It was a crazy week no matter how you look at it, with four Top Ten teams falling from the ranks.
But none was more shocking than 3-5 Mercer upsetting 6-2 Chattanooga, 17-14.
The Bears, who only resumed football three years ago, have only offered football scholarships over the last two years, which makes the upset just that much more stunning of a team that was considered the prohibitive favorite from the SoCon this season.
Mercer's three wins came against non-scholarship Stetson, under-scholarshipped Austin Peay, and winless East Tennessee State, themselves in their first season resuming football.
The Bears' first win against a fully-funded school symbolized the craziness of last weekend's scores.
"What a great win for us," head coach Bobby Lamb said after the game. "I can't say enough about our defense forcing four turnovers. Anytime you defend Chattanooga with QB Jacob Huesman at quarterback it's like defending against 12 because he is their running back."
Huesman got his hards, but only scored two rushing touchdowns, offset by two interceptions.
"Time and time again we kept coming and kept coming. We didn't play perfect on offense," Lamb also said. "We didn't play perfect on defense but we made plays down the stretch when we had to and I can't be more proud of this team because so many times we have sat right here and it's been a seven-point loss, a three-point loss, a two-point loss on the last play of the game and these kids are resilient. They stepped up and believed. The coaches have done a great job of making them believe all year long."
Even more interestingly, it sets up a winner-takes-the-Socon-championship game this week between the Mocs and The Citadel.
If Chattanooga loses, and assuming they lose the following week to an angry Florida State team of the FBS, suddenly last week's prohibitive favorites to take the Socon could be entering the playoff committee at 7-4, with only six Division I wins, on a three-game losing streak, with a capper loss to Mercer to explain.
That's not exactly a position of strength in negotiating.
1: Jacksonville State Gamecocks
2: Harvard Crimson
3: North Dakota State Bison
4: McNeese State Cowboys
5: Illinois State Redbirds
6: William & Mary Tribe
7: Richmond Spiders
8: Dartmouth Big Green
9: South Dakota State Jackrabbits
10: James Madison Dukes
11: Charleston Southern Buccaneers
12: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
13: The Citadel Bulldogs
14: Chattanooga Mocs
15: Southern Utah Thunderbirds
16: Eastern Washington Eagles
17: Northern Iowa Panthers
18: Fordham Rams
19: Portland State Vikings
20: Pennsylvania Quakers
21: Sam Houston State Bearkats
22: North Carolina A&T Aggies
23: Central Arkansas Bears
24: Colgate Raiders
25: Dayton Flyers
- The Weakened Big Sky. What holds more weight - two fantastic FBS wins, or two shady FCS losses? To me, recent performance holds important sway, which is why Portland State suffered in my poll so badly during their loss to 5-4 Northern Colorado, 35-32. I found myself placing them behind Southern Utah and Eastern Washington (who got crushed by Northern Arizona 52-30 this weekend), having them drop a massive amount of spots. More importantly, though, I found myself looking at the whole body of work of the Big Sky and seeing either massive inconsistency (Portland State, Northern Arizona) or surprisingly soft wins (Southern Utah, Eastern Washington). With the exception of the Lumberjacks, I've rated Portland State, Southern Utah and Eastern Washington all season, but this was the first time I really though all of them belong below the 15 best teams in the country. The Big Sky has no dominant team, and there's a high probability that the winner will be 8-3.
- What Do You Do With McNeese? Being undefeated at this point and time in the season is quite a feat for McNeese State, even though their season-opening bid to be Fournier fodder to LSU was cancelled. All they do is win, sure, but if you believe the Massey Ratings they don't have a Top 30 win, which includes their 27-10 win over Sam Houston State last weekend. You have to respect their streak, but are they really a Top 4 team? We'll probably find that answer out in the playoffs, but they are clearly a step behind Jacksonville State, Harvard, and North Dakota State at the very least. The Cowboys are at No. 4, and are unlikely to drop in my poll assuming they can get past 4-5 Lamar in two weeks. Will the playoff committee agree?
- Central Arkansas the final team? I truly struggled finding a final team to throw in my Top 25. 9-0 Dayton, though playing a non-scholarship conference schedule I thought deserve my last spot, and current Patriot League qualifiers Colgate do, too. That leaves No. 23 for... who? A fourth Big Sky team? UT-Martin? Towson? New Hampshire? Western Carolina? A fourth (shudder) Ivy team? All of these choices had flawed resumes for a wide variety of reasons, and so did Central Arkansas, but the Bears are on a three-game winning streak and seem to pointing in the right direction to getting to the magic 8-3 number for the playoffs. It's tempting to possibly look at their season-ending game with Sam Houston State as a possible play-in game to the playoffs. It wasn't a hugely confident pick for y Top 25, but I felt they were the most worthy of an exceedingly flawed bunch.