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Noteworthy FCS action either real or an aberration

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - One full week into the FCS college football season and some intriguing storylines have emerged quickly.

The question is, is each real or an aberration?

Granted, weeks 0 and 1 are a small sample size, but projecting the next steps are quite fun.

Let's see what's real and what likely is an aberration.

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N.C. A&T MAY GO UNBEATEN AGAIN

Real: It was easy to forecast last year's only unbeaten FCS team would open the season with two losses, but the Aggies have stretched their winning streak to 14 by beating then-No. 6 Jacksonville State and FBS program East Carolina - the season's best resume to date. The star-studded MEAC team, under first-year coach Sam Washington, even has depth considering backup quarterback Kylil Carter came off the bench to rescue the Aggies against ECU. Another 12-0 season - with MEAC and Celebration Bowl titles - is quite possible.

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FBS RECORD IN JEOPARDY

Aberration: When FCS teams posted a single-season record 16 over the FBS in 2013, it had half of the total accomplished by the end of Week 1. While five wins last week was a good start, the subdivision needed more if it's going to threaten the all-time mark. There are 67 matchups remaining this season, but the sweet 16 is too high of a high standard.

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WILD, WILD CAA IS INCREDIBLY DEEP

Real: The teams picked eighth (Maine) and 12th (Rhode Island) in the CAA preseason poll knocked off the teams picked second (New Hampshire) and third (Delaware), respectively, on opening night. Similar upsets figure to keep continuing because this appears to be the strongest conference in the FCS. It has the most teams in the STATS FCS Top 25 - six - led by three-time defending CAA champ James Madison, last year's national runner-up.

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MISSOURI VALLEY IS DOWN

Aberration: If the Missouri Valley Football Conference surrenders the mythical title of "best conference in the FCS" to the CAA, is it really down? Hardly. If anything, the margin wouldn't be big, especially with North Dakota State favored to capture a record seventh FCS title this decade. The MVFC simply had a subpar first week, especially Youngstown State's meltdown against Butler. Hey, the Valley not only has the No. 1-ranked team, it has No. 3 South Dakota State and three other teams in the Top 25.

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NORTH ALABAMA IS FOR REAL

Real: With a road upset of defending Big Sky co-champion Southern Utah in its first-ever FCS game, the STATS FCS Team of the Week introduced itself in style. The former Division II program is rich in tradition, including three straight Division II national titles from 1993-95. The Lions' .615 winning percentage on the D-II level ranks 12th-best in history. They won't beat North Dakota State on Sept. 15, but with five sub-FCS opponents on an independent schedule, they will win plenty of games.

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IDAHO IS NOT FOR REAL

Aberration: A "maybe" seems to be a more secure answer after Idaho's 79-13 loss at Fresno State, but the result wasn't new for the Vandals, who have dropped 11 straight games to the Bulldogs, including 61-14 in their previous meeting. Idaho might be dropping from the FBS level, but it returned only 10 starters. The Vandals have to learn if using two quarterbacks, Mason Petrino and Colton Richardson, is actually better than one. The Big Sky opener at UC Davis on Sept. 22 will be telling.

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PAYTON AWARD QBS WILL KEEP SIZZLING

Real: The 13 quarterbacks on the STATS FCS Walter Payton Award watch list are a combined 11-1 (two have yet to play). N.C. A&T's Lamar Raynard (who's 2-0), Northern Arizona's Case Cookus and UC Davis' Jake Maier have guided wins against the FBS, and the only loss was close to an FBS opponent (Kennesaw State's Chandler Burks, 24-20 to Georgia State). The three highest individual point totals have been produced by Payton nominees - Samford's Devlin Hodges with 36 and Eastern Washington's Gage Gubrud and Campbell's Daniel Smith with 30 each.

Updated September 6, 2018

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