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My Vote for the FCS Top 25, 9/30/2013

My vote for the FCS Top 25 for the week ending 9/23/2013 follows below the flip.

But first, by all means, enjoy this great shot of a big Top 25 game last week, McNeese State at Northern Iowa.  (Photo Credit: Matthew Putney/The Waterloo Courier)

The picture tells the story of the game pretty well, as the Panthers in the UNI Dome took apart McNeese, 41-6.  In my poll last week, both were Top 10 teams.  Not this week, though I didn't drop the Cowboys too far.



1: North Dakota State Bison
2: Sam Houston State Bearkats
3: Towson Tigers
4: Northern Iowa Panthers
5: Eastern Illinois Panthers
6: Eastern Washington Eagles
7: Fordham Rams
8: Villanova Wildcats
9: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
10: South Dakota State Jackrabbits
11: Montana State Bobcats
12: Cal Poly Mustangs
13: McNeese State Cowboys
14: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats
15: Lehigh Mountain Hawks
16: Maine Black Bears
17: New Hampshire Wildcats
18: Southern Utah Thunderbirds
19: North Carolina A&T Aggies
20: Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs
21: William & Mary Tribe
22: Jacksonville State Gamecocks
23: Harvard Crimson
24: Wofford Terriers
25: (tie) Northern Arizona Lumberjacks/Delaware Blue Hens
  • Most significant win:  It was awfully satisfying to be able to put Lehigh in my ballot for most significant win.  In a supreme twist of irony, after being taken to task for putting Lehigh in the Top 20 since pretty much the beginning of the season, by choosing the Mountain Hawks at No. 15 I actually placed them below their actual spots in the Sports Network poll (No. 13) and the FCS coaches' poll (No. 10).  
  • In the Coaches' poll, Lehigh actually sits above Fordham (No. 13 Coaches/No. 12 TSN), setting up a dream situation for the league office next weekend: a battle of undefeated Patriot League teams on national television on the CBS Sports Network, with the winner quite likely to sneak into the Top 10 of both polls.
  • It almost didn't happen, as the Rams trailed a determined St. Francis team 20-17 headed into the 4th quarter before rattling off 21 unanswered points in a 38-20 victory.  Though the Red Flash did put a scare in the Rams, their scoring came essentially on three big plays on offense, all rushes by RB Kyle Harbridge that went over 60 yards.  Eventually the incredibly effective Fordham offensive machine got going, and gave Fordham their double-digit win.
  • The Rams and Mountain Hawks are only two of twelve undefeated teams in FCS.  The other ten are North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, Towson, Coastal Carolina, North Carolina A&T, Charleston Southern, Sacred Heart (who shut out Bucknell last weekend 19-0), Mercer, Harvard, and Yale.  Six of those nine made my Top 25.
  • Interestingly, Lehigh/Fordham isn't the only battle of undefeated FCS teams, as North Dakota State faces off against Northern Iowa in what promises to be another classic game.  Very happily for FCS fans, the game will be also televised nationally on Fox College Sports Pacific - meaning if you're at home you can catch seven straight hours of undefeated FCS Top 25 teams.
  • It's worth bringing up here two dominating performances this past weekend by the Panthers and Bison respectively.
  • Here's what you need to know about UNI's 41-6 pasting of McNeese State - going into the UNI Dome, McNeese State was averaging 49.5 points a game.  They gave up 6.
  • And here's what you need to know about North Dakota State's 20-0 win on the road against South Dakota State - in two straight games, the Bison haven't given up a single point.
  • An interesting thing to consider, too: Lehigh/Fordham promises to be a battle between two of the more potent offenses in FCS, while North Dakota State/Northern Iowa features two of the toughest defenses.  They really do make for an intriguing two football games for diametrically opposed reasons.
  • Most Significant Loss: James Madison wasn't in my Top 25, but I thought their 29-22 loss to Delaware was very significant to their playoff resume.  Going into the weekend they pretty much did as expected - and only just barely squeaked by St. Francis 24-20 at home - so this game, the first real show-me game for the Dukes, was one that more than justified keeping them out.  Especially in the way they lost: jumping to a 19-7 lead, then having Delaware scoring three second-half touchdowns to get the win.  
  • Though the Dukes will likely get back on track against Albany next week, their CAA schedule after that, with five teams who has spent time in the Top 25, looks pretty daunting.
  • Forgotten Team: Harvard.  After watching Penn struggle to hold on to beat Lafayette last week, my Ivy eyes turned to Harvard, who demolished San Diego 42-20 and followed it up with a similarly impressive performance against Brown, 41-23.  A 28 point second quarter, with a masterful performance by Harvard QB Connor Hempel, helped establish Harvard, as ever, as a team to beat in the Ivy League.  People are overlooking the Crimson because of the league they play in - that's a mistake.  Harvard is a very good team.

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