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LFN's FCS Top 25, 10/17/2017

I don't officially vote in any of the FCS Top 25 polls, but I do share who I think deserves to be in the Top 25And my No. 1 and No. 2, James Madison and North Dakota State, amply proved their worth again in tough conference matchups where they ended up victorious.

It wasn't as easy as the 30-8 final score might indicate, but James Madison finally solved the Villanova defense in the fourth quarter just when the Wildcats were threatening to tie the game.  The Dukes' remarkable winning streak just keeps rolling along - since losing to Colgate in the FCS playoffs in 2015, defending FCS National Champions James Madison has gone 20-1, their only loss coming to a North Carolina team last year that played in a bowl game.

North Dakota State's 27-24 win, however, against the runner-up in last years' FCS Championship game, Youngstown State, was a prizefight won in overtime when PK Cam Pedersen booted a 36 yard field goal to beat Bo Pelini's Penguins' on the road at the Ice Castle, Stambaugh Stadium.  Since November of 2015, Youngstown State has lost exactly two home games - both of them, now, to North Dakota State.


If you are looking for a nice, concise recap of the top games last week with Twitter video highlights - all in one, convenient post - you can look at CSJ's FCS Week 7 Recap and get the information.  You can catch highlights of the two games above, a nice way to see what's happening around the FCS.

Here's who I ended up with in my Top 25:

1. James Madison
2. North Dakota State
3. Jacksonville State
4. South Dakota
5. Central Arkansas
6. Eastern Washington
7. Wofford
8. Western Illinois
9. Sam Houston State
10. Elon
11. Richmond
12. Northern Arizona
13. North Carolina A&T
14. Youngstown State
15. Villanova
16. Delaware
17. McNeese
18. Monmouth
19. Dartmouth
20. Stony Brook
21. Western Carolina
22. Columbia
22. Nicholls
24. Samford
25. Montana

Biggest Omission:  Peeking up at my Top 25 just outside is Kennesaw State, a surprising team that was only left out of my list because of their head-to-head loss to Samford.  The Owls are 5-1 and just walloped Liberty this weekend, 42-28, who is playing with a greater number of scholarship players than the FCS limit.  If they get one more victory they are a mortal lock for my Top 25 and they, along with Monmouth, are in line to be in contention for the Big South title and autobid.

Biggest Up-And-Comer: Nicholls.  They haven't always been pretty doing it, and there's a gaping blowout loss to Sam Houston in the middle of their schedule, but the Colonels keep winning and with a 5-2 record, they are guaranteed to be in the mix for the Southland title conversation or a potential FCS playoff at-large bid if they don't surpass Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State.

Biggest Win:  Northern Arizona doesn't perhaps at first glance to be the biggest win of the week, but look closer at their resounding 42-20 win on the road vs. Portland State and look at their Big Sky conference record (3-0) and their upcoming schedule (UC Davis, Sacramento State, Montana State at home).  Though two challenging games remain on the road at Montana and Southern Utah, if they win their next two home games they'll be 5-0 in conference play and in the Big Sky title conversation.  Their avoidance of a pothole in Portland is huge.

Biggest Loss:  In the Missouri Valley, three conference losses, incredibly, aren't a death sentence to postseason hopes, but at 1-2 in conference and with some brutal games still ahead, South Dakota State's resounding home loss to UNI is definitely a potentially mortal wound.  It's not hard to see that they will need to be 5-0 or at a bare minimum 4-1 against North Dakota State, South Dakota, Illinois State, Western Illinois and Missouri State to close the season, and they are really behind the 8-ball now.

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