Not ranked at the beginning of the season, and outside of the top 10 at the start of the FCS Playoffs, the Youngstown State football team finished second in the final STATS FCS Top 25 and FCS Coaches Polls which were released on Monday.
The Penguins (12-4) won four playoff games, including road contests at then No. 2 Jacksonville State and No. 3 Eastern Washington to reach their first Division I National Championship Game since 1999. YSU dropped a tough 28-14 decision to National Champion James Madison in Frisco, Texas this past Saturday.
In the STATS Poll, YSU moved up 11 spots in the final poll and had wins over No. 4 Eastern Washington, No. 7 Jacksonville State, No. 9 Wofford and No. 23 Samford in the postseason. The Guins were ranked 12th in the Coaches Poll entering the playoffs and finished moved up 10 spots to second.
It's the highest-end-of-the-year ranking since 1999, the Penguins never cracked the top 10 during the 2016 regular season.
The Missouri Valley Football Conference had three teams finish in the top six of the STATS Poll. North Dakota State finished third right behind the Penguins while South Dakota State finished sixth. SDSU was seventh in the Coaches Poll.
The Penguins faced one of the toughest schedules in the country playing six of the top nine teams this year - No. 1 JMU, No. 3 NDSU, No. 4 EWU, No. 6 SDSU, No. 7 JSU and No. 9 Wofford. Only one of those games was at home while four were on the road.
In the Coaches Poll, James Madison claimed the top spot with 650 points and all 26 first-place votes. In the STATS Poll, the Dukes received all 154 first-place votes and 3,850 points. YSU had 3,631 points in the STATS Poll.