The Montana Grizzlies were tabbed 12th in the FCS coaches' poll, which was released Wednesday, while four-time defending national champion North Dakota State – Montana's Week 1 opponent – again holds the top spot.
The Bison drew all 24 first-place votes and distanced themselves from No. 2 Illinois State, last year's national runner-up. NDSU, which finished 15-1 a year ago, garnered the maximum 600 poll points.
Montana, 9-5 last season and now in its first year under head coach Bob Stitt, slotted in one place behind Montana State with 278 points. The Bobcats, 8-5 in 2015, drew 296 points.
In all, four Big Sky Conference teams made the top 25 while two more were just outside that.
Eastern Washington (11-3 last year) was picked sixth with upstart Idaho State (8-4) at No. 24. Cal Poly and Northern Arizona were each just a few votes short.
Montana's first four opponents were all listed in the August poll during a brutal stretch of games for the Griz. After unanimous No. 1 North Dakota State, the Griz host Cal Poly (No. 29) before traveling to No. 14 Liberty and then hosting Northern Arizona (No. 30) for homecoming.
The Griz wll play Idaho State, Eastern Washington and Montana State on back-to-back-to-back weekends in November as well. Only the game against EWU is at home in that stretch.
Montana has been ranked in three other preseason FCS polls – No. 17 by Athlon, No. 15 by Sporting News and No. 16 by Lindy's. The STATS FCS preseason poll (formerly Sports Network poll) will be released early next week.