CHICAGO - The South Dakota State University football team has matched its highest-ever ranking in a preseason poll, checking in at No. 3 in the initial STATS FCS media poll of the 2019 season.
The Jackrabbits received one first-place vote and finished with 3,631 points to finish third in the poll for the second year in a row. SDSU completed the 2018 season with a 10-3 overall record and made its second consecutive semifinal appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Defending national champion North Dakota State collected 142 of 160 first-place votes to top the poll with 3,971 points. James Madison received 14 first-place votes and 3,635 points to finish second.
Rounding out the top five were Big Sky Conference members Eastern Washington (3,594 points with three first-place votes) and UC Davis (3,210 points).
Besides NDSU and SDSU, three other Missouri Valley Football Conference rivals appeared in the top 25: Illinois State, 15th with 1,432 points; Indiana State, 16th with 1,192 points, and Northern Iowa, 18th with 1,136 points.
South Dakota State opens the 2019 season Aug. 29 at Minnesota. The Jackrabbits' home opener is slated for Sept. 7 against Long Island University in the annual Dairy Drive game.