National champion Jackrabbits are pre-season pick in MVFC

August 2, 2023

(Missouri Valley Football Conference) SDSU received 44 of a possible 45 first-place votes and 539 total points to outdistance 2022 national runner-up North Dakota State, which earned 492 points and the remaining first-place tally. UNI was picked third in this year’s preseason poll with 409 total points, while 2022 playoff participant North Dakota (4th, 399 points), Southern Illinois (5th, 337 points), and Youngstown State (6th, 323) rounded out teams picked for the upper division. Illinois State (269), Missouri State (229), South Dakota (226), Indiana State (148), MVFC newcomer Murray State (74), and Western Illinois (65) round out the voting.

Last season, for just the second time in FCS history, two teams from the same league played one another in the FCS national championship game. South Dakota State earned its first FCS crown, knocking off defending champion and league rival North Dakota State. South Dakota State finished the season on a 14-game winning streak, falling only at FBS Iowa in the season-opener. On Oct. 15, 2022, then-No. 2 SDSU beat then-No. 1 NDSU, 23-21, in the Fargodome, marking only the second time in FCS history that the top two teams in the national media poll played one another during the regular season. The other involved league member UNI against Idaho in 1992.

The MVFC also extended its FCS-record to 12-straight title game appearances as NDSU and SDSU both reached Frisco. The CAA (5 in a row), OVC (4-straight) and SoCon (4 appearances in a row) are next on the list. Notably, the 2022 season marked the 18th title appearance for a league team. The league is 12-6 in title games, although Youngstown State (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994) and Southern Illinois (1983) both played in the championship prior to joining the league. All 18 of the league’s title-game appearances have occurred since 1997.

The MVFC is 88-40 (.688) since 2010 in the playoffs — which includes 16 intra-conference games (meaning the league is 72-24 against teams from other leagues for a phenomenal .750 winning percentage). Last season, MVFC teams combined to go 21-8 against non-conference FCS teams. Six of the eight losses were against ranked FCS teams.

An MVFC preseason favorite has claimed the league crown 22 times (in 37 previous polls).

In addition to today’s team rankings, the Conference has announced its preseason team, voted on by coaches, sports information directors, and a media panel. South Dakota State leads the way with 20 total selections, including a league-best eight on the first-team unit. North Dakota State (14), UNI (11), North Dakota (10), and South Dakota (10) each have 10 or more honorees on either the first-, second- or honorable-mention teams.