Stony Brook’s defense came up big once again with the game on the line, forcing a fourth-quarter fumble by Coastal Carolina and then four incompletions by Chanticleers quarterback Aramis Hillary to preserve a 27-21 Big South road win on Saturday. When the Football Championship Subdivision polls come out Monday afternoon, the Seawolves, who got 233 yards rushing from Miguel Maysonet, should have their first-ever top 10 ranking.
They were No. 11 last week in both the Sports Network and Coaches polls, and five top 10 teams suffered losses over a remarkable weekend of upsets and nailbiters. The top three teams in the rankings all lost at home, and two of those losses were to unranked opponents.
Defending FCS national champ and No. 1 North Dakota State (6-1) fell to unranked Missouri Valley Conference rival Indiana State, 17-14; No. 2 Montana State (6-1) was beaten by No. 6 Big Sky rival Eastern Washington (5-1), 27-24, and No. 3 Old Dominion (5-1) was routed at home, 38-14, by unranked CAA rival Villanova (5-2).
No. 4 James Madison (5-1) of the CAA survived a scare by edging past unranked William & Mary, 27-26, at home. But No. 5 Wofford (5-1) lost a 17-9 decision on the road at No. 7 Georgia Southern (5-1) in a Southern Conference game, and No. 8 Youngstown State (4-2) of the MVC was beaten, 35-28, at home by No. 14 Illinois State (6-1) in the same conference.
No. 9 Sam Houston State (4-2) and No. 10 Lehigh (7-0) both won conference games to keep pace with the 6-1 Seawolves. Assuming at least Youngstown State drops from the top 10, Stony Brook likely would gain a top 10 ranking.
Newsday does not have a vote in the Sports Network, but if I did, I would jump Eastern Washington to the top spot because it beat No. 2 at home, has a win over FBS Idaho and suffered its only loss to FBS Washington State by four points.
The rest of my top 16 rankings would look like this: No. 2 James Madison, No. 3 Georgia Southern, No. 4 Montana State, No. 5 North Dakota State, No. 6 Sam Houston State, No. 7 Lehigh, No. 8 Stony Brook, No. 9 Illinois State, No. 10 Cal Poly (6-0), No. 11 New Hampshire (5-2), No. 12 Appalachian State (5-2), No. 13 Wofford, No. 14 Youngstown State, No. 15 Villanova (5-2) and No. 16 ODU.
The reason for ranking 16 is that they would be seeded that way for the FCS playoffs with the bottom four playing first-round games against teams ranked 17-20. Finishing in the top eight is key because it should mean a first-round bye and a second-round home game.