Saturday was moving day across FCS football, with conference title races taking greater shape right before the calendar turns to November.
Of particular note, nationally ranked Montana State, South Dakota, UT Martin and Central Arkansas all suffered their first conference losses. (Here’s the full Top 25 scoreboard)
Three full weeks remain in the regular season. The postseason beckons.
In an eventful weekend, here are our takeaways from the Week 9 action:
Florida A&M Punches Its Ticket
A team clinching a spot in the SWAC championship game basically doesn’t occur any earlier than what Florida A&M has done, punching its ticket with a 45-7 win over Prairie View A&M coupled by Alabama A&M’s 31-16 loss to Alabama State in the Magic City Classic.
Although unlikely, FAMU could still be tied by Jackson State or Alabama State in the East Division standings, but coach Willie Simmons’ No. 16 Rattlers (7-1, 6-0) beat both teams and own the head-to-head tiebreakers. They’ve won 18 straight home games at Bragg Stadium and appear favored to host the Dec. 2 title game against the West Division winner.
Next Saturday, Alcorn State hosts Southern, who are both 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the SWAC, with the winner taking sole possession of first place in the West.
South Dakota State Makes Another Statement
Nope, the Coyotes couldn’t catch the Jackrabbits.
Top-ranked South Dakota State made another statement in the FedEx Ground FCS Game of the Week, pounding No. 4 South Dakota 37-3 for the largest margin of win in the longtime series since 1963.
The Jackrabbits (8-0, 5-0) grabbed sole possession of first place in the Missouri Valley Football Conference while collecting their 22nd straight win to move into a tie for the sixth-longest streak in FCS history. Amar Johnson scored on a pair of 20-yard runs and the defense limited USD to 183 yards.
Next up for coach Jimmy Rodgers’ squad: the Dakota Marker game against North Dakota State in Brookings.
‘Maine Strong’ Regardless of Result
Maine didn’t get the result it wanted against UAlbany, falling 37-21 in CAA Football, but the Black Bears showed plenty of support for the entire state in the wake of Wednesday’s mass shooting rampage about 115 miles downstate in Lewiston, where at least 18 people were killed and 13 wounded.
Included was the Black Bears wearing helmet stickers of the state map with a red heart at Lewiston’s location.
Maine (2-7, 1-5) completed the game’s opening possession with the first of Derek Robertson’s three touchdown passes. For UAlbany (6-3, 4-1), Reese Poffenbarger passed for 324 yards and two touchdowns, and Faysai Aden rushed for 141 yards and two TDs.
The gunman was found dead Friday evening from the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
Vandals Take Down Montana State
Try to differentiate the top teams in the Big Sky.
Don’t worry, you have all week to brainstorm.
The top-10 teams in the conference continue to knock each other off – the latest being No. 9 Idaho’s 24-21 thriller over No. 2 Montana State, ending the Bobcats’ 12-game conference winning streak and creating a tie atop the standing between those two teams and No. 7 Montana – all 4-1 in-conference.
Gevani McCoy passed for two touchdowns, including the game-winner to Hayden Hatten with 2:47 left. The Vandals, who held MSU’s FCS-leading rushing attack to 128 yards (197 below its pregame average, then withstood a missed field-goal attempt that would have tied the game in the closing seconds.
Montana has defeated Idaho, which has defeated Montana State, which has defeated Sacramento State, the Big Sky’s other top-10 team, and now part of a four-way tie at 3-2 after a 51-16 win over Idaho State.
UM kept pace at the top with a 40-0 shutout of Northern Colorado. Bobby Hauck matched the Big Sky record for coaching wins (123).
Stock Up, Stock Down
Stock Up: Duquesne (5-3, 4-0) extended its lead in the Northeast Conference standings following a 27-0 win at Sacred Heart. Darryl Powell Jr.’s only two receptions went for touchdowns from Darius Perrantes, and Edward Robinson had 120 yards and a TD on the ground. Every other NEC team has at least two conference losses.
Stock Down: New Hampshire quarterback Max Brosmer and all-purpose standout Dylan Laube are posting gaudy offensive numbers, but the Wildcats have left something to be desired in close games. The preseason No. 11 squad dropped to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the CAA after falling at Rhode Island 34-28 in overtime. Add in an OT loss to Towson (54-51) and defeats to Central Michigan (45-42) and Delaware (29-25), and the ‘Cats have dropped the games by a combined 16 points.
News and Notes
Jackson State’s Leilani Armenta became the first woman to score in an FCS HBCU game, kicking three extra points in the Tigers’ 40-14 SWAC victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. … Mercer (6-3) remained alive for its first-ever FCS playoff bid, forcing six turnovers in a 45-38 win at No. 10 Western Carolina in the Southern Conference. Included was safety Lance Wise Jr.’s nine-yard interception return for a touchdown. … No. 3 Furman (7-1, 5-0) downed ETSU 16-8 to extend its SoCon winning streak to 12 heading into next Saturday’s visit to No. 17 Chattanooga (7-2, 6-1). The winner will clinch the conference’s automatic to the FCS playoffs. … Tennessee State (6-2) beat Lindenwood 43-20 for its fourth straight win, clinching its first winning season since 2017. Defensive end Terrell Allen had 10 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks, while forcing a pair of fumbles. … Austin Peay’s Mike DiLiello was 20 of 25 for 353 yards and a school record-tying six touchdown passes in a 49-39 win over North Alabama. The No. 20 Governors have won six straight games since an 0-2 start, and next travel to fellow United Athletic Conference co-leader Eastern Kentucky. … Tarleton denied No. 18 Central Arkansas’ late two-point attempt to hold on for a 25-23 upset. Kayvon Britten (156 rushing yards, two TDs) posted his third straight 100+ outing, and the Texans (6-3) clinched a fourth straight winning record during their Division I transition. Only North Dakota State and South Dakota State have done the same since 2004. … North Carolina Central quarterback Davius Richard passed for five touchdowns and rushed for two more in a 62-28 rout of South Carolina State in the MEAC. It pushed the senior to 101 total TDs in his career (63 passing, 38 rushing). Howard (4-4, 2-0), a 2022 MEAC co-champ with NCCU, kept pace in the standings with a 17-10 win at Delaware State. … Delaware’s run of 13 quarters without allowing a touchdown ended, but the No. 5 Blue Hens (7-1, 5-0) routed Towson 51-13 to remain atop the CAA. Marcus Yarns rushed for four touchdowns and scored on a 75-yard catch-and-run on the game’s first play from scrimmage. … Villanova quarterback Connor Watkins was already leading the FCS in yards per completion when he averaged 27.8 yards on 13 completions (361 yards) in a 48-13 CAA victory over Stony Brook. The No. 19 Wildcats (6-2, 4-1) became the first FCS team to have three 100-yard receivers in a game this season – Rayjuon Pringle (196), Jaylan Sanchez (103) and Jaaron Hayek (102). … Gardner-Webb (4-4, 2-1) slipped past UT Martin (6-2, 3-1) in a key Big South-OVC matchup. Quarterback Jaylen King’s game-winning, 10-yard TD run with 13 seconds left capped a 16-play, 90-yard scoring drive. … Tennessee Tech forced six turnovers in a 38-13 win at Robert Morris, scoring on three of them: Daniel Rickett (20) and Aaron Swafford (52) with fumble returns, and Tim Coutras a 39-yard pick-six. … Portland State junior Jobi Malary carried the ball 23 times while racking up 241 yards and six touchdowns in a 47-35 win over Eastern Washington. … Bucknell’s Ralph Rucker set a program record with 387 passing yards and threw for four TDs in a 49-34 win at Colgate. … With Holy Cross star quarterback Matthew Sluka sidelined by injury, Joe Pesansky stepped up with 337 passing yards and three TDs in a 49-47 win at Fordham. … While Davidson and Drake improved to 5-0 atop the Pioneer Football League, St. Thomas won a matchup of one-loss league teams by trouncing Marist 49-14 for its 30th straight home victory. … With Harvard’s 17-9 win over Dartmouth, Crimson coach Tim Murphy put the Ivy League wins record (136) alongside his all-time league mark (198). The Crimson (6-1, 3-1) and Princeton share first place in the league standings. … No. 8 UIW (7-1, 4-0) won a Southland first-place showdown at Lamar 17-7. Freshman Richard Torres passed for 307 yards and two touchdowns. … Just over a week after the shooting death of Northwestern State junior safety Ronnie Caldwell, the Southland university announced it had canceled the remainder of its 2023 season, citing concern for the mental health and wellbeing of its student-athletes. Coach Brad Laird resigned after six seasons and a 16-41 overall record.