Based on the Football Championship Subdivision preseason polls, it should be a September to remember for Eastern Washington.
On the eve of their first practice, the Eagles were ranked 14th in the coaches poll and 17th in the STATS media poll, both released on Monday.
That’s not bad, considering the Eagles are coming off a 6-5 season and face questions at several positions. However, after the season opener at Washington State, Eastern faces three straight games against teams also ranked in both FCS polls.
First up after WSU is five-time defending FCS champ North Dakota State, which hosts the Eagles on Sept. 10. A week later, Eastern’s first home game will come against Missouri Valley Conference power Northern Iowa, which beat the Eagles 38-35 last year and ranks fifth in both polls.
Finally, the Eagles close September at Big Sky Conference preseason favorite Northern Arizona, which is 18th in both polls.
“We get excited about putting ourselves on that stage and in that challenging moment,” Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin said of what may be the most challenging schedule in school history.
“It’s a chance to do special things. It’s going to be a challenge, but our program relishes that and will embrace it,” Baldwin said,
Big Sky rival Montana is ranked just ahead of EWU at 13th in the media poll.
Portland State, a surprise FCS playoff team last season under EWU grad and first-year head coach Bruce Barnum, came in at 17th in the media rankings and ranked 12th in the coaches poll.
North Dakota, which isn’t on this year’s schedule, was 19th and 21st, respectively, in the two polls. Southern Utah, another Big Sky member not on EWU’s schedule, was unranked in the media poll but ranked 23rd by the coaches.
Previously, Eastern ranked as high as ninth nationally in rankings released by a trio of preseason publications. Sporting News ranked EWU ninth, Lindy’s had the Eagles slotted for 10th and Athlon Sports picked EWU 12th. The Eagles were picked to finish third in the conference’s media poll and fourth by the league’s coaches.
Local journalism is essential.
The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.