SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly will take a No. 23 national ranking by both STATS (media) and the FCS Coaches polls into its season opener in less than three weeks.
Coach Tim Walsh's Mustangs, in their third week of Fall Camp in preparation for their August 26 Week Zero game against Colgate, earned 427 points from a panel of 163 sports information directors and members of the media who cover Football Championship Subdivision teams.
In the coaches poll, Cal Poly earned 85 points from the 26 voters, all head coaches of FCS schools, two per conference.
Cal Poly finished the 2016 season ranked No. 24 by SIDs and the media and 21st by the coaches.
Cal Poly returns 53 lettermen, including 13 starters (five on offense, eight on defense), from the 2016 squad which claimed its fourth NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth, a fourth straight No. 1 ranking in team rushing during the regular season and another top-five finish in the 13-team Big Sky (the fourth in five years as a member of the conference.
Reigning national champion James Madison was picked Monday as an overwhelming preseason No. 1 in the STATS FCS Top 25.
The Dukes, who won the Colonial Athletic Association football title and only lost to North Carolina in a 14-1 season, collected 134 of the 163 first-place votes and 4,034 points in the national media poll. On the way to winning their second national title, the Dukes ended North Dakota State's five-year championship run in the semifinals.
NDSU was picked second in the preseason poll, followed in the Top 5 by Sam Houston State, South Dakota State and Eastern Washington. The Missouri Valley Football Conference had a poll-high six teams and the CAA was second with five.
The rest of the Top 10 consists of Ohio Valley Conference champion Jacksonville State (10-2); Richmond (10-3); Big Sky co-champ North Dakota (9-3); 2016 national runner-up Youngstown State (12-4); and Villanova (9-4).
Wofford (10-4) holds the No. 11 ranking, followed by Chattanooga (9-4), New Hampshire (8-5), Big South co-champ Charleston Southern (7-4), Central Arkansas (10-3), Southern Conference champ The Citadel (10-2), Patriot League champ Lehigh (9-3), Northern Iowa (5-6), Samford (7-5) and Illinois State (6-6).
Rounding out the Top 25 are SWAC champ Grambling State (11-1), Fordham (8-3), Cal Poly (7-5), Albany (7-4) and Western Illinois (6-5).
In addition to Cal Poly, Eastern Washington and North Dakota, five Big Sky schools received votes in the media poll. They are Weber State, Northern Arizona, Montana, Southern Utah and Montana State.
In the coaches poll released Tuesday, James Madison earned 20 of the 26 first-place votes and 642 points, followed by North Dakota State with two first-place votes and 618 points. No. 3 is Sam Houston State (three first-place votes, 577 points), followed by No. 4 Eastern Washington (525 points) and No. 5 Jacksonville State (493 points).
South Dakota State, with one first-place vote and 479 points), is ranked No. 6, followed by Richmond, Youngstown State, Villanova and North Dakota. Northern Iowa is No. 20 and Weber State No. 22 while Montana, Northern Arizona, San Diego, Colgate and Southern Utah were among those receiving votes.
Cal Poly and Colgate kick off the 2017 campaign at 4:05 p.m. inside Alex G. Spanos Stadium, with the non-conference game to be televised nationally by ESPNU.
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