PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Sam Houston State University, which finished as national FCS runner-up with a 14-1 record last season, is the top-ranked FCS team in the nation, according to the pre-season poll announced by The Sports Network on Monday afternoon.
The Tigers, who finished last season as the No. 9 team in FCS football, are ranked seventh in the pre-season poll. Last season, the Colonial Athletic Association champion Tigers posted a 9-3 record and were the most improved team in Division I football.
This is the highest national ranking that Towson has ever received in The Sports Network poll.
The Bearkats, who lost to North Dakota State in the national championship game last year, received 79 of 151 first-place votes and 3,708 points in the poll. Sam Houston State returns eight starters on offense and nine on defense, but 19 of its players were named to the Southland Conference's two preseason teams.
Defending national champion North Dakota State was ranked second in the poll, followed by defending Southern Conference champion Georgia Southern (11-3), which was third in the preseason poll with six first-place votes.
Two-time defending Big Sky Conference co-champion Montana State (10-3) was fourth while No. 5 James Madison (8-5) is one six CAA teams in the pre-season poll. Perennial power Appalachian State (8-4) is sixth, just ahead of Towson.
No. 8 Old Dominion (10-3), No. 9 Northern Iowa (10-3), and No. 10 Wofford (8-4) round out the pre-season top ten.
No. 14 New Hampshire (8-4), No. 15 Delaware (7-4) and No. 21 Maine (9-4) are the other CAA teams in The Sports Network’s Top 25. William & Mary, Georgia State, Villanova and Richmond were also listed among others receiving votes.
The CAA had the most teams in the Pre-Season Top 25 with six. The Missouri Valley Conference placed five teams in the Top 25 while the Big Sky Conference, the Southern Conference and the Southland Conference were each represented by three teams.
Last season, Towson was ranked in The Sports Network’s Top 25 for the final nine weeks of the season. The Tigers reached their highest ranking when they were eighth in the final regular season poll. The Tigers, who made their first FCS playoff appearance, were ranked ninth in the final poll.
In 2011, the Tigers made their Top 25 debut on Sept. 26 when their 3-0 start earned them a No. 23 ranking. Towson dropped to No. 25 on Oct. 3 but moved up to No. 17 with a win over Richmond. When the Tigers beat No. 18 Old Dominion, they moved up to No. 15. A win at No. 14 William & Mary improved their national ranking to No. 13. When Towson beat No. 7 Maine, the Tigers became the 12th-ranked team in NCAA FCS football. Victories over No. 8 New Hampshire and Rhode Island enable Towson to earn a No. 8 ranking.
With 39 letter winners returning, Coach Rob Ambrose and the Tigers have been picked as the CAA pre-season favorites. Towson returns eight starters on offense and eight starters on defense.
The Tigers open their season at Kent State on Thursday, August 30 at 7:00 p.m.
A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the Top 25 each season. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.
During the regular season, the Top 25 will be released every Monday afternoon, except for the final weekend of the regular season, when it will be released Sunday morning, Nov. 18, prior to the selection of the FCS playoff field.
The Sports Network will release a final Top 25 following the FCS championship game, which will be held Jan. 5 in Frisco.
The Sports Network's Pre-Season FCS Poll
|School||2011 Record||Points||Last Year's Final Rank|
|1. Sam Houston State (79)||14-1||3,708||2|
|2. North Dakota State (59)||14-1||3,625||1|
| 3. Georgia Southern (6)
4. Montana State (3)
|5. James Madison (3)||8-5||2,812||15|
|6. Appalachian State||8-4||2,800||12|
|8. Old Dominion||10-3||2,484||10|
| 9. Northern Iowa
|12. Eastern Washington||6-5||1,897||NR|
|13. Youngstown State||6-5||1,860||NR|
|14. New Hampshire||8-4||1,857||11|
|17. Stony Brook||9-4||1,339||18|
|18. Eastern Kentucky||7-5||1,055||24|
|19. Illinois State||7-4||1,052||20|
|20. Stephen F. Austin||6-5||863||NR|
|22. Jacksonville State||7-4||625||NR|
|23. Indiana State||6-5||522||NR|
|24. Central Arkansas||9-4||522||14|
Others receiving votes: Murray State 292, Northern Arizona 259, Norfolk State 222, Chattanooga 191, Liberty 150, South Carolina State 137, Bethune-Cookman 134, McNeese State 127, Grambling State 87, Tennessee Tech 77, Portland State 73, North Dakota 68, Alabama State 66, Jackson State 63, Southern Illinois 63, William & Mary 59, Southern Utah 54, Georgia State 49, Furman 43, Albany 39, Richmond 31, Villanova 30, Penn 16, Duquesne 14, South Dakota State 10, San Diego 9, Elon 9, Drake 8, Holy Cross 7, Prairie View A&M 6, South Dakota 6, Alabama A&M 4, Southeast Missouri 4, Georgetown 3, Idaho State 3, Sacramento State 3, Cornell 2, Bryant 1, Eastern Illinois 1, Jacksonville 1, Missouri State 1, Samford 1, UT Martin 1, The Citadel 1, Western Illinois 1
Season tickets for Towson University football are on sale now by calling the Athletics Ticket Office at 1-855-TU-TIGER or going online to TowsonTigers.com. Season ticket packages begin at $55 per seat.