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Football Picked Fifth, Sixth in Preseason Polls

OGDEN, Utah –   Depending on who you believe, the Northern Arizona football team will place fifth or sixth in the league based on the annual preseason listings released by the Big Sky Conference. Defending national champion Eastern Washington is a slight favorite to capture the 2011 Big Sky Conference regular-season football championship.

Northern Arizona was selected fifth by the coaches, while the media tabbed the Lumberjacks sixth.

The league announced the preseason media and coaches' polls Tuesday, and the Eagles earned the nod over Montana State and perennial national power Montana.

Eastern Washington earned six of the nine first-place votes from the coaches, garnering 60 total points. Three coaches tabbed Rob Ash's Montana State club first. The Bobcats earned 57 total points. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.

Beau Baldwin's Eastern Washington Eagles earned 29 of the 52 first-place votes from the media, finishing with 430 points. Montana State garnered 19 first-place votes and 414 total points.

Montana State and Eastern Washington shared the 2010 regular-season title, both finishing with 7-1 conference records. Montana State beat Eastern Washington 30-7 in Bozeman, Mont., last season. The teams meet in Cheney, Wash., on Sept. 24.

Eastern Washington and Montana State both earned trips to the FCS playoffs last season. Montana State fell at home in the second round to North Dakota State. Eastern Washington won home games over Southeast Missouri State, North Dakota State and Villanova, earning the right to play Delaware in the 2010 Division I National Championship game in Frisco, Texas. EWU rallied from a 19-0 third-quarter deficit to win 20-19.

Coaches' Poll

1. Eastern Washington (6)...................................... 60

2. Montana State (3) ............................................. 57

3. Montana ......................................................... 49

4. Sacramento State.............................................. 46

5. Northern Arizona............................................... 35

6. Weber State .................................................... 32

7. Portland State................................................... 23

8. Northern Colorado............................................. 13

9. Idaho State ...................................................... 10

Media Poll

1. Eastern Washington (29).................................... 430

2. Montana State (19)............................................ 414

3. Montana (3)...................................................... 365

4. Sacramento State.............................................. 273

5. Weber State..................................................... 247

6. Northern Arizona............................................... 228.5

7. Portland State................................................... 151.5

8. Northern Colorado............................................. 110.5

9. Idaho State....................................................... 76.5

 
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