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Andy Wittry | | September 4, 2017

FCS rankings: James Madison tightens grasp on No. 1 spot, Eastern Washington falls

  James Madison running back Cardon Johnson had an impressive showing against East Carolina.

The top three teams in the preseason FCS Coaches Poll backed up their rankings with impressive Week 1 victories, as they maintained their positions in the poll this week. James Madison (1-0) tightened its grasp on the No. 1 ranking, receiving 649 points โ€“ an increase of seven from the previous poll โ€“ following the Dukes' 34-14 statement road victory against the FBS' East Carolina. JMU running back Cardon Johnson tore up East Carolina's defense, running the ball 17 times for 265 yards and two touchdowns, while the Dukes' D forced three interceptions.

RELATED: View the full FCS Coaches Poll

North Dakota State (2-0) is close behind, ranked No. 2, after a 72-7 thrashing of Mississippi Valley State that saw the Bison set school records for the most points and offensive yards since the program joined the Division I ranks. No. 3 Sam Houston State (1-0) maintained its ranking after a 48-34 win against then-No. 7 Richmond. The Spiders dropped to No. 9 in the latest poll.

A shakeup in the top 10

Even though four of the top five teams in the FCS Coaches Poll maintained their rankings, there was some shakeup in the top 10. South Dakota State (1-0) jumped to No. 4 with a 51-13 victory over Duquesne as quarterback Taryn Christion completed 17-of-26 passes for 254 yards and five touchdowns. The Jackrabbits held the Dukes to 259 yards of total offense.

Over in Pennsylvania, Youngstown State fell short of pulling off a major upset against Pittsburgh, but the Penguins improved from No. 8 to T-No. 6 after scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half to force overtime. The Panthers ultimately won 28-21 on Jester Weah's 11-yard touchdown reception but Youngstown State put the FCS on notice after outgaining Pitt 418-348 and holding the Panthers scoreless in the second half. Youngstown State is tied with Eastern Washington at No. 6 after the Eagles lost to Texas Tech 56-10, causing them to drop two spots in the poll.

No. 8 Villanova and No. 10 Wofford improved one spot each after narrow wins against Lehigh and Furman, respectively.

The biggest movers

Several teams moved four spots in the rankings โ€“ the biggest change for any team that appeared in both the preseason and post-Week 1 polls. New Hampshire defeated Maine 24-23 in a game where the Wildcats never trailed, resulting in a jump in the poll from No. 16 to No. 12. North Carolina A&T barey made the cut in the preseason poll, checking in at No. 25, but a 45-3 dismantling of Gardner-Webb resulted in a new ranking of T-No. 21.

Charleston Southern dropped from No. 14 to No. 18 after getting shut out, 49-0, against Mississippi State.

Welcome to the party

It's good to have you, Tennessee State and Colgate. The two schools debut at No. 24 and No. 25, respectively, replacing North Carolina Central and Cal Poly. Colgate defeated Cal Poly 20-14 on Saturday after holding the Mustangs scoreless in the first three quarters. Tennessee State knocked off Georgia State, 17-10, in the latter's debut game at Turner Field, the former stadium of the Atlanta Braves.

What it means for this week's matchups

With the latest FCS Coaches Poll rankings in mind, here are some matchups to watch this week. Several ranked schools will face FBS programs and attempt to pull off a season-changing upset. No. 5 Jacksonville State will try to carry the torch for the FCS in a Saturday matchup against Georgia Tech. No. 14 Chattanooga will have its hands full against LSU, ranked No. 13 in the preseason AP poll. No. 20 Weber State plays Cal.

There are also a few top-25 matchups between FCS schools. No. 2 North Dakota State travels to T-No. 6 Eastern Washington for a massive showdown, while No. 9 Richmond travels for a road game against No. 25 Colgate.

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