The Gamecocks were ranked 22nd in The Sports Network Preseason Top 25 FCS Poll that was announced Monday. Preseason OVC favorite Eastern Kentucky is ranked 18th in the poll. The teams play at EKU Sept. 22.
Sam Houston State, last year’s FCS national runner-up with 17 returning starters, was installed as the preseason No. 1. North Dakota State, the reigning national champion, is No. 2. Both teams were 14-1 a year ago. Seven teams received first-place votes.
It’s the first time since Oct. 31 the Gamecocks landed in the TSN Top 25, which is voted upon by FCS media and publicists, and the fourth time they’ve been in the preseason poll. They were in the poll for 40 straight weeks before blowing a 24-point lead to Eastern Kentucky last year that cost them an FCS playoff bid.
The powerful CAA and Missouri Valley conferences dominated the poll with a combined 11 teams. The Big Sky, Southern and Southland conferences had a combined nine teams in the poll
Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe is one of the two OVC voters on the FCS Coaches Poll, which is expected to be released next week.