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Andy Wittry | | November 9, 2017

James Madison, Jacksonville St. lead FCS Top 10 rankings

  Jacksonville State climbed to No. 2 in the FCS Committee's Top 10 rankings.

It should come as no surprise that James Madison was the No. 1 team in the NCAA Division I FCS Committee's latest Top 10 rankings that were revealed Thursday night. The defending national champion is undefeated this season and riding a winning streak that is currently at 21 games (and counting). The rest of the Top 10, however, experienced significant changes as the rankings of eight teams changed from last week, while one new team entered the fray.

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Here are the latest FCS Committee Top 10 rankings.

Rank School Record Previous
1 James Madison 9-0 1
2 Jacksonville State 8-1 3
3 Central Arkansas 8-1 4
4 North Dakota State 8-1 2
5 Sam Houston State 8-1 6
6 Elon 8-1 7
7 South Dakota State 7-2 10
8 Wofford 8-1 8
9 South Dakota 7-2 5
10 North Carolina A&T 9-0 NR

Here are our reactions to the latest version of the FCS Committee's Top 10.

The risers

Five teams improved their ranking from the previous Top 10 release. South Dakota State climbed the most, vaulting up three spots from No. 10 to No. 7 after a 33-21 win over previous No. 2 North Dakota State.

Jacksonville State and Central Arkansas capitalized on the Bison's loss by sliding up one place each to No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. The Gamecocks and Bears lead a pack of five one-loss teams. So what sets them apart? Jacksonville State is undefeated against FCS competition with its only loss coming in Week 2 against Georgia Tech. The Gamecocks haven't beaten a team that's currently ranked in the FCS Coaches Poll but they've topped every FCS opponent on their schedule while allowing roughly 14 points per game, excluding the loss to the Yellow Jackets.

Like Jacksonville State, Central Arkansas' only loss was against a Power Five FBS opponent. Kansas State beat Central Arkansas 55-19 in Week 1 but the Bears have since rattled off eight straight wins, including seven by more than 10 points. Their best win is a 41-30 victory over No. 5 Sam Houston State. They also have a blowout win over No. 18 McNeese, so they have the wins to back up a No. 1 or No. 2 ranking should James Madison or Jacksonville State stumble.

Sam Houston State and Elon both improved their rankings by one spot – to No. 5 and No. 6, respectively – after South Dakota's loss at Northern Iowa in Week 10. They round out the group of five consecutive one-loss teams, with North Dakota State sandwiched in the middle.

Trending downwards

Just two teams dropped in the Top 10 from last week's initial rankings. North Dakota State fell from No. 2 to No. 4 and South Dakota dropped from No. 5 to No. 9. Ironically, they'll play each other in Week 11 when they meet in Fargo, N.D., for the Harvest Bowl, which means one of them will be on a two-game slide after the weekend. A second consecutive loss for the Bison would be a stunning blow for a team with national championship aspirations and another loss for the Coyotes would most likely knock them out of the Top 10 in the polls.

In Week 12, North Dakota State travels to Illinois State, which is ranked No. 20 in the FCS Coaches Poll, and South Dakota plays South Dakota State. The road ahead is daunting for both teams.

Keep on, keeping on

Will James Madison ever lose again? Asking for a friend. Until the Dukes get tripped up, you can pencil them at No. 1 in any type of FCS poll or ranking. Besides JMU, No. 8 Wofford also maintained its position from the committee's previous rankings. The Terriers pulled out a 24-21 win in double overtime against Chattanooga in Week 11. Their next two games at against winless Virginia Military Institute and South Carolina.

Welcome to the party

North Carolina A&T is the only other undefeated FCS team besides James Madison, and the Aggies finally got recognized for their impressive start by claiming the No. 10 ranking after not being ranked by the committee last week. They'll end their regular season with games against Savannah State and North Carolina Central.

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