The South Dakota State University football team has attained its highest ranking in a Football Championship Subdivision poll, checking in at No. 4 in the STATS FCS Preseason Poll released Monday.
The defending Missouri Valley Football Conference co-champion Jackrabbits received two first-place votes in the balloting conducted among a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries. SDSU finished the 2016 season with a 9-4 record in making its fifth consecutive playoff appearance.
Defending national champion James Madison received 134 of 163 first-place votes to take the top spot with 4,034 points. Conference rival North Dakota State was second with 19 first-place votes and 3,874 points, with Sam Houston State third with seven first-place votes and 3,610 points. The Jackrabbits tallied 3,385 points, with Eastern Washington completing the top five with 3,270 points.
Four other MVFC squads were included in the top 25: Youngstown State (ninth), Northern Iowa (18th), Illinois State (20th) and Western Illinois (25th).
SDSU's previous highest ranking was a fifth-place showing over three weeks during the 2015 season. The Jackrabbits' previous high ranking in a preseason poll was sixth in 2013.
In addition, SDSU has appeared in the top 25 of 65 consecutive media polls dating back to October 2012.
The Jackrabbits are scheduled to open the 2017 season Aug. 31 by hosting Duquesne in the annual Dairy Drive.