Coming off consecutive wins against nationally-ranked opponents at home, the Illinois State football was tabbed as the No. 22 team in the country in The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25 Poll released Monday. ISU fell just three points outside of the FCS Coaches Poll at No. 26.
The national ranking is the first for the Redbirds (5-3, 4-2 MVFC) since 2010, when they were picked as high as No. 19 in the Football Championship Subdivision Coaches Poll and No. 23 in The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25 Poll. The Redbirds garnered 496 points in the weekly vote and were behind No. 17 South Dakota and No. 20 Indiana State, despite defeating those two teams in the past two weeks.
For seven straight weeks, Georgia Southern and Northern Iowa have been ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25. Missouri Valley Football Conference co-leader North Dakota State was ranked third and picked up 10 first-place votes to give the MVFC four ranked teams in this week’s poll. Illinois State is the sixth different Valley Football team to crack the Top 25 this season. UNI and North Dakota State have appeared in every poll this year, while Indiana State has been ranked for five-straight weeks.
Illinois State catapulted into the national polls after a 17-14 victory over the then No. 16 Sycamores Saturday at Hancock Stadium. The Redbirds held national rushing leader Shakir Bell to 123 yards on the ground and kept him out of the end zone, while allowing the Sycamores just 92 yards rushing. With that performance, Illinois State now ranks ninth in the country in total defense and is third in the country in rushing defense.
The nationally-ranked Redbirds will return to the field Saturday for a matchup against their in-state and conference rival Southern Illinois, with kickoff scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.
article courtesy ISU Sports Information