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FCS Rankings: Power Poll for Week 4

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Sam Houston State's Corey Avery

If you want your FCS football team to be nationally ranked, please raise your right hand.

FCS

Seriously, coaches, we need some raised hands.

This past Saturday threw the FCS rankings into chaos — an annual occurrence in the subdivision, we might add — as 11 teams in the Athlon Sports FCS Power Poll lost games. In contrast, North Dakota State’s juggernaut posted the season’s biggest win to solidify its hold on No. 1.

Here is the Athlon Sports FCS Power Poll through the games of Sept. 15-17:

1. North Dakota State

(3-0, 0-0 Missouri Valley)

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Previous Ranking: 1

Last Week’s Result: 23-21 win over Iowa

The Bison imparted their will on FBS No. 13 Iowa with a 239-34 advantage in rushing yards and possessing the football for 36 minutes, 40 seconds worth of game clock. Cam Pedersen’s game-ending 37-yard field goal stretched NDSU's winning streak over FBS opponents to an incredible six games.

Next Opponent: No. 15 Illinois State (Oct. 1)

2. Eastern Washington

(2-1, 0-0 Big Sky)

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Previous Ranking: 4

Last Week’s Result: 34-30 win over then-No. 7 Northern Iowa

Without injured wide receiver Cooper Kupp, the Eagles found a way to win a top-10 matchup with special teams and quarterback Reilly Hennessey coming off the bench. Bravo, Beau Baldwin and EWU coaching staff.

Next Opponent: at No. 23 Northern Arizona (Sept. 24)

3. Sam Houston State

(2-0, 1-0 Southland)

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Previous Ranking: 3

Last Week’s Result:  44-31 win over Lamar

Sure, quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe, running back Corey Avery and the offense grabbed the headlines again, but the Bearkats defense held Lamar 2,000-yard rusher Kade Harrington to 76 yards and no touchdowns on 25 carries.

Next Opponent: at Houston Baptist (Sept. 24)

4. Jacksonville State

(2-1, 0-0 Ohio Valley)

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Previous Ranking: 5

Last Week’s Result: 27-26 win over then-No. 15 Coastal Carolina

With Auburn transfer Roc Thomas racking up 144 yards rushing, the Gamecocks had a more balanced offense in earning the big win over Coastal Carolina.

Next Opponent: at Liberty (Sept. 24)

5. Montana

(2-0, 0-0 Big Sky)

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Previous Ranking: 6

Last Week’s Result: Idle

The Griz surely need the extra week to prepare for Cal Poly in their Big Sky opener. The Mustangs and their triple option offense have split the last six meetings with UM.

Next Opponent: at No. 13 Cal Poly (Sept. 24)

6. Chattanooga

(3-0, 1-0 Southern)

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Previous Ranking: 10

Last Week’s Result: 21-14 win over Furman

It took until the Mocs’ 12th quarter of action, and a total of 171 minutes, 51 seconds, but they surrendered their first points of the season. Maybe not No. 6-worthy yet, but, hey, it seemed like everybody ahead of them lost.

Next Opponent: Samford (Sept. 24)

7. Northern Iowa

(1-2, 0-0 Missouri Valley)

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Previous Ranking: 7

Last Week’s Result: 34-30 loss to then-No. 4 Eastern Washington

UNI let a 24-7 halftime lead slip away on the red turf at Eastern Washington. After a non-conference stretch of Iowa State, Montana and EWU, the Panthers take a week off.

Next Opponent: Southern Illinois (Oct. 1)

8. Stony Brook

(2-1, 1-0 CAA)

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Previous Ranking: Unranked

Last Week’s Result: 42-14 win over then-No. 2 Richmond

With wins over two ranked teams (North Dakota and Richmond) and only a loss to Temple, the Seawolves deserve the biggest jump in the power poll. Apparently, they have an offense this season.

Next Opponent: Sacred Heart (Sept. 24)

9. Richmond

(2-1, 0-1 CAA)

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Previous Ranking: 2

Last Week’s Result: 42-14 loss to Stony Brook

The lopsided loss to Stony Brook may have shown running back Gordon Collins’ season-ending hip injury has left the Spiders without a true No. 1. They managed only 32 yards on 20 carries.

Next Opponent: No. 22 Colgate Sept. 24)

10. Western Illinois

(2-0, 0-0 Missouri Valley)

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Previous Ranking: 12

Last Week’s Result: Idle

Just sayin’: The Fighting Leathernecks have held the ball for nearly 25 more minutes than their first two opponents (good ones in Eastern Illinois and Northern Arizona), while opponents have nearly a 19-minute advantage on 0-3 Northern Illinois

Next Opponent: at Northern Illinois (Sept. 24)

11. James Madison

(2-1, 0-0 CAA Football)

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Previous Ranking: 11

Last Week’s Result: 56-28 loss to North Carolina

After scoring 136 points in their first two games, the Dukes had 21 after three first-quarter drives against UNC. They managed only seven more points the rest of the game.

Next Opponent: at Maine (Sept. 24)

12. Charleston Southern

(1-2, 0-0 Big South)

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Previous Ranking: 14

Last Week’s Result: Idle
Head coach Jamey Chadwell and the Buccaneers used the bye week to clear their heads from off-the-field mistakes. They will start defense of their Big South title on the road.

Next Opponent: at Monmouth (Sept. 24)

13. Cal Poly

(2-1, 0-0 Big Sky)

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Previous Ranking: Unranked

Last Week’s Result: 38-31 win over then-No. 9 South Dakota State

With 7.5 yards per carry, the Mustangs carved up the Jackrabbits, who did the chasing. Head coach Tim Walsh’s squad’s lone loss thus far was by only three points to Nevada.

Next Opponent: No. 5 Montana (Sept. 24)

14. South Dakota State

(1-2, 0-0 Missouri Valley)

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Previous Ranking: 9

Last Week’s Result: 38-31 loss to Cal Poly

Funny, but head coach John Stiegelmeier squad’s most impressive performance might be its season-opening loss at TCU.

Next Opponent: No. 10 Western Illinois (Oct. 1)

15. Illinois State

(2-1, 0-0 Missouri Valley)

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Previous Ranking: 8

Last Week’s Result: 24-21 loss to Eastern Illinois

Will the real Redbirds team please stand up – either the one that knocked off Northwestern or the one that lost to unranked rival Eastern Illinois the next week. OK, the results suggest that might be the real Redbirds team.

Next Opponent: at Indiana State (Sept. 24)

16. The Citadel

(3-0, 2-0 Southern)

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Previous Ranking: 16

Last Week’s Result: 31-24 win over Gardner-Webb

All three Bulldogs wins are by seven points or less, but they’re finding a way. Brent Thompson is only the second head coach in school history to start his career with three straight wins.

Next Opponent: at Western Carolina (Oct. 1)

17. Villanova

(2-1, 1-0 CAA Football)

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Previous Ranking: 20

Last Week’s Result: 40-21 win over then-No. 19 Towson

‘Nova won a matchup that could go a long way in securing an at-large playoff bid. In his final season, head coach Andy Talley expects to keep adding to his CAA-record 137 conference wins.

Next Opponent: at Lafayette (Sept. 24)

18. Youngstown State

(2-1, 0-0 Missouri Valley)

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Previous Ranking: 18

Last Week’s Result: 38-6 win over Robert Morris

Robert and Morris could have provided double teams, but it wasn’t going to stop the Penguins’ pass rush. Seven different players had sacks in the easy victory.

Next Opponent: South Dakota (Oct. 1)

19. William & Mary

(2-1, 0-0 CAA Football)

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Previous Ranking: 17

Last Week’s Result: 35-10 win over Norfolk State

An injury to running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor opened the door for Kendell Anderson last season. An injury to Anderson is doing the same for redshirt freshman Albert Funderburke this season.

Next Opponent: Elon (Sept. 24)

20. Coastal Carolina

(2-1 FCS Independent)

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Previous Ranking: 15

Last Week’s Result: 27-26 loss to then-No. 5 Jacksonville State

The Chanticleers went through four quarterbacks in their back-and-forth loss to Jacksonville State because starter Josh Stilley was knocked out in the second quarter. Ryan Granger’s 51-yard field goal attempt with 2:27 left was short.

Next Opponent: Furman (Sept. 24)

21. Eastern Illinois

(2-1, 0-0 OVC)

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Previous Ranking: Unranked

Last Week’s Result: 24-21 win over then-No. 8 Illinois State

Head coach Kim Dameron didn’t have a non-conference win in his first two seasons. In a span of eight days, his Panthers beat Miami (Ohio) and Illinois State.

Next Opponent: Austin Peay (Sept. 24)

22. Colgate

(1-1, 0-0 Patriot)

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Previous Ranking: 23

Last Week’s Result: 55-13 win over Yale

Behind quarterback Jake Melville’s 315 yards and career-high five touchdowns through the air, the Raiders avenged a one-point loss to Yale last season. They’re staying on the road for the third straight game.

Next Opponent: at No. 9 Richmond (Sept. 24)

23. Northern Arizona

(1-2, 0-0 Big Sky)

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Previous Ranking: 22

Last Week’s Result: 73-3 win over New Mexico Highlands

Sophomore Case Cookus stayed in the game in the third quarter to equal his career high with seven touchdown passes. He’s thrown 31 TDs in six career home games.

Next Opponent: No. 2 Eastern Washington (Sept. 24)

24. Albany

(3-0, 1-0 CAA Football)

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Previous Ranking: Unranked

Last Week’s Result: 45-28 win over Holy Cross

Sure, we are impressed with running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks (465 yards, eight TDs) and the Great Danes, but they did finish 3-8 last season.

Next Opponent: Saint Francis (Sept. 24)

25. McNeese

(1-2, 0-1 Southland)

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Previous Ranking: 13

Last Week’s Result: 31-28 loss to Stephen F. Austin

The Cowboys didn’t lose a game last season until the second round of the playoffs in December. They will leave September with at least two defeats.

Next Opponent: at Incarnate Word (Sept. 24)

Power poll possibilities:Fordham (1-1, 0-0 Patriot), Harvard (1-0, 0-0 Ivy), Samford (2-0, 0-0 Southern) and Stephen F. Austin (2-1, 1-0 Southland)

— Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for www.fcs.football. He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.