There are five remaining undefeated teams in the FCS entering Week 9, and each has a defining trait that has helped it to a successful start. Here's what makes each undefeated FCS team special.
No. 3 Sacramento State (7-0)
If you have two quarterbacks then you have fun. Wait... that's not how the saying goes. However, that's the case at Sacramento State as the Hornets are changing the norm. Quarterbacks Jake Dunniway and Asher O'Hara have led Sacramento State to its undefeated start, specializing in different aspects.
Dunniway is the lead passer of the duo, throwing for 1,405 yards and 13 touchdowns. O'Hara is the runner, rushing for 13 touchdowns, the third-most in the FCS. The two-quarterback system puts defenses in a bind, preparing for two different approaches. It's a conundrum that has helped Sacramento State to the third-leading scoring offense in the FCS and its best start in program history.
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No. 5 Jackson State (7-0)
Depth of talent
There might not be a team in the FCS more talented than Jackson State from top to bottom. Quarterback Shedeur Sanders and linebacker Aubrey Miller are some of the best at their position, captaining the offense and defense. At the other skill positions — most notably wide receiver and in the secondary — Jackson State is two-deep with starting-caliber players. The Tigers rotate at almost every position except the offensive line, thanks to high-quality depth.
Of course, Jackson State has acquired talent the traditional way, recruiting talented freshmen like No. 1 recruit Travis Hunter. Yet, Jackson State has also been one of the most active teams in the transfer portal, acquiring players like Sy'Veon Wilkerson. It's timely acquisitions like Wilkerson that have set Jackson State apart this year.
No. 8 Holy Cross (7-0)
Many pundits, myself included, knew Holy Cross' defense would once again be among the FCS elite in 2022. The Crusaders have lived up to the hype, having the seventh-leading scoring defense through eight weeks. However, the defense alone isn't what makes Holy Cross special.
Holy Cross' defense combined with its improved offensive attack is why the Crusaders are undefeated. Led by improved quarterback Matthew Sluka, Holy Cross' offense has been consistent throughout the year, averaging 36 points per game. The Crusaders outscore their opponent while shutting down opposing offenses too. That offensive-defensive balance is what makes Holy Cross special this year.
No. 22 Princeton (6-0)
Princeton's defense has been special this season. The Tigers allow 11.33 points and just 57 rushing yards per game, the second-fewest in the FCS for both categories. Princeton also ranks fifth in first downs allowed and eighth in interceptions and red-zone defense.
Linebacker Liam Johnson leads with 51 tackles, but six other Tigers have at least 20 tackles in what has been a true team effort. Team defense has helped Princeton dominate each of its first three Ivy League opponents as the Tigers have started 6-0 for the fourth straight season.
Penn has shown the ability to respond in big-time moments. Against Colgate, the Quakers rallied from a 14-3 halftime deficit, with the defense pitching a second-half shutout. Against Dartmouth, Penn drove the ball 52 yards with 2:11 remaining to kick a game-tying field goal to force overtime as time expired. Then in the second overtime, defensive lineman Grant Ristoff blocked a go-ahead field goal, allowing the Quakers to win the game on its next possession. Finally, Penn scored a game-winning touchdown with 20 seconds to play to defeat Yale.
In all three games, Penn had to be resilient to overcome deficits. Penn never gave up in any of their wins, a quality that has the Quakers off to their best start since their undefeated 2003 Ivy League Title season.