Monday, September 09, 2013

My Vote for the FCS Top 25, 9/9/2013

My vote for the FCS Top 25 for the week ending 9/9/2013 follows below the flip.


1: North Dakota State Bison
2: Eastern Washington Eagles
3: Montana State Bobcats
4: Sam Houston State Bearkats
5: Towson Tigers
6: Northern Iowa Panthers
7: Eastern Illinois Panthers
8: McNeese State Cowboys
9: Cal Poly Mustangs
10: Richmond Spiders
11: Central Arkansas Bears
12: Villanova Wildcats
13: South Dakota State Jackrabbits
14: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
15: New Hampshire WIldcats
16: Wofford Terriers
17: James Madison Dukes
18: Samford Bulldogs
19: Lehigh Mountain Hawks
20: Fordham Rams
21: Liberty Flames
22: Southern Utah Thunderbirds
23: Maine Black Bears
24: Illinois State Redbirds
25: Pennsylvania Quakers

  • Most significant win: There's little doubt Fordham, with their frankly shocking 27-24 win over nationally-ranked Villanova, takes this honor easily.  After going ahead after QB Michael Nebrich's 4 yard touchdown run, the Rams forced an amazing three fumbles on Villanova's next three offensive possessions, with Patriot League defensive player of the week LB Victor DiFusco a major part of two of those fumbles.
  • Fordham earned a spot in my Top 20, though it's far from clear how good an injury-plagued Villanova team might be going forward.  WR Jamar Abdul-Rahman, so effective last season, has got fumbilitis.  Three key members of the defense are out for an extended period.  After a week off, their CAA season starts out with Stony Brook, who is just outside my Top 25.
  • What is it about coaches with dopey pregame YouTube videos and FCS over FBS upsets?  Last week, the upset that gave me the most smile mileage was McNeese State over South Florida 53-28, had fans taking head coach Willie Taggart's "Get on the Bus" preseason crowd-pumper and had fans by halftime using that analogy in new and creative ways.  (Note the presence of noted Lafayette alumnus Joe Maddon, whom now can be called a notorious bus-jumper.)
  • This week it was Western Michigan's turn, losing to Nicholls of the Southland 27-23. Their new head coach P.J. Fleck, apparently, came up with this gem of a YouTube video imploring the Bronco student section to row, even though the closest body of water to Kalamazoo, Michigan is a half hour away.  
  • His YouTube video, I feel, needs to be archived for future generations as a primer of what not to do.  Memo to Western Michigan: maybe a hundred years ago the head coach of a football team might have been able to compose the cheers, but trying it in 2013?  Let's just be kind and say, bad idea.
  • How remarkable was Nicholls; win ?  Head coach Charlie Stubbs and his Colonels hadn't beaten a Division I opponent since... 2010.  No, really.  And in the span of three years, the Colonels beat exactly two learning institutions: Western Michigan and Evangel College, and NAIA school.
  • Where was Nicholls picked to finish in the Southland conference?  Dead last.
  • Oh yeah, and Nicholls managed the upset after they were down to their fourth-string quarterback, QB Tuskani Figaro.  I'm telling you, when it comes to early stories of fascinating interest, it's awfully hard to beat the Southland right now.
  • Most Significant Loss: It was difficult not to pick Villanova here, but after Wagner lost to D-II Merrimack 42-41 in the most surprising shootout of Week 2 - on a Friday no less - the Seahawks are proving themselves to be, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the biggest thorn in the side of the Patriot League in the past year.  First, they defeat Colgate in the first round of the FCS playoffs last year, 31-20, crushing any Patriot League hopes and dreams for a national title run.  Then, they squeak by Georgetown, a potential Patriot League title contender, 28-21.  They then follow it up by losing to Merrimack, thus helping wreck the Patriot League's "schedule strength".  Thanks a lot, Seahawks.
  • Forgotten Team: Maine. The Black Bears' win over UMass, 24-14, certainly wasn't one of the marquee FBS upsets of the season - if you could even call it an upset, really - but it's in the postgame presser that head coach Jack Cosgrove gave a tiny hint about how good is "Black Hole" defense might be.  "We've got some guys who are going to drive me crazy but they play the game the right way," he said of LB Cabrinni Goncalves,  and DB Sherrod Baltimore, among others. "We'll calm them down as much as we need to because you can't win this thing with choirboys.".  If your team ain't playing them, how could you not root for these guys - the defense with the newly-minted nickname?

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