Cheney Free Press -

FCS coaches tab Eagles at No. 7

 

August 16, 2018



Just eight votes separate the two Big Sky Conference rivals who will settle things on the field Oct. 13 in Ogden, Utah. But there is a great deal of football to be played in the weeks leading up to that showdown.

Eastern is picked to win the Big Sky Conference title by the league’s head coaches and media, and Weber State is EWU’s only 2018 opponent ranked in the top 25 in the AFCA poll.  Montana is No. 25, but the Eagles and Grizzlies don’t play this season.

Three other league teams EWU does play received enough votes by the coaches to rank in the top 31 – Idaho (26th with 41), Northern Arizona (27th with 36) and Southern Utah (31st with 11). 

Defending FCS champion North Dakota State is ranked No. 1, receiving 23 of 26 first-place votes. The Bison are followed by James Madison, South Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Kennesaw State and Jacksonville State. 

Not all polls favor Eastern, however.

In the STATS poll, Weber State was No. 8 with 2,815 points, while EWU was ninth with 2,541. Three other league teams received enough votes to rank in the top 31 – Southern Utah (No. 28), Northern Arizona (No. 29) and Idaho (No. 31). Montana just made it into the top 25 at No. 24.

Eastern plays at NAU on Sept. 9 in a non-conference game.

The Eagles meet other ranked conference foes such as Southern Utah on Oct. 6 and Idaho visits Roos Field for the first time since 1994 on Oct. 27.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, which missed out on the postseason after finishing with a 7-4 record, opens at home against NCAA Division II Central Washington on Sept. 1 and takes on Washington State of the Pac-12 on Sept. 15.

AFCA Poll:

1. North Dakota State; 2. James Madison; 3. South Dakota State; 4. Sam Houston State; 5. Kennesaw State; 6. Eastern Washington; 7. Weber State; 25. Montana; 26. Idaho; 27. Northern Arizona; 31. Southern Utah; 32. Sacramento State.

 

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