"We're No. 2!"
That's what the Eastern Washington Eagles could still exclaim Monday after the release of The Sports Network FCS Top 25. The voting was extremely tight right behind top-ranked North Dakota State, the two-time defending national champion.
Eastern Washington edged Montana State by two points, 3,462 to 3,460, for the No. 2 ranking, and the two Big Sky Conference powers were just ahead of No. 4 Towson (3,412 points) in the national poll selected weekly by a panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries.
Eastern Washington (2-1) held the No. 2 spot for a second straight week despite losing at Toledo, 33-21, this past Saturday. The Eagles were trying to make it two wins over an FBS opponent, having opened the season with a victory over Oregon State.
Montana State (2-1), which lost by one point at SMU in its second game, shut out Division II Colorado Mesa, 26-0, on Saturday - the Bobcats' first game since 2009 without DeNarius McGhee as their starting quarterback. With the redshirt senior sidelined by a separated throwing shoulder, Jake Bleskin passed for two touchdowns to help lead the win.
Towson (3-0) continued to impress Saturday with its second straight win by a 49-7 margin, this time against Delaware State. The Tigers' No. 4 ranking is their highest ever.
The trio of standout FCS teams trail North Dakota State (2-0), which collected 154 of the 156 first-place votes and 3,898 points. The other two first-place votes went to Eastern Washington.
North Dakota State is coming off a bye to play Delaware State this coming weekend. It's the Bison's final non-conference game before they complete the regular season with eight Missouri Valley Football Conference games.
The top seven teams in the poll didn't change with Sam Houston State (2-1) remaining No. 5, South Dakota State (3-0) No. 6 and Northern Iowa (2-0) No. 7.
Eastern Illinois (3-0) moved up one spot to No. 8, followed by No. 9 Montana (2-0) and No. 10 Wofford (2-1), which posted a key 30-20 win over Georgia Southern within the Southern Conference.
The second 10 were No. 11 New Hampshire (1-1), No. 12 McNeese State (3-0), No. 13 Central Arkansas (1-2), No. 14 Georgia Southern (2-1), No. 15 Coastal Carolina (3-0), No. 16 Stony Brook (1-1), No. 17 James Madison (2-1), No. 18 Cal Poly (1-2), No. 19 Bethune-Cookman (3-0) and No. 20 Villanova (0-2).
Next up was No. 21 Fordham, which moved into the Top 25 for the first time since 2007. The upstart Rams (3-0) have defeated Villanova and Temple over the last two weekends.
Rounding out the Top 25 were No. 22 Lehigh (2-0); No. 23 Richmond (1-2); No. 24 UT Martin (2-1), making its first appearance in the rankings this season; and No. 25 Northern Arizona (1-1).
Two Missouri Valley teams, Illinois State and Youngstown State, fell out of the Top 25.
CAA Football had the most team in the Top 25 with six, followed by the Big Sky with five.
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.