The Valdosta Daily Times
Valdosta State’s football team will open the 2011 season as the 20th-ranked team in the nation, according to the preseason poll released by the American Football Coaches Association Monday.
The Blazers received 184 votes in the preseason poll.
Defending Division II national champion Minnesota-Duluth was the No. 1 team in the poll.
VSU will be tested this season, as four of its 10 opponents open the year ranked in the top 15 in the nation, including a pair of Gulf South Conference foes in the top six. Delta State, which fell to Minnesota-Duluth in the national championship game a year ago, is ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll, while North Alabama is the sixth-ranked team.
A pair of Valdosta State's non-conference opponents are also ranked. The Blazers open the season at No. 14 Wingate on Sept. 3 and will travel to No. 9 Albany State two weeks later.
Valdosta State returns 10 starters and 38 letterwinners off of its 2010 team that compiled an 8-3 record while making the first round of the NCAA Super Region Two tournament.