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Anthony Chiusano | NCAA.com | October 22, 2019

FCS football rankings: Sacramento State soars after another top-10 upset; Huge Dakota Marker rivalry on deck

Check out this week's FCS top plays

All eyes will be on North Dakota State-South Dakota State in Brookings, South Dakota this weekend for the top-3 rivalry meeting. Even the ESPN College GameDay crew will be there. But before we get to Saturday, let's break down the latest FCS Coaches' Poll.

Here is the complete top 25, released Monday, Oct. 21:

RANK

SCHOOL

RECORD

POINTS

PREVIOUS

1 North Dakota St. (26) 7-0 650 1
2 James Madison 7-1 622 2
3 South Dakota St. 6-1 600 3
4 Kennesaw St. 6-1 561 4
5 Weber St. 5-2 552 5
6 Villanova 6-1 516 7
7 Illinois St. 5-2 484 10
8 Sacramento St. 5-2 422 17
9 Montana St. 5-2 420 12
10 Central Arkansas 5-2 400 13
11 Montana 5-2 388 6
12 Northern Iowa 4-3 377 15
13 Princeton 5-0 323 16
14 Furman 4-3 268 8
15 Nicholls 4-3 232 9
16 Dartmouth 5-0 225 21
17 Towson 4-3 212 20
18 North Carolina A&T 4-2 207 11
19 Delaware 4-3 115 24
20 UIW 5-2 113 25
21 Jacksonville St. 5-3 101 14
22 UC Davis 4-4 96 22
23 Florida A&M 6-1 86 NR
24 Central Connecticut St. 6-1 83 NR
25 Sam Houston St. 5-3 75 NR

Sacramento State continues surge through Big Sky schedule, up the poll

What a run it's been for Sacramento State, who has emerged from unranked two weeks ago to No. 8 in Monday's poll. The Hornets have defeated three straight ranked teams, including consecutive top-10 opponents, to maintain a share of first place in the Big Sky with No. 5 Weber State.

Sacramento State dominated then-No. 6 Montana 49-22 in Saturday's homecoming game. Quarterback Kevin Thomson finished with six total touchdowns, marking his third straight game with at least five scores.

On defense, the Hornets limited Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed to just 140 passing yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions before a third-quarter ankle injury sidelined him for the rest of the game. Sacramento State now ranks 17th in the nation in scoring defense (20.3 points per game).

After going through a three-game gauntlet against then-No. 22 Eastern Washington, at then-No. 6 Montana State and against then-No. 6 Montana, Sacramento State is due for a bit of a reprieve this week against 2-5 Cal Poly. That'll serve as a precursor for a Nov. 2 home meeting with Weber State that could help determine the Big Sky race. 

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North Dakota State vs. South Dakota State: High-stakes Dakota Marker game

No. 1 North Dakota State and No. 3 South Dakota State will play for the Dakota Marker trophy for a 110th time, with NDSU holding the all-time edge 62-42-5. This year's meeting will once again have major implications in the MVFC race, with each team standing at 3-0 in conference play.

North Dakota State's last loss came 29 games ago in its 2017 regular season matchup with SDSU in Brookings. Another home win in this year's meeting would put the Jackrabbits in pole position for its first MVFC title since 2016 — when they shared the crown with the Bison.

But top-ranked North Dakota State has yet to show any cracks this season despite a revamped roster and challenging schedule. The Bison followed up four straight ranked wins by pitching a 22-0 shutout against Missouri State this past Saturday.

Monday's poll marked the seventh straight week that North Dakota State has been voted unanimous No. 1.

3 new teams enter this week's rankings

A trio of new teams took over the final three spots in this week's FCS Coaches' Poll. No. 23 Florida A&M and No. 24 Central Connecticut State are ranked for the first time this season.

The Rattlers took down then-No. 11 North Carolina A&T in overtime on Sunday to stay atop the MEAC standings. CCSU crushed Bryant 52-14 to remain one of three undefeated teams in NEC play.

Sam Houston State is back at No. 25 after a one-week poll absence. The Bearkats blanked then-No. 9 Nicholls 17-0 at home on Saturday to move to 4-1 in a crowded Southland conference race. Typically known for its dangerous offense in recent years, SHSU has taken great strides on defense this season. The Bearkats have allowed 20 points or less in six of eight games.

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Top games to watch in Week 9

North Dakota State at South Dakota State isn't the only game to watch this weekend. In total, four ranked conference matchups headline Week 9's slate. Here's how and when to watch those games, as well as some other crucial matchups. 

FULL FCS SCOREBOARD

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