FCS Week 5: The Chaos That Was

Beneath the FBS surface of the college football scene, the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) has been thrust into chaos after week 5. Two top-five teams (three when counting the FCS coaches poll) lost and nine of 25 ranked teams suffered a setback (six of them to unranked teams, which will be covered here). This week was all the reason for college football fans to give a little love to the FCS. Both the coaches poll and the STATS Perform Top 25 will be used as a reference (Poll ranking/STATS ranking).

South Dakota 24, #2 North Dakota State 19

The mighty have fallen. FCS powerhouse North Dakota State suffered its first home loss since April 2021 to unranked South Dakota. The Coyotes took control early and took a 21-3 lead into halftime thanks to a late 52-yard pass from Aidan Bouman to wide receiver Carter Bell. All they needed to do was hang on to that lead and they did. Despite NDSU getting within five points in the final minute, they failed the two-point conversion and never got another chance. The Bison drop to seventh in the rankings, the lowest they’ve been since week seven of 2015.

Elon 14, #4/5 William & Mary 6

No William & Mary student can ever watch “Harry Potter” the same way again. For the second straight year, the formerly unranked Phoenix came back in the fourth quarter to beat the Tribe. William & Mary ran the show on the ground, outgaining Elon 307 yards to their 113. Four Elon plays defined the game, though: cornerback Jaidyn Denis’ interception late in the third quarter, quarterback Matthew Downing finding wide receiver Chandler Brayboy for what would be the go-ahead touchdown, the two connecting for 76 more yards on the next drive, and the all-important second touchdown throw to wideout Jamarien Dalton. Elon finds itself ranked 25th in the FCS (via STATS) while William & Mary sports a double-digit ranking: 10th.

Harvard 38, #5/6 Holy Cross 28

Holy Cross lived by Matthew Sluka and died by Matthew Sluka. On one hand, he threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns. Conversely, he threw three interceptions that the Crimson turned into 17 points. Teams at the top usually play mistake-free. Harvard took full advantage of the Crusaders’ off day. Another premier team in the FCS falls in week 5. Holy Cross now drops to 12th in the rankings, the biggest dropper to stay in the top 25. Harvard, meanwhile is now ranked 21st but carries a target on its back entering Ivy League play.

Georgetown 28, #15/RV Fordham 24

It was a historic homecoming for the Hoyas. A last-minute touchdown gave them their first win over a ranked opponent since 2001. This Georgetown team gave the Rams plenty of chances to pull ahead, tossing them the ball three times. Fordham converted those turnovers into zero points. Scoring a touchdown on one of those drives would have caused a drastic shift in how the ending played out. Nevertheless, the Rams are now in RV Hell (Received Votes Hell, for short) and will have to fight for a chance at making the playoffs.

Towson 54, #17/14 New Hampshire 51 (OT)

New Hampshire may be one of the most chaotic teams in football that nobody knows about. This team had a high-flying back-and-forth with Central Michigan of the Mid-American Conference, then squandered an 18-0 lead to Delaware two weeks later. Now, they take another close loss, this time to unranked Towson. The Wildcats and Tigers traded blows throughout the game. Towson went ahead 30-20 to start the second half only for New Hampshire to vault ahead. Towson would then bounce back from a blocked punt recovered for a touchdown to tie it at 48, then block a potential walk-off field goal themselves. In overtime, Towson’s Devin Matthews would punch it in for two yards, securing one of Towson’s biggest wins in recent memory.

Northern Iowa 44, #19/23 Youngstown State 41

The Penguins of Youngstown State were at the mercy of Northern Iowa quarterback Theo Day. Day put up his third consecutive outing of 300-plus passing yards and found the end zone five times (four in the air, the go-ahead score on the ground). Though Youngstown State put up a spirited effort, it still was not enough. This team has talent, something quarterback Mitch Davidson showed in bulk completing 30 of 40 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns. It gets no easier for Youngstown State, given they play in the highly unforgiving Missouri Valley Conference (MVC).

Albany 31, #23/16 Villanova 10

This Albany team may be for real. They played two competitive games against FBS schools Marshall and Hawaii and are undefeated in FCS competition. Quarterback Reese Poffenbarger has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the FCS and it showed in week 5. He tossed for 244 yards and three touchdowns against Villanova. The Great Danes have already matched their win total from last year while it seems like deja vu for the Wildcats. Just like last year, Villanova hit a road bump late in September. The tough Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) will not do them any favors.

Any given Saturday can bring any given result. This week 5 in the FCS just happened to unravel into pure chaos. Sometimes, the real excitement of the week isn’t found in the SECs and the Big Tens of the NCAA, but the CAAs and MVCs.

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