EWU Ranked Preseason No. 1 In Big Sky Polls - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

EWU Ranked Preseason No. 1 In Big Sky Polls

Eagle football will have early pressure on its back with EWU being named the Big Sky Conference's Preseason poll. (Image: EWU Athletics) Eagle football will have early pressure on its back with EWU being named the Big Sky Conference's Preseason poll. (Image: EWU Athletics)
 by EWU Athletics

A year after going an unblemished 8-0 in the Big Sky Conference for the first time in school history, the Eastern Washington University football team has been selected by both the media and coaches to win a third-straight title. The league announced the picks Tuesday (July 15) at the Summer Kickoff in Park City, Utah.

“I don’t shy away from the fact that we appreciate being picked so high,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin, who enters his seventh season at the helm. “That means you’ve done good things in the past and it’s nice to see that recognized.”

“We appreciate what our past and present players did to put us in this position,” he added. “But after today you move forward toward the 2014 season.”

The defending champions earned 34 of the 36 first-place votes in the media poll, and 11 of 12 in the coaches poll. Montana received a first-place vote in both polls, and Montana was picked first by one media pollster. Eastern’s 464 total votes in the media poll easily outdistanced No. 2 Montana (416) and No. 3 Montana State (364), and the same was true in the coaches poll with voting totals of 144, 130 and 111, respectively.

The Eagles host Montana on Nov. 8, and play at Montana State on Sept. 20. The game versus the Bobcats is a non-conference game, but could come be considered in tiebreakers to determine the Big Sky’s automatic berth in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivison Playoffs.

Eastern will be trying for a third-straight Big Sky title, which is unprecedented in school history. The Eagles won back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005, and again in 2012 and 2013. In each of the last two years, Eastern has been selected to finish second after earning the top spot following the school’s NCAA Division I title in 2010.

In 2011, a 0-4 start and a rash of injuries led to a 6-5 finish overall and 5-3 mark in the Big Sky in 2011. In 2012, the Eagles finished 11-3 overall and advanced to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs, then finished 12-3 overall a year ago and again advanced to the semifinals.

“I also understand what the predictions said in 2011, when we had a close call against Washington, had some injuries and started 0-4,” said Baldwin. “It’s a fine line between winning and losing, especially with the difficult non-conference schedules all of us play, followed by a tough league schedule.”

Six starters are back on offense and another five on defense, plus the team’s punter and long snapper. The 45 returning letterwinners include 22 on offense, 21 on defense and two on special teams. The Eagles return 12 players who earned All-Big Sky Conference honors, including a trio of returning All-Americans.

After summer conditioning, Eastern will begin practices for the 2014 season on July 31 in preparation for the team’s season-opener on Aug. 23 versus Sam Houston State at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash. Eastern also plays at home the following week against Montana Western on Aug. 30.

2014 Big Sky Conference Preseason Polls

Media Poll

Rank - School (1st Place Votes) - Total Votes

1. Eastern Washington (34) - 464

2. Montana (1) - 416

3. Montana State (1) - 364

4. Cal Poly - 329

5. Northern Arizona - 328

6. Southern Utah 299

7. UC Davis - 228

8. Portland State 227

9. Sacramento State - 222

10. Idaho State 124

11. North Dakota - 121

12. Weber State - 103

13. Northern Colorado - 61

Coaches Poll

Rank - School (1st Place Votes) - Total Votes

1. Eastern Washington (12) - 144

2. Montana (1) 130

3. Montana State 111

4. Cal Poly - 108

5. Northern Arizona - 100

6. Southern Utah 89

7. Sacramento State - 79

8. Portland State 71

9. UC Davis - 66

10. North Dakota - 34

11. Weber State - 30

12. Idaho State 28

13. Northern Colorado - 23

EWU To Host Season Ticket Pick-Up Party

Cheney, Wash. – In partnership with the Swinging Doors and Miller Lite, Eastern Washington Football season-ticket holders will have the opportunity to pick up their tickets exactly one month before the Eagles' historic game on ESPN.

The season ticket pick-up party will take place next Wednesday, July 23, at 5:30 p.m. at the Swinging Doors in Spokane.

The fan celebration will feature food specials along with drink specials and a promotional giveaway from Miller Lite. There will also be a chance to win EWU gear as well as passes to the Miller Lite Touchdown Club during the Eagles' game versus Sam Houston State on Aug. 23.

To pick up season tickets at the Swinging Doors on July 23, fans must bring valid identification. If not picked up, tickets will be processed and mailed in early August.

EWU kicks off its 2014 campaign in historic fashion against Sam Houston State on Aug. 23, live on ESPN. The Eagles' slate features six home games, including clashes against Montana Western, Idaho State, Northern Colorado, North Dakota and Montana.

For more information or to order tickets, click here.