In the FCS Huddle: Unbeatens stand out in Top 25

Philadelphia, PA ( – There’s no denying the unbeaten teams in
the FCS anymore.

There are only five remaining midway through the regular season, and all of
them were ranked in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 on Monday after Harvard moved
into the poll for the first time since the 2012 season.

The fab five are No. 1 North Dakota State (6-0), No. 4 Coastal Carolina (7-0),
No. 10 Illinois State (5-0), No. 13 Eastern Kentucky (6-0) and No. 25 Harvard
(4-0). They all won conference games this past Saturday as FCS title races
moved into full swing.

As North Dakota State so often does, it posted one of the weekend’s more
impressive wins in beating nationally ranked Southern Illinois, 38-10, in the
Missouri Valley Football Conference. The win was the three-time reigning
national champion’s FCS-record 30th straight. Monday marked the two-year
anniversary of their last loss, and the team to pull if off – Indiana State –
will return to the Fargodome for a rematch on Saturday.

The Bison collected 156 of the 160 first-place votes in this week’s Top 25.

Also, this past weekend, Coastal Carolina beat Presbyterian, 40-28 in the Big
South; Illinois State slipped past Indiana State, 20-18, in the Missouri
Valley; Eastern Kentucky edged Eastern Illinois, 36-33, in overtime in the Ohio
Valley Conference; and Harvard tripped fellow Ivy League member Cornell, 24-7.

Harvard got a late start on impressing Top 25 voters because Ivy teams didn’t
kick off their season until Sept. 20, three weeks after many other teams, even
four weeks after Eastern Washington and fellow Top 25 squad Sam Houston State
had the earliest start among college football teams.

The 15-time Ivy champion Crimson have the highest winning percentage in the FCS
over the last 13-plus seasons at 108-25 (.812). They have reworked their
offense this season with quarterback Scott Hosch and running back Andrew Casten
winning top jobs, and a balanced defense has risen up behind senior defensive
end Zach Hodges.

“Whether Zach gets two sacks or no sacks, whether the offense struggles,
whether the defense struggles,” Harvard coach Tim Murphy said, “we’re all in
this thing together, and whatever it takes to get a win.”

Eastern Washington (6-1) collected the other four first-place votes in the poll
and remained at No. 2 after defeating Southern Utah, 42-30, in the Eagles’
first game since star quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. was sidelined for 3-6 weeks
with a broken right foot.

New Hampshire (5-1) actually leapfrogged Coastal Carolina in this week’s
rankings, moving up one spot to No. 3 after an impressive 32-3 victory over
fellow nationally ranked CAA Football member William & Mary. Coach Sean
McDonnell’s Wildcats have been ranked for 148 straight weeks, the current
national high.

After Coastal at No. 4, the rest of the Top 10 was No. 5 Villanova (5-1), No. 6
Jacksonville State (5-1), No. 7 Montana (4-2), No. 8 Southeastern Louisiana
(5-2), No. 9 Montana State (5-2) and No. 10 Illinois State.

Then it was No. 11 McNeese State (3-2), which tumbled from No. 5 after losing a
Southland Conference game to Sam Houston State; No. 12 Fordham (6-1); No. 13
Eastern Kentucky; No. 14 Southern Illinois (5-2); No. 15 William & Mary (4-2);
No. 16 Bethune-Cookman (5-1); No. 17 Chattanooga (3-3); No. 18 South Dakota
State (4-2); No. 19 Richmond (4-2); and No. 20 Northern Iowa (3-3).

Rounding out the Top 25 were No. 21 Youngstown State (4-2); No. 22 Indiana
State (4-2); No. 23 Charleston Southern (5-1); No. 24 Sam Houston State (3-3),
which re-entered the rankings after a three-week absence; and No. 25 Harvard.

OVC members Southeast Missouri State and Tennessee State fell out of the Top 25
after suffering losses on Saturday.

A national panel of sports information and media relations directors,
broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the Top 25. In the voting,
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.

During the regular season, the Top 25 will be released every Monday afternoon,
except for the final weekend of the regular season, when it will be released
Sunday morning, Nov. 23, prior to the selection of the 24-team FCS playoff

The Sports Network will release a final Top 25 following the FCS championship
game, which will be held Jan. 10 in Frisco, Texas.