Coming off one of its best seasons in school history, the West Texas A&M football team is No. 3 nationally in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Preseason Poll, which was announced Monday. The No. 3 ranking is the best preseason and/or season ranking for the Buffs since the poll began in 2000.
The Buffs are coming off of a 12-3 season in 2012 as they won a share of the Lone Star Conference crown and reached the NCAA National Semifinal for the first time in school history. The Buffs finished fourth in the final AFCA poll in December.
Defending national champion Valdosta State was picked first in the preseason poll with 766 points and 26 first place votes, followed by Minnesota State with 726 points and three first place votes. WT garnered 707 points and one first place nod, followed by Northwest Missouri State with 616 points and one first place vote and Winston-Salem State rounded out the top five with 599 points. WSSU defeated WT in the National Semifinal, prior to losing to Valdosta State in the championship in 2012.
Missouri Western State was picked sixth, followed by Shippensburg (Pa.), Colorado State-Pueblo, Ashland and Indiana (Pa.) rounded out the top 10. WT won 33-28 at Ashland in the second round of the playoffs last season and won 34-13 at Colorado State-Pueblo in the quarterfinals.
Lone Star Conference member Midwestern State is 15th in the poll with 319 points as the only other conference team ranked. Tarleton State and Texas A&M-Kingsville each are receiving votes in the poll with three and two votes, respectively.
WT’s Lone Star Conference Football Festival foe, Chadron State, is 20th in the poll. The Buffs downed Chadron State 38-30 in the first round of the NCAA playoffs in 2012.
The Buffs open the 2013 season at Western State Colorado University in Gunnison, Colo., at 2 p.m. CT on Sept. 7.
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