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Back in action, Division II and Division III drop preseason Top 25s

After sitting out the 2020-21 season, the NCAA's lower divisions return to the gridiron largely where they left off in 2019.

Following a season off, Division II and Division III are back this fall. And you can't really be back without a preseason Top 25. 

2020 marked the first season in which the NCAA did not crown Division II and III football champions since the respective divisions were founded in 1973. 

With no prior season to go on, voters in the AFCA Division II poll and the D3Football.com poll largely picked up where they left off. Defending national champion West Florida is a near-unanimous choice as the D2 No. 1, with runner-up Minnesota State at No. 2. Semifinalists Ferris State and Slippery Rock check in at No. 3 and No. 5, and all top 10 teams reached at least the second round. 

Below is the AFCA Division II Top 25: 

1. West Florida -- 698 total points (26 first-place votes)
2. Minnesota State -- 673 (2)
3. Ferris State (Mich.) -- 630
4. Northwest Missouri State -- 575 (1)
5. Slippery Rock (Pa.) -- 544
6. Lenoir-Rhyne (N.C.) -- 540
6. Valdosta State (Ga.) -- 540
8. Texas A&M-Commerce -- 520
9. Notre Dame (Ohio) -- 501
10. Colorado School of Mines -- 423
11. Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) -- 387
12. Colorado State-Pubelo -- 327
13. Central Missouri -- 323
14. Indianapolis -- 261
15. Shepherd (W.Va.) -- 256
16. Grand Valley State (Mich.) -- 231
17. Indiana (Pa.) -- 220
18. Bowie State (Md.) -- 210
19. Tiffin (Ohio) -- 188
20. Kutztown (Pa.) -- 144
21. Lindenwood (Mo.) -- 134
22. Harding (Ark.) -- 120
23. Minnesota-Duluth -- 100
24. Carson-Newman (Tenn.) -- 95
24. Wingate (N.C.) -- 95

In Division III, Mary Hardin-Baylor tops the poll following a trip to the quarterfinals in 2019. Perennial champion Mount Union -- although the Purple Raiders have only won two titles since 2013 -- checks in at No. 2, while defending national champion is third and Wisconsin-Whitewater is fourth.

In fact, North Central is the only defending champion not to top an NCAA preseason poll. Alabama heads the FBS AP Top 25, while defend champ Sam Houston picks up where it left off in May. 

Only 12 teams in the top-25 played games in 2020-21, and none more than five. 

Behold the D3Football.com Top 25: 

1. Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) -- 595 total points (10 first-place votes)
2. Mount Union (Ohio) -- 580 (6)
3. North Central (Ill.) -- 566 (4)
4. Wisconsin-Whitewater -- 565 (1)
5. Wheaton (Ill.) -- 534 (4)
6. St. John's (Minn.) -- 458
7. Hardin-Simmons (Texas) -- 438
8. Salisbury (Md.) -- 397
9. Wisconsin-Oshkosh -- 382
10. Linfield (Ore.) -- 336
11. John Carroll (Ohio) -- 322
12. Delaware Valley (Pa.) -- 318
13. Muhlenberg (Pa.) -- 279
14. Central (Iowa) -- 207
15. Union (N.Y.) -- 202
16. Bethel (Minn.) -- 200
17. Randolph-Macon (Va.) -- 184
18. Wartburg (Iowa) -- 181
19. Washington and Jefferson (Pa.) -- 173
20. Westminster (Pa.) -- 151
21. Chapman (Calif.) -- 143
22. Brockport (N.Y.) -- 131
23. Aurora (Ill.) -- 120
24. Heidelberg (Ohio) -- 103
25. Berry (Ga.) -- 75