Lions Take Over Top Spot In Division II

Oct. 3, 2011


WACO, Texas – The University of North Alabama football team is the new No. 1 ranked team in the NCAA Division II after moving up one spot in the latest American Football Coaches Association poll. The Lions replace Northwest Missouri State in the top spot after the Bearcats lost a 38-35 decision to 16th ranked Pittsburg State. On a Saturday when the No. 1, 3 and 4 ranked teams all lost, UNA rallied from a 14-0 deficit to destroy Southern Arkansas 42-14.

UNA head coach Terry Bowden said he wasn’t sure taking over the top spot would help his team, but he says it shows respect for the Lions’ program.

“I still believe it doesn’t mean a whole lot being No. 1 this early in the season,” said Bowden. “But I would just as soon fight the rest of this battle from No. 1 as from No. 2.”

North Alabama started the 2011 season ranked sixth nationally and has slowly climbed to the top spot for the first time since 2009. The Lions last earned a No. 1 ranking on October 19, 2009 and held it for three weeks before losing their regular-season finale.

UNA’s first No. 1 national ranking in Division II was on Oct. 4, 1993 after a road win at Portland State. The Lions then held that No. 1 ranking for almost three years, for what was then a record 27 consecutive polls. That streak ended on Sept. 9, 1996.

UNA has been nationally ranked in 82 of the last 83 Division II polls dating back to 2005.

There was a big shakeup at the top of the Division II poll this week with No. 1 Northwest Missouri State, No. 3 Shepherd and No. 4 Valdosta State all losing and eight previously unbeaten teams falling.

The Lions travel to Russellville, Ark., Saturday (Oct. 8) to take on Arkansas Tech in UNA’s third straight game against former Gulf South Conference members from Arkansas. UNA has downed Harding and Southern Arkansas and now faces an ATU squad that has struggled to a 1-4 start. North Alabama holds a 12-3 lead in the series and has won the last eight straight in the series, dating back to a win by the Wonder Boys in Russellville in 1999.

North Alabama hasn’t lost a regular-season game to a non-GSC school since a 24-21 overtime loss at Samford on Aug. 29, 2002. That gives the Lions an 18-game regular season winning streak against non-GSC schools. UNA is 95-28-1 all-time in non-conference games since joining the Gulf South Conference in 1971.

Kickoff for UNA’s game at Arkansas Tech is set for 7 p.m. at Thone Stadium/Buerkle Field in Russellville, Ark.