KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the first time in school history, Marian (Ind.) boasts the No. 1 ranking in the NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Monday. In their fifth year of existence, the Knights slid up one spot with 14 first-place votes and 340 total points. They defeated then-No. 1 Saint Xavier (Ill.), 27-9, on Nov. 5 to improve to 10-0. St. Xavier had held the No. 1 position for the last eight weeks.
The 2011 NAIA Football Championship Series 16-team field will be announced on Sunday. The pairings will be posted on the NAIA website at approximately 2 p.m. CST. The certified conference champions rated in the top 20 (including ties) in the final Coaches’ Top 25 poll, which will be announced on Sunday at 1 p.m., will automatically qualify for the Football Championship Series. The highest rated independent team (provided it is ranked in the top 20) shall automatically qualify. The remaining at-large berths will be awarded based on the final ranking.
The Nos. 2 – 4 teams all improved one position after St. Xavier went down in defeat. No. 2 Carroll (Mont.) notched the remaining first-place vote for the first time since the Preseason Top 25. The Fighting Saints have won eight-straight games to improve to 9-1 and tally 322 total points. No. 3 Georgetown (Ky.) remains undefeated (9-0) and captured 317 points. MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) slid to fourth with 297 points. St. Xavier fell to fifth with 293 points.
Four squads each enjoyed three-spot improvements: No. 12 Valley City State (N.D.), No. 13 St. Francis (Ill.), No. 14 Bethel (Tenn.) and No. 15 Southern Nazarene (Okla.). Valley City State and Bethel are claiming their highest ranking this season. No. 16 Benedictine (Kan.) took the worst fall with a seven-spot slide after suffering a 10-7 setback to then-No. 25 Baker (Kan.).
The Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) and Mid-States Football Association Midwest Division (MSFA Midwest) landed four teams apiece in the Top 25 to lead all conferences. The HAAC claims MidAmerica Nazarene, No. 7 Missouri Valley, Benedictine and No. 24 Baker. Hailing from the MSFA Midwest is No. 8 William Penn (Iowa), No. 13 St. Francis (Ill.), No. 17 St. Ambrose (Iowa) and No. 23 Grand View (Iowa).
The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents.
NOTES: (All information dates back to 1999) No. 1 Marian (Ind.) is the third different top-ranked team this year, joining Saint Xavier (Ill.) and Carroll (Mont.)… This poll marks the first time this year that there were no newcomers… No. 12 Valley City State (N.D.) is enjoying its highest position since the 2002 season when it was 10th on two separate occasions… No. 14 Bethel (Tenn.) had been ranked in the same spot on Oct. 17… There have been 41 different teams ranked in 2011, with 14 of those being listed in each poll… No. 4 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) has been ranked in the top 10 for the last 30-straight polls… Carroll leads all institutions with 56 first-place rankings and is followed by former NAIA member Sioux Falls (S.D.) (55), Georgetown (Ky.) (23) and Northwestern Oklahoma State (11)… Carroll extended its streak of consecutive top-five appearances with 88… No. 11 Saint Francis (Ind.) leads the NAIA with 152-straight mentions in the Top 25… Following Saint Francis among consecutive appearances is Carroll with 138, MidAmerica Nazarene with 64, Morningside (Iowa) with 57 and St. Xavier with 44.
|RANK||LAST WEEK||SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES)||2011 RECORD||TOTAL POINTS|
|1||2||Marian (Ind.) (14)||10-0||340|
|2||3||Carroll (Mont.) (1)||9-1||322|
|4||5||MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)||8-1||297|
|5||1||Saint Xavier (Ill.)||9-1||293|
|8||8||William Penn (Iowa)||9-1||247|
|9||10||Azusa Pacific (Calif.)||8-2||235|
|10||11||Saint Francis (Ind.)||7-2||225|
|12||15||Valley City State (N.D.)||9-1||186|
|13||16||St. Francis (Ill.)||8-2||183|
|15||18||Southern Nazarene (Okla.)||8-2||145|
|17||12||St. Ambrose (Iowa)||7-2||138|
|23||23||Grand View (Iowa)||7-3||57|
Others receiving votes: Shorter (Ga.) 14, Cumberlands (Ky.) 1, Belhaven (Miss.) 1