For the second straight season, South Dakota State is picked to finish second in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

The Jackrabbits return 15 players from a team that won 11 games last season and advanced to the FCS Playoff Semifinals.

But after losing top two receivers Dallas Goedert and Jake Wieneke,  SDSU is a much more distant second in this year's poll, not garnering a single first-place vote in the balloting among MVFC coaches, media and sports information directors. In 2017, the Jacks received 19 of the 40 first-place votes cast.

South Dakota is up one in this season's pre-season poll. The Coyotes check in at number-six, despite winning eight games last season, including their school's first FCS Playoff victory. The biggest question mark for USD will be replacing Chris Streveler at quarterback.

Defending National Champion North Dakota State is the pre-season favorite. The Bison have earned the league title for seven-straight years, four times sharing it with another league school. This year, NDSU was a unanimous choice, receiving all 39 first-place tallies and a total of 390 points. It marks just the second time in league history that a team received all of the first-place votes in the MVFC pre-season poll (NDSU also did it in 2013.)

The pre-season favorite has claimed the league crown 20 times (in 32 previous polls).


MVFC Pre-Season 2018
Missouri Valley Conference

The league is coming off a season in which five teams represented the conference in the playoffs. The MVFC has had four or more playoff teams in four-straight seasons (earning five each in 2014, 2015 and last year).

The 2018 season begins Thursday, August 30, with four league teams in action. Nine non-conference games feature road match-ups against FBS opponents. An MVFC school has recorded a win against an FBS school in each of the past eight seasons, setting a league record in 2016 with four that year.

South Dakota State opens the regular season at Iowa State, while South Dakota opens at Kansas State. Both of those games are September 1.

Conference play begins Thursday, September 27, as Indiana State hosts UNI in the first league tilt of the season. September 29, SDSU opens league play at NDSU, while USD plays at Southern Illinois.