PIGSKIN PREVIEW St. John's No. 1 in nation

Saint John's University was the No. 1 ranked team in Sports Illustrated's NCAA Division III preseason poll, which was released earlier this month.

SJU was the only Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference team ranked in the top 10. ; SJU junior wide receiver/return specialist Blake Elliott (Melrose, Minn.) was pictured in the magazine as one of the top players to watch in 2002.

Earlier in the summer, the Johnnies were ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division III by Street &; Smith's College Football 2002 preseason magazine, No. 2 by and number three by Lindy's 2002 National College Football preseason magazine.

SJU is expected to return 14 starters this fall, eight on offense and six on defense, from a team that went 11-3 in 2001 and advanced to the national semifinals. The; Johnnies have made the NCAA playoffs and won MIAC titles eight times in the last 11 years.

SJU head coach John Gagliardi, the winningest active coach and second all-time in college football history, will begin his 50th season at Saint John's and 54th season overall as a collegiate coach in 2002. ; Gagliardi has 388 career victories and is 20 wins away from the all-time collegiate record of 408 wins, currently held by former Grambling coach Eddie Robinson. 


; After winning their second consecutive MIAC championship in 2001, Bethel hopes to win a third in 2002.

The Royals return 11 starters from last year's 9-2 team and have a solid group of seniors that have gone 27-5 in their three-year career.

Offensively, the Royals return seven starters, including three of the top skill players in the MIAC. The Royals finished last season as the top team in the MIAC in total offense (480.2 yards per game) and scoring offense (39.1 points per game).

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