Georgia Southern Number 1, SFA Number 17 in Preseason Poll

Aug. 14, 2000

Atlantic 10, Gateway both place four in Top 25

For Immediate Release

Contact: Tony Moss (800-227-7249)

SOUTHAMPTON, Pa. (TSN)--Georgia Southern begins the 2000 season where it began and ended the 1999 season - as the number one team in The Sports Network Top 25. The defending national champion Eagles, who have taken home five I-AA titles in their storied history, have been again named the preseason favorite to win the national championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on December 16.

Last season, head coach Paul Johnson led Georgia Southern to a 9-2 regular season mark and a Southern Conference co-title, before the Eagles tore through the NCAA playoff field in awe-inspiring fashion. The four-game run included a 72-29 thrashing of Northern Arizona in the first round and a decisive 59-24 victory over Youngstown State in the title game. Walter Payton Award winner Adrian Peterson, a fullback who returns for his junior season, rushed for an incredible 897 yards in the '99 playoffs alone. The Eagles, who have been ranked in the Top 10 since November 10, 1997, received 66 of 79 first-place votes from I-AA sports information directors and selected media members.

Standing in second place is another team with a rich history in both the playoffs and national poll, as the Montana Grizzlies begin the season ranked second. The two-time defending Big Sky champion Griz have appeared in seven consecutive I-AA playoffs, including a national title in 1995. Last season, Montana was upset in the first round by Youngstown State, 30-27. The team will be coached by new head man Joe Glenn this season, and received five first place votes.

Defending Southland co-champion Troy State is third with four first-place votes and 1,497 points, followed by Massachusetts, a national quarterfinalist last season and the 1998 national champion at No. 4. Illinois State, the 1999 Gateway champ and national semifinalist rounds out the top five after receiving four first-place votes and 1,451 points.

Rounding out the Top 10 is No. 6 Appalachian State, No. 7 Youngstown State, No. 8 Florida A&M, No. 9 Furman, and No. 10 Northern Iowa.

In at No. 11 is Hofstra, followed by Portland State at No. 12, Southern at No. 13, Villanova at No. 14 and North Carolina A&T at the No. 15 spot.

Delaware is No. 16, Stephen F. Austin is No. 17, James Madison is No. 18, with Ohio Valley Conference members Tennessee State at No. 19 and Eastern Kentucky ranked 20th.

Finishing out the Top 25 is Jackson State at No. 21, Northern Arizona at No. 22, Western Illinois at No. 23, and Patriot League teams Lehigh at No. 24 and Colgate at No. 25.

The Southern Conference and Gateway Football Conference are each represented with three teams in the Top 10, while the Gateway and Atlantic 10 lead the way with four ranked teams apiece. The SoCon and Big Sky place three teams in the Top 25, and the MEAC, OVC, Patriot, Southland, and SWAC have two each.


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