PARK CITY, Utah – A year after sharing its first Big Sky Conference title, the North Dakota football team was picked to repeat as the league champions in both the media and coaches' polls released Tuesday by league officials.
Entering its sixth and final season as a league member, this marks the first time the Fighting Hawks garnered the top spot in either preseason poll. UND was picked to finish fourth by the media and fifth by the coaches last season before going on to post a unblemished 8-0 record in league play and share the regular season title with Eastern Washington.
The Eagles, who are under the direction of first-year head coach Aaron Best, were picked to finish second in both polls, receiving five first-place votes from the media and two from the coaches. These two teams will play in Grand Forks on Nov. 11, which will be the regular-season finale for the Fighting Hawks.
"This type of recognition is great for our program as one of our goals is to excite our fan base, alumni and loyal supporters," UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said. "When we arrived in 2014, our goal was to fill the Alerus tailgot lot, the Alerus Center and play big games in front of our home crowd. Our players and coaches need to be able to handle these expectations and preseason buzz that come with the success we had last year.
"These external expecations do not change our internal expectations, which remain the same and that is for each individual to do their job to the best of their ability."
The top eight were identical in both polls and the only difference was the media and coaches had Northern Colorado and Portland State reversed in the No. 9 and No. 10 spots. Northern Arizona, Cal Poly and Weber State rounded out the top five.
UND led the media poll with 15 first-place votes and their six first-place votes from the coaches were also the most. The top six teams in the coaches' poll all had at least one first-place vote, while four teams had first-place tallies in the media poll.
The Fighting Hawks open the 2017 season at Utah on Thursday, Aug 31. Season tickets for UND's five-game home schedule are currently on sale and fans can visit www.UNDSports.com/tickets for more information.
Preseason Big Sky Media Poll
|1.||North Dakota (15)||298|
|2.||Eastern Washington (5)||271|
|3.||Northern Arizona (3)||236|
Preseason Big Sky Coaches' Poll
|1.||North Dakota (6)||130|
|2.||Eastenr Washington (2)||124|
|2.||Northern Arizona (2)||119|
|4.||Cal Poly (1)||108|
|5.||Weber State (1)||103|
-- UND --