By the slimmest of margins, North Dakota State is ranked No. 1 just 21 votes ahead of Eastern Washington University in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Coaches Poll released Monday (Aug. 4). The other major poll – The Sports Network Top 25 – is set to be released on Aug. 8.
The Eagles, who won the 2010 FCS title, received 615 points and six first-place votes in rankings. The Eagles finished third a year ago in the final coaches poll after finishing 12-3 and advancing to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs for the second-straight season.
The three-time defending FCS champion Bison received 636 total votes and were picked as the champions by 18 of the 26 coaches who submitted ballots. North Dakota State, whose last playoff loss came in 2010 at the hands of the Eagles in overtime, were a perfect 15-0 in the 2013 season.
Four Eastern opponents in the 2014 season are ranked in the top 25, including No. 5 Montana (Nov. 8), No. 14 Sam Houston State (Aug. 23), No. 19 Montana State (Sept. 20) and No. 25 Northern Arizona (Oct. 25).
Eastern’s 2013 playoff opponents are all ranked in the top 10, including No. 7 Towson, No. 8 Jacksonville State and No. 10 South Dakota State. Northern Iowa, a team Eastern will play in both 2015 and 2016, is ranked 15th.