College football rankings: James Madison a unanimous No. 1, Sam Houston State rises in FCS poll
James Madison has been on top of the FCS Coaches Poll for eight weeks and now it's unanimous – the Dukes are the No. 1 team in the country. They received all 26 first-place votes following a 30-8 win over then-No. 11 Villanova.
The top six teams in the poll stayed in the same order as last week as they're a combined 34-2 on the season. North Dakota State (6-0), Jacksonville State (5-1), South Dakota (6-0), Wofford (6-0) and Central Arkansas (5-1) each received at least 500 votes, trailing JMU's perfect 650-vote total.
Two teams in last week's top 10 fell, while two others rose in the rankings.
Youngstown State (3-3) dropped just one spot to No. 9 after taking North Dakota State to overtime, where the Penguins fell 27-24 after an admirable showing against the No. 2-ranked Bison. The game was tied after the second, third and fourth quarters, and the box score shows a similar story of two evenly matched teams. Neither side turned the ball over, there were just eight penalties called the entire game, and North Dakota State had a slight edge in total yards, 393-338.
The Bison are 6-0 overall, 3-0 in conference, and coming home for two straight in front of the best fans in the country. pic.twitter.com/RsKFlGBfhE— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) October 15, 2017
Cam Pederson's 36-yard field goal proved to be the difference in this one, as the Bison proved they're once again national title contenders with an impressive road win against a top-10 opponent.
The Penguins are one of two ranked teams to have suffered three losses in the first seven weeks. The other is Villanova (4-3).
South Dakota State (4-2) fell from No. 7 to No. 13 after suffering a 38-18 loss to Northern Iowa (3-3). After falling behind 17-0 in the first quarter, the Jackrabbits had to play catch-up and were unable to convert on a pair of two-point conversion attempts in the second half.
Sam Houston State (5-1) and Eastern Washington (5-2), which were tied at No. 9 in the FCS Coaches Poll last week, moved up to No. 7 and No. 8, respectively. Sam Houston State had to rally in the fourth quarter for a 40-36, come-from-behind victory against Northwestern State. Eastern Washington used a balanced offensive attack – 227 rushing yards and 224 passing yards – to down Montana State 31-19.
Elsewhere in the poll, previously top-20 teams Weber State (4-2) and Illinois State (4-2) nearly fell out of the poll, dropping from No. 16 to No. 23 and No. 15 to No. 24, respectively. Southern Utah doubled up Weber State, 32-16, behind quarterback Patrick Tyler's 20-of-30 passing, 281-yard, three-touchdown performance. Illinois State was nearly shut out by Southern Illinois, 42-7, as the Salukis threw for nearly as many yards (368) and the Redbirds had of total offense (375).
Montana (5-2) is this week's only newcomer to the FCS Coaches Poll, appearing at No. 25 after a 41-7 drubbing of North Dakota.
After little movement from week to week at the top of the rankings, Week 8 could usher in some major changes in the polls. Three top-5 teams will face a ranked opponent this weekend.
No. 2 North Dakota State will host No. 12 Western Illinois, No. 4 South Dakota will travel to No. 24 Illinois State, and No. 5 Wofford will host No. 14 Samford. On the other hand, seven ranked teams will face an opponent in Week 8 that has one or fewer wins this season.