Polls

Weber State enters 2018 with highest preseason ranking ever; EWU, Griz also ranked in first STATS poll

on

With a little under three weeks to go before the first game of the season for the Big Sky Conference, STATS FCS has announced its preseason top 25 poll. Three Big Sky teams made the cut, including the highest preseason ranking ever for Weber State.

The Wildcats earned a No. 8 ranking thanks to 2,815 points. The Wildcats are coming off of a school record 11 wins and an FCS Quarterfinals appearance after a pair of postseason wins a year ago. Guided by head coach Jay Hill, Weber State is set to carry its momentum into 2018. The Wildcats were picked second in the Big Sky preseason poll and had the most players named to the preseason all-conference team with six.

Eastern Washington was slotted in the No. 9 position with 2,541 points. The Eagles, the Big Sky preseason favorite, return in 2018 ready to compete for the league title and a return to postseason play. Eastern Washington posted a 7-4 overall record a year ago, just missing out on the playoffs. With head coach Aaron Best at the helm and All-American Gage Gubrud in the pocket, the Eagles will have all eyes on them.

Montana senior linebacker Josh Buss (42)/ by Colter Nuanez

Rounding out the top 25 for the Big Sky is Montana at No. 24 with 626 points. Guided by the return of head coach Bobby Hauck, the Griz are set to take the field this season ready to make a return to the playoffs after a 7-4 season. Hauck brings a winning resume and tradition back to Missoula. The Griz have the conference preseason defensive player of the year on its roster in linebacker Josh Buss and a variety of talent on offense.

Southern Utah (357), Northern Arizona (312), Idaho (287), Sacramento State (208), UC Davis (12), and Montana State (8) all received votes in the poll giving the Big Sky nine teams that earned votes.

The Big Sky season kicks off on Thursday, August 30 with three conference teams set to hit the field. Montana State versus Western Illinois, Weber State at Utah, and UC Davis at San Jose State.

Where the STATS FCS Top 25 got started in the preseason Monday was similar to where it ended in January.

Not surprisingly, defending FCS national champion North Dakota State was an overwhelming No. 1 in the national media poll, collecting 151 of the 157 first-place votes and 3,919 points. The Bison were followed by national runner-up James Madison, which gained the other six first-place votes, and fellow semifinalists South Dakota State and Sam Houston State as the top four spots remained unchanged from the final 2017 rankings.

“In the same respect, what you’ve done in the past doesn’t help you as far as what you’re gonna do this year,” NDSU fifth-year coach Chris Klieman said.

Eight teams that finished in the Top 10 remain there to open the 2018 season, including Kennesaw State (5), Jacksonville State (6), Weber State (8) and Wofford (10).

Eight FCS conferences placed teams in the preseason rankings, led by CAA Football with six, the Missouri Valley Football Conference five and the Southland Conference four.

A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the STATS FCS Top 25. 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 will be released every Monday afternoon during the regular season, except for Sunday morning, Nov. 18, 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. 5 in Frisco, Texas.

The STATS FCS Preseason Top 25:

1. North Dakota State (14-1), 3,919 points – 151 first-place votes; Final 2017 Ranking: 1

2. James Madison (14-1), 3,764 – 6; Final 2017 Ranking: 2

3. South Dakota State (11-3), 3,470; Final 2017 Ranking: 3

4. Sam Houston State (12-2), 3,228; Final 2017 Ranking: 4

5. Kennesaw State (12-2), 3,120; Final 2017 Ranking: 8;

6. Jacksonville State (10-2), 3,041; Final 2017 Ranking: 9

7. New Hampshire (9-5), 2,873; Final 2017 Ranking: 12

8. Weber State (11-3), 2,815; Final 2017 Ranking: 5

9. Eastern Washington (7-4), 2,541; Final 2017 Ranking: 21

10. Wofford (10-3), 2,087; Final 2017 Ranking: 6

11. Samford (8-4), 2,003; Final 2017 Ranking: 18

12. Elon (8-4), 1,812; Final 2017 Ranking: 20

13. Northern Iowa (8-5), 1,612; Final 2017 Ranking: 17

14. North Carolina A&T (12-0), 1,480; Final 2017 Ranking: 7

15. Delaware (7-4), 1,470; Final 2017 Ranking: NR

16. Central Arkansas (10-2), 1,383; Final 2017 Ranking: 10

17. McNeese (9-2), 1,133; Final 2017 Ranking: 22

18. Nicholls (8-4), 1,056; Final 2017 Ranking: 25

19. Villanova (5-6), 920; Final 2017 Ranking: NR

20. Stony Brook (10-3), 798; Final 2017 Ranking: 11

21. Illinois State (6-5), 795; Final 2017 Ranking: NR

22. Austin Peay (8-4), 709; Final 2017 Ranking: NR

23. Furman (8-5), 685; Final 2017 Ranking: 19

24. Montana (7-4), 626; Final 2017 Ranking: NR

25. Youngstown State (6-5), 541; Final 2017 Ranking: NR

Others Receiving Votes: South Dakota (8-5) 496, Western Illinois (8-4) 401, Southern Utah (9-3) 357, Northern Arizona (7-5) 312, Grambling State (11-2) 289, Idaho (4-8) 287, Yale (9-1) 252, Sacramento State (7-4) 208, San Diego (10-3) 202, Richmond (6-5) 91, Monmouth (9-3) 53, Colgate (7-4) 45, Lehigh (5-7) 27, Central Connecticut State (8-4) 23, North Dakota (3-8) 13, UC Davis (5-6) 12, Western Carolina (7-5) 10, Bethune-Cookman (7-4) 9, Montana State (5-6) 8, Stephen F. Austin (4-7) 7, Mercer (5-6) 6, Eastern Illinois (6-5) 6, Harvard (5-5) 4, Southern Illinois (4-7) 4, Howard (7-4) 4, Duquesne (7-4) 3, North Carolina Central (7-4) 3, Columbia (8-2) 3, Dartmouth (8-2) 3, Alcorn State (7-5) 2, The Citadel (5-6) 2, UT Martin (6-5) 1, Southeastern Louisiana (6-5) 1

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

Recommended for you