Thanks to losses by the top three ranked teams – and its own marquee victory over second-ranked Montana State -- the Eastern Washington University football team moved up five spots to the top position in this week’s Sports Network NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Top 25 Poll released Monday.
The rankings are selected by a national panel of sportswriters, broadcasters and sports information directors.
“It’s exciting for our program," said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. "To be ranked No.1 -- and for the third time in three years -- takes a lot of work from a lot of people. I’m proud of everyone involved in getting us to this point. From here we have to keep focusing on the task at hand, which is the Sacramento State game.
The Eagles, who are No. 1 for the third-straight year, received 92 first-place votes and 3,982 total votes to edge No. 2 James Madison (42, 3831). Nine different teams received first-place votes after a weekend that saw the Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 5 teams all lose. James Madison was fourth last week, but struggled to beat 2-5 William and Mary 27-26 in overtime.
Eastern ended the 2010 regular season with its first No. 1 ranking in school history, and remained in that position after winning the NCAA Division I Championship. The Eagles were also ranked first in the 2011 preseason poll, as well as after the Eagles narrowly lost its opener last season at Washington, 30-27.
In the coaches poll this week, the Eagles are also ranked No. 1, after ranking sixth, seventh and ninth the previous three weeks.
Other Big Sky Conference schools in the top 25 include Montana State (5th TSN), Cal Poly (14th TSN) and Northern Arizona (16th TSN). Sacramento State, Eastern’s opponent this week, received enough votes to rank 30th.