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Stan Becton | | August 14, 2023

South Dakota State leads North Dakota State and Montana State in 2023 preseason FCS Coaches' Poll

South Dakota State beats North Dakota State for 2022 FCS championship

South Dakota State is No. 1 in the preseason FCS Coaches’ Poll. The top-ranked Jackrabbits received all but one first-place vote.

Rounding out the top five are No. 2 North Dakota State, No. 3 Montana State, No. 4 William & Mary, and No. 5 Holy Cross. North Dakota State and Montana State’s rankings place three of last year’s four FCS semifinal teams in the top five.

Here's the complete preseason FCS Coaches’ Poll.

2023 Preseason FCS Coaches’ Poll




2022 Record

1 South Dakota State (24) 624 14-1
2 North Dakota State (1) 596 12-3
3 Montana State 567 12-2
4 William & Mary 510 11-2
5 Holy Cross 459 12-1
6 Furman 438 10-3
7 UIW 424 12-2
8 Sacramento State 421 12-1
9 Samford 414 11-2
10 Weber State 325 10-3
11 Southeast Missouri State 322 9-3
12 New Hampshire 304 9-4
13 Idaho 288 7-5
14 Montana 285 8-5
15 Southeastern Louisiana 259 9-4
16 Richmond 235 9-4
17 UC Davis 226 6-5
18 North Dakota 188 7-5
19 North Carolina Central 139 10-2
20 Northern Iowa 137 6-5
21 Delaware 124 8-5
22 Mercer 123 7-4
23 Rhode Island 73 7-4
24 Gardner-Webb 72 7-6
25 Florida A&M 70 9-2

Others Receiving Votes: Yale, 64; Eastern Kentucky, 59; Fordham, 58; Jackson State, 37; Elon, 30; St. Thomas (MN), 30; Youngstown State, 28; Princeton, 26; Southern Illinois, 26; UT Martin, 23; Central Arkansas, 22; Chattanooga, 13; North Carolina A&T, 13; Illinois State, 12; Northern Arizona, 12; Southern, 9; Davidson, 7; St. Francis (PA), 7; Tennessee Tech, 6; Howard, 5; Penn, 5; Abilene Christian, 4; Austin Peay, 3; Campbell, 2; Villanova, 1.

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Preseason poll by conference

The Big Sky leads all conferences with three top-10 teams. Here's a breakdown of the entire top 25 by conference:

No. of Teams Conference
6 Big Sky
3 SoCon
2 Southland
1 Big South, MEAC, OVC, Patriot, SWAC

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Breaking down the preseason poll

No. 1 South Dakota State leads the way after winning its first FCS title a year ago. The Jackrabbits will likely face tough competition from ranked MVFC foes No. 2 North Dakota State, No. 18 North Dakota and No. 20 Northern Iowa throughout the season.

The Big Sky is another conference that should have plenty of ranked matchups throughout the year. No. 3 Montana State leads the way but No. 8 Sacramento State has won at least a share of the conference title in each of its last three seasons, No. 10 Weber State is always a hard out and No. 13 Idaho is a trendy upstart entering the year.

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Elsewhere in the top 10 of the poll, No. 5 Holy Cross opens the season in the top five after finishing the 2022 regular season undefeated. The Crusaders come ahead of SoCon schools No. 6 Furman and No. 9 Samford and 2022 FCS semifinalist No. 7 UIW.

No. 19 North Carolina Central and No 25 Florida A&M are the only HBCUs ranked in the preseason FCS poll. The Eagles are coming off their first Celebration Bowl win and return two of the best players in the FCS in quarterback Davius Richard and safety Khalil Baker. Florida A&M was one of the first teams out of last year’s FCS playoffs. Jackson State, North Carolina A&T, Southern and Howard were the only other HBCUs to receive votes.

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Also outside the poll are Davidson, Eastern Kentucky, Elon, Fordham and Saint Francis (PA). Each team made the 2022 FCS playoffs, but missed out on a spot in the preseason FCS poll.

Non-conference matchups to watch

The premier matchup of the 2023 season won't come until Week 2 with a battle between preseason No. 1 South Dakota State and preseason No. 3 Montana State

Until then, here are some other non-conference FCS games to watch featuring top-25 teams during the first few weeks:

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