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Stan Becton | | November 18, 2021

The latest FCS Coaches' Poll sets up an exciting finish to the regular season

See the game-winning TD drive that sealed Sam Houston's first FCS championship

With the final week of the FCS regular season here, the latest edition of the FCS Coaches Poll has a new look.

Here are some takeaways from the latest FCS Coaches Poll on Nov. 15.


A battle for No. 2

Just 102 points separate teams two through five in this week's FCS Coaches' Poll. No. 2 James Madison, No. 3 Montana State, No. 4 North Dakota State and No. 5 Kennesaw State all have a chance at earning the second seed in the FCS Playoffs, depending on how Week 12 goes. With No. 1 Sam Houston likely taking the top spot, the second seed in the playoffs is highly sought after since it is the only other seed guaranteed playoff home-field advantage through the semifinals.

James Madison is the only team ranked Nos. 2-5 that plays an unranked opponent to end the season. It’s possible the Dukes may be surpassed by a team picking up a season-ending ranked win. However, there’s also a chance that the teams ranked three through five lose to their ranked opponents. The battle for the second seed is coming down to the wire.

SCENARIOS: Here's every FCS automatic bid scenario entering Week 12

Little movement after ranked wins

No. 6 Eastern Washington moved up just two spots in this week’s poll, despite defeating then-No. 4 UC Davis by 18 points. While the Eagles are the highest-ranked two-loss team, the slight movement comes as a surprise after a top-5 win.

No. 16 South Dakota is another team that barely rose in this week’s rankings after picking up a ranked victory. In Week 11, the Coyotes beat then-No. 7 South Dakota State on a remarkable Hail Mary, but only rose one spot in the rankings. Luckily, South Dakota gets another chance at a top-10 win this week, facing No. 4 North Dakota State.

Biggest fallers

This week’s biggest fallers were No. 11 UC Davis and No. 13 South Dakota State, dropping seven and six spots, respectively. Week 11’s loss knocked UC Davis out of the Big Sky’s conference title race. South Dakota State’s loss likely eliminates the Jackrabbits from a chance at a seed in this year’s FCS playoffs.

AUTO-BID Tracker: We're tracking every automatic qualifier for the FCS Playoffs

Four new entrants

Four new teams entered this week’s FCS Coaches Poll as No. 22 Stephen F. Austin, No. 23 Mercer, No. 24 Monmouth (N.J.) and No. 25 Florida A&M fill out the bottom of the poll.  Mercer and Monmouth enter the poll ahead of regular-season finale games that will decide conference champions for the SoCon and Big South, respectively. Stephen F. Austin and Florida A&M join the poll as each team hopes to boost their resume for an at-large playoff bid with wins this week.

HBCU: Keep up with scores and updates from the HBCU football season

Week 12 games to watch

The Week 12 poll sets up five games featuring two ranked teams. Here's a look at the matchups:

Each of the above games will impact the automatic qualifier race for the FCS Playoffs. Other games to watch that impact conference championship races include No. 9 Villanova at Delaware and Alcorn State at No. 17 Jackson State.

In Week 12, also keep an eye out for two historical rivalry games as Harvard visits Yale and Lafayette heads to Lehigh to continue some of the longest rivalries in the sport.

HISTORIC RIVALRY: Harvard vs. Yale | Lafayette vs. Lehigh







1 Sam Houston (27) 9-0 698 1
2 James Madison 9-1 665 2
3 Montana St. (1) 9-1 644 3
4 North Dakota St. 9-1 575 6
5 Kennesaw St. 9-1 563 5
6 Eastern Washington 8-2 559 8
7 Montana 8-2 510 9
8 UT Martin 9-1 486 10
9 Villanova 8-2 465 11
10 East Tennessee St. 9-1 444 12
11 UC Davis 8-2 413 4
12 Southeastern Louisiana 8-2 381 13
13 South Dakota St. 7-3 352 7
14 Missouri St. 7-3 326 14
15 Southern Illinois 7-3 294 16
16 South Dakota 7-3 278 17
17 Jackson St. 9-1 277 15
18 Sacramento St. 8-2 246 18
19 UIW 8-2 187 21
20 Princeton 8-1 147 22
21 Dartmouth 8-1 136 23
22 Stephen F. Austin 7-3 99 NR
23 Mercer 7-2 88 NR
24 Monmouth (N.J.) 7-3 86 NR
25 Florida A&M 8-2 53 NR

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