(STATS) – The FCS selection committee is getting ready to reveal its Top 10 ranking of playoff contenders Wednesday night, but it almost feels like there aren’t enough teams left for consideration.
Like so many typical Saturdays, top teams were dropped for a loss – yes, literally – with No. 5 Kennesaw State, No. 6 Sacramento State No. 7 Illinois State and No. 11 Villanova going down this weekend.
Yeah, ouch, Kennesaw.
Here are 10 takeaways from Week 10 of the FCS season:
– OK, positive news first: The Ivy League unbeatens have hit one out of the park. For the second straight year, Princeton and Dartmouth will both take 7-0 records into their matchup next Saturday at Yankee Stadium. The game is being played there to celebrate 150 years of college football – with Princeton having participated in the first game on Nov. 6, 1869 – but the stakes raise with sole possession of first place going to the winner. No. 12 Princeton, which beat Cornell 21-7 on Friday night, has won 17 straight games. No. 15 Dartmouth’s 14-9 loss to the Tigers last season is the Big Green’s only defeat in their last 19 games. The latter made it a battle of unbeatens by stunning Harvard 9-6 on a game-ending Hail Mary touchdown pass. Masaki Aerts, a junior who never had a TD reception, reeled in a tipped 43-yarder from Derek Kyler – easily the FCS play of the year.
– The STATS FCS Game of the Week was only that in theory as Monmouth pummeled No. 5 Kennesaw State 45-21 in the Big South, scoring 42 unanswered points over a 21-minute span of the second and third quarters. Quarterback Kenji Bahar gained 424 yards of total offense, including a 92-yard touchdown pass and a 65-yard scoring run in the third. The Hawks (7-2, 4-0) had lost by a combined 175-65 in their first four all-time meetings with KSU.
– Weber State sure knows how to end a century of football in style. The third-ranked Big Sky power is celebrating 100 years in the sport, and its 36-17 road win over sixth-ranked Sacramento State added to the great success under sixth-year coach Jay Hill. In 2016, the Wildcats made their first playoff appearance in seven years. In both 2017 and ’18, they earned a share of Big Sky title and reached the national quarterfinals, with the ’17 squad also claiming a program-record 11 wins. They took a big step toward earning an outright title this season by dominating Sac State in a first-place showdown. Their swarming defense knocked Hornets star quarterback Kevin Thomson out of the game, his counterpart Jake Constantine passed for 177 yards and two touchdowns and Josh Davis rushed for 177 yards and a score.
– A year after gaining an FCS-record six playoff qualifiers, CAA Football teams may be beating each other up a bit too much. This year’s postseason haul could be considerably less. Even the two second-place teams, New Hampshire (5-3, 4-1) and Richmond (5-4, 4-1), will have little margin for error if they don’t upset front-running James Madison in the next two weeks. Elon (4-5, 3-3), playing only an 11-game schedule, probably got knocked out of the playoff picture with a five-overtime loss to William & Mary. There’s a bunch of solid teams, but with mediocre records, and needing a strong finish, including Villanova (6-3, 3-3), Albany (5-4, 3-2), Towson (5-4, 2-3) and Stony Brook (5-4, 2-3). Delaware and Maine both have 4-5 and 2-3 records and can’t afford another loss.
– The two longest conference winning streaks continued like a number of the earlier wins. San Diego (6-2, 5-0) pushed its Pioneer Football League run to 34 with a 49-7 pounding of a Drake squad that entered the matchup with a share of first place.JoJo Binda Jr. scored three of USD’s six rushing touchdowns. The Toreros have had the respect of North Dakota State due to past playoff meetings, and the No. 1 Bison made it 15 straight Missouri Valley Football Conference wins (plus 30 in a row overall) with a 56-17 mauling of Youngstown State. Redshirt freshman Trey Lance is up to 19 touchdown passes without an interception -the only FCS quarterback in the NCAA leaders without one (he’s thrown 159 attempts).
– It’s hard enough to have two unbeaten teams in conference play at this point, but the Northeast Conference still has three with No. 19 Central Connecticut State, Duquesne and Robert Morris each moving to 4-0. With three weeks remaining in the regular season, that can mean only one thing with the schedule: it’s Duquesne at Robert Morris next Saturday, Robert Morris at CCSU on Nov. 16 and CCSU at Duquesne on Nov. 23.
– Holy Cross won what likely will be the biggest Patriot League game of the season, 24-17 at Lehigh and against Tom Gilmore, the Crusaders’ coach from 2004-17. Under Bob Chesney, Holy Cross (5-4, 3-0) is seeking its first league title in 10 years. Domenic Cozier had a 88-yard run among his 190 rushing yards and senior Chris Riley snared a game-clinching interception at the Crusaders’ 5 in the final minute.
– Perhaps scoreboard watching was never more fun in the Southland Conference, where all four games were going on at the same time Saturday. When the dust settled on the day in the wild, wild west, there wasn’t much more clarity. Incredibly, seven of the 11 teams have winning records – both overall and in conference play. The most important result was Nicholls slipping past UIW 27-23 in a matchup of last year’s co-champs, but so many games in the final three weeks will impact the terrific title race. Another season with three playoff teams is possible.
– Austin Peay (6-3, 4-1) has wins against all of the other top teams in the Ohio Valley Conference with one exception, first-place UT Martin (6-3, 5-1), which the Governors host next Saturday. The Govs, a huge surprise under first-year coach Mark Hudspeth, beat Eastern Kentucky 28-21, behind JaVaughn Craig’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Kentel Williams on the first play of overtime. Even more stunning, five-time defending champ Jacksonville State is in fifth place at 3-3.
– If the FCS selection committee is forced to make a Top 10 ranking following all the chaos, it may as well look like this:1. North Dakota State; 2. James Madison; 3. Weber State; 4. South Dakota State; 5. Sacramento State; 6. Montana; 7. Central Arkansas; 8. Northern Iowa; 9. Furman; and 10. Montana State.