Northern Colorado has ranked 11th in both Big Sky preseason football polls

With the season approaching, the University of Northern Colorado football program was selected to complete its second official season under head coach Ed McCaffrey near the end of the conference.

UNC was selected as a T11 alongside Idaho State in the Coach Poll. In the media poll, it was voted straight to number 11, while the state of Idaho came in at number 12.

The Bears went 3-8 overall and 2-6 in conference play, finishing in 10th place. They finished ahead of Cal Poly and Idaho State (1-7 Big Sky) and winless Southern Utah, now in the Western Athletic Conference.

Since the end of last season, Northern Colorado has seen many changes within the program. It added a handful of new assistant coaches and had to replace about half the squad. It had around 40 outgoing transfers, around 80% of which were on the 2021 squad. It also lost about a dozen seniors who chose not to use their extra year of eligibility granted due to COVID-19.

The program signed a handful of transfers and several three-star prospects.

UNC was last selected in the 2020 and 2021 polls. The Bears did not play the spring 2021 season due to safety concerns over a pandemic.

Montana was selected first in both polls. It went 10-3 overall and 6-2 in the league. The Grizzlies also went to the FCS playoff quarterfinals.

The Grizzlies are bringing back a number of veteran players, including 2021 Buck Buchanan Award finalist Patrick O’Connell as linebacker and First Team All-American cornerback Justin Ford.

Should Montana win, it would be the team’s first conference title since 2009.

Sacramento State was ranked #2 in the Coaches Poll and #3 in the Media Poll. The Hornets finished the league 8-0.

FCS runners-up Montana State was voted #2 in the media poll and #3 by the coaches. It defeated UT-Martin, Sam Houston and South Dakota State en route to the national championship game where it fell to North Dakota State.

Weber State and UC Davis were ranked No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.

UNC will begin its 2022 campaign on September 3 at home against Houston Baptist. The first game of the league season is scheduled for September 24 when Idaho State visits.

Big Sky Coaches Survey

1: Montana (3) – 111

2: State of Sacramento (4) – 110

3: State of Montana (5) – 109

4: Weber State – 84th

5: UC Davis – 82

6: East Washington – 76

7: Northern Arizona – 62

8: Idaho-45

9: Portland State – 42

10: Cal Poly – 33

T11: State of Idaho – 19th

T11: Northern Colorado – 19th

Big Sky media survey

1: Montana (14) – 356

2: State of Montana (13 – 352

3: State of Sacramento (4) – 335

4: Weber State-261

5: UC Davis (1) – 255

6: East Washington – 236

7: Northern Arizona – 191

8: Portland State – 146

9: Idaho-142

10: Cal Poly – 85

11: Northern Colorado – 71

12: State of Idaho – 66

*Numbers in brackets indicate number of first place votes. Northern Colorado has ranked 11th in both Big Sky preseason football polls

James Brien

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