Montana didn’t take too much of a drop in The Sports Network’s FCS football poll after the Grizzlies’ loss at Appalachian State on Saturday.
The Griz dropped two slots to No. 14 after the 35-27 loss at Boone, N.C. Meanwhile, Appalachian State stepped up three places to No. 8 in the poll released Monday afternoon.
At the top of the poll, the teams that played in the Division I championship game in January swapped places. Fresh off its dominating 22-7 victory at Colorado State of the FBS Mountain West Conference on Saturday, defending champ and former No. 2 North Dakota State (2-0) moved up to the top spot and supplanted Sam Houston State (1-0) in that position.
Montana State (2-0) moved up to third after Georgia Southern (1-1) took a surprising 23-21 loss to The Citadel and dropped eight spots to No. 11. The Bobcats host No. 23 Stephen F. Austin (1-1), which dropped four places after lost 52-0 at Southern Methodist.
The Citadel (2-0) was the only new entrant in the TSN rankings, moving in at No. 21. James Madison (2-0) stepped up to fourth and Youngstown State (2-0) moved to No. 5, picking up four first-place votes in the process.
Eastern Washington (1-1) is the only other Big Sky team in the top 25, dropping one spot to No. 10 after playing tough on the road at Washington State of the Pac-12 before falling 24-20.
Northern Arizona (1-1) and Sacramento State (1-1) picked up votes after beating FBS teams on the road Saturday but neither had enough gas to come close to the top 25. NAU stunned Bobby Hauck’s UNLV squad 17-14 and Sacramento State hung a 30-28 loss on Colorado.
Those were the second and third Big Sky victories over FBS teams this year.
North Dakota (2-0), Cal Poly (1-0) and Southern Utah (0-2) also received votes. This week Cal Poly could become the fourth Big Sky team to beat an FBS squad this year; the Mustangs travel to Wyoming (0-2) on Saturday. North Dakota visits San Diego State (1-1) as well.
Liberty University (0-2), the Grizzlies’ opponent on Saturday, received six votes.
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In the FCS coaches’ poll, Montana dropped three slots to No. 12 while Appalachian State moved up only one spot to seventh. North Dakota State continues to hold the No. 1 spot in that poll, with Montana State moving to No. 3 as Georgia Southern dropping to No. 10.
Eastern Washington held at No. 11. North Dakota, Sacramento State, Northern Arizona and Cal Poly also got mentions from the 26 coaches on the voting panel.
Jeff Sagarin’s computer power rating has five Big Sky squads in the top 18 FCS teams. Eastern Washington is rated 87th overall and fifth among FCS teams. Cal Poly is 12th, followed by NAU at 13th, Montana 15th and Montana State at No. 18.
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The Big Sky split the offensive player of the week award between two quarterbacks on Monday.
Sacramento State sophomore Garrett Safron was 25 of 37 passing for 312 yards and two touchdowns in the Hornets’ 30-28 win over Colorado and led the Sac State offense on an 85-yard drive in the final 2:26 of the game to put his team in position for the winning field goal.
North Dakota’s Marcus Hendricks tied a school record with six TD passes in UND’s 45-37 non-conference win over Portland State. He completed 16 of 25 passes for 294 yards and also led the team in rushing with 50 yards.
Northern Arizona defensive lineman Jarret Bilbrey was named defensive player of the week after tying for team high with 10 tackles in the Lumberjacks’ defeat of UNLV. The Lumberjacks kept the Runnin’ Rebels off the scoreboard for the final 43 minutes of the game.
The kickers who scored the winning points in those two Big Sky victories over FBS schools – Sac State’s Edgar Castaneda and Andy Wilder of NAU – were named the Big Sky’s special teams players of the week.
Sacramento State made three field goals in the entire 2011 season. Castaneda had that many in that one game. In addition to the league honor on Monday, he also was elevated from walk-on to scholarship player after the game.
Wilder not only hit the Lumberjacks’ game-winner, he also averaged 49 yards per punt with a long of 66 and buried UNLV inside its own 20 four times.