In the FCS Huddle: Bison reclaim No. 1 ranking

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Updated: 9/01/2014 10:25 am

Philadelphia, PA ( - It's not that Eastern Washington has done anything wrong in beginning its season with two straight victories.

It's just North Dakota State continues to do everything better than the rest of the FCS.

Fresh off Saturday's season-opening thrashing of Iowa State, North Dakota State reclaimed the No. 1 ranking from Eastern Washington in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 on Monday.

The Bison, who defeated Iowa State, 34-14, for their fifth straight victory over an FBS program, collected 93 of the 156 first-place votes and 3,830 points in supplanting Eastern Washington at No. 1. The No. 2 Eagles had 63 first- place votes and 3,804 points.

Despite the Bison winning the last three FCS national championships, Eastern Washington - the 2010 national champion and a semifinalist in the last two seasons - was installed as the preseason No. 1 last month.

While Eastern Washington has opened the season strong with a 21-point win over nationally ranked Sam Houston State and a 32-point rout of Montana-Western, North Dakota State's 20-point victory over Big 12 member Iowa State was a statement delivered across the FCS.

The Bison may have lost 12 starters, 24 seniors and head coach Craig Bohl, but they also have returned many players who have done nothing but win big during their careers.

The Missouri Valley Conference power kept its composure after falling behind 14-0 to the Cyclones and went on to score the final 34 points, following the lead of senior running back John Crockett, new starting quarterback Carson Wentz and a punishing defense led by defensive end Kyle Emanuel.

The win was the team's FCS-record 25th in a row since the 2012 season.

"It's one game, it's one win, it's a great win," first-year coach Chris Klieman said. "I'm excited for the guys, I'm excited for our program, I'm excited for Bison Nation and the alums to be able to get that win over a Big 12 team. But we've got to keep moving forward; it's just one game. Our kids are grounded."

Eastern Washington's offense is rarely described as grounded with quarterback Vernon Adams leading its high-powered passing attack. He threw for 370 yards and five touchdowns in Saturday's 41-9 ease-up over Montana-Western. Next weekend, the two-time defending Big Sky Conference champions will have their own FBS test when they travel to Washington.

There are always plenty of small changes in the Top 25 after the first week of the season because so many of the squads in the preseason rankings open up against FBS competition, and often lose.

Besides North Dakota State, only Bethune-Cookman beat a program from the top level of Division I, earning a 14-12 win at FIU. Overall, ranked FCS teams opened the season with a 2-12 mark against the FBS.

Southeastern Louisiana (1-0) remained at No. 3 after opening its season with an impressive 44-3 win over Jacksonville. Quarterback Bryan Bennett and the defending Southland Conference champion Lions took any suspense out of the game with 27 first-quarter points.

Montana (0-1) actually moved up one spot to No. 4 after it came close but fell at Wyoming, 17-12, in a lightning-delayed game. The Grizzlies' old spot at No. 5 was taken by Coastal Carolina (1-0) after it posted a 31-16 win over The Citadel.

The rest of the Top 10 consisted of No. 6 New Hampshire (0-1), which made its 141st straight appearance in the rankings; No. 7 McNeese State (0-0), the only ranked team yet to open its season; No. 8 Northern Iowa (0-1); No. 9 Jacksonville State (0-1); and No. 10 Villanova (0-1).

Next up were No. 11 Fordham (1-0); No. 12 South Dakota State (0-1); No. 13 Chattanooga (0-1); No. 14 Tennessee State (1-0); No. 15 Sam Houston State (1-1); No. 16 Eastern Illinois (0-1); No. 17 Richmond (1-0); No. 18 Bethune- Cookman (1-0), whose big win over FIU earned it a four-spot increase in the rankings; No. 19 Furman (1-0); and No. 20 Montana State (0-1).

Rounding out the Top 25 were No. 21 William & Mary (0-1), No. 22 Towson (0-1), No. 23 Youngstown State (0-1), No. 24 Maine (1-0) and No. 25 Northern Arizona (0-1).

A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the Top 25. In the voting, 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. 23, prior to the selection of the 24-team FCS playoff field.

The Sports Network will release a final Top 25 following the FCS championship game, which will be held Jan. 10 in Frisco, Texas.


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