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Griz fifth, Cats 19th in preseason poll

 

August 5, 2014

AP Photo

Jordan Canada and the Montana Grizzlies will start the 2014 season ranked No. 5 in the FCS Coaches Poll. The Montana State Bobcats are ranked No. 19.

Fall camp is officially underway for the both the Montana Grizzlies and Montana State Bobcats. And both teams will enter the 2014 regular season nationally ranked.

Monday afternoon, the NCAA released the 2014 Football Championship Subdivision Preseason Coaches Poll, and both the Griz and Cats were a part of it, while four Big Sky Conference schools, total, were on the list.

Montana, which went 10-3 and reached the FCS playoffs last fall, was voted fifth in the poll, the Griz’ highest ranking in a preseason poll in three seasons. Montana, which started fall camp Monday, returns senior quarterback Jordan Johnson, a Walter Payton Award candidate, as well as senior defensive end Zach Wagenmann, a Buck Buchanan Award candidate.

Montana State comes in at No. 19 in the preseason poll. The Bobcats went 7-5 a season ago, and suffered back-to-back losses at home to end the season. MSU will have to break in a new starting quarterback for the first time in four years after two-time Big Sky MVP DeNarius McGhee graduated in the spring. The Cats also lost leading rusher Cody Kirk, as well as 2013 Buchanan Award winner Brad Daly at defensive end. The Bobcats also opened fall camp over the weekend.

Defending Big Sky champion Eastern Washington was voted No. 2 in the poll. Eastern Washington was tabbed first in the Big Sky Conference preseason media and coaches’ polls. The Eagles earned six first-place votes and 615 total points. EWU finished 12-3 last season, falling to Towson in the national semifinals.

Eastern Washington won the 2010 national championship and advanced to the semifinals in 2012 and 2013. The Eagles will be led by junior quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who finished second in Walter Payton Award voting as a sophomore. He threw for 55 touchdowns and 4,994 yards en route to leading the nation in pass efficiency. Sophomore All-American wide receiver Cooper Kupp also returns. Kupp won the Jerry Rice Award as the nation’s outstanding freshman in 2013, leading the nation in touchdown catches and receiving yards.

Northern Arizona also made the poll, coming in at No. 25. Like Eastern Washington and Montana, Northern Arizona qualified for the playoffs in 2013. The Lumberjacks finished 7-1 in Big Sky play and made the postseason for the first time since 2003. Southern Utah, a playoff team last season, and Cal Poly also received votes.

Three-time defending national champion North Dakota State was ranked No. 1. The Bison earned 18 first-place votes and 636 total points. NDSU enters the 2014 season riding a 24-game winning streak, which is tied with Montana and Penn for the all-time FCS record. NDSU, which will play Big Sky members Weber State and Montana this season, opens its season against Iowa State.

Montana opens its 2014 season Aug. 20 at FBS Wyoming. The Griz open their home schedule Sept. 6 against Central Washington. Montana State travels to FBS Arkansas State Aug. 30, and plays its first home game Sept. 6 against Black Hills State.

FCS Preseason Coaches Poll

1 North Dakota State (18) 15-0 636 1

2 Eastern Washington (6) 12-3 615 3

3 Southeastern Louisiana (1) 11-3 542 6

4 New Hampshire 10-5 510 5

5 Montana 10-3 505 8

6 Coastal Carolina 12-3 447 7

7 Towson (1) 13-3 438 2

8 Jacksonville State 12-2 425 12

9 McNeese State 10-3 424 9

10 South Dakota State 9-5 332 14

11 Eastern Illinois 12-2 314 4

12 Fordham 12-2 305 10

13 Villanova 6-5 287 NR

14 Sam Houston State 9-5 277 13

15 Northern Iowa 7-5 263 NR

16 Chattanooga 8-4 238 25

17 Tennessee State 10-4 237 17

18 Furman 8-6 188 21

19 Montana State 7-5 170 20

20 Maine 10-3 169 11

21 Youngstown State 8-4 162 19

22 William & Mary 7-5 159 NR

23 Bethune-Cookman 10-3 136 16

24 Richmond 6-6 118 NR

25 Northern Arizona 9-3 116 15

Others receiving votes: Samford 95, Southern Illinois 59, Harvard 42, Charleston Southern 39, James Madison 30, Princeton 24, Southern Utah 20, Alcorn State 16, Liberty 16, Delaware 15, South Carolina State 15, Cal Poly 14, Missouri State 12, Sacred Heart 10, Wofford 8, Central Arkansas 7, Alabama State 6, Lehigh 6, Eastern Kentucky 4, Holy Cross 1, Illinois State 1, Jacksonville 1

 

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