Eastern Illinois football will open the 2016 season just outside the Top 25 polls. The Panthers are among the teams also receiving votes in both FCS Top 25 polls.
EIU was the first team also receiving votes in the FCS Coaches Top 25 poll (ranking No. 26 in the preseason poll). The Panthers were the sixth team also receiving votes (ranking No. 31) in the FCS STATS Media FCS Top 25. Last season EIU was 7-5 overall finishing the year ranked No. 23 in the FCS Coaches poll and No. 25 in the FCS STATS Media poll.
The Panthers will have early chances to move into the FCS Top 25 as they will host nationally ranked Western Illinois in the season opener on Sept. 1 at O’Brien Field. WIU is 20th in the STATS FCS Media Poll and 24th in the FCS Coaches rankings.
EIU will also face two teams in the preseason top ten this year. The annual Mid-America Classic against Illinois State will feature an ISU team ranked eighth by the FCS Coaches and tenth by the FCS Media. Preseason OVC favorite Jacksonville State was picked third in both preseason polls. The Panthers visit JSU on Oct. 29.
Five-time defending National Champion North Dakota State was the preseason favorite in both polls followed by Sam Houston State, Jacksonville State, Richmond and Northern Iowa.