Sam Houston State moved up to No. 2 in the final Sports Network NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision rankings for 2012.
The Bearkats stood No. 5 in the final regular season poll in December. Sam Houston defeated all three of the Big Sky Conference's tri-champions (Cal Poly, Montana State and Eastern Washington) to reach the NCAA Division I Championship Finals in Frisco for the second year in a row.
The No. 2 rankings both in 2011 and 2012 stand as Sam Houston State's highest final national poll standings in program history. The team's previous high was No. 3 in 2004.
National champion North Dakota State was the Sports Network's No. 1 team. The Bison, the Missouri Valley Football Conference champions, were ranked No. 1 in 11 of the 14 polls this season.
Sam Houston State (11-4) was voted second on 128 of the 142 ballots. Coach Willie Fritz's Bearkats, the Southland Conference co-champions, finished behind North Dakota State in the point total, 3,550 to 3,386.
The other two teams to reach the national semifinals, Southern Conference tri-champion Georgia Southern (10-4) and Big Sky Conference tri-champion Eastern Washington (11-3), finished No. 3 and 4, respectively.
The rest of the Top 10 was No. 5 Montana State (11-2), a Big Sky tri-champion; No. 6 Old Dominion (11-2); No. 7 Wofford (9-4), a SoCon tri-champion; No. 8 Illinois State (9-4); No. 9 Appalachian State (8-4), a SoCon tri-champion; and No. 10 Central Arkansas (9-3), a Southland co-champion.
Next up were No. 11 Stony Brook (10-3), a Big South Conference tri-champion; No. 12 Cal Poly (9-3), a Big Sky tri-champion; No. 13 New Hampshire (8-4), a CAA Football tri-champion; No. 14 South Dakota State (9-4); No. 15 Villanova (8-4), a CAA tri-champion; No. 16 Lehigh (10-1); No. 17 Towson (7-4), a CAA tri-champion; No. 18 Richmond (8-3), a CAA tri-champion; No. 19 James Madison (7-4); and No. 20 Northern Arizona (8-3).
Northeast Conference champion Wagner (9-4) finished at No. 21, followed by No. 22 Bethune-Cookman (9-3), the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion; No. 23 Eastern Kentucky (8-3); No. 24 Coastal Carolina (8-5), a Big South tri- champion; and No. 25 Colgate (8-4), the Patriot League champion.
The first teams outside the Top 25 were Eastern Illinois, the Ohio Valley Conference champion, and Indiana State, which handed North Dakota State its only loss of the season, 17-14 on Oct. 13.
The CAA finished with the most teams in the Top 25 with six, followed by the Big Sky with four and the Missouri Valley and SoCon with three each. There were two teams each from the Southland, Big South and Patriot League, and one each from the MEC, NEC and Ohio Valley Conference.
A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries selected the Top 25 throughout the season. A first-place vote was worth 25 points, a second-place vote 24 points, all the way down to one point for a 25th-place vote.
SPORTS NETWORK FCS TOP 25
1. North Dakota State (14-1)
2. SAM HOUSTON STATE (11-4)
3. Georgia Southern (10-4)
4. Eastern Washington (11-3)
5. Montana State (11-2)
6. Old Dominion (11-2)
7. Wofford (9-4)
8. Illinois State (9-4)
9. Appalachian State (8-4)
10. Central Arkansas (9-3)
11. Stony Brook (10-3)
12. Cal Poly (9-3)
13. New Hampshire (8-4)
14. South Dakota State (9-4)
15. Villanova (8-4)
16. Lehigh (10-1)
17. Towson (7-4)
18. Richmond (8-3)
19. James Madison (7-4)
20. Northern Arizona (8-3)
21. Wagner (9-4)
22. Bethune-Cookman (9-3)
23. Eastern Kentucky (8-3)
24. Coastal Carolina (8-5)
25. Colgate (8-4)
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