Winston-Salem, N.C.--The Winston-Salem State University Rams will begin the season ranked #5 by the American Football Coaches Association, and the Blazers of Valdosta State (Ga.), fresh off of their third Division II national championship in 2012, opens up 2013 as the preseason favorite to win the national championship.
This is the third time since the AFCA Division II Coaches' Poll started in 2000 that the Blazers have begun the season ranked No. 1.
Minnesota State-Mankato comes in at No. 2 with three first place votes, followed by West Texas A&M, Northwest Missouri State and last year's national runner-up, Winston-Salem State (N.C.), rounding out the Top 5.
There will be three Top 25 matchups in the first week of the 2013 season, highlighted by No. 4 Northwest Missouri State playing host to No. 22 Saginaw Valley State (Mich.), and No. 7 Shippensburg (Pa.) traveling to No. 25 Shepherd (W.Va.).
1. Valdosta St. (Ga.) (26) 12-2 1 Sept. 7 vs. Fort Valley St. (Ga.)
2. Minnesota St.-Mankato (3) 12-3 3 Sept. 7 at Mary (N.D.)
3. West Texas A&M (1) 12-3 4 Sept. 7 at Western St. (Colo.)
4. Northwest Missouri St. (1) 10-3 10 Sept. 5 vs. No. 22 Saginaw Valley St. (Mich.)
5. Winston-Salem St. (N.C.) 14-1 2 Sept. 5 at North Carolina-Pembroke
WSSU Sports Information Dept.