North Dakota State has been tabbed as the Missouri Valley Football Conference pre-season favorite in a poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors. NDSU has been picked first in the pre-season poll for eight-straight seasons. North Dakota State has earned the league title for eight-straight years, four times sharing it with another league school. This year, NDSU received 32 of 40 first-place votes and 392 total points in the poll.
South Dakota State earned the second spot in the poll, finishing with 348 total points while picking up four first-place votes. Illinois State (289 points), Indiana State (279 points) and UNI (266 points) were tightly bunched for the third-, fourth- and fifth-place spots, while Illinois State (3) and Indiana State (1) also received first-place mentions.
The second five is led by South Dakota, which came in sixth place in the poll with 176 points. Youngstown State has been picked seventh (153 points), followed by Western Illinois (128), Southern Illinois (89) and Missouri State (80).
In 2018, three MVFC teams earned selection to the NCAA Division I Championship, two advanced to the playoff semifinals, and North Dakota State won its seventh national championship in eight years. Counting last year, an MVFC member has reached the FCS semifinals 23 times in the past 23 seasons (and 26 times overall), and the MVFC has had two semifinal teams in four of the past five seasons. In the current decade, MVFC teams are 59-25 in the playoffs, and only one other conference (the CAA at 40-36) has a winning record. Since 2004, league teams have combined for a 73-38 record in playoff games, with seven titles – both tops in the FCS. Notably, only the MVFC (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018), CAA Football (2016) and Big Sky Conference (2010) have an FCS title this decade. Valley Football is celebrating its 35th season in 2019. In its first 34 seasons the league owns nine national crowns.
A pre-season favorite has claimed the league crown 21 times (in 33 previous polls). North Dakota State was picked to win the league last season, and the Bison earned both the league title and the national title (following a 38-24 win over Eastern Washington in the NCAA Division I Football Championship game in Frisco, Texas).
The 2019 season begins in Week Zero, as Youngstown State faces Samford in Montgomery, Ala., in the Guardian Credit Union FCS Kickoff on ESPN. Last year, the league fashioned a 23-13 non-conference record and won the Big Sky-MVFC Challenge Series for the second-straight year. .The season featured another MVFC win against an FBS school as Illinois State handled Colorado State in September. Eight league teams will face an FBS opponent in 2019 (Southern Illinois has two FBS foes this year.) The league has had success against that subdivision, claiming at least one win at an FBS site since 2010 and 45 total wins in MVFC history.
The MVFC will announce its pre-season all-conference teams this week (Tuesday-Offense; Wednesday-Defense). North Dakota State tops the league with nine total selections, including a league-best six on the first-team unit. Illinois State and South Dakota State, meanwhile, have the second-most selections, with eight total honorees each. Indiana State and South Dakota State each have five first-team selections, meanwhile, which is second-best to NDSU.
2019 Valley Football Preseason Poll Team (first-place votes) Points
1. North Dakota State (32) 392
2. South Dakota State (4) 348
3. Illinois State (3) 289
4. Indiana State (1) 279
5. UNI 266
6. South Dakota 176
7. Youngstown State 153
8. Western Illinois 128
9. Southern Illinois 89
10. Missouri State 80