Story courtesy of the Missouri Valley Conference
Photo courtesy of North Dakota State Athletics
North Dakota State has been picked to win the Missouri Valley Football Conference crown in 2012. NDSU is the defending national champion and shared the league title with UNI last year. The Bison received the top spot, earning 37 of 38 first-place votes, in a poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors.
The Bison return six starters on offense and seven on defense from a team that went 14-1 overall and 7-1 in the conference last year.
UNI is picked second as the Panthers earned 300 total points to edge Youngstown State (291) and Illinois State (287) in the voting. The Panthers represented the league in the playoffs last year and compiled a 10-3 overall record and 7-1 league slate. UNI has been ranked in the Top 25 in 94 consecutive polls.
Indiana State is fifth in this year's poll, with 228 points, while South Dakota State (182) and Southern Illinois (167) follow closely behind. Newcomer South Dakota clocks in at No. 8 in the pre-season poll with 97 points, followed by Western Illinois (90) and Missouri State (69).
A pre-season favorite has claimed the league crown 14 times (in 26 previous polls). UNI was picked to win the league last season.
2012 Valley Football Preseason Poll
Team (first-place votes) -- Points
1. North Dakota State (37) -- 379
2. UNI -- 300
3. Youngstown State -- 291
4. Illinois State (1) -- 287
5. Indiana State -- 228
6. South Dakota State -- 182
7. Southern Illinois -- 167
8. South Dakota -- 97
9. Western Illinois -- 90
10. Missouri State -- 69