EIU Moves Into Top Five in FCS Polls


Published on October 1 2013 9:13 am
Last Updated on October 1 2013 9:13 am
Written by Millie Lange

CHARLESTON -- Eastern Illinois football moved up to number five in both FCS polls this week as the Panthers opened defense of their Ohio Valley Conference championship with a 42-7 victory over Eastern Kentucky.  EIU heads into a bye week with the next game on Oct. 10 at Austin Peay.

Jimmy Garoppolo, a Walter Payton Award candidate, became the career leader in the OVC for touchdown passes with 88 moving ahead of former EIU signal caller Tony Romo.  Garoppolo passed Murray State’s Casey Brockman for the OVC career passing yards record as he became the 30th player in FCS history to go over the 10,000 yards passing for his career.

The defense turned in a solid effort as they shut out Eastern Kentucky until the final 3:33 of the game when the second and third team defensive units were on the field.  Anthony Goodman was named the OVC Defensive Player of the Week with eight tackles and a school record 70-yard fumble return for touchdown.  Adam Gristick had a pair interceptions as EIU forced four turnovers.

This marks the first time since the 2002 season that EIU has been ranked in the top five in the FCS polls.  The Panthers reached No. 2 in the Sports Network rankings in late November of that year.  This is the fifth season that the Panthers have climbed into the top five in the FCS polls (1982, 1986, 2001, 2002, 2013).

North Dakota State was the nation’s number one team in both the Sports Network and FCS Coaches Top 25 polls.  NDSU had all 26 first place votes in the FCS Coaches poll and 157 of 158 first place votes in the Sports Network poll.  Northern Iowa was fourth in both polls and Eastern Illinois was fifth in both polls.  Towson was second in the FCS Coaches poll and third in Sports Network.  Sam Houston State was second (with one first place vote) in Sports Network and third in FCS Coaches.

Eastern Washington was sixth in the Sports Network poll followed by South Dakota State, Montana State, Coastal Carolina and Montana in the top ten.  The remainder of the top 25 was McNeese State, Fordham, Lehigh, Central Arkansas, Northern Arizona, Georgia Southern, Wofford, Cal Poly, New Hampshire, Villanova, Bethune-Cookman, UT Martin, Maine, Delaware and Gardner-Webb.  Maine and Delaware were newcomers to the top 25 this week.

Coastal Carolina was sixth in the FCS Coaches poll followed by Montana State, Eastern Washington, South Dakota State and Lehigh.  The remainder of the top 25 was Central Arkansas, Montana, Fordham, McNeese State, Wofford, Bethune-Cookman, Northern Arizona, New Hampshire, Cal Poly, Villanova, James Madison, Youngstown State, Maine, Gardner-Webb and Delaware.  The last three teams were all new additions to this week’s top 25 poll.