LAKE CHARLES, La. - The University of Central Arkansas is picked fifth in preseason polls by both the coaches and sports information directors for the 2010 Southland Conference football race.
The polls were unveiled Wednesday at the league's football media day here.
Stephen F. Austin, coming off its third Southland Conference regular-season title and first since 1999, is favored by both the coaches and sports information directors to repeat as conference champions in 2010.
The Lumberjacks, which shared the 2009 title with McNeese State, received seven out of a possible eight first-place votes and 49 points in each of the coaches'and SID polls. Voters could not vote for their own teams.
Southland coach of the year J.C. Harper and the Lumberjacks return 16 starters and 39 letterwinners, including senior quarterback Jeremy Moses, the 2009 Southland co-player of the year and senior defensive back Andre Banks, last year's newcomer of the year. Stephen F. Austin, which finished 10-3 overall and 6-1 in Southland play, will look to record its first two consecutive conference titles in school history and a return trip to the FCS playoffs.
McNeese State, which won a share of its 13th overall conference title, is picked second in both the coaches' and SID polls receiving 43 and 40 points, respectively. The Cowboys, who received one first-place vote in each poll, have won six titles in the past 10 seasons and return 15 starters and 50 letterwinners including 2009 conference freshman of the year Malcolm Bronson.
Coming off its first winning season since 2004, Southeastern Louisiana returns 18 starters and was tabbed third in both polls receiving 29 points in the coaches' poll and 35 points in the SID poll.
Texas State, the 2008 Southland champion, returns 19 starters from a squad that recorded a second consecutive season with a 5-2 mark against league opponents. Poised for their third consecutive winning season, the Bobcats are tied for third with Southeastern Louisiana in the coaches' poll with each school receiving 29 points. The Bobcats were picked fourth in the SID poll with 31 points.
Central Arkansas enters the 2010 season as a fully credited Division I university and is now eligible to win the conference championship and also compete in the FCS playoffs. The Bears have posted winning records in two of their three seasons during the transition and were picked fifth in both the coaches' and SID polls receiving 27 and 29 points, respectively.
The remaining sixth, seventh and eighth place teams include Northwestern State, Sam Houston State and Nicholls. Northwestern State was picked sixth in the coaches' poll with 20 points, and eighth in the SID poll receiving 11 points. Sam Houston State was selected seventh in the coaches' poll with 18 points and sixth in the SID poll with 16 points.
Nicholls received nine points in the coaches' poll for an eighth-place ranking and were picked seventh in the SID poll receiving 13 points.
1. SFA (7), 49; 2. McNeese (1), 43; T3. SE Louisiana, 29; T3. Texas State, 29; 5. UCA, 27; 6. Northwestern State 20; 7. Sam Houston State, 18; 8. Nicholls 9
1. SFA (7), 49; 2. McNeese State (1) 40; 3. SE Louisiana, 35; 4. Texas State, 31; 5. UCA 29; 6. Sam Houston, 16; 7. Nicholls, 13; 8. NW State, 15.