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October 19, 2015

(STATS) - Some bragging rights in the Granite State shifted Monday, and the University of New Hampshire Wildcats are not going to be happy about it.

UNH was the first team sitting outside the STATS FCS Top 25 this week, ending the defending CAA champion's run of 162 straight appearances in the national media poll.

The team that snuck into the rankings in front of it? Upstate neighbor Dartmouth, which made its season debut in the poll at No. 25. The Ivy League title hopeful is located in Hanover, about 100 miles northwest of the UNH campus.

With four-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State getting upset last Saturday and tumbling from second to eighth, Jacksonville State strengthened its hold on No. 1, gaining 108 of the 159 first-place votes. Coastal Carolina returned to No. 2 followed by Illinois State, James Madison and Chattanooga.

The Dartmouth-UNH rivalry has been a strange one, with Dartmouth dominating the first half of the all-time series and UNH dominating the second half. The Wildcats hold a 19-17-2 overall edge.

Unfortunately for FCS fans, they aren't playing each other this season. UNH, which has reached the FCS playoff semifinals the last two years, has been sluggish throughout the season's first two months, falling to 3-3 with a 34-18 loss Saturday at William & Mary.

"We didn't do what we needed to do down there defensively to win a football game," coach Sean McDonnell said Monday.

Meanwhile, quarterback Dalyn Williams continued to power Dartmouth to an unbeaten start. The Big Green (5-0), coming off a 34-7 win at Central Connecticut State, moved into the Top 25 for the first time since the final 1996 poll. That also marked the year of their last Ivy League title.

With UNH's streak of poll appearances - which began Sept, 6, 2004 - over, Montana State became the active leader with 80 straight appearances.

Top-ranked Jacksonville State (5-1) returned Saturday from its lone bye of the regular season to post a 42-13 victory at Tennessee Tech in the Ohio Valley Conference. Big South power Coastal Carolina (6-0) was on its bye and returned to the second spot with 27 first-place votes.

Also gaining first-place votes were Missouri Valley Conference co-leader Illinois State (5-1) with six and CAA leader James Madison (7-0) with 18.

By moving up to No. 5, two-time defending Southern Conference champ Chattanooga (5-1) gained its highest-ever FCS ranking. The rest of the Top 10 was South Dakota State (5-1), Eastern Washington (4-2), North Dakota State (4-2), Sam Houston State (4-2) and Fordham (6-1).

Richmond (5-1) moved up two spots to No. 11 as it heads into a showdown at James Madison on Saturday. The Spiders were followed by McNeese State (6-0), Eastern Kentucky (4-2), Portland State (5-1), Harvard (5-0), Youngstown State (3-3), William & Mary (4-2), Indiana State (4-2), Montana (3-3) and Western Illinois (4-2), which moved into the Top 25 for the first time since the final 2010 poll.

Rounding out the Top 25 were Montana State (3-3), which kept its streak of poll appearances alive despite a 59-42 loss at Portland State; Northern Iowa (2-4); Villanova (3-3); North Carolina A&T (5-1), the first-place team in the MEAC which moved into the rankings for the first time this season; and Dartmouth.

Like New Hampshire, Southeastern Louisiana and North Dakota fell from the Top 25 after suffering losses. With Western Illinois' inclusion, the Missouri Valley gained a season-high seven teams in the rankings.

A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the STATS FCS Top 25. In the voting, a first-place vote is worth 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.

The Top 25 is released every Monday afternoon during the regular season, except for Sunday morning, Nov. 22, prior to the selection of the 24-team FCS playoff field. A final Top 25 will follow the FCS championship game, which will be held Jan. 9 in Frisco, Texas.

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