College Sports Journal FCS Top 25 after Week 1 – September 4, 2018

Early in the season, teams move up and down in the  polls as teams show that they are what we thought they would be; better than anticipated; or way over ranked versus their actual performance. We had a lot of movement from the preseason in the FCS after week one.

There were 5 FCS teams that upset FBS teams: UC Davis (over San Jose State), Villanova (over Temple), Nicholls State (over Kansas), Northern Arizona (over UTEP) and North Carolina A&T (over East Carolina).

The biggest losses in the FCS came from New Hampshire who lost big to Maine (also losing quarterback Trevor Knight to injury), Delaware who lost to Rhode Island and defending Big Sky champion Southern Utah who lost to Northern Alabama in UNAs first game as an FCS team.

1. North Dakota State (1-0 overall, 0-0 MVFC)
Last Week: Beat Cal Poly 49-7
This Week: OFF
The defending champs kicked off their season as expected, blowing out Cal Poly. The Bison rolled to 458 yards on the ground behind Bruce Anderson who had 185 yards on 11 carries, plus two touchdowns. The Bison get this week off before welcoming North Alabama to the Fargodome.

2. James Madison (0-1 overall, 0-0 CAA)
Last Week: Lost to NC State 24-13
This week: at Norfolk State
The Dukes played well in Raleigh, but fell short of the upset, 24-13. Quarterback Ben DiNucci was named the starter and played well. He will get his first shot at an FCS for this weekend at Norfolk State. The Dukes should win this game easily.

3. South Dakota State (0-0 overall, 0-0 MVFC)
Last Week: Cancelled at Iowa State
This week vs. Montana State
The Jackrabbits got to play for about 7 minutes before weather moved into Ames, Iowa and forced the cancellation of their game against Iowa State. The game will not be replayed and could have an impact on South Dakota State come playoff time if they could have used a good result as a tie breaker with another team. This week, the Jackrabbits welcome Montana State to Brookings. This should be a good test to see where SDSU stands in 2018.

4. North Carolina A&T (2-0 overall, 0-0 MEAC)
Last Week: Beat East Carolina 28-23
This week: vs. Gardner-Webb
The Aggies are the talk of the FCS after defeating Jacksonville State in week 0 and upsetting FBS East Carolina in week 1. The Aggies have not lost with Lamar Reynard as the starting quarterback, and that streak figures to continue in week 2 against Gardner-Webb. Raynard left the game against ECU in favor of Kylil Carter, so that situation bears watching.

5. Sam Houston State (0-0, 0-0 Southland)
Last Week: Off
This week: vs. Prairie View A&M
The Bearkats have yet to kick off their 2018 season. When they do so this weekend against an improved Prairie View A&M team, they will be replacing defending Walter Payton Award winner Jeremiah Briscoe. Sam Houston needs to get the kinks worked out quickly as they will take on North Dakota and Southland foe Nicholls the following two weeks.

6. Eastern Washington (1-0, 0-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Beat DII Central Washington 58-13
This Week: at Northern Arizona
The Eagles did what they had to in demolishing a Division II opponent. QB Gage Gubrud led the way with 337 yards passing and 5 touchdowns. Wide Receiver Simba Webster had 10 catches for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Eagles will face a stiff test against Northern Arizona to start their Big Sky slate. This is a game to circle on the calendar.

7. Samford (1-0, 0-0 Southern)
Last Week: Beat DII Shorter 66-9
This Week: at FBS Florida State
Samford handled their business against a Division II team with ease. Devlin Hodges threw for 330 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Bulldogs face a much stiffer test this week, going against an angry Florida State team. If Hodges can have success against the Seminoles, he will firmly plant his name in everyone’s mind as a front runner, not just a candidate for the Walter Payton award.

8. Kennesaw State (0-1, 0-0 Big South)
Last Week: Lost to FBS Georgia State 24-20
This week: at Tennessee Tech (Thursday)
The Owls will look at the loss to Georgia State as the one that got away. Kennesaw was in control for most of the game, but fell apart in the last few minutes of each half allowing Georgia State to avoid the FCS upset. The Owls should get on track this week against Tennessee Tech.

9. Villanova (1-0, 0-0 CAA)
Last Week: Beat FBS Temple 19-17
This Week: at Lehigh
The Wildcats pulled off the upset behind CSJ Offensive player of the week Zach Bednarczyk’s 254 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. The Wildcats are healthy this year and could challenge for the CAA title. They get a stiff challenge this week from top FCS running back Dom Bragalone and Lehigh.

10. Nicholls State (1-0, 0-0 Southland)
Last Week: Beat FBS Kansas 26-23 (OT)
This Week: at FBS Tulane
The Colonels knocked off FBS Kansas in overtime on Saturday behind 123 rushing yards from Kendall Bussey. Up next is another FBS test in Tulane where Nicholls will be looking for back to back FBS wins before moving into the Southland schedule. Nicholls probably has the most difficult four game start of any team in the FCS, but they are showing they are a team to watch.

11. Stony Brook (0-1, 0-0 CAA)
Last Week: Lost to FBS Air Force 38-0
This Week: vs Bryant
The Seawolves wont take much from the loss to Air Force other than the experience gained by playing an FBS team. This week they host Bryant. Stony Brook jumped into the playoff picture last season but their real value in 2018 will not be seen until they get into their CAA schedule this time around.

12. Weber State (0-1, 0-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Lost to FBS Utah 41-10
This Week: at Cal Poly
The Wildcats will have a lot to prove in 2018 after losing a large number of players to graduation. It did not start off well this year with new starting quarterback Kaden Jenks only throwing for 13 yards on 5/22 passing, even if it was against an FBS team. How Weber responds against Cal Poly will tell a lot about how 2018 will go.

13. Jacksonville State (0-1, 0-0 OVC)
Last Week: OFF
This Week: vs Mississippi Valley State
The Gamecocks lost to North Carolina A&T in a sloppy game in week 0. They had week 1 off to
correct some of those errors. This team will be fine and will probably run the table in the OVC again and wind up with a playoff seed; it’s the playoffs that matter for Jacksonville State. Zerrick Cooper will be much better once he gels with the offense. Up this week is Mississippi Valley State in a game the Gamecocks should win handily.

14. Elon (0-1, 0-0 CAA)
Last Week: Lost to FBS South Florida 34-13
This Week: vs. Furman
The Phoenix struggled in their matchup against an FBS team, South Florida. They will need to trash that result and move on. This team has playoff aspirations again and will be challenged by a Furman team that is in the same boat as Elon. The winner of this game may decide who is in and who is out of the playoffs when bracketing time comes.

15. Wofford (1-0, 0-0 Southern)
Last Week: Beat The Citadel 28-21
This Week: vs VMI
For the first time in 30 years, Wofford played a game with a new head coach after the retirement of Mike Ayers. The Terriers pulled out a win in the fourth quarter over The Citadel and will look to improve on that result this week against VMI.

16. Montana (1-0, 0-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Beat Northern Iowa 26-23
This Week: vs. Drake
Bobby Hauck is back, are the Grizzlies? They sure looked like it in a quality win over Northern Iowa. The Grizzlies led 26-0 at halftime before letting the Panthers claw back in and make it a game. Dalton Sneed threw for 248 yards and one touchdown and added 58 yards and another touchdown on the ground. The Grizzlies have a soft game against Drake before tacking another MVFC foe in Western Illinois.

17. Furman (0-1, 0-0 Southern)
Last Week: Lost to FBS Clemson 48-7
This Week: at Elon
The Paladins never had a chance against FBS Championship contender Clemson. This week will be a different story when they travel north to face Elon. Both of these teams have their sights
set on the playoffs and this game will go a long way to deciding how the playoff bracket settles out for both schools.

18. Central Arkansas (0-1, 0-0 Southland)
Last Week: Lost to FBS Tulsa 38-27
This Week: vs. Murray State
Central Arkansas led its game against Tulsa in the fourth quarter before ultimately giving up two touchdowns and falling. It was a good showing for the defending Southland Conference champions. The Bears should easily beat OVC member Murray State and remind everyone that they can compete with Sam Houston and Nicholls.

19. Northern Arizona (1-0, 0-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Defeated FBS UTEP 30-10
This Week: vs. Eastern Washington
Get used to hearing Case Cookus to Emmanuel Butler when Northern Arizona is brought up. The dynamic QB/WR combo connected on 138 yards and two touchdowns to help the Lumberjacks demolish FBS UTEP in week one. It doesn’t get easier from here as the Lumberjacks open Big Sky play by welcoming the preseason Big Sky number one team, Eastern Washington to the elevation in Flagstaff.

20. Illinois State (1-0, 0-0 MVFC)
Last Week: Beat DII St Xavier (IL) 46-0
This Week: vs. Eastern Illinois
Illinois State is out to prove they are a playoff team again after back to back seasons of 6-6 and 6-5. They easily defeated a Division II foe in week one which will have no bearing on their playoff positioning. The Redbirds have in-state rival Eastern Illinois coming to Normal this week. They will need to win this game to start off on the right foot to return to the playoffs.

21. Maine (1-0, 1-0 CAA)
Last Week: Beat New Hampshire 35-7
This Week: at FBS Western Kentucky
Maine opened some eyes this week by defeating New Hampshire, a team a lot of people thought would contend for the CAA and FCS title this year. New Hampshire lost star QB Trevor Knight, but even before he went down, the Black Bears had the game in hand. It will be interesting to see if Maine can continue the momentum throughout the season from a huge opening week win.

22. South Dakota (0-1, 0-0 MVFC)
Last Week: Lost to FBS Kansas State
This Week: vs. Northern Colorado
South Dakota nearly made it an FBS sweep of the state of Kansas, falling late to Kansas State.  The Coyotes had a chance to tie at the final gun but missed a 51 yard field goal. Despite the loss, the Coyotes showed they are still a good team after the graduation of QB Chris Streveler. Before jumping in to MVFC action, South Dakota will receive a challenge from Northern Colorado in the MVFC/Big Sky challenge.

23. UC Davis (1-0, 0-0 Big Sky)
Last Week: Beat FBS San Jose State 44-38
This Week: vs San Diego
UC Davis shocked everyone with their upset of FBS San Jose State in week one. Everyone knows about all world wide receiver Keelan Doss who had 11 catches for 85 yards, but the name everyone will learn real fast will be quarterback Jake Maier who threw for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Aggies feel like the forgotten team in the Big Sky but if they can pull off a few more big wins, they will earn their respect. This week they take on perennial Pioneer League winner San Diego. The Aggies need this win to continue their momentum.

24. New Hampshire (0-1, 0-1 CAA)
Last Week: Lost to Maine 35-7
This Week: vs. Colgate
New Hampshire was never in their opening week game against Maine. To make matters worse, they lost CAA Preseason player of the year Trevor Knight in the first half of the game. Many looked at the Wildcats as a National Championship contender, right now they are looking to pick up the pieces. This week they get a challenge from Patriot League member, Colgate. This will not be an easy game for UNH as Colgate was picked to win the Patriot this year.

25. McNeese State (1-0, 0-0 Southland)
Last Week: Beat Northern Colorado 17-14
This Week: at Houston Baptist
McNeese State started the season off with a  respectable win over Northern Colorado, holding on to win after building a 17-0 first half lead. Whether they can put themselves in the conversation for the top of the Southland Conference is yet to be seen, but they will need to defeat Houston Baptist this week to start that conversation.

Next Teams up: Montana State, San Diego, Colgate, Northern Iowa

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