Thursday, November 6, 2008

Small School Top 10


1. Appalachian St. 7-2 (2)
Despite losing to JMU earlier in the year, App State leapfrogs the Dukes this week after showing that they are no longer the same team that lost to JMU. They played well on special teams and were dominant on both sides of the ball in their 70-24 romping of Wofford on Friday night.

2. James Madison 8-1 (1)
JMU could easily move back into the No. 1 spot if ASU doesn’t continue to roll. The Dukes are still No. 1 in the major polls after their 41-7 thrashing of Delaware. James Madison looks to be the top seed in the playoffs if they win out. Recent injuries have also contributed to JMU's fall from the number one spot and those injuries could hamper their chances at a national title.

3. Villanova 6-2 (4)
The major polls still have Villanova too low—they almost beat No. 2 JMU before a last second Hail Mary lost the game for them. They could be a surprise national title contender and are being slept on by most. Their win over Northeastern was very solid and was a relief after some considered this a trap game.

4. Weber State 8-2 (6)
Based on rankings, Weber State would not be seeded in the playoffs and are barely a top-10 team. However, if you watch the Wildcats you will see they are underrated. Their wins over Montana and Northern Arizona have proven that they belong among the nation’s elite.

5. Richmond 6-3 (5)
While Richmond has three losses, you have to remember those losses are to the No. 2 and No. 3 teams, and the third was to Virginia of the ACC. The Spiders have plenty of young talent that is just starting to blossom and they should be even more dangerous next year. They come off a bye week last weekend and will still need to win out despite showing that they are a top five to eight type team.

6. Wofford 6-2 (3)

The lopsided loss to App State might look bad, but you can bet that Wofford is still a top 10 team, who can’t be overlooked in the playoffs. While they lack the speed to make it to Chattanooga, they do have the talent to win one or two games. Expect a much-improved Wofford team over the last few weeks of the season.

7. Montana 8-1 (7)

Their only loss, to No. 4 Weber State, has become a game they will seek to avenge in the playoffs if given a rematch. While Montana has the prestige and makes money for the NCAA, they are unlikely to receive a top four seed unless they win out and Weber State loses a game. Their 35-point win over Northern Arizona last week was very impressive and appears to be a sign that this team is much improved.

8. Cal-Poly 6-1 (8)

The Mustangs are rated higher in the national polls, but only because they lack a signature win to put them in the top five. Winning out, including an upset over Wisconsin, would likely vault them into the top five and cement them as a national title contender.

9. Northern Iowa 7-2 (NR)

UNI is coming off an impressive win over Western Illinois last week and while they are rated lower here compared to the national polls, they still lack a marquee win over a top team to prove they belong in the top five. Don’t be shocked if they win out and grab a top four seed. They are definitely a national title contender and a team that commands attention.

10. Elon 7-2 (9)

At this point, Elon is the best team that is not considered a true national title contender. They lack a big win but could pick that up in the coming weeks over Appalachian State. Like Richmond, they are coming off a bye week and need to finish the regular season strong.

Out: Central Arkansas (10)