College football top 25: North Dakota State tops final CBS Sports FCS Power Rankings for 2021 season

Maybe the end of the 2021-22 FCS football season was a bit anticlimatic with the North Dakota State evaporating Montana State 38-10, but don’t let that game cloud what has been a wonderful year in the subfield.

First of all, congratulations to Bison for hosting their ninth national championship in eleven years. Their level of consistency and dominance is unmatched, regardless of division. Coach Matt Entz has won his second championship since taking office in 2019, and this year he has been able to work with multiple QBs. With the growth we saw from one of them, Cam Miller, the future remains clear in Fargo, North Dakota.

We also saw a great game from many teams, including SWAC from Jackson State and two from Florida A&M. The Rattlers were the SWAC team that had made the FCS playoffs since 1997.

When you combine these stories with hilarious quarterback seasons like Cole Kelley, Cameron Ward and Eric Barriere, 2021 will remain one of the best seasons in FCS history.

Here’s a look at my latest FCS Power Poll to give you recognition for the season.

1. North Dakota State (14-1): The Bison used the 2021 FCS spring season as motivation for the fall campaign, removing the Bobcats ’frustration and winning the line on both sides of the ball for 60 minutes.

2. Montana State (9-3): The loss of Tommy Mellott QB in the first round of the national title game “Touchdown” was a tough break for the Bobcats. “What could have been” will be an off-season theme, but that shouldn’t interfere with a wonderful year that ended with the appearance of the program’s first national title since 1984.

3. South Dakota State (11-4): Jackrabbits will lose star power, but RB Isaiah Davis will return. He should be competing for the Walter Payton Award in 2022 (word for word).

4. Montana (10-3): I like the football brand that Montana plays, and it should be taken among the pre-season title favorites next season.

5. James Madison (12-2): The Duchess has attended the FBS and Sun Belt Conference. They leave with two national championships from FCS (2004, 2016).

6. Sam Houston (11-1): 2021 was a special calendar year for Bearkats, as they won only one national FCS championship in the spring and the table was in the regular fall season. Until losing to Montana State in the playoffs, the Bearkats won 21 games in a row. Simply remarkable. Like James Madison, Sam Houston has now gone to FBS.

7. East Washington (10-3): Losing Barriere for graduation will be a big hurdle to overcome, but if there’s one thing we’ve seen the EWU do quite well, it’s reloading the quarterback.

8. Villanova (10-3): Defensively, the Wildcats should be great again next season. The biggest question will be what they will do in QB.

9. Kennesaw State (11-2): Coming out of a weird “downhill” season during the spring, the owls – literally – roamed the entire competition during the fall.

10. East Tennessee State (11-2): One of the best FCS stories of 2021 was The Rise of the Bucs. Even with the Quay Holmes tailback going to the NFL, Jacob Saylors is ready for the spotlight after more than 1,000 yards out with 10 quick touches last season.

11. Southeast Louisiana (9-4): Replacing Cole Kelley QB will be the Lions ’main goal this season.

12. The Word of the Flesh (10-3): What an impressive season for the Cardinals, led by Cameron Ward QB, who has been promoted to Washington State. Such is life in this age of college football, and so it creates a huge gap in UIW’s most important position.

13. Sacramento Statue (9-3): Hornets had a great season in 2021, undefeated in the Big Sky game and organized a home playoff game.

14. Jackson State (11-2): Coach Prime’s Tigers was the talk of the season and he is now out of the season after getting the top 50 hires in 2022 (Travis Hunter and Kevin Coleman). Expect Coach to be one of the top 25 while he is in Prime Jackson. QB Shedeur Sanders won the Jerry Rice Award for first-year senior student and Coach Prime took home the Eddie Robinson Award.

15. UT-Martin (10-3): The Skyhawks were one of the good stories of the season, but now they have to replace QB Keon Howard, who played a big part in his return this past season.

16. UC Davis (8-4): The Aggies were a bit erratic and faded in the interval, so hopefully HC Dan Hawkins will tighten his grip next season.

17. State of Missouri (8-4): This will be one of the funniest bands to see in 2022. Coach Bobby Petrino points the Bears in the right direction.

18. Dartmouth (9-1): One of the best football coaches, Buddy Teevens, is earning another Ivy League title, his fifth in his alma mater.

19. Stephen F. Austin (8-4): “Anytime, anywhere ”is Lumberjacks’ motto, and they should be one of the favorites to win the WAC next season.

20. Florida A&M (9-3): The Rattlers were able to knock on the door of the FCS playoffs, replacing SWAC for the first time since 1997 – the inaugural year they held at the conference after leaving MEAC. Coach Willie Simmons has prepared his team for the 2022 Celebration Bowl appearance.

21. Holy Cross (10-3): The Crusaders angered an FBS team this past season (UConn) and won their third consecutive Patriot League title at the hands of coach Bob Chesney.

22. Southern Illinois (8-5): This season I’ve been dubbed the “Heart Salukis”, but make no mistake, Carbondal’s talent number is never a big reason to stay out of the ball game.

23. Princeton (9-1): Coach Bob Surace and part of his Tigers Ivy League title took him home in 2021. With a strong roster, Princeton will continue to compete for the Ivy crown every year.

24. Sacred Heart (8-4): The Pioneers will be looking to stay on top of the NEC next season after a 2021 star. This group is properly built on both sides of the line.

25. State of South Carolina (7-5): What coach Buddy Pough does from a developmental perspective is remarkable. He does more with less than any other college football coach. In addition to receiving Bulldogs invitations to the Senior Bowl, Alex Taylor, Javon Hargrave, Darius Leonard and DeCobie Durant, among others, have also been selected for the NFL Draft. They worked at the MEAC table and disrupted Jackson State in the Celebration Bowl. Never count on a team coached by Pough. SC State could be a problem in 2022.

Groups that may surprise you in 2022: Alabama A&M, Eastern Kentucky, Merrimack, Fordham, Mississippi Valley State, William & Mary, Monmouth

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