North Dakota State's football team has major questions to answer as it chases its eighth Football Championship Subdivision national title in nine seasons, but that didn't stop the Bison from being ranked No. 1 in the preseason STATS FCS Top 25 poll.

The Bison gained 142 of 160 first-place votes in the national media poll, released Monday, Aug. 5.

James Madison had 14 first-place votes and edged South Dakota State for the No. 2 spot, while national runner-up Eastern Washington was fourth and UC Davis fifth. NDSU hosts UC Davis on Sept. 21 and plays at SDSU on Oct. 26.

NDSU, which defeated Eastern Washington in the national championship game in January, has just seven returning full-time starters and a new head coach in Matt Entz. Losses include All-America quarterback Easton Stick, who was taken in the fifth round of the NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Chargers. But the Bison are returning plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, including Buck Buchanan Award candidate Jabril Cox at linebacker.

Three other Bison opponents are in the Top 25 including No. 15 Illinois State and 18th-ranked Northern Iowa, both Missouri Valley Football Conference foes, and No. 22 Delaware. The MVFC has five ranked teams with Indiana State checking in at No. 16.

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2019 STATS FCS Preseason Top 25

Team (first-place votes) W_L Pts Prev

1. North Dakota State (142) 15-0 3,971 1

2. James Madison (14) 9-4 3,635 9

3. South Dakota State (1) 10-3 3,631 3

4. Eastern Washington (3) 12-3 3,594 2

5. UC Davis 10-3 3,210 7

6. Jacksonville State 9-4 3,004 10

7. Maine 10-4 2,891 4

8. Weber State 10-3 2,877 6

9. Wofford 10-3 2,522 13

10. Kennesaw State 11-2 2,361 5

11. Towson 7-5 2,330 20

12. Nicholls State 9-4 2,156 14

13. Colgate 10-2 1,892 8

14. Montana State 8-5 1,866 17

15. Illinois State 6-5 1,432 NR

16. Indiana State 7-4 1,192 NR

17. Southeast Missouri 9-4 1,166 15

18. Northern Iowa 7-6 1,136 23

19. Furman 6-4 1,074 NR

20. North Carolina A&T 10-2 885 12

21. Elon 6-5 870 19

22. Delaware 7-5 798 24

23. Sam Houston State 6-5 564 NR

24. Princeton 10-0 432 11

25. Montana 6-5 412 NR

Others receiving votes: East Tennessee STate (8-4) 323, Stony Brook (7-5) 257, Duquesne (9-4) 235, San Diego (9-3) 209, Eastern Kentucky (7-4) 175, Dartmouth (9-1) 149, Central Arkansas (6-5) 125, McNeese State (6-5) 110, Monmouth (8-3) 110, IUW (6-5) 108, Alcorn State (9-4) 85, Yale (5-5) 52, New Hampshire (4-7) 42, Chattanooga (6-5) 38, South Dakota (4-7) 27, Northern Arizona (4-6) 16, Lamar (7-5) 14, Villanova (5-6) 14, Richmond (4-7) 8, The Citadel (5-6) 7, Mercer (5-6) 7, Rhode Island (6-5) 7, Abilene Christian (6-5) 6, Southeastern Louisiana (4-7) 6, 5, Idaho State (6-5) 5, Youngstown State (4-7) 4, Southern (7-4) 3, Samford (6-5) 2, North Dakota (6-5) 1, Sacred Heart (7-4) 1, Wagner (4-7) 1, Western Illinois (5-6) 1

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