FCS Recap: A Look at Conference Races After Week 10

November 5, 2023 by CollegeFootballPoll.com Staff

South Dakota State continues to show up and show out as the Jackrabbits took down rival North Dakota State 33-16 for their fourth straight Dakota Marker rivalry win and fifth straight against the Bison over-all. The other victory came in last year's national championship game which, of course, did not count as a Dakota Marker rivalry win. The only undefeated team in the FCS has won 23 consecutive games, 16 straight conference games, and 7 straight true road games, all of which lead the FCS. It was also their 17th consecutive home win, which stands as 3rd best among current FCS streaks.

North Dakota State, which still owns a 63-47-5 lead in the rivalry, slips to 6-3 over-all and just 3-3 in the MVFC, putting the Bison in jeopardy of missing the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2009 after moving up to the FCS level in 2004.

The pendulum has definitely swung to South Dakota State, which is in the driver's seat for another MVFC title. The Jacks have a 1-game lead on South Dakota and Northern Iowa, and decisive victories in-hand over both.

South Dakota State entered the contest as the No. 1 team in the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com, as well as the AFCA Coaches' Poll. Despite their struggles in 2023, the Bison entered the contest ranked 6th by the computer and 10th by the coaches.

(SEE: Weekly Picks/Scores)

Other 'Top 25' Matchups (3)

(2) Furman at (13t) Chattanooga

Both of these were coming off unimpressive victories in the prior week with Furman scoring an ugly 16-8 home win over ETSU, and Chattanooga escaping with a 24-23 win at VMI.

On Saturday, the Paladins took down the Mocs 17-14, thanks to a go-ahead touchdown with 1:44 left. Furman then stopped Chattanooga on fourth-and-3 to and ran out the clock to secure at least a share of a league record 15th SoCon title. The Paladins can earn the conference title outright with a single victory in its final two games in which they will host VMI (4-5) before visiting Wofford (0-9).

(7) Sacramento State at (3) Montana

The visiting Griz (8-1, 5-1) took down the Hornets (6-3, 3-3) 34-7 as they doubled-up the total yardage on their host, 547-268. Sacramento State, which earlier this year became just 1 of 4 teams to knock a FBS school, is in serious danger of missing the FCS playoffs after beginning the season 3-0. However, since knocking off Stanford and former head coach Troy Taylor, the Hornets have lost at Idaho, and at home to Montana State and now Montana. Sac State came into the game averaging 418 yards and 29 points per game.

(12) South Dakota at (11) Southern Illinois

Despite being out-gained by 136 yards, the Coyotes won a 14-7 defensive battle over the Salukis on their home turf to improve to 7-2 over-all and 5-1 in the MVFC. The Salukis fell to 6-3, 3-3) with their third loss in their last five games.

Northwestern State Cancels Rest of Season

A reminder that Northwestern State has canceled the rest of its season after the shooting death of Ronnie Caldwell earlier in October. The school had previously canceled its game with Nicholls scheduled that same week, then returned too the field to host Southeastern Louisiana. The Demons were set to face McNeese State this past Saturday before the announcement was made.

Northwestern State is 0-6 over-all, and 0-2 in the Southland.

The cancellations not only affect previously-scheduled games, as noted, with Nicholls State and McNeese State, but Saturday's home game with Houston Christian, the 11/11 road date at Incarnate Word, and the season finale on 11/18 at home against Texas A&M-Commerce.

Apparently, the Southland Conference is going to simply consider these to be forfeit losses for NW State, and forfeit victories for the opponent.

Nicholls at (4) Incarnate Word

As noted above, two of the teams affected by the cancelation of NW State's final four games are Nicholls and Incarnate Word. They were the only remaining teams in the Southland with perfect conference records when they met on Saturday in San Antonio where the Colonels pulled off a 45-32 upset. In games played on the field, the Colonels are now 4-0 in conference play and 4-4 over-all. The Southland Conference website shows Nicholls as 5-0 in the conference which would be crediting the game canceled by NW State as a forfeit victory in conference play, but not over-all. The Cardinals fell to 7-2 over-all and 4-1 in the conference.

Lamar is tied for second and visits Nichols this coming Saturday.

Last year, UIW was led to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs by one-and-done head coach G.J. Kinne who left for Texas State in the FBS. Clint Killough, Kinne's assistant head coach from last year, had the Cards poised to make another run. Now the Cardinals can ill-afford another loss if they want to ensure a FCS playoff selection spot.

Northern Arizona at (8) Montana State

Despite a 24-21 loss at Idaho, Montana State remained the No. 2 team in the computer rankings, but the Bobcats did fall from 2nd to 8th in the coaches' poll. Northern Arizona entered the game at just 3-5 over-all but those wins were over three of the conference's better teams - UC Davis at home (38-21), at Weber State (27-10) and Montana at home (28-14).

Montana State had entered its game at Idaho as the only remaining team in the Big Sky with a perfect conference record, but the Vandals prevailed in that game when the Bobcats missed on a 43-yard field goal with 18 seconds left. Idaho's win, combined with Montana's 40-0 romp at home over Northern Colorado, created a three-way tie of 4-1 teams in conference play with the Vandals, Bobcats and Griz.

On Saturday, Montana State broke away for a 45-21 win over the Lumberjacks to remain in that 3-eay tie for first. The Bobcats host Eastern Washington before having to take on the Griz in the season finale rivalry game.

Big South/OVC

No. 18 UT-Martin (7-2, 4-1) survived a strong showing by Tennessee Tech (1-3, 3-6) in Cookeville, as the Skyhawks escaped with a 44-41 overtime win to remain in sole possession of first place in the Big South/OVC Association. The winning points came on Zoe Roberts' catch of a tipped pass in the bottom of the first overtime frame, giving QB Kinkead Dent his 5th TD pass of the contest. The Golden Eagles entered the game as a 17-point underdog, but scored 17 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter to take a 31-21, and stretched it to 38-24 with 10:05 to play. UT-Martin tied the game with just 1:57 to play. Next up for the Skyhawks is a home date with SEMO (4-5, 3-1), which is tied for second with a Gardner-Webb (5-4, 3-1) squad that knocked off UT-Martin a week ago.

SEMO is coming off a monumental 21-20 loss at home to Robert Morris which snapped a 19-game road losing streak after entering that contest as a 30-point underdog by the oddsmakers.

Gardner-Webb, which has to visit Tennessee Tech next Saturday, had to engineered an escape of its own to stay in the conference title hunt by picking up a 45-44 overtime win at Bryant. Gardner-Webb was only a 2.5-point road favorite, and the computer actually gave Bryant a fractional (.075) edge. Gardner-Webb jumped out to a 14-0 1st quarter lead and still had a 24-10 advantage at the break, but Bryant score 28 unanswered points to ahead 38-24 with 10:28 to play in the game. That lead held until Jaylen King's 3-yard run with 4:08 remaining, and following a 3-and-out defensive stand that forced Bryant to punt from its own 10. With a short field, the Bulldogs went 40 yards in 9 plays and tied the game with 14 ticks left on the clock on backup QB Gino English's 1-yard keeper. Bryant scored in the top half of the extra period but went for 2 and failed, leaving the door open for Gardner-Webb to win it on the PAT kick after a TD pass to AJ Johnson.

CAA Has 5-way Logjam

Delaware, which was previously undefeated in conference play, was upset 33-27 at home by 14.5-point underdog Elon. That left the losing Blue Hens and the winning Phoenix in a 5-way tie for first in the Coastal Athletic Conference, along with idle Richmond and Saturday game-winners Albany and Villanova.

The Great Danes were 24-8 home winners over William & Mary and likely knocked the Tribe out of the FCS playoffs.

Villanova was a 45-33 winner at New Hampshire.

Albany (7-3, 5-1) , Villanova (7-2, 5-1), Richmond (6-3, 5-1) , Delaware (7-2, 5-1) and Elon (5-4, 4-1) all sit at the top.

The ultra-competitive conference has 6 teams at 3-3.

All five of the leaders have conference games next week with Albany at Stony Brook (0-9, 0-7), the bottom-ranked team (128) in the FCS computer rankings.

Meanwhile, Villanova hosts Towson (4-5, 3-3), Richmond goes to Elon, and Delaware visits Campbell (4-5, 3-3).

Other Conferences

IVY - Harvard is the only remaining team with an unblemished conference mark.

MEAC - NC Central is the only remaining team with an unblemished conference mark.

NEC - Duquesne is the only remaining team with an unblemished conference mark and has a 2-game lead over Merrimack and LIU. The Dukes can clinch the outright title with a home win over Stonehill next Saturday. If they lose that game, the title could be decided in a season finale visit to Merrimack. LIU is out of it as both conference losses came against Merrimack and Duquesne.

PATRIOT - Holy Cross (6-3, 4-1) and Lafayette (7-2, 3-1) are tied atop the conference with the Leopards owning the head-to-head tie-breaker.

PIONEER - Davidson (7-2, 6-0) shares the lead with Drake (6-3, 6-0) and they could wind up in a tie as the two teams do not meet this season. St. Thomas is a game behind (6-3, 5-1), but the Tommies won't face either the Wildcats or Flyers this season and, regardless, are ineligible for the conference title or an FCS bid.

SWAC - Florida A&M (8-1, 7-0) has clinched the East division, and Alcorn State (6-3, 5-1) has 1-game lead in the West.


This season has 117 of the 133 FBS schools facing one FCS opponent, and Army playing two such games for a total of 118 FBS-FCS matchups.

Of the 16 FBS schools that do NOT play a FCS program, 7 are in the B1G (Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Purdue, Wisconsin). 6 more are evenly split between the Big 12 (Houston, Oklahoma, Texas) and Pac-12 (Colorado, USC, Washington). The other three are Liberty (CUSA) , UTSA (American), and Virginia Tech (ACC).

Three FBS-FCS games took place this weekend. This week saw Campbell lose 59-7 at North Carolina, Kennesaw State fall 24-21 at Sam Houston, and Merrimack drop a 31-21 result at UMass.

There will be 1 more on November 11, and the remaining 4 on November 18.

The FBS programs are 109-4 this year against the FCS schools. Over-all, the FBS is a collective 1,795-152 (.922) since we began tracking this in 2003.

Here are the FCS wins in 2023, so far:
September 9: Idaho 33, Nevada 6
September 9: Southern Illinois 14, Northern Illinois 12
September 9: Fordham 40, Buffalo 37
September 16: Sacramento State 30, Stanford 23

Streaks - Current FCS Longest

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE - Won 23 straight over-all, 16 straight conference games, 7 straight road games.
Last: 33-16 home win over North Dakota State on Saturday, November 4.
Next: Visits Youngstown State on Saturday, November 11.

MONTANA STATE - Won 25 straight home games.
Last: 45-21 home win over Northern Arizona on Saturday, November 4.
Next: Hosts Eastern Washington on Saturday, November 11.

WESTERN ILLINOIS - Lost 22 straight over-all, 16 straight conference games, and 10 straight home games.
Last: 50-6 loss at Northern Iowa on Saturday, November 4.
Next: Visits Indiana State on Saturday, November 11.

ROBERT MORRIS - Had lost 19 straight road games, but scored a 21-20 upset on Saturday..
Last: 21-20 win at Southeast Missouri on Saturday, November 4.
Next: Hosts Charleston Southern on Saturday, November 11.

WOFFORD - Lost 16 straight road games
Last: 28-25 home loss to Western Carolina on Saturday, November 4.
Next: Visits The Citadel on Saturday, November 11.