Eagles ranked 9th nationally by STATS in Preseason Poll - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Eagles ranked 9th nationally by STATS in Preseason Poll

Photo: EWU Athletics Photo: EWU Athletics

By Eastern Washington Athletics

The Eastern Washington University football team has been ranked ninth in the STATS preseason top 25 poll announced Monday (Aug. 6). That poll, as well as a poll of coaches now conducted by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), will be released on a weekly basis once the season begins in September.
Picked to win the Big Sky Conference title by the league's head coaches and media, just one of EWU's 2018 opponents are ranked in the top 25. Weber State is No. 8, while three others received enough votes to rank in the top 31 – Southern Utah (#28), Northern Arizona (#29) and Idaho (#31). Montana, which is not on EWU's schedule for the first time since 1982, just made it into the top 25 at No. 24.
"Like we always say, preseason and postseason polls are vastly different arenas as far as where you're picked," said second-year head coach Aaron Best, whose team has begun practices for the 2018 season. "The postseason poll is where you get to based on wins and losses. Preseason is based on projections and prognostications going into the year. In between, it's about staying healthy and having a few breaks and bounces go your way -- there are a lot of things involved. It's nice to be recognized and it means our players and our staff have done a good job to this point.
Eastern and Weber State meet on Oct. 13 in Ogden, Utah, and that game has been picked by STATS as the most important Big Sky game of the season on its list of Pivotal FCS Conference Games in 2018. Eastern plays at NAU on Sept. 9 in a non-conference game, one week after the team's opener at home versus Central Washington on Sept. 1.
Three weeks after the team plays at Washington State of the Pacific 12 Conference on Sept. 15, the Eagles will host Southern Utah on Oct. 6. Three weeks after that, Idaho visits Roos Field for the first time since 1994 on Oct. 27. Both the SUU and Idaho games will be televised by ROOT Sports.
Defending FCS champion North Dakota State is ranked No. 1, receiving 151 of 157 first-place votes. The Bison are followed by James Madison, South Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Kennesaw State, Jacksonville State and New Hampshire.
Previously, Eastern ranked as high as fourth nationally in rankings released by a trio of preseason publications. Hero Sports pegged the Eagles as the No. 4 team in FCS, ranking behind defending champion NDSU, JMU and Kennesaw State. Eastern is sixth in the Athlon Sports rankings, and is the top-ranked Big Sky team in both polls. Weber State is rated No. 9, Montana is No. 18 and Sacramento State is No. 23 by Athlon, and Hero Sports has Weber State 18th, UC Davis 22nd and Big Sky newcomer Idaho at 23rd.
The Wildcats, who advanced to the quarterfinals of last year's FCS Playoffs, are the highest-ranked BSC team on Street & Smith's top 25. Weber State is seventh, followed by EWU at 14th, Northern Arizona at 16th and Sacramento State at 19th.
Eastern's complete schedule may be found at:

Preseason Polls . . .

STATS: 1. North Dakota State; 2. James Madison; 3. South Dakota State; 4. Sam Houston State; 5. Kennesaw State; 8. Weber State; 9. Eastern Washington; 24. Montana; 28. Southern Utah; 29. Northern Arizona; 31. Idaho; 33. Sacramento State.
Hero Sports: 1. North Dakota State; 2. James Madison; 3. Kennesaw State; 4. Eastern Washington; 5. South Dakota State; 18. Weber State; 22. UC Davis; 23. Idaho.
Athlon Sports: 1. North Dakota State; 2. James Madison; 3. New Hampshire; 4. South Dakota State; 5. Kennesaw State; 6. Eastern Washington; 9. Weber State; 18. Montana; 23. Sacramento State.
Street & Smith's: 1. North Dakota State; 2. James Madison; 3. South Dakota State; 4. Kennesaw State; 5. Jacksonville State; 6. Sam Houston State; 7. Weber State; 14. Eastern Washington; 16. Northern Arizona; 19 Sacramento State.