Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - There were three unbeaten teams in the Top 10 of the The Sports Network FCS Top 25 on Monday.
Top-ranked North Dakota State was always expected to be there, of course, having won the FCS national championship in each of the last two seasons.
But Coastal Carolina (6-0) and Fordham (7-0) continue to have two of the more surprising seasons. Both teams reached their highest rankings ever with this week's poll, with Coastal Carolina moving up to No. 6 and Fordham reaching No. 8.
Both teams are building off impressive 2012 seasons behind second-year head coaches.
Coastal earned its first FCS playoff win under coach Joe Moglia last November. On Saturday, the Chanticleers routed Gardner-Webb, 42-7, in an important Big South Conference game to set up an even bigger game at Liberty. Both teams earned a share of the conference title last season.
At Fordham, coach Joe Moorhead improved a one-win team in 2011 to a six-win club in his first season at the Patriot League school last year. The Rams have bested that total with their best start since 1930. They are coming off a 34-12 win at Georgetown this past Saturday.
North Dakota State (6-0) continued to lead the Top 25, collecting all 161 first-place votes and 4,025 points in the national poll. The Bison next face a difficult road game on Saturday at Missouri Valley Football Conference rival Southern Illinois.
In addition to NDSU, Coastal Carolina and Fordham, there are two other unbeaten FCS teams which are unranked, Charleston Southern (7-0) and Harvard (4-0).
Sam Houston State (5-1) remained at No. 2 after posting a 14-3, lightning- delayed win over Lamar. After Towson lost to Villanova, Eastern Illinois moved up two spots to No. 3.
Big Sky Conference powers Eastern Washington (4-2) and Montana State (4-2) checked in at No. 4 and 5, respectively. They were followed by Coastal Carolina, No. 7 Towson (6-1), Fordham, No. 9 McNeese State (5-1) and a third Big Sky team in the Top 10, No. 10 Montana (5-1).
The next 10 were No. 11 Northern Iowa (4-2), No. 12 Villanova (4-2), No. 13 Wofford (4-2), No. 14 Maine (5-1), No. 15 South Dakota State (4-3), No. 16 Youngstown State (6-1), No. 17 Bethune-Cookman (5-1), No. 18 Lehigh (5-1), No. 19 Northern Arizona (4-2) and No. 20 James Madison (5-2).
Rounding out the Top 25 were No. 21 Central Arkansas (3-3), No. 22 Samford (5-2), No. 23 Georgia Southern (4-2), No. 24 Tennessee State (6-1) and No. 25 New Hampshire (2-3).
Tennessee State moved into the rankings for the first time this season by beating Jacksonville State, 31-15, and knocking them from the No. 24 spot. Coach Ron Reed's Tigers are ranked No. 1 in the FCS in total defense (255 yards per game) and No. 2 in scoring defense (13.3 points per game).
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.