Eight of the top nine teams in the FCS Coaches Poll held their ground in the rankings from last week, as the top teams in the sport won in blowout fashion or had the weekend off with a scheduled bye week. James Madison (3-0) is still in the poll's top position after picking up one of North Dakota State's two first-place votes from the week prior, leaving the Dukes one vote shy of being the consensus No. 1 team.
RELATED: The latest FCS Coaches Poll
Fueled by a deep and talented backfield, JMU defeated Norfolk State 75-14 after rushing for 472 yards and seven touchdowns, which were scored by six different players. Trai Sharp led the way with nine rushes for 130 yards and one touchdown.
Big night in all three phases leads to a 61-point W! pic.twitter.com/wnoBsBT4V3— JMU Football (@JMUFootball) September 17, 2017
No. 2 North Dakota State (2-0) and No. 3 Sam Houston State (2-0) maintained their rankings through their bye week. No. 7 Jacksonville State (1-1), No. 9 Wofford (2-0) and No. 21 Western Illinois (2-0) also had the week off.
Six of the latest FCS Coaches Poll's top-10 teams played in Week 3, outscoring their opponents by a combined 343-79 margin. No. 4 South Dakota State (3-0) defeated Drake 51-10, No. 5 Youngstown State (2-1) handled Central Connecticut State 59-9, No. 6 Richmond (2-1) throttled Howard 68-21 and No. 8 Villanova (2-1) shut out Lafayette 59-0. Only The Citadel, ranked No. 10 in the latest poll, found itself in a close game. The Bulldogs rose three spots to crack the top 10 after scoring 17 fourth-quarter points to come from behind to beat East Tennessee State 31-25.
Risers: The biggest riser of the week is No. 14 South Dakota (3-0), which jumped nine spots after a 45-7 drubbing in a border battle with then-No. 10 North Dakota. The Coyotes' offense was the definition of balanced – 285 yards rushing (four players had between 12 and 15 carries apiece) and 290 yards through the air. South Dakota held North Dakota to 257 total yards of offense. North Dakota dropped to No. 19.
Simmons hands off to Klett for another Coyote TOUCHDOWN! USD 45, UND 7. #GoYotes pic.twitter.com/Pd0f2up3Qr— SouthDakota Football (@SDCoyotesFB) September 16, 2017
Other notable risers include No. 15 North Carolina A&T (five spots) and No. 20 Tennessee State (four spots) after wins against Charlotte and Florida A&M, respectively.
The week ahead: The only ranked matchup of the week is on Saturday night when No. 3 Sam Houston State (2-0) plays host to No. 23 Nicholls State (2-1). Bye weeks will once again occupy the schedules of some of the top teams in the FCS Coaches Poll, including No. 4 South Dakota State, No. 5 Youngstown State and No. 10 The Citadel.