Aug. 10, 2010

Courtesy of Northwest Missouri St. Athletics

Northwest Missouri State’s football program will begin its national title defense as the top-ranked team in the nation as the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) released its preseason poll Monday. It is the third time in program history the Bearcats will begin the year number one and all three occurrences have followed national championships.

Northwest has received a preseason ranking for the 14th consecutive season. It is the 12th time the Bearcats will start in the top 10 and eighth time the team begins in the top five. Northwest has been ranked in every AFCA poll since the start of the 2004 season.

The Bearcats received 22 of 26 first-place votes. Grand Valley State, the national runners-up, received three first-place votes and will start No. 2. North Alabama took the remaining first-place vote and is No. 3. Minnesota-Duluth (No. 4) and Central Washington (No. 5) round out the top five.

Washburn (No. 10), Nebraska-Omaha (No. 15) and Missouri Western (No. 20) give the MIAA four programs in the top 20. Other Super Region 4 teams found in the rankings include Central Washington (No. 5), Abilene Christian (No. 7), West Texas A&M (No. 11), Texas A&M-Kingsville (No. 16) and Midwestern State (No. 19). Northwest opens its 2010 campaign at home against Kingsville Sept. 2.

Click here for the full Top 25!