Philadelphia, PA – After securing their biggest victories of the season, Furman and Eastern Kentucky have vaulted into The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25.
On Monday, the poll's national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries installed Furman at No. 17 and Eastern Kentucky at No. 25.
It was Furman's first appearance in the rankings since Oct. 18, 2010, and Eastern Kentucky's first since Oct. 19, 2009.
North Dakota State (9-0) remained a prohibitive No. 1 for the second straight week after booting Indiana State out of the rankings with a 27-16 road win in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Bison received 143 of the 161 first-place votes and 4,004 points.
Big Sky Conference leader Montana State (9-1) remained at No. 2 with 16 first- place votes and Sam Houston State (9-0), which is the only unbeaten FCS team besides North Dakota State, moved up one spot to No. 3. The Bearkats, who received one first-place vote, have clinched at least a share of the Southland Conference title and its automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.
Furman (6-3) sat in the shadows of the Southern Conference leaders for much of the season only to rise up and beat both Wofford and Appalachian State in the last three weeks, including Saturday's 20-10 victory over App State. The Paladins feature highly efficient quarterback Chris Forcier on offense and linebacker Kadarron Anderson and cornerback Ryan Steed on defense.
Eastern Kentucky (6-3) has won five straight games and taken sole possession of first place in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Colonels rallied to a 52-48 win at Jacksonville State on Saturday. Their season has been sparked by quarterback T.J. Pryor and running back Matt Denham on offense and cornerback Jeremy Caldwell on defense.
Two weeks remain in the regular season for teams such as Furman and Eastern Kentucky to increase their playoff resume. The NCAA's 20-team field will be announced on Nov. 20.
Former No. 1 Georgia Southern (8-1) moved up to No. 4, one spot above No. 5 Northern Iowa (7-2).
The rest of the Top 10 was No. 6 Lehigh (8-1); No. 7 New Hampshire (7-2), which received one first-place vote; No. 8 Montana (8-2); No. 9 Wofford (7-2); and No. 10 Appalachian State (6-3), which fell seven spots after losing to Furman.
CAA Football continued to have the most ranked teams with six, and half of them are No. 11 Old Dominion (8-2), No. 12 Towson (7-2) and No. 13 Maine (7-2).
They are followed by No. 14 Illinois State (7-3); No. 15 Delaware (5-4); No. 16 Liberty (7-3), which leaped six spots; Furman; No. 18 Harvard (7-1); No. 19 Central Arkansas (7-3); and No. 20 James Madison (5-4), which fell seven spots after losing to New Hampshire.
After No. 21 Jackson State (7-2), two other programs from historically black conferences, No. 22 Norfolk State (8-2) and No. 23 Alabama State (8-2), re- entered the poll.
Rounding out the rankings were No. 24 South Dakota (5-4) and Eastern Kentucky.
Jacksonville State, William & Mary, Tennessee Tech and Indiana State fell out of the Top 25 after losses on Saturday.
During the regular season the Top 25 is released every Monday afternoon, except for the final weekend of games, when it will be released Sunday morning, Nov. 20, due to its use as an official tool by the NCAA Division I Football Committee in selecting the playoff field later that day.
The Sports Network and Fathead.com will release a final Top 25 following the FCS championship game, which will be held Jan. 7 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.