I don't ordinarily do do two things with my poll that I actually did this week:
1. I usually don't demote a team completely out of the Top 25 if they're a Top 5 team and they lose.
2. I usually don't demote a team from the No. 1 slot if they win their game.
But that's exactly what I did, after I looked at my poll with a fresh new set of eyes after some of the more interesting outcomes from the weekend.
I'd been meaning to demote Villanova for some time, not only due to their sort-of lackluster performance over the beginning of the season, but for their seemingly lackluster play going back to last season when Sam Houston upset them in the FCS Round of 8 last season. I was looking for a dominant performance against the worst team on their schedule, Penn, and instead the Quakers upset the Wildcats 24-13.
You could argue that they were getting things done with defense. You could have said that with the loss of their Walter Payton Award-nominated quaterback, QB John Robertson, they'd suffer. But the team that lost this past Thursday, simply, wasn't a Top 25 team in my opinion. The confluence of all these factors had me dip them out of the Top 25 entirely.
1: James Madison Dukes
2: Jacksonville State Gamecocks
3: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
4: South Dakota State Jackrabbits
5: Illinois State Redbirds
6: North Dakota State Bison
7: Northern Iowa Panthers
8: Eastern Washington Eagles
9: Fordham Rams
10: Chattanooga Mocs
11: William & Mary Tribe
12: Southeastern Louisiana Lions
13: Liberty Flames
14: Portland State Vikings
15: Montana Grizzlies
16: Harvard Crimson
17: Indiana State Sycamores
18: Dartmouth Big Green
19: Sam Houston State Bearkats
20: New Hampshire Wildcats
21: Montana State Bobcats
22: Furman Paladins
23: Richmond Spiders
24: North Dakota
25: Wofford Terriers
- A New No. 1. I'd been wanting to upgrade James Madison ever since I saw them dominate Lehigh in Week 2. But their resume was incomplete, especially given the fact that even their win over the Mountain Hawks meant... what, exactly? With their impressive come-from-behind 54-51 win over SMU, however - a battle of equals, certainly - I took the plunge and put them at No. 1, above a Jacksonville State team and a Coastal Carolina team that wins, but doesn't win in dominating fashion. The team I've seen from JMU seems like it's going to be awfully hard to beat this season, especially with a team like Villanova falling back to reality.
- Missouri Valley 4-7. No question they're all really, really strong Missouri Valley Football Conference teams, North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Northern Iowa, and Illinois State. But how good? Northern Iowa probably had the toughest overall schedule, with an FBS game versus Iowa and two FCS games versus two of the best schools the Big Sky has to offer, Eastern Washington and Cal Poly (including a win on the road). But South Dakota State has that FBS win against Kansas, North Dakota State is, well, North Dakota State, and Illinois State, despite a scrape vs. Eastern Illinois, is still a top team. Soon we should see some separation, but until then, I felt comfortable lumping them all together at 4-7, seeing who will emerge. One of these guys will probably end up at No. 1 or No. 2 eventually. Hard to know which one, which is why it seems appropriate to bunch them all up.
- Wofford in at 25. There were a lack of great options at the bottom of the rankings - I hate to put in the 6th or 7th best team in a conference in my Top 25 (adding 6th placed North Dakota to my Top 25 this week was like pulling teeth). Richmond, the direct beneficiary of my dropping of Villanova out of my Top 25, is a deserved top team and finally got in there (and probably should have been there weeks ago). Wofford, even at 2-2, seem like they could be a good candidate to make a move in this year's SoCon, and seem like a pretty good pick. In past weeks I had 2-2 Samford in this spot as my sleeper team, but a resounding loss to No. 10 Chattanooga has since had them exit my poll. So why not Wofford? Sure, they're 2-2, but both losses were to FBS teams, including a near-upset of Idaho. Though their wins against Tennessee Tech and Gardner-Webb might not be too sexy, it's not hard to see them take on both Chattanooga and Furman and beat them both down the line. I thought I'd put them in my poll now, and wait and see.