Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Let the FCS playoffs begin.
It's basically what the North Dakota State Bison have been saying all season as they try to make a run at history. They enter the playoffs as a unanimous No. 1 in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 after voting ended on Sunday just hours before the announcement of the 24-team field.
Coach Craig Bohl's 11-0 squad received all 143 first-place votes and 3,575 points in the national media poll.
North Dakota State extended its winning streak to a Missouri Valley Football Conference-record 20 games on Saturday by shutting out South Dakota, 42-0. In the playoffs, the Bison will chase their third straight FCS national title, which is a feat accomplished only once previously, by Appalachian State from 2005-07.
The playoffs begin next Saturday with first-round matchups. Eight seeded teams will gain byes to the second round.
The seeds will include Eastern Illinois (11-1) and Eastern Washington (10-2), who remained No. 2 and 3, respectively, for the sixth straight week. On Saturday, EIU completed a perfect Ohio Valley Conference season by defeating UT Martin, 70-22, while EWU rallied past Portland State, 42-41, to finish with an unbeaten Big Sky Conference record.
Montana (10-2) earned a Big Sky win over rival Montana State and moved up one spot to No. 4, replacing CAA Football champion Maine, which fell to rival New Hampshire.
The highest-ranked team out of the CAA became No. 5 Towson (10-2), which beat James Madison.
The rest of the Top 10 was No. 6 McNeese State (10-2); No. 7 Southeastern Louisiana, the Southland Conference champion; No. 8 Northern Arizona (9-2); No. 9 Fordham (11-1); and Maine (10-2).
Big South Conference co-champion Coastal Carolina (10-2) was No. 11, followed by No. 12 Bethune-Cookman (10-2), a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference co- champion; No. 13 South Dakota State (8-4); No. 14 Sam Houston State (8-4); No. 15 New Hampshire (7-4); No. 16 Montana State (7-5); No. 17 Youngstown State (8-4); No. 18 Samford (8-4), which earned a share of the Southern Conference title; No. 19 Tennessee State (9-3); and No. 20 Jacksonville State (9-3), which moved back into the rankings after a one-week absence.
Rounding out the Top 25 were No. 21 Chattanooga (8-4), a SoCon tri-champion which lost at the University of Alabama on Saturday; No. 22 Southern Utah (8-4); No. 23 Charleston Southern (10-3); No. 24 Lehigh (8-3); and No. 25 South Carolina State (9-3), which moved into the rankings for the first time since Sept. 26, 2011.
William & Mary and Princeton fell out of the Top 25 after suffering losses on Saturday.
A panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries select the national poll. In the Top 25 voting, a first-place vote is worth 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.
Voting will be conducted one more time after the FCS championship game Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas, and the final poll will be released on Jan. 6.