EWU Eagles Ranked Fourth In Preseason FCS Poll - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

EWU Eagles Ranked Fourth In Preseason FCS Poll

Beau Baldwin is humbled and challenged at the same time.

The Eastern Washington University head football coach knows his team has a lot of work ahead if it's going to live up to the No. 4 ranking it was given in the preseason NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 football poll released Tuesday (Aug. 13) by The Sports Network as selected by a national panel of sportswriters, broadcasters and sports information directors.

"It's what you want as a head coach and coaching staff," Baldwin said of the respect given to his squad, which opens the season Aug. 31 at Oregon State. "It means you've done things in a positive way prior to the upcoming season. Ultimately, you want to go into a season with people coming after you because of the success you've had in the past."

The Eagles, who won the 2010 FCS title and were a semifinalist in 2012, trail only No. 1 North Dakota State, No. 2 Montana State and No. 3 Sam Houston State in the poll. The Bison are the two-time defending FCS champions, and the Bearkats were the runners-up both seasons.

Eastern plays at Sam Houston State on Sept. 28 in a rematch of last year's 45-42 Bearkat victory in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. Montana State, which was defeated at home by the Eagles 27-24 a year ago, plays at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash., on Nov. 9 in a game regionally televised on Root Sports.

Other Big Sky schools ranked in the preseason poll are No. 14 Cal Poly, No. 18 Northern Arizona and No. 20 Montana. The Eagles play at Cal Poly on Nov. 16 and Montana on Oct. 26 – both games are also televised on Root Sports.

The Eagles finished the 2012 season ranked fourth in FCS, just ahead of Montana State. The Eagles were 12th in last season's preseason poll and were No. 1 entering the 2011 season. With a total of 12 1/2 starters and 48 total letterwinners returning to this year's squad, the Eagles have been ranked anywhere from fourth to seventh nationally by other preseason publications and websites heading into the 2013 season.

A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the Top 25 each season. 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.

During the regular season, the Top 25 will be released every Monday afternoon, except for the final weekend of the regular season, when it will be released Sunday morning, Nov. 17, prior to the selection of the FCS playoff field. The Sports Network will release a final Top 25 following the FCS championship game, which will be held Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas, for the fourth-straight season.