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NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll – No. 1

September 10, 2012
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By Alan Grosbach, Manager of Communications & Sports Information

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Saint Xavier (Ill.) claims the No. 1-ranking in the first regular-season edition of the NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 Poll, the national office announced Monday. The Cougars received all 14 first-place votes and 314 points en route to their fourth-consecutive top ranking - 12th in last 14 polls.

Saint Xavier, who owns a 2-0 record on the year with victories against Olivet Nazarene (41-12) on Sept. 1 and No. 17 (then-No. 7) St. Francis (Ill.) (31-3) on Sept. 8, was an outlier in this week's Top 25, which saw all but two teams move at least one position.

The most notable movement was the fall of Carroll (Mont.) from No. 2 to No. 12. The Fighting Saints 10-spot drop is due to a 1-2 start this season, including back-to-back losses coming at NCAA Division I FCS Portland State (Ore.), 38-20, on Sept. 1 and at No. 20 (then-unranked) Montana Tech, 37-20, on Sept. 8. It is the first time that Carroll has lost back-to-back games since 2004 when it fell to Montana Tech on Oct. 9 and Montana Western on Oct 16. Additionally, the No. 12 ranking marks the first time since Nov. 2, 2004 that the Fighting Saints have not been amongst the top 10.

Marian (Ind.) jumped one position this week to No. 2 with 301 points, while Georgetown (Ky.) followed suit, moving from No. 4 to No. 3 with 291 points.

Two top-five newcomers round out the quintet with No. 4 Morningside (Iowa) and No. 5 Missouri Valley each vaulting up four places. The Mustangs boast a 2-0 record with both victories coming against ranked opponents: No. 21 (then-No. 17) Valley City State (N.D.), 49-7, on Aug. 30 and No. 17 (then-No. 10) Northwestern (Iowa), 34-7, on Sept. 8. Similarly, the Vikings are 2-0 following a pair of road victories at McPherson (Kan.), 27-13, on Sept. 1 and an impressive 41-7 thrashing of No. 13 (then-No. 5) MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) on Sept. 8.

St. Ambrose (Iowa) made the biggest improvement from the preseason poll, leaping 11 spots to No. 9 following an impressive 15-14 road victory against No. 11 (then-No. 6) Saint Francis (Ind.) on Sept. 8. Conversely, St. Francis and Carroll fell farther of any team, dropping 10 positions each.

Five newcomers join the Top 25 this week: No. 19 Rocky Mountain (Mont.), Montana Tech, No. 22 Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.), No. 23 Taylor (Ind.) and No. 24 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.). Outside of the 2012 Spring Poll (April 18), this marks the first time the Blue Raiders have been included in the Top 25.

Slipping out of the poll are Ottawa (Kan.) (No. 11), Bethel (Tenn.) (No. 11), Langston (Okla.) (No. 22), Bethany (Kan.) (No. 24) and Campbellsville (Ky.) (No. 25).

The Frontier Conference, Mid-States Football Association Mideast, Great Plains Athletic Conference, Heart of America Athletic Conference and the Mid-States Football Association Midwest all boast four teams in the Top 25 as eight conferences/independents are represented in this week's edition.

The poll was voted upon by a panel of head coaches representing each of the conferences and independents. For the entire 2012 NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 Poll schedule, click here. The next Top 25 will be announced on Sept. 17.

For more information on NAIA football, please click here.

NOTES: Saint Xavier's (Ill.) No. 1 ranking marks the fourth-straight time - 12 of last 14 - the Cougars have received the top spot ... Outside of the April 18 Spring Poll, No. 24 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) is ranked for the first time (since 1999) ... Carroll (Mont.) is ranked outside of the top 10 for the first time since Nov. 2, 2004 after losing back-to-back games for the first time since 2004 ... Additionally, the Fighting Saints had a 91-straight top five rating streak end ... No. 9 St. Ambrose is ranked in the top 10 for the first time since Sept. 14, 2009 ... No. 13 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) falls from the top 10 for the first time since Oct. 12, 2009 ... 20th is the highest ranking for Montana Tech since being in the same spot in the Nov. 5, 2007 poll ... Carroll leads all institutions with 56 first-place rankings and is followed by former NAIA member Sioux Falls (S.D.) (55), Georgetown (Ky.) (23), Saint Xavier (12) and former NAIA member Northwestern Oklahoma State (11) ... Saint Francis (Ind.) boasts the longest consecutive stretch of being named in the Coaches' Top 25 Poll with 157 ... Following Saint Francis among consecutive appearances is Carroll with 142, MidAmerica Nazarene with 68, Morningside (Iowa) with 60 and Saint Xavier with 48 ... Since 2000, only three programs have lasted the entire season ranked at No. 1 - Carroll (2003, 2005), Sioux Falls (2009), Georgetown (2001).

2012 NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 Poll - No. 1 (Sept. 10)

RANK LAST TIME SCHOOL (1ST PLACE VOTES) 2012 RECORD TOTAL POINTS
1 1 Saint Xavier (Ill.) (14) 2-0 314
2 3 Marian (Ind.) 3-0 301
3 4 Georgetown (Ky.) 2-0 291
4 8 Morningside (Iowa) 2-0 273
5 9 Missouri Valley 2-0 271
6 13 Benedictine (Kan.) 2-0 244
7 14 William Penn (Iowa) 3-0 241
8 16 Eastern Oregon 2-0 213
T9 20 St. Ambrose (Iowa) 2-0 199
T9 18 Baker (Kan.) 3-0 199
11 6 Saint Francis (Ind.) 2-1 187
12 2 Carroll (Mont.) 1-2 186
13 5 MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 1-1 185
14 19 Cumberlands (Ky.) 2-0 154
15 15 Grand View (Iowa) 2-1 139
16 21 Doane (Neb.) 2-0 128
T17 7 St. Francis (Ill.) 1-2 112
T17 10 Northwestern (Iowa) 1-1 112
19 NR Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 3-0 106
20 NR Montana Tech 1-1 84
21 17 Valley City State (N.D.) 1-1 54
22 NR Dakota Wesleyan (S.D.) 2-0 52
23 NR Taylor (Ind.) 2-0 22
24 RV Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 2-1 21
25 22 Cumberland (Tenn.) 1-1 19

Others receiving votes:
Kansas Wesleyan 18; Hastings (Neb.) 13; Langston (Okla.) 11; Kentucky Christian 11; Faulkner (Ala.) 11; Menlo (Calif.) 8; McPherson (Kan.) 7; Friends (Kan.) 3; Graceland (Iowa) 3; Midland (Neb.) 3.