But first, check out this great picture from Samford WR Chris Cephus after scoring a touchdown in the Bulldogs' 34-27 win over the Wofford Terriers this weekend. (Photo Credit: Marvin Gentry/MGPhoto.com)
In the SoCon, this game was huge, but what was especially amazing was that the Bulldogs overcame four turnovers, including one interception that was returned by Wofford LB Alvin Scioneaux for a touchdown.
But with a smothering defensive effort from Bulldog LB Jaquirski Tartt (17 tackles) and a big day returning the football by RB Fabian Truss, the Bulldogs moved to 4-0 in SoCon play and put themselves in the drivers' seat in regards to qualifying for the FCS playoffs.
1: North Dakota State Bison
2: Fordham Rams
3: Eastern Illinois Panthers
4: Maine Black Bears
5: McNeese State Cowboys
6: Towson Tigers
7: Sam Houston State Bearkats
8: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
9: Eastern Washington Eagles
10: Princeton Tigers
11: Youngstown State Penguins
12: Montana State Bobcats
13: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats
14: Samford Bulldogs
15: New Hampshire Wildcats
16: Southeastern Louisiana Lions
17: William & Mary Tribe
18: Harvard Crimson
19: Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens
20: Southern Illinois Salukis
21: Montana Grizzlies
22: Villanova Wildcats
23: Chattanooga Mocs
24: Lehigh Mountain Hawks
25: Charleston Southern Buccaneers
- My rankings from 1-9 shouldn't be that surprising: they were all the same from last week, in the exact same order. It was a good week for the Top 9, who, in my opinion, have truly established themselves as the top elite teams of the subdivision.
- Some folks might look at my ballot and think Princeton (Most Significant Win) is ranked too high as the No. 10 team in the country. But I don't think any of those people watched Princeton's amazing 51-48 triple-overtime win against Harvard last weekend, where QB Quinn Epperly threw for 321 yards and 6 TDs, including the game-winner in the third overtime.
- Which leads to the Great Question in terms of ranking a Top 25. Namely: what is the reason for having a Top 25?
- Some people approach their Top 25 ballots as a way to seed teams for the playoffs. But to me this is extremely unfair to the best teams of the Ivy League or SWAC, who, in the NCAA's eyes, compete as FCS programs. QB Quinn Epperly's quarterback statistics are rated against senior QB Brandon Bialkowsiki's, not QB Johnny Manziel's.
- But a voter is perfectly within their rights to vote the way they feel. They can feel that the Ivy League isn't a good league, and exclude them from their ballot, much like how I could turn around and not rank the teams of the SoCon if I feel those teams are in a down year.
- Personally, I do try to pick whom I think are the best teams in all of FCS. Yet my ballot isn't perfect, either.
- Jackson State, for example, is probably a fine football team, and may deserve some consideration on my ballot, but with all their victories coming against a fairly weak SWAC schedule (and tough losses to Tennessee State and Tulane) it's hard to know where to put them. Above 8-1 Charleston Southern? Above 6-2 Lehigh (Most Significant Loss)? Above 6-2 Delaware?
- Similarly, many people are forgetting that the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League has an autobid to the FCS playoffs this season - and that their conference race is actually very tight, with Butler, Dayton, Marist, Mercer and San Diego with one conference loss and realistic chances to win the autobid.
- Might Dayton give a team problems in the playoffs? Looking over the Flyers' schedule, you see a 28-10 loss to Youngstown State, a FCS Top 20 team for sure, and a 30-21 loss to Marist, one of the top teams of the PFL. They've also beat Duquesne and Robert Morris, two teams in the thick of the NEC title chase.
- Last week, they crushed Morehead State 42-14, in large part thanks to redshirt sophomore Connor Kascor's 159 yards rushing. Are they Top 25 material? Not sure, but I do think going 6-2 with their schedule, which doesn't have a single team D-II or lower, definitely deserves a look, and I know they're on my radar screen.
- Ironically, if people are just ranking Top 25 teams thanks to their playoff worthiness, they should be ranking Dayton over a lot of teams in the Top 25. If Villanova loses one more game, they'll have 5 losses, and will most likely be out of the playoff hunt. If Dayton beats Butler this weekend, they'll have an excellent chance to qualify for the PFL autobid.
- Finally, one interesting aspect of this weekend's games is how little they affect Lehigh's overall chances of making this year's playoffs.
- The Mountain Hawks are in control of their own destiny: beat Holy Cross, Colgate, and Lafayette to close out the season, and they will win the Patriot League's AQ for the playoffs. Lose any one of those games, and they will have to show a resume with wins over Princeton and New Hampshire, and losses to Fordham, Bucknell, and at least one other Patriot League team.
- For Lehigh, the calculations are not for at-larges: it's win, and you're in. Simple. No need to depend on the Top 25 for positioning.