Georgia Southern, off to a 2-0 start, was a runaway top choice in The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25 on Monday, claiming 102 of the 148 first-place votes and 3,622 points, for its first No. 1 ranking since the poll on Oct. 22, 2001. The Eagles also are tops in the FCS coaches poll.
The 2001 Eagles remained No. 1 following the 2000 national championship and started the season 7-0 before losing to East Tennessee State 19-16 on Oct. 27, 2001. GSU finished that season 12-2 and Southern Conference champions.
Georgia Southern is off this week before hosting Western Carolina on Sept. 24 at 6 p.m.
Northern Iowa (1-1), which collected 16 first-place votes and 3,329 points, was ranked second, followed in the top five by Appalachian State (1-1), William & Mary (1-1) and Montana State (1-1). Each of those schools have suffered losses to Bowl Subdivision programs.
South Dakota, which on Saturday knocked off last week's No. 1 team - reigning FCS champion Eastern Washington - moved into the rankings at No. 24. The upstart Coyotes, from the Great West Conference, are in the rankings for the first time since last Sept. 20 following the third week of games in the 2010 season.
Last season also marked Georgia Southern's return to prominence in the FCS. The Eagles had a combined 21-23 record in the four seasons from 2006-09, but head coach Jeff Monken, an assistant coach with two of the program's FCS-record six national championship squads between 1985-2000, returned to Statesboro as head coach last year.
He restored the vaunted triple option which helped rack up all the national titles and the Eagles reversed a 5-6 season in 2009 with a 10-5 campaign in which they won three playoff games and reached the national semifinals.
This season, Georgia Southern has defeated Southern Conference rival Samford and Division II Tusculum, rushing for 307 yards per game to rank fourth nationally. The Eagles are on a bye this week.
As Eastern Washington tumbled from the top ranking to No. 10, nine teams in the Top 10 received first-place votes.
The rest of the Top 10 consisted of No. 6 Richmond (2-0) No. 7 Delaware (1-1), No. 8 North Dakota State (2-0) and No. 9 Wofford (1-1) before Eastern Washington (0-2).