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No. 1 Bison go wire-to-wire in STATS FCS Top 25

By CRAIG HALEY

STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - The description didn't change all season, but in the end, it sounded the sweetest:

North Dakota State is No. 1.

Not surprisingly, the national champion Bison were a unanimous No. 1 in the STATS FCS Top 25 on Monday, completing a 2018 season in which they went wire-to-wire in the top spot.

The Bison (15-0), who collected all 156 first-place votes in the final national media poll, beat Eastern Washington 38-24 on Saturday to become the fifth unbeaten and untied national champion in the 41-year history of the playoffs. The Missouri Valley Football Conference power has won two straight and a record seven FCS titles in the last eight seasons.

"I know as a senior group and with (outgoing) Coach (Chris) Klieman, we just wanted to leave our legacy," said senior wide receiver Darrius Shepherd, who caught two touchdowns and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the championship game. "And it's a special feeling to add to that tradition that we'll be able to talk about that we won the championship in 2018."

Eastern Washington, which was 12-3 under coach Aaron Best, finished second in the Top 25. Rounding out the top five were national semifinalists South Dakota State and Maine and then Kennesaw State.

A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries selected the STATS FCS Top 25 this 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.

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2018 Final STATS FCS Top 25

1. North Dakota State (15-0), 3,900 points (156 first-place votes)

Previous Ranking: 1; Final Game: 38-24 win over Eastern Washington; Other Key Wins: South Dakota State (21-17 and 44-21) and Colgate (35-0)

2. Eastern Washington (12-3), 3,741

Previous Ranking: 4; Final Game: 38-24 loss to North Dakota State; Key Wins: UC Davis (59-20 and 34-29) and Maine (50-19)

3. South Dakota State (10-3), 3,563

Previous Ranking: 5; Final Game: 44-21 loss to North Dakota State; Key Wins: Montana State (45-14), Indiana State (54-51 in OT) and Kennesaw State (27-17)

4. Maine (10-4), 3,299

Previous Ranking: 12; Final Game: 50-19 loss to Eastern Washington; Key Wins: Western Kentucky (31-28), Elon (27-26) and Weber State (23-18)

5. Kennesaw State (11-2), 3,224

Previous Ranking: 2; Final Game: 27-17 loss to South Dakota State; Key Wins: Monmouth (51-14), Jacksonville State (60-52 in 5 OTs) and Wofford (13-10)

6. Weber State (10-3), 3,096

Previous Ranking: 3; Final Game: 23-18 loss to Maine; Key Wins: Eastern Washington (14-6), Montana State (34-24) and Southeast Missouri (48-23)

7. UC Davis (10-3), 2,939

Previous Ranking: 7; Final Game: 34-29 loss to Eastern Washington; Key Wins: San Jose State (44-38), Montana (49-21) and UNI (23-16)

8. Colgate (10-2), 2,836

Previous Ranking: 9; Final Game: 35-0 loss to North Dakota State; Key Wins: New Hampshire (10-3), Georgetown (38-0) and James Madison (23-20)

9. James Madison (9-4), 2,532

Previous Ranking: 6; Final Game: 23-20 loss to Colgate; Key Wins: Stony Brook (13-10), Towson (38-17) and Delaware (20-6)

10. Jacksonville State (9-4), 2,360

Previous Ranking: 8; Final Game: 55-27 loss to Maine; Key Wins: Eastern Kentucky (56-7), Murray State (42-15) and ETSU (34-27)

11. Princeton (10-0), 2,189

Previous Ranking: 10; Final Game: 42-14 win over Penn; Other Key Wins: Monmouth (51-9), Harvard (29-21) and Dartmouth (14-9)

12. North Carolina A&T (10-2), 2,136

Previous Ranking: 11; Final Game: 24-22 win over Alcorn State; Other Key Wins: Jacksonville State (20-17), East Carolina (28-23) and North Carolina Central (45-0)

13. Wofford (9-4), 2,135

Previous Ranking: 13; Final Game: 13-10 loss to Wofford; Key Wins: Chattanooga (21-10), ETSU (30-17) and Elon (19-7)

14. Nicholls (9-4), 1,951

Previous Ranking: 14; Final Game: 42-14 loss to Eastern Washington; Key Wins: Kansas (26-23), Incarnate Word (48-21) and San Diego (49-30)

15. Southeast Missouri State (9-4), 1,587

Previous Ranking: 20; Final Game: 48-23 loss to Weber State; Key Wins: Austin Peay (31-27), Jacksonville State (37-14) and Stony Brook (28-14)

16. Stony Brook (7-5), 1,163

Previous Ranking: 15; Final Game: 28-14 loss to Southeast Missouri; Key Wins: New Hampshire (35-7), Rhode Island (52-14) and Delaware (17-3)

17. Montana State (8-5), 1,157

Previous Ranking: 23; Final Game: 52-10 loss to North Dakota State; Key Wins: Western Illinois (26-23), Montana (29-25) and Incarnate Word (35-14)

18. Dartmouth (9-1), 981

Previous Ranking: 18; Final Game: 49-7 win over Brown; Other Key Wins: Georgetown (41-0), Yale (41-18) and Harvard (24-17)

19. Elon (6-5), 909

Previous Ranking: 17; Final Game: 19-7 loss to Wofford; Key Wins: Furman (45-7), James Madison (27-24) and Rhode Island (24-21)

20. Towson (7-5), 803

Previous Ranking: 16; Final Game: 31-10 loss to Duquesne; Key Wins: Villanova (45-35), Stony Brook (52-28) and Elon (41-10)

21. Duquesne (9-4), 699

Previous Ranking: NR; Final Game: 51-6 loss to Duquesne; Key Wins: Sacred Heart (28-24), Central Connecticut State (38-31) and Towson (31-10)

22. ETSU (8-4), 686

Previous Ranking: 22; Final Game: 34-27 loss to Jacksonville State; Key Wins: Furman (29-27), Chattanooga (17-14) and The Citadel (26-23)

23. Northern Iowa (7-6), 676

Previous Ranking: NR; Final Game: 23-16 loss to UC Davis; Key Wins: Indiana State (33-0), South Dakota State (24-9) and Lamar (16-13)

24. Delaware (7-5), 670

Previous Ranking: 21; Final Game: 20-6 loss to James Madison; Key Wins: Elon (28-16), New Hampshire (38-14) and Towson (40-36)

25. San Diego (9-3), 635

Previous Ranking: 19; Final Game: 49-30 loss to Nicholls; Key Wins: Stetson (49-10), Dayton (36-34) and Drake (27-10)

Dropped Out: Incarnate Word, Indiana State

Others Receiving Votes: Indiana State 239, Incarnate Word 187, Alcorn State 147, Lamar 133, Furman 43, Monmouth 25, Idaho State 15, Illinois State 14, McNeese 14, Eastern Kentucky 5, Samford 4, Montana 2, Rhode Island 2, Stetson 2, Southern 1

Updated January 7, 2019

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