With the college football season in full swing, the time has come to start looking at the top teams in the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) through the first quarter of the season.
James Madison (3-1) – Things were looking grim for the Dukes, who trailed Appalachian State 21-0 at halftime last week. After a huge comeback and a 35-32 win over the formerly No. 1 Mountaineers, James Madison has firmly staked its claim as the No. 1 team in the FCS.
Richmond (3-1) – The Spiders are a close second after their big win against Maine. In the team’s three victories, Richmond has outscored its opponents 116-44. The landscape of the FCS will become clear after Richmond hosts James Madison on Oct. 11.
Appalachian State (1-2) – Perhaps the best 1-2 team in college football, the Mountaineers are three-time defending FCS champions. The narrow loss to James Madison drops them out of the top spot, but this dangerous team still has yet to be beaten in the postseason with Armanti Edwards at quarterback.
Montana (3-0) – The Big Sky frontrunner, Montana has won two close games against Great West Conference foes in Cal Poly and UC Davis. Winning close games is the mark of a good team, and the Grizzlies are nearing the Big Sky portion of their schedule, which they look poised to dominate.
Northern Iowa (2-1) – Northern Iowa was able to keep its opening-day loss to BYU closer than the Pac-10’s UCLA managed against the dominant-looking Cougars. After completing an impressive sweep of the South Dakota teams, the Panthers have a big test this weekend at Southern Illinois.
McNeese State (1-1) – After Hurricane Ike forced the cancellation of a key early-season match-up with Cal Poly, the Cowboys’ first test in FCS play was washed away. Their first win of the season came against Division II’s Delta State, so little has yet to be learned about how they stack up with other FCS powers – although they only lost to North Carolina 35-27. A tough Southland Conference schedule could shed light on how far this team can go.
New Hampshire (3-0) – The Wildcats offense has looked dominant on its way to an undefeated record including a nationally televised win at Army. Junior quarterback R.J. Toman has thrown nine touchdown passes in the past two weeks and is looking like a Walter Payton Award contender.
Cal Poly (2-1) – The Mustangs were one kick away from knocking off Montana in week two, and hold a win over San Diego State. Hurricane Ike canceled an important clash with McNeese State, putting a lot of pressure on Cal Poly to perform well in its remaining schedule to impress the playoff selection committee.
North Dakota State (2-2) – The Bison are coming off a tough loss at Youngstown State in which they needed 4 yards on fourth-and-goal to attempt a game-tying 2-point conversion. It doesn’t get any easier, as after a bye, they host Southern Illinois.
Wofford (2-1) – Wofford put quite a scare into South Carolina, which was expected to contend in the always-powerful SEC. Trailing just 16-13 late in the fourth quarter, the Terriers couldn’t pull off the upset. They begin an extremely difficult stretch of games beginning Saturday against Georgia Southern.
Scott Silvey is a Mustang Daily sports editor. Cal Poly, which is ranked ninth in both the coaches and Sports Network media polls, is off this week before hosting South Dakota on Oct. 4.