DURHAM, N.H.--The University of New Hampshire football team showed the I-AA football world in 2004 that Wildcat football is alive and well. Judging by preseason rankings, the experts think the team's success will carry into 2005 as UNH has been ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation by three media sources.
"The Sports Network" has ranked UNH sixth overall and second among Atlantic 10 teams, as James Madison, the defending national champ, was tied for second. Picked to win the national title was Furman.
"Street and Smith's" has placed the Wildcats fourth overall and second in the conference behind No. 2 James Madison. They also pick Furman to win the national title.
"I-AA.Org Magazine" has UNH in the eighth spot, second behind JMU, the team they pick to repeat as national champions.
Finally "Lindy's College Football Preview Magazine" has UNH in 15th overall with JMU, William & Mary, Delaware, Massachusetts and Villanova all among the top 14. They pick Montana to win it all in 2005.
UNH is coming off of its best season ever with a 10-3 mark and the squad took first place in the North Division of the Atlantic 10 Football Conference. UNH won its first-ever NCAA I-AA tournament contest with a first-round victory at Georgia Southern in 2004 and advanced as far as the I-AA NCAA Quarterfinals. UNH head coach Sean McDonnell was named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year and the Wildcats enter the season with junior wide receiver David Ball (Orange, Vt.) and senior tight end Jon Williams (Rochester, N.Y.) picked as preseason All-Americans by several publications and websites.