JMU, ODU hold in I-AA national rankings
It didn’t hurt that the Panthers put a scare into reigning Big Ten champion Wisconsin during the opening weekend of college football.
And the biggest move in the Top 25 belonged to Youngstown State, which moved up seven spots to No. 6 on the heels of its 31-17 triumph at Pittsburgh – the Missouri Valley’s first win against a Big East school.
Along with No. 2 North Dakota State, which opened defense of its 2011 FCS national title with a 52-0 rout of Robert Morris, and No. 8 Northern Iowa, which fell at Wisconsin, 26-21, the Missouri Valley has three teams among the top eight in the poll.
Overall, the Missouri Valley has five teams in the Top 25 – one fewer than CAA Football. Illinois State moved up one spot to No. 18 after beating Dayton, 56-14, while Indiana State remained at No. 23 following a 24-17 loss at Big Ten member Indiana.
The top five teams in the poll were unchanged from the preseason poll, each representing a different conference.
No. 1 Sam Houston State was the lone team in that group to have a bye in Week 1. The Bearkats, who lost to North Dakota State in the national championship game last season, received 87 of 164 first-place votes and 3,985 points to hold onto the top spot.
The defending Southland Conference champions will open their season on Saturday by hosting Incarnate Word.
After North Dakota State (1-0) remained at No. 2, Georgia Southern (1-0) was at No. 3 following a 58-0 victory over Jacksonville. Then it was No. 4 Montana State (1-0), which beat Chadron State, 33-6, and No. 5 James Madison (1-0), which handled St. Francis (Pa.), 55-7.
No. 6 Youngstown State (1-0), which received seven first-place votes in Monday’s poll, never trailed in its win over Pittsburgh. Kurt Hess threw for two touchdowns and Andre Stubbs rushed for one and caught one.
The Penguins won four FCS (then Division I-AA) national championship during the 1990s, and Monday’s ranking was their highest since they were No. 6 in the Sept. 10, 2007 poll.
“We’ve got to move on. We’ve got bigger fish to fry. And that’s what we’re measured by,” coach Eric Wolford said after the win over Pittsburgh.
Old Dominion (1-0) was ranked No. 7, followed by No. 8 Northern Iowa (0-1); No. 9 Eastern Washington (1-0), which impressed with a 20-3 win at Western Athletic Conference member Idaho; and No. 10 Wofford (1-0).
Next up were No. 11 Appalachian State (0-1) and No. 12 Montana (1-0), two perennial national powers who will meet in the regular season for the first time Saturday in Boone, N.C.
They were followed by No. 13 Towson (0-1), No. 14 New Hampshire (1-0), No. 15 Delaware (1-0), No. 16 Lehigh (1-0), No. 17 Stony Brook (1-0), No. 18 Illinois State (1-0), No. 19 Stephen F. Austin (1-0) and No. 20 Maine, which will begin its season Saturday at Boston College.
Rounding out the Top 25 were No. 21 Eastern Kentucky (0-1); No. 22 McNeese State (1-0), which moved into the ranking after posting a 27-21 win at Sun Belt Conference member Middle Tennessee; No. 23 Indiana State (0-1); No. 24 Jacksonville State (0-1); and No. 25 Central Arkansas (0-1).
UT Martin, the fourth and final FCS team to beat an FBS school this past weekend – 20-17 over Conference USA member Memphis – collected the third-most votes outside the Top 25.
A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the 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.