James Madison, South Dakota State headline final FCS Top 25 regular-season poll

NCAA Football

(Stats Perform) – The many strong contenders for the FCS national title were found up and down the final Stats Perform FCS Top 25 regular-season poll on Monday.

James Madison (5-0) remained No. 1 in the national media rankings for the eighth straight week, one day after No. 2 South Dakota State (5-1) and No. 4 Sam Houston (6-0) gained the top two playoff seeds, respectively, over the Dukes. North Dakota State (6-2), the three-time defending national champion, dropped four spots to No. 6 after suffering a 27-17 loss to South Dakota State on Saturday.

The 16-team playoffs begin this weekend. To say everybody’s a bit motivated as they embark on the Road to Frisco (Texas) is an understatement. South Dakota State, up two spots after earning a share of the Missouri Valley Football Conference title for the second time, matched its highest FCS ranking. The Jackrabbits’ nine straight playoff bids mark the second-longest active streak to NDSU’s 11. JMU is third with seven straight appearances.

The Southwestern Athletic Conference doesn’t have a team in the playoffs and instead will host its annual championship game between division champions on May 1. West Division champ Arkansas-Pine Bluff joined the rankings at No. 24, while East Division winner Alabama A&M was three spots outside them.

A national panel selects the Stats Perform FCS Top 25, which this spring includes only schools that have committed to playing a regular schedule. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.

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STATS PERFORM FCS TOP 25 (APRIL 19)

1. James Madison (5-0, 3-0 CAA), 982 points (30 first-place votes)

Previous Ranking: 1; Week 10 Result: 23-6 win over then-No. 11 Richmond

2. South Dakota State (5-1 Missouri Valley), 953 (7)

Previous Ranking: 4; Week 10 Result: 27-17 win at then-No. 2 North Dakota State

3. Weber State (5-0 Big Sky), 900

Previous Ranking: 3; Week 10 Result: No game

4. Sam Houston (6-0 Southland), 896 (3)

Previous Ranking: 5; Week 10 Result: 42-14 win at then-No. 25 UIW

5. Delaware (5-0, 4-0 CAA), 808

Previous Ranking: 7; Week 10 Result: 27-20 win at then-No. 10 Villanova

6. North Dakota State (6-2, 5-2 Missouri Valley), 803

Previous Ranking: 2; Week 10 Result: 27-17 loss to then-No. 4 South Dakota State

7. North Dakota (4-1 Missouri Valley), 788

Previous Ranking: 6; Week 10 Result: No game

8. Jacksonville State (9-2, 6-1 Ohio Valley), 700

Previous Ranking: 9; Week 10 Result: No game

9. Eastern Washington (5-1 Big Sky), 697

Previous Ranking: 8; Week 10 Result: No game

10. Monmouth (3-0 Big South), 590

Previous Ranking: 12; Week 10 Result: No game

11. VMI (6-1 Southern), 532

Previous Ranking: 15; Week 10 Result: 31-17 win over The Citadel

12. Missouri State (5-4, 5-1 Missouri Valley), 509

Previous Ranking: 14; Week 10 Result: No game

13. UC Davis (3-2 Big Sky), 471

Previous Ranking: 13; Week 10 Result: No game

14. Southern Illinois (5-3, 3-3 Missouri Valley), 463

Previous Ranking: 18; Week 10 Result: 55-48 win over then-No. 17 Southern Illinois

15. Richmond (3-1 CAA), 439

Previous Ranking: 11; Week 10 Result: 23-6 loss at then-No. 1 James Madison

16. Villanova (2-2 CAA), 423

Previous Ranking: 10; Week 10 Result: 27-20 loss to then-No. 7 Delaware

17. Kennesaw State (4-1, 2-1 Big South), 383

Previous Ranking: 16; Week 10 Result: No game

18. Rhode Island (2-1 CAA), 260

Previous Ranking: 19; Week 10 Result: No game

19. Murray State (5-2 Ohio Valley), 256

Previous Ranking: 20; Week 10 Result: No game

20. Southeastern Louisiana (4-3 Southland), 237

Previous Ranking: 17; Week 10 Result: 55-48 loss at then-No. 18 Southern Illinois

21. Austin Peay (4-5, 4-2 Ohio Valley), 175

Previous Ranking: 22; Week 10 Result: No game

22. ETSU (4-2 Southern), 150

Previous Ranking: 24; Week 10 Result: No game

23. Nicholls (4-3, 3-3 Southland), 141

Previous Ranking: 21; Week 10 Result: No game

24. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (4-0 SWAC), 92

Previous Ranking: Unranked; Week 10 Result: 36-31 win over Prairie View A&M

25. Northern Iowa (3-4 Missouri Valley), 74

Previous Ranking: Unranked; West 10 Result: No game

Dropped Out: Mercer (23), UIW (25)

Others Receiving Votes (schools listed on two or more ballots): Sacred Heart 73, Southern 37, Alabama A&M 34, Samford 25, Duquesne 23, Holy Cross 22, Mercer 15, Davidson 13, UIW 11, Northern Arizona 8, Maine 7

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