana will take on Alabama State next for its second straight FBS game.
#17 North Dakota (1-0) - Last Week #17
UND dominated Drake on Saturday. The 55-7 beatdown featured everything including two Bo Belquist touchdown grabs and a 100-yard day from sophomore running back Gaven Ziebarth. North Dakota picked up 29 first downs and gained 652 total yards on offense. The D made four fourth down stops and didn’t allow the Bulldogs to find the end zone until late. It was exactly the kind of win you want to see from a team who many believe to be playoff-caliber. The Hawks now prepare for a non-conference tilt with Northern Arizona.
#18 North Carolina Central (1-0) - Last Week #19
Davius Richard might be the best quarterback in the FCS right now and Saturday afternoon reminded everyone why. NC State’s signal-caller threw for three scores and ran for another against Winston-Salem State. A lopsided win over a DII school isn’t necessarily a needle mover but the Eagles handled their business with little issue, which is more than can be said for a lot of teams out there. A better test against North Carolina A&T will tell us a lot more.
#19 Delaware (1-0) - Last Week #22
Stony Brook never really stood much of a chance as Delaware blew by with a 37-13 win in their season debut. Tasked with replacing standout QB Nolan Henderson, Ryan O’Connor did an admirable job in his debut, completing 24 passes for 346 yards and a score. Marcus Yarns ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns and the Blue Hens cruised to their first CAA triumph of the year. Now for a big one in Happy Valley and a battle with Penn State.
#20 Mercer (1-1) - Last Week #20
It hasn’t been the smoothest of starts for playoff-hopeful Mercer, regardless of their 1-1 record. The Bears, after narrowly beating North Alabama, got decimated by Ole Miss on Saturday. Carter Peevy delivered the only Bears touchdown in their 73-7 blowout loss and, while you can’t put a ton of stock into a defeat to an SEC power, there’s certainly areas to improve here in the early goings if you’re Drew Cronic. Mercer will try to right the ship next Saturday against Morehead State.
#21 Northern Iowa (0-1) - Last Week #23
UNI will move up a couple spots despite their loss. Try as they might, the Panthers just couldn’t do enough to stay with Iowa State. Theo Day threw two interceptions and the team only converted three third downs all afternoon. The offense did okay at keeping the ball out of the hands of the Cyclones but in the end depth and talent won out as Northern Iowa fell 30-9. Another good opponent is around the bend with Weber State coming to town.
#22 Rhode Island (0-1) - Last Week #21
Rhody almost had enough in the tank to pull off the first FBS upset of the season against Georgia State last Thursday but alas it didn’t happen. Kasim Hill put forth a gallant effort with 408 yards and four touchdowns through the air but his two interceptions is what did him in. URI was penalized nine times for 70 yards but also outgained the Panthers 520 yards to 424. There were positives to be had in the 42-35 defeat but now it’s time to shake it off and get down to business. Stony Brook comes to town on Friday.
Q3 - 14:12 | URI 21, GSU 21— Rhody Football (@RhodyFootball) September 1, 2023
THAT'S how you start a half. Darius Savedge hauls in a pass from Kasim Hill and breaks free for a 63-yard touchdown to tie up the score. #3MoreFeet pic.twitter.com/uP3g0P1K4r
#23 Florida A&M (1-0) - Last Week: NR
Willie Simmons’ group finally got a big monkey of its back on Sunday afternoon when they took down Jackson State in the “Orange Blossom Classic”. It was a convincing 28-10 victory over a team that has dominated them as of late and it appears the SWAC narrative we’ve become accustomed to is switching up. Jeremy Moussa tossed two touchdowns and the special teams made some big plays. The Rattlers climb into the rankings for the first time this season as they get ready for a bout with FBS South Florida next weekend.
#24 Southern Illinois (1-0) - Last Week: NR
The Salukis made a statement to open the season by trouncing Austin Peay at home. Signal-caller Nic Baker had himself a night with 219 passing yards along with three touchdowns while the SIU defense held the Govs to just 39 yards on the ground and authored three turnovers. Controlling possession for over 37 minutes was good. 12 penalties was not. There’s plenty to work on still but the Salukis are off to a great start. Next is a battle with Northern Illinois next weekend.
#25 Youngstown State (1-0) - Last Week: NR
The Penguins made it look easy against Valparaiso on Saturday. Tyshon King ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns while Mitch Davidson completed 11-of-19 pass attempts for 130 yards and another score. YSU’s defense stymied the Beacons on the ground, holding them to just 40 yards rushing and causing three fumbles. When all was said and done, Youngstown State put up 472 yards and 52 points in a rout. It was good enough to propel into the Top 25 going into Week 2. Now they’ll prep for their toughest game of the year as they head to Ohio State.
Richmond (0-1) - Last Week #18
It might be a long year for the Spiders who are clearly missing Reece Udinski. Against Morgan State, Richmond couldn’t get much of anything going on offense and they only put up ten points all night. They lost three fumbles and quarterback Kyle Wickersham tossed a pick. The only touchdown came early in the first and after that it was nothing doing. Richmond needs to turn things around quickly if it wants to have a shot at playoff consideration and next week won’t do them any favors as Michigan State waits.
Eastern Kentucky (0-1) - Last Week #24
Last year EKU found a rhythm against its FBS opponent. This year? Not so much. The Colonels were overwhelmed by Cincinnati in their 66-13 loss. Parker McKinney threw for 177 yards and touchdown but also was picked off twice. The defense allowed over 600 yards and 16.2 yards per pass. It was a “throw away the tape” kind of day and that’s exactly what Eastern Kentucky should do. They’ll attempt to turn it around this weekend but it won’t be easy with Kentucky.
Gardner-Webb (0-1) - Last Week #25
Gardner-Webb gave App State all it could handle for three quarters but the Mountaineers eventually pulled away in the fourth. It doesn’t take away from the Runnin’ Bulldogs were able to do, however. The defense was tight on third down, allowing App State to convert just four of their 13 tries. Narii Gaither led the team with 54 rush yards and quarterback Matthew Caldwell completed 30-of-46 pass attempts for 231 yards. It was a noble effort against a good G5 opponent. Now up is a home game against Elon.