AP Photo
October 17, 2016
AP Photo

(STATS) - The top seven teams had been the same in the STATS FCS Top 25 for three straight weeks, but there was significant change on Monday, led by Sam Houston State becoming the new No. 1 team in the nation.

The reshuffling up top came after one of the bigger Saturdays of the regular season, when top-ranked North Dakota State and fifth-ranked Chattanooga both lost for the first time.

Sam Houston (6-0) marched on as one of two unbeaten FCS teams. The Southland Conference power gained 113 of the 165 first-place votes in the national media poll.

Each of the first five teams gained first-place votes. Jacksonville State and Eastern Washington moved up one spot each to No. 2 and 3, respectively, while North Dakota State tumbled to fourth and The Citadel, the nation's other unbeaten team, rose to No. 5.

Sam Houston last held the No. 1 ranking on Sept. 7, 2015.

"The kids have played very well and it is a great honor," third-year coach K.C. Keeler said. "But I think this team is mature enough to understand that No. 1 in October isn't the final destination. It's just part of the journey and the bull's-eye on our back just got a little bit bigger."

Sam Houston leads the FCS in points and offensive yards per game, fueled by junior quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe and his national-best 26 touchdown passes. The Bearkats defeated Abilene Christian 48-21 this past weekend to remain in first place in the Southland.

Up next is a trip to Nicholls for a Bearkats team that has its sights on winning the national championship after reaching the national finals or semifinals in four of the past five seasons.

Jacksonville State (5-1) knocked Sam Houston out of last year's semifinals. The Gamecocks beat Austin Peay 34-14 this past weekend to remain in first place in the Ohio Valley Conference. They gained 19 first-place votes in the poll.

Eastern Washington (5-1) had a bye this past weekend. The Big Sky Conference power, whose lone loss is to North Dakota State in overtime, gained 17 first-place votes.

North Dakota State (5-1) fell to rival South Dakota State 19-17 to fall to No. 4. The Bison, who have won the last five Missouri Valley Conference and FCS national titles, gained 11 first-place votes.

The other five first-place votes went to The Citadel (6-0), which beat Chattanooga 22-14 to take over first place in the Southern Conference. The No. 5 ranking is the Bulldogs' highest since the 1992 season-ending poll.

Richmond (6-1) claimed the No. 6 spot after a shutout of Villanova and South Dakota State (4-2) rose four spots to No. 7 after its big win over North Dakota State. James Madison (6-1), Charleston Southern (3-2) and Montana (5-1) completed the Top 10.

Chattanooga (6-1) dropped six spots to No. 11 and was followed by Western Illinois (5-1), Youngstown State (5-1), North Carolina A&T (5-1), Eastern Illinois (5-2), Villanova (5-2), Cal Poly (4-2) and Coastal Carolina in a tie for 17th place, North Dakota (5-2) and Central Arkansas (5-1).

Rounding out the Top 25 were Samford (5-1) at No. 21, Grambling State (4-1), Albany (4-2), Stony Brook (4-2) and Tennessee State (5-1). Stony Brook returned to the rankings after appearing earlier this season and Tennessee State returned for the first time since Oct. 6, 2014.

Harvard and Northern Iowa dropped from the Top 25 following losses.

The FCS conferences with the most selections were CAA Football with five, the Big Sky and Missouri Valley with four each, and the OVC with three.

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. 20, 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. 7 in Frisco, Texas.

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