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Kolpack: This Missouri Valley preseason team has a different feel to it

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South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion (3) and North Dakota State free safety Tre Dempsey are Missouri Valley Football Conference preseason picks. David Samson / The Forum2 / 2

The summer-is-over memo came across the email account at 9:02 a.m. on Monday, July 24. It was the job of Ryan Perreault, the NDSU associate director of athletics for communications, to deliver the news.

It was the all-Missouri Valley Football Conference preseason team, the popularity contest that are based on last year's final statistics. It's pretty much how the folks vote: You look at last year's stats and go from there.

That's the generalistic view of the team.

Dig into it a tad deeper and you'll find the matchup of the year: North Dakota State's defense vs. South Dakota State's offense. That battle will be fought Nov. 4 at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium in Brookings, S.D.

The Bison put five defensive players on the above-mentioned preseason team with tackle Nate Tanguay, linebacker Nick DeLuca, end Greg Menard and safeties Tre Dempsey and Robbie Grimsley. The Jackrabbits own the offensive side of the ball with an uncanny seven of the 15 selections.

You know most of the SDSU names by now: Quarterback Taryn Christion, running back Brady Mengarelli, receiver Jake Wieneke and tight end Dallas Goedert. SDSU also has two offensive linemen and a fullback. Not only do the Jacks have the skill but they have some beef in the mix as well.

Nov. 4 is a long way away of course and a lot can happen before then. Like last year when the Bison lost Tanguay and DeLuca for the season because of injuries. And a preseason team is just that: A vote by guys and gals who pay attention to the league but don't sit around in film rooms and evaluate talent.

Of last year's 28-player preseason team, 16 were named to the all-Valley post-season team meaning most of those July selections had pretty good seasons. The fact NDSU and SDSU are so prevalent in the preseason team is not a guarantee they'll be in the mix for a title this year, but it's a pretty good indicator.

I'm usually in the camp that these preseason teams are for the birds and don't mean a thing. This one is different, just on the premise of so many NDSU players on one side of the ball and so many SDSU players on the other.

These things normally have a politically-correct theme to it and spread the individual wealth to give props to every team in the league. The shocker is the University of South Dakota getting shut out. Nobody on the team. Southern Illinois had just one pick, an offensive lineman, and Indiana State got slapped harder putting just its kicker on the team.

Yet, the Coyotes are expected to challenge for an FCS playoff spot this year and a team can do some damage with better overall talent but no first-team stars. It's how the Bison won five straight FCS titles. They rarely had national award winners but their depth was superior to everybody else.

The Bison start practice next week and if anybody brings up the Nov. 4 game at SDSU to head coach Chris Klieman during Media Day, you might get a 9-iron between the eyes. So that's why I'm bringing it up right here.

When it's 80 degrees outside and we're not even to August, how do you sell out an outdoor stadium on Nov. 4? With a high-flying offense vs. a tough-guy defense.

Jeff Kolpack

Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.

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