CAA Football teams lose more games in a conference games against Football Championship Subdivision opponents.
That the CAA has been the nation's top conference in recent years was on display again Monday when for the first time it placed eight of its 11 schools in The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25.
The top two spots in the poll were Georgia Southern and Northern Iowa for the fourth straight week. No. 1 Georgia Southern, from the Southern Conference, gained 128 of the 157 first-place votes and 3,878 points, and No. 2 Northern Iowa, from the Missouri Valley Football Conference, collected 19 first-place votes and 3,722 points.
The CAA has had a team reach the FCS national final in seven of the past eight seasons, with four winning championships during that span.
In this week's national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries, the CAA representatives were No. 6 New Hampshire, No. 7 James Madison, No. 9 William & Mary, No. 13 Delaware, No. 14 Richmond, No. 19 Maine, No. 21 Old Dominion and No. 25 Towson.
This past Saturday, Maine beat Delaware, 31-17, to earn its way into the poll for the first time since the final 2008 poll. ODU, a third-year program that joined the CAA this season, earned its first national ranking by defeating Massachusetts, 48-33, to knock the Minutemen out of the poll. UMass, a CAA school transitioning from the FCS to the Bowl Subdivision, was ranked 20th last week.
CAA teams are 18-2 against non-conference FCS opponents this season and all but one remaining game is among their conference opponents. William & Mary had been the CAA's preseason favorite, but it lost two weeks ago to the early conference leader, James Madison.
"I don't think (the CAA's strength is) any different than it always is. The comments I've always made were, 'When you're 9-2, you're about three plays away from being 6-5.'" James Madison head coach Mickey Matthews said Monday.
"The games are really tight, they are all so close, the teams are really even and the competition is really good. ... Sometimes I don't know if our top teams are better than the other teams in the country. I think the strength of our league is usually the teams at the end that finish five through nine."
Georgia Southern (4-0) won an important SoCon game at Elon, 41-14, to have its percentage of first-place votes rise in the poll again (up four percent from last week). Meanwhile, Northern Iowa (3-1) handled Missouri Valley, 42-7, to give head coach Mark Farley an MVFC-record 55th win in conference games.
Montana State (4-1) moved up one spot to No. 3 and North Dakota State (4-0) did the same to No. 4. Wofford (3-1) advanced three spots to No. 5 after it beat Appalachian State, last week's third-ranked team, 28-14.
After New Hampshire (3-1) and James Madison (4-1), Appalachian State (3-2) fell to No. 8, followed by William & Mary (3-2) and No. 10 Lehigh (4-1).
The second 10 were No. 11 Sam Houston State (4-0), No. 12 Jacksonville State (4-1), Delaware (3-2), Richmond (3-2), No. 15 McNeese State (3-1), No. 16 Montana (3-2), No. 17 Indiana State (4-1), No. 18 South Dakota (3-2), Maine (3-1) and No. 20 Southern Illinois (2-2).
Following ODU (4-1) were No. 22 Southern Utah (3-2) and No. 23 Tennessee Tech (4-1), the Ohio Valley Conference co-leader which moved into the rankings for the first time since the final 2001 poll. No. 24 Chattanooga (2-3) and Towson (3-1) rounded out the poll.
Massachusetts, South Carolina State and Sacramento State fell out of the rankings following losses.
During the regular season the Top 25 will be released every Monday afternoon, except for the final weekend of games, when it will be released Sunday morning, Nov. 20, due to its use as an official tool by the NCAA Division I Football Committee in selecting the 20-team playoff field later that day.
The Sports Network and Fathead.com will release a final Top 25 following the FCS championship game, which will be held Jan. 7 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.