PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network)- With both teams ahead of them losing, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers jumped up two spots to claim the No. 1 ranking in The Sports Network I-AA Top 25. Western Kentucky, which held the No. 1 spot for one week earlier in the year, improved to 5-1 with a 37-29 victory against Missouri State and has a 4-0 mark against I-AA competition. The Hilltoppers picked up 64 of a possible 117 first-place votes and garnered 2,827 points to earn the top spot.
Southern Illinois, Montana and James Madison all lost their games on Saturday, so a trio of new teams move into the top five. Furman remains in the top five, but the Paladins vault three positions to No. 2 after a 39-31, triple overtime, win at The Citadel. Cal Poly is up three spots to No. 3, and the Mustangs' 21 first-place votes were second to only Western Kentucky. Hampton picked up 16 first-place votes and comes in at No. 4, while New Hampshire claims the No. 5 spot.
Eastern Washington is the poll's biggest riser. The Eagles jump up six places to No. 6 after a 34-20 victory at Montana. Texas State is up three places to No. 7, with Massachusetts jumping five spots to No. 8 after a 10-7 win against James Madison. Montana fell seven spots to No. 9, while former No. 1 Southern Illinois fell all the way to No. 10 after a 61-35 loss to Illinois State.
James Madison is down seven places to No.11. The Dukes come in two points ahead of No. 12 William & Mary, which dropped a spot after a 44-41, double overtime win at Northeastern. No. 13 Northern Iowa, No. 14 Coastal Carolina and No. 15 Youngstown State all moved up after victories.
Appalachian State comes in at No. 16, with North Dakota State at No. 17, Montana State at No. 18, South Carolina State at No. 19 and McNeese State at No. 20.
Lehigh is at No. 21, with Northwestern State at No. 22, Hofstra at No. 23, Georgia Southern at No. 24 and Portland State at No. 25. Hofstra and Portland State enter the rankings this week, while Delaware and Stephen F. Austin drop out. Delaware's drop from the poll ends a 36-week streak of consecutive rankings for the Blue Hens.
24 of the poll's 25 teams will be in action this weekend, with three games between ranked opponents. No. 3 Cal Poly visits No. 9 Montana in a non-conference tilt, while No. 4 Hampton hosts No. 19 South Carolina State in a MEAC showdown and No. 7 Texas State hosts No. 22 Northwestern State in a crucial Southland contest.
|Team (First-place votes)||Record||Points||Previous Rank|
|1. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (64)||5-1||2,827||3|
|2. Furman Paladins (11)||6-1||2,671||5|
|3. Cal Poly Mustangs (21)||5-1||2,592||6|
|4. Hampton Pirates (16)||7-0||2,474||7|
|5. New Hampshire Wildcats (1)||5-1||2,310||8|
|6. Eastern Washington Eagles||4-2||2,110||12|
|7. Texas State Bobcats (1)||5-1||2,012||10|
|8. Massachusetts Minutemen (2)||5-1||2,000||13|
|9. Montana Grizzlies||4-2||1,928||2|
|10. Southern Illinois Salukis||4-2||1,836||1|
|11. James Madison Dukes||4-2||1,766||4|
|12. William & Mary Tribe||4-2||1,764||11|
|13. Northern Iowa Panthers||4-2||1,412||14|
|14. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers||5-1||1,300||15|
|15. Youngstown State Penguins (1)||6-1||1,273||17|
|16. Appalachian State Mountaineers||4-2||1,169||19|
|17. North Dakota State Bison||4-2||973||18|
|18. Montana State Bobcats||4-3||851||9|
|19. South Carolina State Bulldogs||5-1||747||21|
|20. McNeese State Cowboys||3-1||633||25|
|21. Lehigh Mountain Hawks||4-2||602||20|
|22. Northwestern State Demons||3-2||546||23|
|23. Hofstra Pride||4-2||355||NR|
|24. Georgia Southern Eagles||4-3||287||16|
|25. Portland State Vikings||4-3||243||NR|
Others receiving votes: Illinois State 227, Alabama State 211, Grambling State 205, Penn 123, Wofford 117, Brown 80, Towson 72, Stephen F. Austin 65, Holy Cross 46, Chattanooga 42, Delaware 26, Idaho State 22, Eastern Illinois 18, Missouri State 16, Lafayette 14, Harvard 14, Richmond 9, Nicholls State 7, UC Davis 6.