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Stan Becton | NCAA.com | November 1, 2021

A pair of top-5 losses gives the latest FCS Coaches Poll a new look

Sam Houston defeats South Dakota State 23-21 to win first FCS title

After two more top-5 teams lost in Week 9, the latest edition of the FCS Coaches Poll has a new look.

Here are some takeaways from the latest FCS Coaches Poll on Nov. 1, which you'll see below.

RANK

SCHOOL

RECORD

POINTS

PREVIOUS

1 Sam Houston (27) 7-0 675 1
2 North Dakota State 8-0 644 2
3 James Madison 7-1 621 5
4 Montana State 7-1 579 6
5 Eastern Washington 7-1 566 7
6 Southeastern Louisiana 7-1 537 8
7 UC Davis 7-1 479 9
8 Kennesaw State 7-1 464 10
9 Southern Illinois 6-2 420 3
10 Montana 6-2 413 11
11 UT Martin 7-1 384 12
12 South Dakota State 6-2 369 13
13 Villanova 6-2 352 4
14 East Tennessee State 7-1 325 14
15 Northern Iowa 5-3 303 17
16 Princeton 7-0 257 15
17 Jackson State 7-1 221 16
18 VMI 6-2 213 18
19 Eastern Kentucky 6-2 193 19
20 Missouri State 5-3 184 20
21 South Dakota 5-3 108 22
22 Sacramento State 6-2 89 T-23
23 William & Mary 6-2 83 NR
24 Weber State 4-4 80 T-23
25 Chattanooga 5-3 44 NR

Two top 5 teams fall

When William & Mary knocked off then-No. 4 Villanova it continued the chaotic 2021 FCS season. The William & Mary defense's four interceptions shocked the Wildcats, giving the Tribe its first win over a top-5 team since 2010. As a result, William and Mary makes its first appearance this year in the FCS Coaches poll at No. 23; Villanova fell nine spots to No. 13, the most of any team this week.

RELATED: William & Mary dominates No. 4 Villanova on the road

No. 9 Southern Illinois was the other top-5 team to fall this week, dropping six spots after losing to then-No. 17 Northern Iowa. The Panthers picked up their second straight top-10 victory, beating the Salukis 23-16. After the wins, Northern Iowa sits at 15 in this week's poll, in a prime position as FCS playoff selections near.

James Madison rejoins top 3 after Cole Johnson's record day

No. 3 James Madison has its highest ranking since Week 6 after quarterback Cole Johnson threw for a school single-game record six touchdown passes. Johnson found five different receivers for touchdowns (also a school record) en route to James Madison's third straight win. 

In addition to Johnson's record-breaking day, the Dukes had another strong day defensively; the seventh-best scoring defense in the FCS held Elon to a 43 percent success rate on third downs.

FBS rumors aside, James Madison remains a force to be reckoned with in the FCS.

🔮: Predicting FCS football's 14 conference champions

Get your popcorn ready for Week 10

Week 10 may be the best slate of FCS games so far this season. Here's a look at the four matchups featuring two ranked teams:

The Dakota Marker returns as No. 2 North Dakota State battles No. 12 South Dakota State. South Dakota State had a rough October, but the Jackrabbits can return to the conversation as one of the top FCS teams by winning a rivalry game. North Dakota State can add to its resume for the FCS playoffs' top-overall seed with another ranked win.

BRACKETOLOGY: Predicting the 2021 FCS Playoff bracket, about one month ahead of selections

Week 10's lone top-5 matchup features No. 4 Montana State at No. 5 Eastern Washington. Eastern Washington last hosted the No. 4 team in the country in Week 5, defeating Montana in a 34-38 thriller. This game has the potential to be just as exciting, with Montana State's second-best scoring defense battling Eastern Washington's FCS-best scoring offense.

The other ranked matchups are No. 20 Missouri State at No. 9 Southern Illinois and No. 18 VMI at No. 14 ETSU. The Salukis will try to bounce back from their first FCS loss while ETSU hosts VMI in an elimination game for the SoCon title race.

Other games of note include a trio of teams with one conference loss taking on ranked teams that are undefeated in conference play. See those matchups below.

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