ABILENE – Since Chris Thomsen became the ACU head coach in January 2005 he's coached the Wildcats to several firsts.
• First NCAA Division II playoff appearance in 2006.
• First unbeaten regular season since 1950 in 2008.
• First outright Lone Star Conference championship since 1973 in 2008.
• First Harlon Hill Award winner from ACU in 2008.
On Monday he added a new accomplishment to the list when the Wildcats ascended to the nation's No. 1 ranking.
The Wildcats moved from No. 2 in the nation to No. 1 in Monday's American Football Coaches' Association (AFCA) poll after a 38-14 win over then-No. 23 Angelo State on Saturday and previous No. 1 Grand Valley State's 27-24 upset loss against previously unranked Hillsdale (Mich.).
The 7-0 Wildcats claimed the No. 1 spot in the land with 621 votes, including 23 first-place votes. Unbeaten North Alabama moved up one spot from No. 3 to No. 2 after a 50-3 win over North Greenville (S.C.) last Thursday. The Lions picked up two first-place votes and 600 total points.
ACU is the first Lone Star Conference team to ever be ranked No. 1 in the nation by the AFCA and only the third LSC team to ever be voted No. 1 in the NCAA Division II poll, joining Central Oklahoma (last three regular-season polls of 1998) and Texas A&M-Kingsville (last two regular-season polls of 1996). The AFCA didn't begin publishing a poll until 2000.
Prior to Monday's No. 1 ranking by the AFCA, the last time the Wildcats were ranked No. 1 in the nation in football was Sept. 20, 1978, when they were the nation's top-ranked NAIA Division I football team. ACU was ranked No. 1 at the end of the 1973 and 1977 seasons when the Wildcats won NAIA Division I national championships. The Wildcats were also ranked No. 1 on Aug. 28, 1978, and Sept. 20, 1978.
Thomsen, however, knows that a No. 1 national ranking in mid-October is not the goal the Wildcats are striving to attain.
"You know, right now that means absolutely nothing," he said. "We're focused on our next opponent and trying to get ourselves ready for that game. We've got a lot of work ahead of us to get where we want to be at the end of this season.
"Certainly it's nice that our players and coaches have been recognized for their hard work," Thomsen said, "but we've got to focus on shoring up some critical areas on our team heading into the last four regular-season games of the season."
Central Washington moved up to No. 3, while Bloomsburg (Pa.), Northwest Missouri State and Minnesota State-Mankato moved up to Nos. 4, 5 and 6, respectively. ACU's Lone Star Conference rival, unbeaten Texas A&M-Kingsville, moved up two spots to No. 7 after Saturday's 35-34 win over Texas A&M-Commerce.
Grand Valley State dropped seven spots to No. 8, while defending national champion Minnesota State-Duluth checked in at No. 9, followed by Albany State (Ga.) at No. 10.
Other LSC teams in this week's rankings are Tarleton State at No. 13 and Midwestern State at No. 22. The ASU Rams dropped out of the poll after losing to ACU.
The Wildcats will play as the nation's No. 1-ranked team for the first time Saturday at 2 p.m. when it hosts LSC South Division rival West Texas A&M in their annual homecoming contest at Shotwell Stadium.