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My FCS Top 25, 9/24/2012

My vote for the FCS Top 25 for the week ending 9/22/2012 follows below the flip.

1: North Dakota State Bison
2: Montana State Bobcats
3: James Madison Dukes
4: Youngstown State Penguins
5: Eastern Washington Eagles
6: The Citadel Bulldogs
7: Stony Brook Seawolves
8: Wofford Terriers
9: Lehigh Mountain Hawks
10: Northern Iowa Panthers
11: Old Dominion Monarchs
12: Illinois State Redbirds
13: Central Arkansas Bears
14: Georgia Southern Eagles
15: Towson Tigers
16: Appalachian State Mountaineers
17: Sam Houston State Bearkats
18: Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens
19: Albany Great Danes
20: Cal Poly Mustangs
21: New Hampshire Wildcats
22: Harvard Crimson
23: Monmouth Hawks
24: Tennessee State Tigers
25: Lafayette Leopards
  • Most significant win: I don't mind eating some crow.  All season I hadn't been ranking Old Dominion because I wasn't sold on their schedule.  Finally, last weekend, I relented, putting them in at No. 25 - mostly due to a lack of other options.  Down by 21 to New Hampshire, I thought that my pick of the Monarchs was justified - until QB Taylor Heinicke and the Monarch offense came all the way back and registered an improbable 64-61 comeback victory.  Aside from the fact that there were many, many Monarch basketball games last year that didn't hit that point total, and aside from the fact that new Hampshire's defense is, um, suspect, I finally gave the Monarchs some respect in the poll this week.  They're not in the Top 10 yet, but with another win they likely will be.
  • Last week, I was crooning about The Citadel's offensive performance.  This week, though, it's all QB Taylor Heinicke, all the time.   Talk about eye-popping: Heinicke completed 55-of-79 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns, while adding 65 yards rushing and another score.  The 730 yards was a NCAA Division I record for passing and was within five yards of the NCAA all-division mark of 736. He actually eclipsed the D-I record for passing yards set by Houston's David Klingler, who piled up 716 yards against Arizona State in 1990, and his 791 yards of total offense snapped the FCS record of Jackson State's Robert Kent, set in 2001 against Alabama State with 668 yards. 
  • How good was his performance?  Due to the volume of media requests, Old Dominion had to hold a Monday press conference to accommodate them all.  Doubtless Conference USA, the Monarchs home after this season, couldn't be more pleased - Heinicke is only a sophomore, and will be representing their conference for the next two years.
  • And one more thought: to say that he's got the inside track for the Walter Payton award, the Heisman Trophy of the FCS, has got to be an understatement.  His nearest competition for passing yards is 600 yards short - Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garropolo.  His nearest competition for touchdowns is 5 touchdowns short - North Dakota QB Markus Hendrickson.  He does sit below Eastern Kentucky QB T.J. Pryor in terms of passing effeciency, but you have to believe, barring an injury or a meltdown, he is going to be in the mix in every single quarterback category that matters.
  • Most Significant Loss: I wasn't the only one to make them plummet, but Sam Houston State's 24-20 loss to Central Arkansas seems to spell long-term trouble for the Bearkats.  RB Tim Flanders, who got 96 yards in the first half against the Bears, ended with just 125 yards in the end - and makes it seem like the other teams of the Southland might be starting to figure out the offense that ran to an undefeated record through the regular season and through most of the playoffs last year.
  • There's another problem for last year's playoff darlings, too.  Assuming they won't get past Texas A&M at the end of the season, and given that their only win on the season, against Division II (and future Southland member) Incarnate Word, does not count as a Division I win, in order to get into the "safe zone" for at-large consideration - which I define as 8 wins, 7 Division I wins- the Bearkats will essentially need to sweep through every other game on their schedule to qualify.  Did I mention only two of those games were at ome?
  • On the other side of that coin, while it's always a fools' errand to predict the Southland in September, you have to like Central Arkansas' outlook at this point in the season.  If they can go on the road to Nacogdoches, Texas and knock off Stephen F. Austin this weekend, they'll have a 2-0 headstart on the rest of the league and really put the pressure on the rest of the league to keep up.
  • Forgotten Team: Tennessee State.  I know you all probably thought that I would put Lafayette here, but I'd argue that nobody around Bethlehem is forgetting about the Leopards and their surprising 3-0 start.  Instead, the 4-0 Tigers of the OVC have inserted themselves into the conversation for the Top 25 by knocking out a team that is arguably the class of the MEAC this year, Bethune-Cookman, in convincing 21-14 fashion.  The Tigers have been winning ugly, with stifling pass defense, currently ranked No. 9 in the country, and special teams play - the win against the Wildcats featured a blocked field goal by DB David Fitzpatrick returned for a touchdown.  I love winning ugly, and they belong in anyone's Top 25.


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