Monday, October 24, 2011

My FCS Top 25, 10/24/2011

Below the flip, see my Top 25 for this week.

1: Georgia Southern Eagles
2: Northern Iowa Panthers
3: North Dakota State Bison
4: Lehigh Mountain Hawks
5: Maine Black Bears
6: Montana State Bobcats
7: Sam Houston State Bearkats
8: Appalachian State Mountaineers
9: Montana Grizzlies
10: Wofford Terriers
11: New Hampshire Wildcats
12: James Madison Dukes
13: Harvard Crimson
14: Towson Tigers
15: Liberty Flames
16: Brown Bears
17: Albany Great Danes
18: Old Dominion Monarchs
19: Jacksonville State Gamecocks
20: Alabama State Hornets
21: Holy Cross Crusaders
22: Central Arkansas Bears
23: Pennsylvania Quakers
24: Norfolk State Spartans
25: Jacksonville Dolphins

Three quick hits about my Top 25:

* I caved this week.  After badmouthing Old Dominion week after week, I finally put them in my Top 25 at No. 18.

Was it because the Monarchs dominated Villanova this weekend 37-14?  Not exactly.

Was it because they have tons of quality wins?  No, their best win remains a victory at home vs. unranked UMass, 48-33, in front of a sellout crowd.

No, it was largely due to the fact that there remains so few teams that deserve Top 25 ranking in the lower reaches of the Top 25, and I finally couldn't ignore a 6-2 CAA team no matter how lackluster the wins.

There are eight 6-2 teams in FCS right now, but only two from "major" FCS conferences.  It was high time they made it in.

Whether they stay, of course, is up to them.

* One of the nice things about the bye week is that I get the opportunity to see a lot of teams I don't get to see every week.  I caught Holy Cross/Bucknell, Colgate/Georgetown, and some other games this weekend.

One team that really impressed me, though, was Montana.

Northern Arizona always seems to play the Griz tough, especially in the Walkup Skydome.

But after the Lumberjacks took a late 17-14 lead on Montana late in the game, the Griz struck quick and decisively with a kickoff return to midfield, followed by a 46 yard touchdown run by RB Jordan Canada that was stunning in the sense how the Lumberjack defense was so fooled.

Two plays - and it was game over.

Not many teams can do that - and it impressed me, as I bumped the Griz up in my poll as a result.

Watch out for Montana.  This team just seems to have "that look" as one that can rip through Big Sky play and make a run in the playoffs.

* The mess in the middle of the "power conferences" makes for a rough go at picking 18-25 once again.

For example, is 5-3 Illinois State or 5-3 Indiana State out of the Missouri Valley really worthy of Top 25 status?

The Redbirds' claim to fame is that they've beaten.. er.. Indiana State - while losing to 1-7 Eastern Illinois.

As for the Sycamores, they did wallop FBS Western Kentucky, which is one of the worst FBS teams in the country - but who else did they beat?  Butler?  South Dakota State?

In other conferences, there's 4-4 Eastern Washington - who have only lost to all the difficult teams they've played, while at the same time not being all that impressive in the games they should have won.

In the CAA, there's 4-3 UMass, who's big claim to fame is a win over 4-4 Delaware, and the Blue Hens and William & Mary, with only three wins against Division I competition.

In the SoCon, there's 4-4 Chattanooga, who did beat No. 19 Jacksonville State but also lost to 3-4 The Citadel, while 4-3 Furman (beat No. 10 Wofford, lost to 4-3 Coastal Carolina) and 4-3 Samford (with 3 D-I wins).

Do any of these resumes really invoke fear in the hearts of men?  Not mine, certainly.

This is why I keep looking at mid-majors to complete my Top 25.
- 5-2 Albany did lose to a full-strength Colgate team early in the year, but their 63-35 dismantling of rival Central Connecticut State was impressive.
- 5-1 Brown lost in Week 2 to No.13 Harvard, but have beaten everyone else they've faced, including 4-3 Stony Brook and No. 21 Holy Cross.
- 5-3 Central Arkansas  may only have 4 D-I wins, but their win over McNeese State and their aggressive scheduling - two of their three losses were to FBS teams - means they deserve the Top 25.

This weekend, 6-2 Georgetown will face off against 4-3 Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass this weekend.  The winner of this game deserves to be in the Top 25 over any "power conference" team with 4 D-I wins.

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