Jackson State beating up Florida A&M in the Orange Blossom Classic has since sent reverberations throughout the FCS.
After observing the way in which the Tigers performed against the Rattlers on a national stage, it was abundantly clear that this Deion Sanders-led construct was the best team in Black college football.
But one national FCS observer tabbed JSU as the best team in the country after the first full week of games.
Lawrence Smith, a STATS Perform FCS Top 25 voter, ranked Jackson State No. 1 in his Week 1 FCS Power Ranking poll ahead of Incarnate Word, Montana, and even defending national champion North Dakota State.
HBCU Sports reached out to Smith to determine his rationale for positioning JSU at No. 1.
“My FCS Power Ranking is a brand new project for this season. As a STATS Top 25 voter, I already have a traditional ranking that takes into account league and team histories, roster analysis, as well as a certain predictive nature,” Smith wrote in a message explaining the process. “That method puts out a much more “familiar” result.
Smith said the power ranking takes into account results of the current season, not necessarily the reputation a team has built over time that may not provide true context or subjectivity in evaluating performance.
“With the Power Ranking, I wanted to have a fresh perspective based solely on the 2022 season,” he said. “Of course, with only one week played, the early results lean heavily towards those teams with dominant victories in the books. To my eyes, Jackson State had the most noteworthy win in Week 1, beating a FAMU team fresh off an FCS playoff appearance. And not just winning, but winning by more than 50 points.”
That win was described by Smith as “domination” and why the Tigers earned the top spot in the poll.
To put it in perspective, North Dakota State, ranked third in the poll, beat Drake 56-14 and Incarnate Word, slotted No. 2, toppled Southern Illinois 64-29 last week.
Smith suggested that Jackson State will keep its winning ways going and the poll — based on their performance — will determine where they land each week.
Jackson State is currently ranked No. 13 in the STATS Perform FCS Top 25 Poll.
For comparison, here are Smith’s Power Rankings and how he voted in the STATS Top 25 poll.
1. North Dakota State
3. South Dakota State
4. Montana State
6. Sacramento State
7. Jackson State
8. Missouri State
9. UT Martin
1. Jackson State
2. Incarnate Word
3. North Dakota State
5. Missouri State
6. William & Mary
7. Montana State
8. Sacramento State
10. Rhode Island
“Looking ahead, I do think JSU is poised for a season to remember, but I’ll let the results continue to determine where they fall in the Power Ranking,” he said.