Nicholas Draney, Associated Press
The Weber State Wildcats were picked sixth in the Big Sky Conference coaches poll and seventh in the media poll for the upcoming 2012 football season, the league announced Tuesday at the Big Sky Football Kickoff meetings, while league newcomer Southern Utah University was picked eighth in both polls.

PARK CITY — Weber State and Southern Utah University find themselves in the middle of the pack in this year's Big Sky Conference preseason football polls.

Weber State came in seventh and SUU was eighth in the media poll, announced Tuesday at the league's Summer Kickoff. In the coaches' poll, the Wildcats were sixth and the Thunderbirds — in their first year as a member of the expanded Big Sky, which now has 13 football-playing schools — wound up eighth.

The top five teams were identical in both polls. In the media poll, Montana State led the way with 30 out of the 40 available first-place votes and 502 points, followed by Eastern Washington (453), Montana (442), Portland State (334) and league newcomer Cal Poly (323).

Another new Big Sky member, North Dakota, was sixth in the media poll, followed in order by Weber State, Southern Utah, Northern Arizona, Sacramento State, UC Davis, Idaho State and Northern Colorado.

UC Davis, like Cal Poly, is a first-year football affiliate member in the Big Sky this year after playing last year in the Great West Conference along with Southern Utah and North Dakota.

Eastern Washington received three first-place votes, Montana got five, and Weber State and Cal Poly one first-place nod apiece in the media poll.

In the coaches' poll, Montana State received seven first-place votes and 136 points to edge Eastern Washington, which was again second with four first-place votes and 131 points. Montana was third with one first-place vote and 126 points, followed in order by Portland State, Cal Poly, Weber State and Northern Arizona.

Southern Utah got one first-place vote in the coaches' poll and was eighth overall, followed by Sacramento State, North Dakota, Idaho State, UC Davis and Northern Colorado.

Montana State and Montana were Big Sky co-champions last season, and the Bobcats of MSU return seven offensive starters and nine more on defense this year.

All Big Sky schools will play eight conference games this season.


Media poll

(First-place votes in parentheses)

1. Montana State (30) 502

2. Eastern Washington (3) 453

3. Montana (5) 442

4. Portland State 334

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5. Cal Poly (1) 323

6. North Dakota 295

7. Weber State (1) 284

8. Southern Utah 258

9. Northern Arizona 242

10. Sacramento State 191

11. UC Davis 135

12. Idaho State 115

13. Northern Colorado 63

Coaches' poll

(First-place votes in parentheses)

1. Montana State (7) 136

2. Eastern Washington (4) 131

3. Montana (1) 126

4. Portland State 90

5. Cal Poly 86

6. Weber State 81

7. Northern Arizona 75

8. Southern Utah (1) 74

9. Sacramento State 71

10. North Dakota 68

11. Idaho State 31

12. UC Davis 30

13. Northern Colorado 14