JSU will start the 2012 football season looking at 21 teams ahead of them, but if the Gamecocks take care of their own business it won't matter, and they will soon see themselves much higher.
North Dakota State and Sam Houston State, who met in the Championship game last season, start first and second. NDSU won last season's championship, but Sam Houston was at the top, returning 17 starters including sophomore running back Tim Flanders. Georgia Southern placed third, followed by Montana State and James Madison rounding out the top five.
The top Ohio Valley school on the list is Eastern Kentucky at 18. JSU came in at 22 and will have an early shot at number 18 EKU in the Gamecocks' third game of the season and OVC opener on Sept. 22. The Gamecocks will try to avenge last season's game against the Colonels in which JSU blew a 24 point lead with seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
JSU will open in Fayetteville against a team that very well could finish the season in the top five BCS rankings. No OVC team has won a playoff game since 2000, but with the talent this season, that stat could easily bust.