Midwestern State's climb up the American Football Coaches' Association Division II Poll reached new heights Monday as the Mustangs claimed the highest national ranking in program history at No. 5.
MSU improved the best start in program history to 8-0 while claiming at least a share of its second Lone Star Conference championship in the last three years with a 57-34 win at Eastern New Mexico Saturday afternoon at Blackwater Draw.
The Mustangs go for their first outright LSC title Saturday afternoon against No. 20 West Texas A&M at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.
MSU is one of nine teams from NCAA Division II's Super Region 4 to receive mention in the poll which includes four teams from the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association, three from the LSC, and one from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and one from the Great American Conference.
The region boasts eight ranked squads including No. 2 Pittsburg State (Kan.), No. 3 Northwest Missouri, No. 5 MSU, No. 9 Washburn (Kan.), No. 16 Abilene Christian, No. 19 Humboldt State, No. 20 West Texas A&M and No. 25 Missouri Western while Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) is receiving votes.
Midwestern has received votes in 67 of the last 68 reporting periods and previously had reached a high point of No. 7 during the 2009 season.
Midwestern State kept its unbeaten record intact with a decisive win over Eastern New Mexico, but slipped to No. 2 in the latest South Central Region rankings released Monday afternoon by the NCAA Division II Football Committee.
The Mustangs joined Pittsburg State (Kan.) as the only undefeated teams in the region, but the Gorillas leapfrogged MSU to take over to top spot in an idle week.
Both teams face tough challenges this week with PSU playing to No. 4 Washburn (Kan.) (8-1), while the Mustangs battle No. 6 West Texas A&M (6-2) Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
Northwest Missouri (8-1) retained the No. 3 position, but battles No. 7 Missouri Western this weekend, while Abilene Christian (Texas) is No. 5, Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) is No. 8, Humboldt State (Calif.) is No. 9 and Central Missouri is 10th to fill out the rankings.
The top six teams advance to the NCAA Division II playoffs with the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds receiving a bye into the second round.
The playoff field will be announced Sunday, Nov. 13 with the first round commencing the following weekend.