FARGO — For the first time in what seems like forever, North Dakota State is not the favorite to win the Missouri Valley Football Conference. South Dakota State is the new preseason king.
The Jackrabbits compiled 24 first place votes to NDSU's 18 in a vote of the league coaches, media and sports information directors. The last time the Bison were tabbed as the league runnerup was 2011 when Northern Iowa was the overwhelming favorite.
The University of North Dakota was picked to finish third followed by Southern Illinois, UNI, Missouri State, Illinois State, South Dakota, Youngstown State, Indiana State and Western Illinois.
The Jacks reached the FCS national title game last spring before falling to Sam Houston State. They have 10 starters returning on both sides of the ball including perhaps the best 1-2 running back tandem in the FCS in Pierre Strong Jr. and Isaiah Davis.