West is best in FCS Top 25

The way western teams have moved to the forefront of the FCS was evident in the national rankings this week.

Led by top-ranked North Dakota State and No. 2 Eastern Washington, who have combined to win the last three FCS national titles, western teams adorned many of the top spots in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 on Monday.

Only one program from the East, where teams used to dominate the FCS ranks, was among the top eight, Towson, which moved up to its highest ranking ever at No. 4.

The three spots ahead of Towson were unchanged after this past weekend's games. North Dakota State and Eastern Washington beat Division II teams to improve to 2-0. Montana State (1-1) surrendered a lead at SMU in the final 12 seconds of a 31-30 loss, but remained No. 3 in the poll selected weekly by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.

North Dakota State, which has won the last two national titles, gained 146 of the 152 first-place votes and 3,769 points, while Eastern Washington, the 2010 national champion, collected the other six first-place votes and 3,639 points

Towson moved up one spot after it followed up a season-opening win over Connecticut with a rout of Holy Cross.

The Tigers were followed by No. 5 Sam Houston State (1-1), No. 6 South Dakota State (2-0), No. 7 Northern Iowa (2-0) and No. 8 Central Arkansas (1-1) in a clear show of western dominance. South Dakota State and UNI joined North Dakota State to give the Missouri Valley Football Conference three of the top seven teams.

Eastern Illinois (2-0) moved up five spots to No. 9 - the Ohio Valley Conference program's highest ranking since being No. 2 on Nov. 18, 2002.

Southern Conference power Georgia Southern (2-0), a six-time national champion when eastern teams ruled the FCS (then Division I-AA), earned the No. 10 ranking.

Next up were No. 11 Montana (1-0), No. 12 New Hampshire (0-1), No. 13 McNeese State (2-0), No. 14 Cal Poly (1-1), No. 15 Richmond (1-1), No. 16 Wofford (1-1), No. 17 Stony Brook (1-0), No. 18 Illinois State (0-1), No. 19 Villanova (0-2), and No. 20 James Madison (1-1).

Rounding out the Top 25 were No. 21 Coastal Carolina (2-0), No. 22 Lehigh (1-0), No. 23 Bethune-Cookman (2-0), No. 24 Youngstown State (2-0) and No. 25 Northern Arizona (0-1).

Youngstown State was the only new team to the Top 25. The Penguins, who routed Morehead State this past Saturday, moved in after Appalachian State fell to 0-2 with a loss to North Carolina A&T. The Mountaineers dropped out of the rankings for the first time since Sept. 25, 2005 - a span of 108 straight polls.

In the Top 25 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, when it will be released Sunday morning, Nov. 17, prior to the selection of the FCS playoff field.

The final Top 25 will be released on the Monday after the FCS championship game Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas.