The Montana Grizzlies will not be among the top 25 FCS programs in the nation in 2017, according to Athlon Sports.

The national college football outlet released its preseason rankings Tuesday and the Grizzlies were not among the ranked programs. The Griz, who went 6-5 last season and fell from the STATS FCS national rankings for the first time since 2012, were listed as a team to watch outside the top 25.

Montana's streak of 52 consecutive polling weeks in the top 25 came to an end after a season-ending loss to Montana State last November. The defeat cost UM not only its place in the year-end STATS poll, but inclusion in the 24-team FCS playoff field.

Three Big Sky Conference teams were ranked in Athlon's preseason edition of its weekly rankings, led by reigning co-champions North Dakota (9-3) and Eastern Washington (12-2). The Fighting Hawks, who will leave the Big Sky for the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2020, checked in at No. 5 while Eastern followed at No. 6.

Cal Poly (7-5) was 22nd.

Despite having its five-year run of national titles stopped in 2016, North Dakota State leads the Athlon rankings. Defending champ James Madison (14-1) is No. 2 ahead of South Dakota State (9-4) and Sam Houston State (12-1).

Missoulian Staff