FCS Rankings: Power Poll for Week 6

Top teams keep winning, but the second tier catches the upset bug

If you are the 20th-ranked team, you might as well be 30th. If you’re 35th, maybe you’re really 25th.


Our Athlon Sports FCS Power Poll watched teams ranked 18th (Eastern Illinois), 19th (Illinois State), 20th (Colgate), 23rd (Fordham), 24th (Indiana State) and 25th (Stephen F. Austin) lose this past Saturday. Those final three were appearing in the poll for the first time this season.


It was all so normal. It seems we say something similar during many weekends in the wild and wacky FCS.


Here is the Athlon Sports FCS Power Poll through the games of Oct. 1:


1. North Dakota State

(4-0, 1-0 Missouri Valley)

Previous Ranking: 1

Last Week’s Result: 31-10 win over then-No. 19 Illinois State
With Carson Wentz in the house, redshirt sophomore Easton Stick passed for 256 yards and three touchdowns against Illinois State in a rematch of the 2014 FCS championship game.

Next Opponent: at Missouri State (Oct. 8)


2. Eastern Washington

(4-1, 2-0 Big Sky)

Previous Ranking: 2

Last Week’s Result: 63-30 win over UC Davis

Senior wide receiver Cooper Kupp now owns the Division I career records for receiving yards (5,417) and touchdown receptions (64). He’s No. 2 in FCS receptions and closing fast on that mark as well.

Next Opponent: Northern Colorado (Oct. 8)


3. Jacksonville State

(3-1, 0-0 Ohio Valley)

Previous Ranking: 3

Last Week’s Result: Idle

With quarterback Eli Jenkins being named OVC offensive player of the week three times this season, and 10 times in his career, will the conference rename the award after him? 

Next Opponent: Tennessee Tech (Oct. 8)


4. Sam Houston State

(4-0, 3-0 Southland)

Previous Ranking: 4

Last Week’s Result: 63-28 win over then-No. 25 Stephen F. Austin

“The Battle of the Piney Woods” was over quickly as the Bearkats jumped out to a 35-0 first-half lead. Quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe passed for 438 yards and a program-record seven touchdowns in the rout.

Next Opponent: at Incarnate Word (Oct. 8)


5. Chattanooga

(5-0, 3-0 Southern)

Previous Ranking: 5

Last Week’s Result: 37-7 win over East Tennessee State

No need to worry about the Mocs getting fired up after an easy win over ETSU. Mercer, up next, upset them last season to prevent an outright Southern Conference title. It’s their only loss in their last 17 conference games.

Next Opponent: Mercer (Oct. 8)


6. James Madison

(4-1, 2-0 CAA Football)

Previous Ranking: 7

Last Week’s Result: 43-20 win over Delaware

Delaware rushed for 312 yards and three touchdowns on eight yards a carry yet was topped by the Dukes, who averaged 8.7 yards a pop with 398 yards and five TDs on the ground.

Next Opponent: William & Mary (Oct. 8)


7. Richmond

(4-1, 1-1 CAA)

Previous Ranking: 8

Last Week’s Result: 31-28 win over Towson

True freshman Xavier Goodall has solved a big concern at running back over the last two weeks, going for 127 and 128 yards on the ground.

Next Opponent: at No. 20 Albany (Oct. 8)


8. Charleston Southern

(3-2, 1-0 Big South)

Previous Ranking: 12

Last Week’s Result: 59-58, double-overtime win over then-No. 16 Coastal Carolina

The Buccaneers won an absolutely breathtaking affair over their former Big South rival when Solomon Brown blocked an extra point to end the second overtime.

Next Opponent: Albany State (Oct. 6)


9. Montana

(3-1, 1-1 Big Sky)

Previous Ranking: 10

Last Week’s Result: 43-20 win over Southern Utah

As long as the Grizzlies aren’t playing Cal Poly, they seem to be in good shape in the Big Sky. Their third or fourth unit might be able to win their next game.

Next Opponent: Mississippi Valley State (Oct. 8)


10. South Dakota State

(2-2, 1-0 Missouri Valley)

Previous Ranking: 13

Last Week’s Result: 52-14 win over then-No. 6 Western Illinois

SDSU outscored Western Illinois 45-0 in the middle two quarters. Tight end Dallas Goedert was unstoppable with eight receptions for 204 yards and four touchdowns.

Next Opponent: at Southern Illinois (Oct. 8)


11. Western Illinois

(3-1, 0-1 Missouri Valley)

Previous Ranking: 6

Last Week’s Result: 52-14 loss to then-No. 13 South Dakota State
Eastern Illinois, Northern Arizona, Northern Illinois… yeah, we knew the Leathernecks were going to face their toughest competition in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Next Opponent: Indiana State (Oct. 8)


12. Northern Iowa

(2-2, 1-0 Missouri Valley)

Previous Ranking: 11

Last Week’s Result: 42-21 win over Southern Illinois

So they breathe a sigh of relief in Cedar Falls, but the Panthers still need running back Tyvis Smith to get on more of a roll.

Next Opponent: at South Dakota (Oct. 8)


13. The Citadel

(4-0, 3-0 Southern)

Previous Ranking: 14

Last Week’s Result: 37-14 win over Western Carolina

The Bulldogs ran the ball 84 times against Western Carolina and still found time to throw 10 passes. Time was on their side: They held the ball for 43 minutes, 10 seconds.

Next Opponent: North Greenville (Oct. 8)


14. Cal Poly

(3-1, 1-0 Big Sky)

Previous Ranking: 9

Last Week’s Result: 31-24 loss to North Dakota

With leading rusher Joe Protheroe sidelined by a foot injury, the Mustangs never led against UND. A difficult road trip moves on to Portland State.

Next Opponent: at Portland State (Oct. 15)


15. Villanova

(4-1, 2-0 CAA Football)

Previous Ranking: 15

Last Week’s Result: 42-7 win over Elon

The ‘Nova defense keeps dropping its opponent’s point total, and it wasn’t that high to start: 28 to ACC member Pittsburgh.

Next Opponent: Rhode Island (Oct. 8)


16. Youngstown State

(3-1, 1-0 Missouri Valley)

Previous Ranking: 17

Last Week’s Result: 30-20 win over South Dakota

Head coach Bo Pelini’s squad is about to show just how good it is with a rugged five-game stretch that includes Illinois State, Northern Iowa, South Dakota State and North Dakota State.

Next Opponent: at No. 21 Illinois State (Oct. 8)


17. Coastal Carolina

(3-2 FCS Independent)

Previous Ranking: 16

Last Week’s Result: 59-58, double-overtime loss to the-No. 12 Charleston Southern

After their emotional loss to Charleston Southern, the Chanticleers won’t face another team they should lose to as they depart the FCS. The toughest opponents are Monmouth and Liberty, with both games on the teal turf.

Next Opponent: at Gardner-Webb (Oct. 15)


18. McNeese

(3-2, 2-1 Southland)

Previous Ranking: 22

Last Week’s Result: 38-13 win over Nicholls

Quarterback James Tabary, the Arkansas State transfer, has thrown for more yards (1,814) in five games than the Cowboys had all of last season.

Next Opponent: at Southeastern Louisiana (Oct. 8)


19. North Dakota

(3-2, 2-0 Big Sky)

Previous Ranking: Unranked

Last Week’s Result: 31-24 win over then-No. 9 Cal Poly

Our preseason No. 15 squad returns to the Power Poll with a three-game winning streak. Sophomore Brady Oliveira is becoming the featured running back over John Santiago.

Next Opponent: at Sacramento State (Oct. 8)


20. Albany

(4-0, 1-0 CAA Football)

Previous Ranking: 21

Last Week’s Result: Idle

The season opened with an impressive win over an FBS program (Buffalo), but none of the Great Danes’ FCS victories have come against teams with a winning record. They needed the extra week to prepare for Richmond.

Next Opponent: No. 7 Richmond (Oct. 8)


21. Illinois State

(2-3, 0-2 Missouri Valley)

Previous Ranking: 19

Last Week’s Result: 31-10 loss to No. 1 North Dakota State

The win at Northwestern is in the rear-view mirror as the Redbirds have lost three straight games for the first time since 2008 – a year before Brock Spack became head coach.

Next Opponent: No. 16 Youngstown State (Oct. 8)


22. Samford

(3-1, 1-1 Southern)

Previous Ranking: Unranked

Last Week’s Result: 28-26 win over Wofford

Throwing to a superb receiving corps, redshirt sophomore Devlin Hodges is fast becoming one of the nation’s best QBs with 25 touchdown passes in nine career starts.

Next Opponent: at Furman (Oct. 8)


23. Eastern Illinois

(3-2, 1-1 OVC)

Previous Ranking: 21

Last Week’s Result: 21-14 loss to Southeast Missouri State

The Panthers negated one of the big wins on their resume (Miami of Ohio, Illinois State) with a lackluster conference loss. Beating unbeaten Tennessee State is a must.

Next Opponent: Tennessee State (Oct. 8)


24. Central Arkansas

(4-1, 3-0 Southland)

Previous Ranking: Unranked

Last Week’s Result: 58-27 win over Abilene Christian

The Bears get a well-deserved rest before going to McNeese for a third straight road game. But what a road trip it’s been, beating Arkansas State and then pummeling Abilene Christian.

Next Opponent: at No. 18 McNeese (Oct. 15)


25. Harvard

(3-0, 1-0 Ivy)

Previous Ranking: Unranked

Last Week’s Result: 31-17 win over Georgetown

The Crimson’s 15 straight winning seasons are the active high in the FCS. They go from playing one surprising 3-0 team (Georgetown) to playing another one (Cornell).

Next Opponent: Cornell (Oct. 8)


Power poll possibilities: New Hampshire (3-2, 2-0 CAA), North Carolina A&T (3-1, 1-0 MEAC), Stony Brook (2-2, 1-1 CAA)


— 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.

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