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My FCS Top 25, 10/15/2012

My vote for the FCS Top 25 for the week ending 10/13/2012 follows below the flip.

And I'll answer the expected question: No, I did not vote for Lehigh as the No. 1 team in the nation, as three voters in the Sports Network poll did this week.



1: James Madison Dukes
2: Eastern Washington Eagles
3: Georgia Southern Eagles
4: Cal Poly Mustangs
5: Stony Brook Seawolves
6: Montana State Bobcats
7: Wofford Terriers
8: North Dakota State Bison
9: Lehigh Mountain Hawks
10: Appalachian State Mountaineers
11: Harvard Crimson
12: Sam Houston State Bearkats
13: South Dakota State Jackrabbits
14: Old Dominion Monarchs
15: New Hampshire Wildcats
16: Towson Tigers
17: Tennessee State Tigers
18: Central Arkansas Bears
19: Illinois State Redbirds
20: Albany Great Danes
21: Northern Arizona Lumberjacks
22: Indiana State Sycamores
23: Youngstown State Penguins
24: Villanova Wildcats
25: Sacramento State Hornets
  • Most significant win: So, so many to choose from, in an absolutely crazy week where North Dakota State, Wofford, Old Dominion and Montana State all lost.  You could say Georgia Southern over the Terriers, but the Eagles were already in my Top Ten last week.  Same with Eastern Washington over the Bobcats, who were *this close* to being my No. 1 team this week.
  • No, my "Most Significant Win" has to be Villanova, over a heavily-favored Old Dominion squad that some people thought should be the No. 1 team in the country.  With their shock 28-17 loss to Richmond last weekend, was there a team in America that needed that win more over a nationally-ranked team than the Wildcats?  Had they lost, they would have been 4-3 and had to face going 3-1 against Georgia State, Towson, James Madison and Delaware in order to have a shot at the playoffs.  Now, they're 5-2, the Wildcats have their "signature win", only have to go 2-2 to harbor dreams of the postseason, and got back into my poll at No. 24.  Had they lost, who knows when, or if, they would have made it back in my Top 25?
  • How did the Wildcats do it?  Through the amazing play of their freshman phenom, QB John Robertson, Villanova scored - get this - 38 unanswered points in their 38-14 win over the Monarchs, while stopping the same Old Dominion offense, led by record-setting QB Taylor Heinecke, by holding onto the football and keeping him off the field for nearly 40 minutes of the game.  Robertson had a game for the ages, with 189 yards rushing and 3 TDs to go with 151 yards passing and one more score.
  • Suddenly, the Wildcats last four games are looking like a resume-stuffer for a playoff run rather than the end of the line.  After their trip to 1-6 Georgia State - to call that game "winnable" doesn't do it justice - they host Towson and James Madison, and then play nearby at Delaware for their annual "Blue Route Rivalry".  Would it be impossible to see them sweep all four?  Not anymore.
  • Most Significant Loss: Again, you could make the case for North Dakota State losing to Indiana State, but the Bison are still squarely ensconced in the Top 10.  Same with Montana State, with Eastern Washington.  But to me, the biggest loss came for McNeese State on an incredible, come-from-behind victory by Central Arkansas, 27-26.  Up by 9 with 1:10 to play, the Bears somehow converted a touchdown, from QB Wynrick Smothers to WR Dezmin Lewis, to cut the deficit to 2.  Then Lewis - no, I'm not making this up - recovers the onsides kick from PK Eddie Camara to set up an NFL-length field goal attempt of 47 yards - which Camara would convert.
  • Could the 5-2 Cowboys find themselves on the sidelines in the FCS playoffs, even with a pair of one-point losses and a win over FBS Middle Tennessee State?  They might.  With a win over non-counter McMurry, they'll need to go 3-1 against the gauntlet of Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, and another FBS team in name, Texas-San Antonio.  They'll need to go 8-3 to have a chance.  It won't be easy.
  • Forgotten Team: Sacramento State.  I struggled to pick my team at No. 25 this week, and I settled on the Hornets, who are - get this - the only FCS team to knock off FBS teams in consecutive years.  (They're both from the Pac-12, too, Oregon State and Colorado.)  The loss to North Dakota at home stings, and they have a boatload of games ahead against ranked teams - think the gauntlet of Eastern Washington, Cal Poly, and Montana State isn't challenging? - but they're an intriguing team to watch the rest of the way, especially since it looks like they would even have a shot at the playoffs at 2-2.  At 3-1, too, they're a mortal lock for the playoffs.
  • Finally, it's worth mentioning that Lehigh has been creeping up the national polls as well, but they are all over the map: No. 7 in the coaches poll, No. 9 in the Sports Network poll (with three first place votes), and No. 11 in the College Sports Journal poll.  What does that mean for the Mountain Hawks?  Well, it means that with some more movement among the teams ahead of them, if - and this is, of course, a huge if - Lehigh can go undefeated, they would be in excellent line for a seed in the playoffs, which would enable the Mountain Hawks to host at least one playoff game at home.  
  • If they lose, however, to any of the non-ranked teams left on the schedule, they'd likely have a steep fall - and losing twice might even jeopardize their chances to make the field at all. 

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