FOOTBALL PICKED FIFTH BY COACHES, SEVENTH BY MEDIA IN PRESEASON POLLS

FOOTBALL PICKED FIFTH BY COACHES, SEVENTH BY MEDIA IN PRESEASON POLLS

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Big Sky conference preseason football coaches and media polls were released on Monday as part of the Big Sky Kickoff event and predictions were mixed for Sacramento State. The Hornets were selected to finish fifth in a vote of the league's coaches but were tabbed to finish seventh by the league media members.

The top three positions matched in both polls as Eastern Washington, Weber State and Northern Arizona finished first, second and third. EWU earned six of the 12 possible first-place votes in the coaches polls (cannot vote for own team) and were picked first by 27 of the 55 media voters. Weber State, which finished tied for first last season, earned three first-place votes from the coaches and 19 from the media. NAU also matched the Wildcats' total in the coaches poll and took home one first-place vote by the media.

The polls began to differ beginning at fourth place. Newcomer Idaho was selected fourth by the coaches with the Vandals picked to finish first on one ballot. Sacramento State earned 94 total points to place fifth. That total placed the team seven points behind Idaho and three ahead of defending co-champion Southern Utah which was sixth. The media slated Montana to finish fourth followed by Idaho and Southern Utah.

The coaches poll saw Montana, Montana State and UC Davis in spots seven, eight and nine. Those three teams had a sizable gap ahead of the final four schools which were comprised of Cal Poly, Northern Colorado, Idaho State and Portland State. The Hornets were picked seventh in the media poll and were the only team among the top nine to not receive a first-place vote. Montana State was eighth while UC Davis was selected ninth. Like the coaches, poll, the bottom four teams in the poll had nearly half the points of the teams in the top nine. Those four were Idaho State, Cal Poly, Northern Colorado and Portland State.

The 2018 Big Sky season will have a new addition as Idaho returns to the league for the first time since 1995. The league, however, will remain at 13 teams as North Dakota will compete as an independent for the next two years. Complicating the formula is the fact that UND will continue to play a Big Sky schedule with the outcomes for the Fighting Hawks' opponents counting towards the conference standings while North Dakota's results will not.

The Big Sky preseason polls did not prove to be a good prognosticator for the regular season last year. Weber State and Southern Utah, which shared the regular season title, were voted fifth and seventh in both polls. The Hornets were selected to place 12th but finished the year tied for third with a 6-2 conference mark. The overwhelming favorite last season was North Dakota which finished 2-6 and tied for ninth place.

2018 BIG SKY CONFERENCE PRESEASON POLLS
Coaches Poll   Media Poll
1. Eastern Washington (6) 134   1. Eastern Washington (27) 651
2. Weber State (3) 124   2. Weber State (19) 636
3. Northern Arizona (3) 121   3. Northern Arizona (1) 535
4. Idaho (1) 101   4. Montana (2) 496
5. SACRAMENTO STATE 94   5. Idaho (3) 483
6. Southern Utah 91   6. Southern Utah (1) 449
7. Montana 82   7. SACRAMENTO STATE 415
8. Montana State 76   8. Montana State (1) 391
9. UC Davis 64   9. UC Davis (1) 331
10. Cal Poly 40   10. Idaho State 170
11. Northern Colorado 30   11. Cal Poly 169
12. Idaho State 29   12. Northern Colorado 166
13. Portland State 21   13. Portland State 103