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FCS Rankings: Power Poll for Week 11

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The FCS playoff selection committee sure liked Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State when it ranked them No. 1 and 2, respectively, in its first set of rankings leading into the 24-team field in two weeks.

FCS

Um, they forgot one thing – strength of schedule. Maybe Cooper Kupp, too.

Hey, we love the conference powers from the Ohio Valley and Southland just like the committee, but their schedules don’t match what North Dakota State and Eastern Washington have forged through this season. According to NCAA statistics, NDSU has the third-toughest schedule and EWU 12th, with Sam Houston 89th and Jacksonville State 101st. Another oddity that struck us was that The Citadel, the only other unbeaten FCS team besides Sam Houston State, has the 12th-toughest schedule (tied with Eastern Washington).

We say the rankings should, and will, change even if all four teams win out.

Here is the Athlon Sports FCS Power Poll through the games of Nov. 5:

1. North Dakota State

(8-1, 5-1 Missouri Valley)

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Previous Ranking: 1

Last Week’s Result: 24-3 win over then-No. 17 Youngstown State

Oh, how the names have changed when cornerback Jaylaan Wimbush and linebacker Matt Plank are the leading tacklers in a Bison win. Oh, yes, a Bison win over another ranked opponent. OK, not a lot has changed.

Next Opponent: Indiana State (Nov. 12)

2. Eastern Washington

(8-1, 6-0 Big Sky)

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Previous Ranking: 2

Last Week’s Result: 42-21 win over then-Nov. 11 Cal Poly

Let’s hear it for the Eastern... defense? Having been knocked around during head coach Beau Baldwin’s highly successful tenure, the Eagles have a veteran unit this year. They have surrendered their season’s three lowest point totals in the last three games.

Next Opponent: Idaho State (Nov. 12)

3. Jacksonville State

(8-1, 5-0 Ohio Valley)

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Previous Ranking: 3

Last Week’s Result: 17-10 win over Southeast Missouri State

Even though quarterback Eli Jenkins became the Gamecocks’ all-time passing yardage leader in their 22nd straight OVC win, head coach John Grass took him out of the game when the offense was mostly ineffective for the second time in three games.

Next Opponent: at Murray State (Nov. 12)

4. Sam Houston State

(9-0, 8-0 Southland)

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Previous Ranking: 4

Last Week’s Result: 56-43 win over McNeese

Jeremiah Briscoe throwing for 504 yards and six touchdowns is nearly expected these days. Freshman wide receiver Nathan Stewart (12 receptions, 268 yards, three touchdowns) stood out in the win over rival McNeese.

Next Opponent: at Northwestern State (Nov. 12)

5. James Madison

(8-1, 6-0 CAA Football)

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Previous Ranking: 6

Last Week’s Result: 47-43 win over then-No. 5 Richmond

Whew! There’s no let up for the Dukes in the CAA schedule as they move from a road win over Richmond to a road trip to Villanova. Against Richmond, quarterback Bryan Schor accounted for four touchdowns and Khalid Abdullah scored twice, giving him a school-record 33 career rushing TDs.

Next Opponent: at No. 11 Villanova (Nov. 12)

6. The Citadel

(9-0, 7-0 Southern)

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Previous Ranking: 7

Last Week’s Result: 37-34 overtime win over then-No. 15 Samford

South Carolina saw last year that Bulldogs fullback Tyler Renew gets better late in the season. Samford was knocked over by his 45 carries for 285 yards and three touchdowns – all career highs – while the Bulldogs earned at least a share of a second consecutive SoCon title as well as the automatic playoff bid.

Next Opponent: at VMI (Nov. 12)

7. Chattanooga

(8-1, 6-1 Southern)

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Previous Ranking: 9

Last Week’s Result: Idle

To have a shot at earning a seed and first-place bye in the playoffs, the Mocs have to defeat dangerous Wofford because they’re not going to win their final regular-season game at Alabama.

Next Opponent: Wofford (Nov. 12)

8. Richmond

(7-2, 4-2 CAA)

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Previous Ranking: 5

Last Week’s Result: 47-43 loss to then-No. 6 James Madison

Quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw for 435 yards and accounted for six touchdowns in the back-and-forth loss to rival JMU. It might have cost the Spiders a higher seed and first-round bye in the playoffs.

Next Opponent: Delaware (Nov. 12)

9. North Dakota

(8-2, 7-0 Big Sky)

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Previous Ranking: 10

Last Week’s Result: 23-13 win over Northern Colorado

Ryan Bartels stepped in for injured quarterback Keaton Studsrud (shoulder) and passed for a touchdown in the Fighting Hawks’ eighth straight win. He also kept feeding the ball to John Santiago, who had a season-high 204 rushing yards.

Next Opponent: Northern Arizona (Nov. 12)

10. South Dakota State

(6-3, 5-1 Missouri Valley)

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Previous Ranking: 12

Jake Wieneke and Dallas Goedert both went over 1,000 receiving yards for the season, but the Jackrabbits relied on six touchdown runs against Missouri State – two each from Brady Mengarelli and Isaac Wallace. They’re tied for first in the Missouri Valley with North Dakota State.

Last Week’s Result: 49-24 win over Missouri State

Next Opponent: South Dakota (Nov. 12)

11. Villanova

(7-2, 5-1 CAA Football)

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Previous Ranking: 14

Last Week’s Result: 26-7 win over then-No. 24 Maine

Maine only scored on a kickoff return as safety Rob Rolle led the Wildcats' defense with two of its four interceptions. Head coach Andy Talley is guaranteed a winning record in his 32nd and final season with the ‘Cats.

Next Opponent: No. 5 James Madison (Nov. 12)

12. Central Arkansas

(8-1, 7-0 Southland)

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Previous Ranking: 16

Last Week’s Result: 34-14 win over Stephen F. Austin

Despite six turnovers against Stephen F. Austin, UCA maintained its first-place tie with Sam Houston State in the Southland. Head coach Steve Campbell’s squad has surrendered 14 points or fewer in six of its nine games.

Next Opponent: Nicholls (Nov. 12)

13. Cal Poly

(6-3, 4-2 Big Sky)

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Previous Ranking: 11

Last Week’s Result: 42-21 loss to No. 2 Eastern Washington

It was great that Cal Poly kept EWU star Cooper Kupp to one touchdown reception, but he was more dangerous throwing the ball (two touchdowns). The Mustangs have only lost to Nevada and the two teams (also North Dakota) unbeaten in the Big Sky. 

Next Opponent: at Weber State (Nov. 12)

14. Western Illinois

(6-3, 3-3 Missouri Valley)

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Previous Ranking: 13