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Poll likes UM, E. Washington

SHARE Poll likes UM, E. Washington

The University of Montana Grizzlies and the Eastern Washington Eagles both garnered top five rankings in the Sports Network preseason Division I-AA poll, which was released Monday.

Montana begins the season ranked third. Eastern Washington is ranked fourth. The Grizzlies, who lost to James Madison in the 2004 I-AA national championship game, received 14 first-place votes and 2,215 points. Bobby Hauck's club is coming off a 12-3 campaign. UM has advanced to the playoffs a record 12 consecutive seasons.

Eastern Washington earned 11 first-place votes and 2,053 points. The Eagles finished 9-4 last season, and beat top-ranked and top-seeded Southern Illinois in the first round of the 2004 playoffs. The Eagles were picked by the media and coaches to win the 2005 Big Sky Conference title.

Eastern Washington is led by senior quarterback Erik Meyer, the reigning Big Sky Offensive MVP, and a leading candidate for the Walter Payton Award.

Eastern Washington and Montana meet in Missoula, Mont., on October 15.

Defending national champion James Madison is the preseason No. 1. The Dukes earned 49 first-place votes and 2,333 points. Furman of the Southern Conference garnered 21 first-place votes and 2,215 points.

Montana State is the other Big Sky team ranked in the Top 25. The Bobcats check in at 18. Mike Kramer's club, coming off a 6-5 season, received 671 points.

Portland State (167) and Northern Arizona (35) also received more than five votes.

Media and Sports Information Directors from across America vote in the poll.