College Football

VMI's first FCS ranking, Jackson State's return highlight Top 25 poll

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

By CRAIG HALEY

Stats Perform FCS Senior Editor

(Stats Perform) - Welcome to the newcomers in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 - some old, some familiar, some never been here before.

While surprise teams continued to be a big part of the national media rankings on Monday, national power James Madison remained No. 1 for a third straight week, although its most recent game was postponed for COVID-19 issues. The Dukes (3-0) were followed by North Dakota (4-0) up one spot to its highest-ever ranking at No. 2 heading into Saturday's Missouri Valley Conference showdown at No. 4 North Dakota State (4-1). Weber State (2-0) was No. 3 and Southern Illinois (4-1) No. 5.

VMI, which sits atop the Southern Conference standings, powered into the poll at No. 19. It marked the first FCS ranking for the Keydets (3-0) since the military school moved into the subdivision in 1982.

"To start 3-0 for the first time since 1981 is huge and a tremendous accomplishment," sixth-year coach Scott Wachenheim said. "We had two themes (last) week: to be humble and hungry."

At No. 23, Richmond entered the rankings for the first time since 2017. The Spiders (2-0) visit James Madison in an important CAA Football game on Saturday.

Jackson State, which is 3-0 under first-year coach Deion Sanders, checked in at No. 24 - the SWAC member's first ranking since the final 2011 poll. Ohio Valley Conference co-leader Murray State (3-0) was No. 25, also returning to the poll for the first time since the 2011 season.

A national panel selects the Stats Perform FCS Top 25, which this spring includes only schools that have committed to playing a regular schedule. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.

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STATS PERFORM FCS TOP 25 (MARCH 15)

1. James Madison (3-0, 1-0 CAA), 975 points (28 first-place votes)

Previous Ranking: 1; Week 5 Result: Postponed vs. William & Mary

2. North Dakota (4-0 Missouri Valley), 944 (10)

Previous Ranking: 3; Week 5 Result: 38-21 win at Western Illinois

3. Weber State (2-0 Big Sky), 943 (2)

Previous Ranking: 2; Week 5 Result: 18-13 win over then-No. 23 UC Davis

4. North Dakota State (4-1, 3-1 Missouri Valley), 829

Previous Ranking: 5; Week 5 Result: 21-13 win over then-No. 22 Illinois State

5. Southern Illinois (4-1, 3-1 Missouri Valley), 815

Previous Ranking: T10; Week 5 Result: 17-16 win over then-No. 4 Northern Iowa

6. South Dakota State (3-1 Missouri Valley), 811

Previous Ranking: 8; Week 5 Result: 19-17 win over Youngstown State

7. Sam Houston (2-0 Southland), 743

Previous Ranking: 12; Week 5 Result: 71-17 win over then-No. 7 Nicholls

8. Jacksonville State (6-1, 3-0 Ohio Valley), 716

Previous Ranking: T10; Week 5 Result: 37-20 win at UT Martin

9. Kennesaw State (2-0, 1-0 Big South), 707

Previous Ranking: 9; Week 5 Result: 24-19 win over Charleston Southern

10. Northern Iowa (2-2 Missouri Valley), 639

Previous Ranking: 4; Week 5 Result: 17-16 loss at then-No. 10 at Southern Illinois

11. Chattanooga (2-1, 2-0 Southern), 483

Previous Ranking: 14; Week 5 Result: No game

12. Delaware (2-0 CAA), 464

Previous Ranking: 19; Week 5 Result: 31-3 win over Stony Brook

13. Furman (3-1 Southern), 443

Previous Ranking: 15; Week 5 Result: 17-13 win at ETSU

14. Villanova (1-1 CAA), 438

Previous Ranking: 6; Week 5 Result: 40-37 OT loss to Rhode Island

15. Eastern Washington (2-1 Big Sky), 425

Previous Ranking: 16; Week 5 Result: 46-42 win at Idaho State

16. Southeastern Louisiana (2-1 Southland), 394

Previous Ranking: 18; Week 5 Result: 27-24 win over Northwestern State

17. Nicholls (3-1, 2-1 Southland), 357

Previous Ranking: 7; Week 5 Result: 71-17 loss at then-No. 12 Sam Houston

18. Albany (1-1 CAA), 255

Previous Ranking: 13; Week 5 Result: 38-34 loss at Maine

19. VMI (3-0 Southern), 253

Previous Ranking: Unranked; Week 5 Result: 41-14 win over Mercer

20. New Hampshire (0-1 CAA), 228

Previous Ranking: 17; Week 5 Result: No game

21. UC Davis (1-1 Big Sky), 182

Previous Ranking: 23; Week 5 Result: 18-13 loss at then-No. 2 Weber State

22. UIW (2-0 Southland), 179

Previous Ranking: 25; West 5 Result: No game

23. Richmond (2-0 CAA), 150

Previous Ranking: Unranked; Week 5 Result: 38-14 win at Elon

24. Jackson State (3-0, 2-0 SWAC), 141

Previous Ranking: Unranked; Week 5 Result: 43-7 win over Mississippi Valley State

25. Murray State (3-0 Ohio Valley), 90

Previous Ranking: Unranked; Week 5 Result: 36-31 win at Tennessee Tech

Dropped Out: Wofford (20), South Dakota (21), Illinois State (22), Monmouth (24)

Others Receiving Votes (schools listed on two or more ballots): Monmouth 71, Idaho 60, Rhode Island 58, Gardner-Webb 38, Illinois State 31, Maine 26, South Dakota 20, Austin Peay 16, Tarleton 15, San Diego 14, Wofford 14, ETSU 5

Updated March 15, 2021

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