Photo: Zach McKinnell (The Bluebloods)

FCS Top-25: Zach McKinnell’s Week 2 Ballot

I have the honor of representing The Bluebloods as one of the 56 voters in the FCS Stats Perform Top-25 for the 2023 season. Each week I will release my official ballot and provide some explanation for the biggest movers in our FCS Top 25 each week throughout the season. 

Week 2 Top-25 Ballot

25. Abilene Christian (2-0)

Week 2: 45-16 win against Prairie View A&M

24. Youngstown State (1-1)

Week 2: 35-7 loss against No. 5 Ohio State

23. Gardner-Webb (1-1)

Week 2: 34-27 win against Elon

22. Rhode Island (1-1)

Week 2: 35-14 win against Stony Brook

21. Florida A&M (1-1)

Week 2: 38-24 loss against South Florida

20. Samford (1-1)

Week 2: 30-7 loss against Western Carolina

19. Southeastern Louisiana (0-2)

Week 2: 35-17 loss against South Alabama

18. Montana (2-0)

Week 2: 43-13 win against Utah Tech

17. Western Carolina (1-1)

Week 2: 30-7 win against No. 8 Samford

16. UC Davis (1-1)

Week 2: 55-7 loss against Oregon State

15. New Hampshire (1-1)

Week 2: 45-42 loss against Central Michigan

14. North Carolina Central (2-0)

Week 2: 30-16 win against North Carolina A&T

13. North Dakota (2-0)

Week 2: 37-22 win against Northern Arizona

12. Southern Illinois (2-0)

Week 2: 14-11 win against Northern Illinois

11. Southeast Missouri State (1-1)

Week 2: 45-7 win against Lindenwood

10. Sacramento State (2-0)

Week 2: 34-6 win against Texas A&M-Commerce

9. Incarnate Word (1-1)

Week 2: 42-7 win against Northern Colorado

8. Weber State (2-0)

Week 2: 34-17 win against No. 21 Northern Iowa

7. Furman (1-1)

Week 2: 47-21 loss against South Carolina

6. Holy Cross (1-1)

Week 2: 31-28 loss against Boston College

5. William & Mary (2-0)

Week 2: 23-6 win against Wofford

4. Idaho (2-0)

Week 2: 33-6 win against Nevada

3. North Dakota State (2-0)

Week 2: 44-7 win against Maine

2. Montana State (1-1)

Week 2: 20-16 loss against No. 1 South Dakota State

1. South Dakota State (2-0)

Week 2: 20-16 win against No. 3 Montana State

Honorable Mentions: Delaware (1-1), Eastern Kentucky (0-2), Mercer (2-1), Morgan State (1-1), Northern Iowa (0-2)

Analysis On Week 2 Ballot

Dropped: Mercer, Eastern Kentucky

Added: Western Carolina, Abilene Christian

There were no changes in my top three teams despite Montana State losing a close game on the road to South Dakota State. The Bobcats controlled the game until late in the second half and had a chance to win the game deep in South Dakota State territory as time expired. I decided to keep Montana State at the No. 2 spot because I believe that the two best teams in FCS football played in Brookings on Saturday night. The Bobcats proved that they can compete for a national title this season and a four-point loss on the road is not enough to drop them in my rankings. 

Idaho made the jump from No. 7 to No. 4 after a dominant, 33-6, win over Nevada. The Vandals held Nevada to only 266 yards of total offense, while Gevani McCoy exploded for 313 passing yards and two touchdowns. Idaho entered the season with extremely high expectations and has shown that they could live up to those lofty expectations through the first two weeks of the season. 

Weber State moved into the top-10 after an impressive road victory over No. 21 Northern Iowa. The Wildcats forced three turnovers and held the Panthers to 46 yards rushing (1.6 YPC). Running back Damon Bankston has been electric over the first two weeks and could be the x-factor for this team entering conference play. There were many questions this offseason prior to head coach Mickey Mental’s first season, but this game was the first step in proving this program can continue to be competitive with the top programs in the FCS. 

Western Carolina made one of the biggest jumps of the week, going from unranked to No. 17 after an upset win over No. 8 Samford. The Catamounts have a roster full of talent under head coach Kerwin Bell, who compared this year’s squad to his first Division II national championship team at Valdosta State. Quarterback Cole Gonzales and running back Desmond Reid are developing as one of the best sophomore duos in the country. Western Carolina will have a tough road test against Eastern Kentucky, which could either amplify the hype surrounding this team or shut it down immediately. 

Southern Illinois made a significant jump in the rankings from No. 25 to No. 12 after an FBS upset over Northern Illinois. The Salukis started the season with an impressive, 49-23, win against Austin Peay in Week 1. There is a major question about whether this team can continue to build momentum due to inconsistency last season. The Salukis upset Northwestern and won five straight games from Sept. 17 – Oct. 15 before losing the final four games of the season. Next week’s Top-25 matchup against Southeast Missouri State will be a massive test for the Salukis. 

The margin between No. 23 and No. 30 (Honorable Mentions) is extremely thin. Abilene Christian has been impressive over the first two weeks of the season with dominant wins over Northern Colorado and Prairie View A&M, which earned them the No. 25 spot this week. The Wildcats have their biggest test of the season this weekend as No. 9 Incarnate Word travels to Wildcat Stadium. Mercer has looked unimpressive for three consecutive weeks, which is why the Bears sit just outside of the rankings for the first time this season. 

Morgan State is a team that seems primed to have a breakthrough season under head coach Damon Wilson. The Bears upset No. 18 Richmond in Week 1 and were one play away from upsetting Akron, but the Zips returned a J.J. Davis fumble with 52 seconds remaining in the game. Another CAA matchup lies ahead for Morgan State as the Bears face Towson in the Battle for Greater Baltimore. If the Bears look impressive once again, then do not be surprised if this team breaks into the rankings next week.

Delaware is another team that I am waiting to see face more competition, which will come in two weeks against No. 15 New Hampshire. Eastern Kentucky has had a brutal first two weeks of the season with games against Kentucky and Cincinnati. The Colonels are a talented team, led by All-American Parker McKinney but have not had a chance to prove it against FCS competition. This week’s matchup against No. 17 Western Carolina will be the perfect opportunity to jump back into the rankings. Northern Iowa has all the talent to be firmly in the Top 25 but consistently underachieves in the biggest games, including a disappointing home loss to Weber State in Week 2. 

Follow @The Bluebloods on Twitter for ongoing coverage of FCS football news, notes, and opinions. You can also follow Zach McKinnell on Twitter @zachmckinnell

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