Upsets and computer rankings caused a major shake-up in this week’s NJCAA poll.
Iowa Western came out of it in the best possible position it could’ve hoped for.
The Reivers (5-1) fell five spots to No. 7 following their 48-38 loss at Georgia Military on Saturday. But Iowa Western remained the highest rated team with a loss.
“Obviously, this was probably the best-case scenario after what happened on Saturday,” IWCC coach Scott Strohmeier said. “I had a pretty good idea, if we would’ve taken care of business on Saturday, where we’d be today.”
That would be where Georgia Military currently sits — atop the NJCAA poll. Unranked in the preseason, the Bulldogs (6-0) have ascended all the way to No. 1 after beating two teams (Snow and Iowa Western) that were rated No. 2 at the time and another (ASA) that was No. 10.
GMC moved up from No. 5 after last week’s No. 1, No. 2 and No. 4 teams lost. It also got help from the Football Computer Rankings, which were added as part of the poll starting this week. Introduced last season, the FCR accounts for 33 percent of the NJCAA poll. Human voters make up the rest.
For the second straight year, No. 2 East Mississippi was the team hurt the most by the FCR. In 2012, the Lions dropped from No. 1 to No. 4 when the FCR came into play, even though they had eight of the nine first-place votes in the human polls. This week, they had seven of nine but remained behind GMC.
Other unbeaten teams make up the next four spots in the poll. Iowa Western landed ahead of former No. 1 Navarro, which was upset at home by Trinity Valley, a team the Reivers beat to open the season.
Teams from the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges occupy five of the top 10 spots in the new poll. Many of them will play each other in the upcoming weeks.
Right now, Iowa Western is benefiting from the strength of its nonconference schedule. It plays unranked Arkansas Baptist this week, and then faces the four other teams in the Midwest Football Conference for a second time.
Those remaining games will do little to help the Reivers in the FCR. But Iowa Western could receive a boost if Georgia Military, Trinity Valley and Arkansas Baptist have strong finishes to the season.
“We probably have, outside of Georgia Military, the strongest strength of schedule right now today,” Strohmeier said. “We’ve got to hope those nonconference teams keep winning because those are bonus ones. Everything else is kind of a wash.
“There’s lots of season left, and there still could be some fluctuation as well from the computer polls.”