Big South leaders to meet in Top 25 showdown

Philadelphia, PA ( - Coastal Carolina versus Charleston Southern, it's the first one to 10 - perfect or not.

Not only will Saturday's showdown be one of the biggest in the FCS this week, but it's among the biggest in Big South Conference history, a matchup of No. 5 Coastal Carolina at No. 18 Charleston Southern after both programs achieved their highest rankings ever in the The Sports Network FCS Top 25 on Monday.

It came on a day in which North Dakota State, the two-time defending FCS champion, remained the unanimous No. 1 in the national media poll.

The CCU-CSU showdown marks only the second time in Big South history that two teams have at least nine regular-season victories. The pair join their 2006 counterparts with that distinction, but they clearly are looking for more as Coastal Carolina (9-0, 3-0 Big South) will try to continue a perfect season and Charleston Southern (9-1, 2-0) will seek to take first place away from the Chanticleers. The Buccaneers have only lost to an FBS opponent, Colorado.

The Big South champion will earn the conference's automatic bid to the FCS playoffs later this month.

"Every game is important and kids aren't naive. They can look at the rankings and schedules and they know what's at stake," Charleston Southern first-year coach Jamey Chadwell said. "We're going to tell them it's no bigger than the next one."

Coastal Carolina features a Walter Payton Award candidate in senior running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, but Charleston Southern's Christian Reyes is right behind as another 1,000-yard rusher in the Big South. Reyes, though, will have to contend with a Buck Buchanan Award candidate in Chanticleers linebacker Quinn Backus.

North Dakota State (8-0), which had a bye this past weekend, collected all 159 first-place votes and 3,975 points to remain at No. 1, ahead of No. 2 Eastern Illinois (8-1) and No. 3 Eastern Washington (7-2), who won their games this past weekend.

In addition to the Coastal Carolina-Charleston Southern matchup, the other national game of the week will be held all the way across the country when Eastern Washington hosts No. 4 Montana State in a huge matchup of the Big Sky Conference co-leaders. The visiting Bobcats (7-2) moved up one spot in this week's poll.

After Coastal Carolina, the rest of the Top 10 was No. 6 Sam Houston State (7-2), No. 7 Fordham (9-0), No. 8 Maine (8-1), No. 9 Youngstown State (8-1) and No. 10 Montana (7-2).

McNeese State fell from No. 4 to No. 11 after getting blasted by Southeastern Louisiana. The Cowboys (7-2) were followed in the poll by No. 12 Bethune- Cookman (8-1), No. 13 Towson (8-2), No. 14 Northern Arizona (7-2), No. 15 Delaware (7-2), No. 16 Southeastern Louisiana (7-2), No. 17 Wofford (5-3), Charleston Southern, No. 19 South Dakota State (5-4) and No. 20 Samford (6-3).

Rounding out the Top 25 were No. 21 Lehigh (6-2); No. 22 James Madison (6-3); No. 23 William & Mary (6-3), which made its first appearance in the rankings this season; No. 24 Chattanooga (7-2); and No. 25 New Hampshire (4-4)

New Hampshire dropped nine spots after being shut out by William Mary, 17-0, but the Wildcats remained in the Top 25 for the 136th straight week, stretching to the Sept. 6, 2004 poll.

While James Madison and Chattanooga moved back into the rankings after previous appearances this season, Central Arkansas, Villanova and Tennessee State dropped out after losing their games.

A panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries selects the national poll. 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. 24, 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.