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My Vote for the FCS Top 25, 10/7/2013

My vote for the FCS Top 25 for the week ending 10/7/2013 follows below the flip.

But firstcheck out this great picture from the Fargo Dome last weekend as the other battle of unbeatens, Northern Iowa against North Dakota State, unfolded.  (Photo Credit: David Samson/The Forum)

The battle of unbeatens in the Missouri Valley lived up to its billing, but also had an awful injury to Panther LB Jake Farley, who had to leave with UNI ahead 23-17 with 5 minutes remaining with a broken leg that will likely sideline the all-American candidate.

As if that wasn't bad enough for his father, head coach Mark Farley, he then had to then endure watching the Panther lead slip away in the final minutes, as the Bison completed the come-from-behind win to pull it out, 24-23.  It would be the Bison's first lead of the game, and one that would hold up.



1: North Dakota State Bison
2: Towson Tigers
3: Sam Houston State Bearkats
4: Fordham Rams
5: Eastern Illinois Panthers
6: Northern Iowa Panthers
7: Villanova Wildcats
8: Eastern Washington Eagles
9: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
10: Montana State Bobcats
11: Maine Black Bears
12: McNeese State Cowboys
13: Bethune-Cookman Wildcats
14: Harvard Crimson
15: Youngstown State Penguins
16: Lehigh Mountain Hawks
17: Wofford Terriers
18: Samford Bulldogs
19: Yale Bulldogs
20: Montana Grizzlies
21: Murray State Racers
22: William & Mary Tribe
23: Princeton Tigers
24: Southern Illinois Salukis
25: Charleston Southern Buccaneers
  • Most significant win:  I can't talk enough about Fordham's offense and how well they played on offense against Lehigh this weekend in the Bronx.  Some might take exception at me putting them at No. 4 this week, but to me they are unquestionably a Top 5 team with their offense.  When Lehigh made a pair of mistakes, their offense was able to make the Mountain Hawks pay dearly.
  • Conversely, I didn't drop Lehigh very much at all, putting them at 16, while voters in the Sports Network and Coaches' Polls appeared to agree with me, too, with the Coaches putting the Mountain Hawks at 14 and TSN at 17.  
  • It's worth pausing here and saying how positive it is for the Patriot League that Fordham and Lehigh are Top 20 teams on a national level (and it would be as well if it were Fordham and any other Patriot League team, too).  Though we've only reached the midpoint of the season, a lot of respect has been gained nationally by the whole league, mostly due to Fordham's success.
  • Fordham, who was unranked to begin the year, catapulted up the rankings with a win over an FBS team, two wins over CAA teams, and a win over nationally-ranked Lehigh last week.  Not only are the Rams undefeated, they're without a loss with one of the more challenging early schedules in the country.  (Lehigh's win over New Hampshire, who is clinging to the Top 25 after losing to Towson last weekend, also helps with the national exposure, but not nearly as much as Fordham's tear.)
  • Before the season, I was one of the biggest critics of the Patriot League having Fordham be ineligible for the league title.  This season, though, with Fordham well on their way to an at-large bid (assuming no cataclysmic collapse by the Rams), the people running the League look like geniuses for having Fordham ineligible and having the remaining six Patriot League schools compete for the autobid, making it highly likely, even in early October, of the League having two slots in the playoffs.
  • You could make a tiny case for Harvard having the most significant win after their amazing 3-OT win over Holy Cross this weekend, 41-35.  With 38 seconds to go, Crimson QB Connor Hempel connected with TE Cameron Brate to tie the game at 21 and force OT, where Harvard appeared to simply outlast the Crusaders in the additional time.
  • Hard-luck Holy Cross is 2-4, but still feels like a dangerous team in Patriot League play with super freshman QB Peter Pujals at the controls.  Aside from the loss to undefeated Harvard, they've also lost to undefeated Towson, 3-2 Bryant (who sits atop the NEC) and 3-3 Monmouth.  Unfortunately for head coach Tom Gilmore's team, though, they still have Fordham on the schedule, giving the Crusaders three teams on their schedule who have spent time in the FCS Top 25, with Harvard potentially joining the list later, too.
  • One big reason, too, for Lehigh's lack of drop and Fordham's huge rise is the fact that there were a lot of teams in the middle of the Top 25 that lost, making it hard for any teams to gain serious ground over the Mountain Hawks.  Gardner-Webb lost to FBS transitional Charlotte 53-51, which is actually a poor loss for the Bulldogs against a team that doesn't have a full complement of scholarships.  Central Arkansas got pounded by McNeese State, dropping the Bears 59-28 and giving Central Arkansas their first-ever loss on their purple-and-gray striped field.  Which leads to..
  • Most Significant Loss: Cal Poly fell out of my Top 25 after Yale beat the Mustangs 24-10 out in San Luis Obispo, CA.  Many were surprised that the Bulldogs could go out to California and win, but apparently I was one of the few believers in the Eli after following them dominate Colgate and Cornell to start the season.
  • Yale was helped by a sloppy game by the Mustangs, with 9 penalties for 91 yards, but what has the Ivy League trembling is the fact that Yale shut out Cal Poly in the second half after entering the locker room at halftime down 10-7.
  • In truth Cal Poly was on my "upset watch list" after doing completely as expected on their early schedule, beating non-scholarship San Diego, losing to two FBS teams, and squeaking by Portland State on a Thursday night.  I felt they were a bit overrated, and Yale a bit underrated, and I was proven right.  And that third loss for the Mustangs is a killer for their ranking and the meat of their Big Sky schedule coming up, which is why I had them has my "Most Significant Loss".
  • Forgotten Team: Murray State.  Though a lot of the schedule of the 4-2 Racers seems like "as expected", including 2 losses to FBS teams and a 83-14 game against Campbellsville, a sub-DI program, that was called off by "mercy rule", what sticks out is a 30-29 OT win over Jacksonville State, one of the teams that's the class of the OVC behind Eastern Illinois.  After getting to 4-2 after a 35-24 win over Tennessee Tech - not a bad team in their own right - the Racers go 2-0 in OVC play for the first time since 1998 and are more than deserving of a Top 25 spot.

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