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Montana's Keenan Curran (6) makes a catch as Northern Iowa's Trevor Allen (29) looks on. Montana defeated Northern Iowa 20-14 at the UNI-Dome on Saturday.

TOMMY MARTINO, Missoulian

Montana didn't even need to play a game to climb in the STATS FCS top 25 poll this week. The Griz can thank those who did for their ascension.

The Grizzlies moved up one spot to No. 6 when the poll was released Monday morning after a string of upsets rocked the FCS's top programs. Losses by Richmond and Illinois State dropped the teams behind Montana in the top 10, though a big week by fellow Big Sky Conference representative Eastern Washington vaulted the Eagles ahead of UM and into the top 5.

Eastern followed Montana's lead with a résumé-building victory over Northern Iowa on Saturday, the same Panthers the Griz beat the week before. The 34-30 victory, which came on a last-minute fake-field-goal touchdown pass, lifted EWU (2-1) to No. 4 in this week's poll.

Eastern Washington was ranked eighth last week after a narrow overtime defeat to North Dakota State the week before.

After the Eagles came Chattanooga (3-0) at No. 5 before the Griz (2-0) checked in, resting on a bye this past Saturday after stealing a win from UNI in Cedar Falls, Iowa the week before.

Nine of the top 10 spots were different from a week ago, the lone exception being in the lead. As it has been since the preseason poll in August, North Dakota State remained the No. 1 team. The Bison (3-0) beat FBS Iowa on Saturday, a 23-21 thriller over a Hawkeyes team that came into the game ranked 13th at the FBS level, to further strengthen their hold on first place.

The Bison are unanimously No. 1 with all 167 first-place votes and are even gaining recognition in the FBS. Enough pollsters at college football's highest tier included NDSU on their ballots this week to place North Dakota State in a tie for 27th in the FBS Associated Press rankings. With 74 total points, the Bison have drawn the most ever for an FCS team.

Sam Houston State (2-0) and Jacksonville State (2-1) each moved up a spot to Nos. 2 and 3 thanks to a loss by Richmond, last week's No. 2 squad. The Spiders (2-1), who were blown out by unranked Stony Brook -- the Seawolves jumped to No. 20 this week, though -- dropped to seventh.

Filling out the top 10 behind the Grizzlies and Spiders were William & Mary (2-1), Illinois State (2-1), down from No. 5, and The Citadel (3-0).

Following them in the top 15 were James Madison (1-2), Charleston Southern (1-2), Western Illinois (2-0), Northern Iowa (1-2) and South Dakota (1-2). The Jackrabbits dropped six spots after a 38-31 loss to Cal Poly, whom the Griz will play this Saturday at San Luis Obispo, California.

The Big Sky put only three teams in the rankings this week, its lowest amount since Week 12 of the 2014 season. That's one fewer than last week with two dropping out since having five in the top 25 after the first week of the season.

Portland State (1-2) is the only Big Sky team to join the Griz and Eagles as ranked teams, though the Vikings are barely holding on at No. 25 after a lopsided 41-3 loss at FBS Washington. Northern Arizona, ranked 24th last week, fell from the top 25 despite pummeling Division II New Mexico Highlands, 73-3.

NAU (1-2) is one spot outside the top 25 with Cal Poly (2-1) right behind the Lumberjacks. Southern Utah (1-1), North Dakota (1-2) and Montana State (2-1) also drew a handful of votes further down the list.

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