Sam Houston is No. 1 in FCS Preseason Top 25

NCAA Football

(Stats Perform) – The upcoming FCS college football season features experienced, talent-laden teams, a number of which figure to contend for the national championship.

Sam Houston is the team to beat, however, returning its entire starting lineup from a spring season in which it went a perfect 10-0 and captured the FCS title for the first time.

On Monday, the Bearkats gained 39 of the 50 first-place votes while being selected No. 1 in the Stats Perform FCS Preseason Top 25.

“It’s hard enough to win one; it’s even harder to win two because you are the hunted,” said eighth-year coach K.C. Keeler, the first coach to lead two different schools to the FCS title. He first won at Delaware in 2003.

The FCS seeks a return to normalcy this fall after the pandemic delayed much of the 2020 season to this past spring, with some schools not playing at all.

A normal FCS season means the usual power programs are in national title contention. Right behind Sam Houston in the national media poll were the final three teams it beat in the playoffs – semifinalist James Madison, runner-up South Dakota State and quarterfinalist North Dakota State. Delaware, a semifinalist for the first time since it played in the 2010 championship game under Keeler, was fifth.

A national media panel selects the Stats Perform FCS Top 25. A first-place vote is worth 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.

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STATS PERFORM FCS PRESEASON TOP 25

(With fall 2020/spring 2021 record unless noted)

1. Sam Houston (10-0, 6-0 Southland), 1,228 points (39 first-place votes)

Season Opener: Sept. 2 at Northern Arizona

2. James Madison (7-1, 3-0 CAA), 1,180 (8)

Season Opener: Sept. 4 vs. Morehead State

3. South Dakota State (8-2, 5-1 Missouri Valley), 1,156 (3)

Season Opener: Sept. 3 at Colorado State

4. North Dakota State (7-3, 5-2 Missouri Valley), 1,116

Season Opener: Sept. 4 vs. Albany

5. Delaware (7-1, 4-0 CAA), 1,017

Season Opener: Sept. 2 at Maine

6. Weber State (5-1, 5-0 Big Sky), 927

Season Opener: Sept. 2 at Utah

7. Southern Illinois (6-4, 3-3 Missouri Valley), 888

Season Opener: Sept. 2 at Southeast Missouri

8. North Dakota (5-2, 4-1 Missouri Valley), 886

Season Opener: Sept. 4 at Idaho State

9. Montana (2-0), 778

Season Opener: Sept. 4 at Washington

10. Jacksonville State (10-3, 6-1 Ohio Valley), 744

Season Opener: Sept. 1 vs. UAB

11. Eastern Washington (5-2, 5-1 Big Sky), 659

Season Opener: Sept. 2 at UNLV

12. Montana State (2019: 11-4, 6-2 Big Sky), 654

Season Opener: Sept. 4 at Wyoming

13. Monmouth (3-1, 3-0 Big South), 618

Season Opener: Sept. 4 at Middle Tennessee

14. Central Arkansas (5-4), 561

Season Opener: Sept. 4 at Arkansas State

15. Southeastern Louisiana (4-3, 4-2 Southland), 559

Season Opener: Sept. 4 vs. North Alabama

16. Villanova (2-2 CAA), 440

Season Opener: Sept. 4 at Lehigh

17. VMI (6-2, 6-1 Southern), 397

Season Opener: Sept. 4 vs. Davidson

18. Chattanooga (3-2, 3-1 Southern), 295

Season Opener: Sept. 2 vs. Austin Peay

19. Kennesaw State (4-1, 2-1 Big South), 255

Season Opener: Sept. 2 vs. Reinhardt

20. Austin Peay (4-5, 4-2 Ohio Valley), 227

Season Opener: Sept. 2 at Chattanooga

21. Northern Iowa (3-4 Missouri Valley), 219

Season Opener: Sept. 4 at Iowa State

22. Nicholls (4-3 Southland), 173

Season Opener: Sept. 4 at Memphis

23. UC Davis (3-2 Big Sky), 172

Season Opener: Sept. 2 at Tulsa

24. Missouri State (5-5, 5-1 Missouri Valley), 168

Season Opener: Sept. 4 at Oklahoma State

25. North Carolina A&T (2019: 9-3, 6-2 MEAC), 159

Season Opener: Sept. 4 at Furman

Others Receiving Votes (schools listed on two or more ballots): Murray State (5-2 Ohio Valley) 157, Richmond (3-1 CAA) 113, ETSU (4-2 Southern) 99, Sacramento State (2019: 9-4, 7-1 Big Sky) 57, Alabama A&M (5-0, 4-0 SWAC) 49, Florida A&M (2019: 9-2, 7-1 MEAC) 47, New Hampshire (0-1 CAA) 42, Alcorn State (2019: 9-4, 6-1 SWAC) 35, Holy Cross (3-1, 3-0 Patriot) 22, Samford (4-3 Southern) 20, UIW (3-3 Southland) 19, Sacred Heart (3-2, 2-1 Northeast) 17, Albany (1-3 CAA) 14, Illinois State (1-3 Missouri Valley) 10, Rhode Island (2-1 CAA) 10, South Carolina State (3-1) 10, Stephen F. Austin (6-4) 10, Duquesne (4-1, 4-0 Northeast) 4, Southeast Missouri (4-4, 4-3 Ohio Valley) 3

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