The Eastern Washington football team will open practice Wednesday as the third-ranked team in the land, according to the nation's coaches.
The Eagles, 11-3 last year, are picked third in the preseason NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Coaches Poll released Tuesday.
The Eagles, who won the 2010 FCS title and were a semifinalist in 2012, trail No. 1 North Dakota State and No. 2 Montana State in the poll. Eastern is ranked just ahead of No. 4 Sam Houston State, the FCS runners-up the past two seasons.
Eastern plays at Sam Houston State on Sept. 28 in a rematch of last year’s 45-42 Bearkat victory in the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. Montana State, which was defeated at home by the Eagles 27-24 a year ago, plays at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash., on Nov. 9 in a game regionally televised on Root Sports.
Other Big Sky schools ranked in the preseason poll are No. 11 Cal Poly, No. 18 Northern Arizona and No. 22 Montana. The Eagles play at Cal Poly on Nov. 16 and Montana on Oct. 26 – both games are also televised on Root Sports.
The Sports Network FCS Top-25 preseason poll is expected to be released on Aug. 13