Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Villanova No. 1 in first FCS Poll

Voters in The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25 have chosen 2009 national champion Villanova first in the 2010 preseason poll.

The Wildcats, who won the Football Championship Subdivision title for the first time last December, were installed as a prohibitive No. 1 in the Preseason Top 25 released on Monday. They gained 104 of the 126 first-place votes and 3,112 points.

Montana, which has lost in the last two FCS championship games, was the No. 2 team in the poll with 2,899 points, receiving nine first-place votes. The Grizzlies were followed in the top five by Appalachian State, William & Mary and Southern Illinois.

Villanova will be tested by the competition in the Colonial Athletic Association, which landed the most teams in the Preseason Top 25 with six, all in the top 16. In addition to Villanova and William & Mary, Richmond was sixth, New Hampshire 10th, James Madison 15th and Delaware 16th.

CAA Football has had a national finalist in each of the past four seasons and six of the last seven, including national champions Delaware (2003), James Madison (2004) and Richmond (2008) to go along with coach Andy Talley's Wildcats last season.

Villanova returns a wealth of talent, led by 2009 TSN First Team All-Americas Ben Ijalana at left tackle and Matt Szczur at wide receiver and kickoff return, as well as fellow seniors Chris Whitney at quarterback and Terence Thomas at linebacker.

"In my particular feeling, the (2009) season was phenomenal," Villanova head coach Andy Talley said. "We had talent, we also had a certain amount of luck. We stayed pretty injury-free, and had the ability to maybe take that thing the whole way. And everything broke just right for us. Going into 2010, we have the same mixture of players. We have a good team that could be capable of defending. However, the question remains if we have the chemistry to do what we did last year and if this team will come together."

After Richmond at No. 6, the Top 10 followed with No. 7 Elon, No. 8 Stephen F. Austin, No. 9 South Dakota State and No. 10 New Hampshire.

The second 10 starts at No. 11 with defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion South Carolina State, followed by McNeese State, Eastern Washington, Northern Iowa, James Madison, Delaware, Jacksonville State, Eastern Illinois, Weber State and Prairie View A&M.

Big South favorite Liberty was No. 21, followed by Colgate, Penn, Montana State and Holy Cross.

During the regular season, the Top 25 will be released every Monday afternoon, except for on the final weekend when it will be released on Sunday morning, Nov. 21, due to its use as an official tool by the NCAA Division I Football Committee in selecting the 20-team playoff field.

The Sports Network and Fathead.com will release a final Top 25 following the FCS championship game, which will be held Jan. 7 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas.

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