TOWSON, Md. – Already named as the pre-season favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association, Towson University has been ranked seventh in the 2012 The College Sporting News FCS Football pre-season poll, it has been announced by CSN officials.
The Tigers, who finished the 2011 season as the ninth-ranked team in FCS, have 39 letter winners returning from a squad that was the most improved team in Division I last season. Coach Rob Ambrose guided the Tigers to a 9-3 record, their first CAA championship and a berth in the FCS playoffs. Towson posted a 7-1 CAA record to win the conference title outright.
The Tigers are one of six CAA teams that are ranked in the Top 25. James Madison is ranked fifth in the nation while Old Dominion is ranked eighth. No. 13 Delaware and No. 14 New Hampshire join No. 19 Maine as CAA teams that are nationally-ranked.
North Dakota State, which won its first FCS Division I national title last year and the school’s ninth NCAA football crown overall, is ranked No. 1 in the 2012 NCAA FCS pre-season poll conducted by the staff of CSN.
The Bison made the school’s second FCS playoff appearance pay off in their trip to Frisco, Texas to win the national title for the first time since winning the Division II title in 1990. Finishing a close second to the Bison in the preseason poll is last year’s runner-up, Sam Houston State.
The 2011 season showed the parity in the FCS, with NDSU and SHSU both making their respective school’s first national title game appearance. While some of the traditional FCS powers will be in the fight for a national championship this season, the battle for the top prize should once again be wide open. In fact, 33 schools received votes in the staff poll.
Last year's FCS semi-finalist Georgia Southern wound up in the third position, while Big Sky Conference co-champion and 2011 Division I playoff quarterfinalist Montana State was in the number four spot. James Madison, which won the 2004 FCS title, is ranked fifth.
The remainder of the Top 10 has three-time national titlist Appalachian State in the #6 position, 2011 CAA champion Towson at #7, fellow CAA and recent FCS newcomer Old Dominion at #8, MVFC co-champion Northern Iowa at #9, and 2011 FCS playoff semi-finalist and two time FCS champion Montana rounding out the top 10.
Finishing just out of the top-10 at No. 11 is Lehigh, which has won two Patriot League championships in a row. Eastern Washington, the 2010 national champions is ranked 12th. The 2010 national runner-up was Delaware and the Blue Hens are ranked at the number 13th spot. The fourth CAA team in the poll is 2011 FCS playoff quarter-finalist New Hampshire at the 14th spot.
The Southern Conference’s third nationally-ranked
team in the preseason poll is No. 15 Wofford.
Defending Big South Conference champion Stony Brook is ranked 16 th while Youngstown State is No. 17 and Illinois State is No. 18. YSU handed national champion NDSU its lone loss last year.
No. 19 Maine is the final and sixth CAA team in the Top 25. The Black Bears are coming off a FCS playoff quarter-final loss to Georgia Southern.
Rounding out the Top 25 are No. 20 Eastern Kentucky, No. 21 Central Arkansas, No. 22 Indiana State, No. 23 Liberty, No. 24 Murray State and No. 25 Stephen F. Austin.
Sporting News 2012 FCS Preseason Top 25
1. North Dakota State
2. Sam Houston State
3. Georgia Southern
4. Montana State
5. James Madison
6. Appalachian State
8. Old Dominion
9. Northern Iowa
12. Eastern Washington
14. New Hampshire
16. Stony Brook
17. Youngstown State
18. Illinois State
20. Eastern Kentucky
21. Central Arkansas
22. Indiana State
24. Murray State
25. Stephen F. Austin
Others receiving votes: Bethune-Cookman, Harvard, Chattanooga, Grambling State, Norfolk State, Southern Illinois, Villanova, Jacksonville State.