NDSU Expected to Repeat as MVFC Champs

KC, MO (Valley-Football.com) – Defending FCS National Champ North Dakota State has been tabbed as the league preseason favorite in a poll conducted by league coaches, media, and sports information directors.

NDSU received 39 of a possible 41 first-place votes and 446 total points to edge South Dakota State, which earned 407 points and the remaining two first-place tallies. Missouri State was picked third in this year’s preseason poll with 355 total points, while Southern Illinois (4th, 306 points) and UNI (5th, 304 points) were tightly bunched for the next two spots. A returning playoff participant from last season, South Dakota was picked 6th with 235 points. North Dakota (190), Illinois State (178), Youngstown State (132), Indiana State (109) and Western Illinois (44) round out the voting.

In 2021, for the first time in Conference history, six Missouri Valley Football Conference teams earned bids into the 24-team FCS playoff field. Only one other conference in NCAA history has received six bids in a single playoff (CAA in 2018). The MVFC had received as many as five bids four times previously (2014, 2015, 2017, and in Spring 2021).

League schools combined for eight wins in the 2021 tournament, capped by North Dakota State’s championship game victory against Montana State. NDSU extended the MVFC’s FCS-record to 11-straight title game appearances for the league. The CAA (5 in a row), OVC (4-straight) and SoCon (4 appearances in a row) are next on the list. Notably, the 2021 season marked the 16th title appearance for a league team. The league is 11-5 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 16 of the league’s title-game appearances have occurred since 1997.

The MVFC is 81-38 (.681) since 2010 in the playoffs — which includes 15 intra-conference games (meaning the league is 66-23 against teams from other leagues for a phenomenal .776 winning percentage). Last season, MVFC teams combined to go 25-5 against non-conference FCS teams. All five losses were to ranked FCS teams, all of which made the 2021 playoff field.

The 2021 season was capped by an incredible presence in the April 2022 NFL Draft. A total of nine MVFC players were drafted, setting an all-time high for the Conference (surpassing the previous-record total of five in 2021). UNI’s Trevor Penning (19th overall pick) became the first Panther selected in the first round of the NFL draft as he joined North Dakota State QBs Carson Wentz (2016) and Trey Lance (2019) as the only MVFC student-athletes to do so.

The 2022 season will mark the eighth year in an agreement with ESPN to distribute all 61 league home games on ESPN3 (or ESPN+), while the league has implemented other initiatives to promote its institutions, student-athletes and coaches, including a weekly podcast series (“First and Goal”), and video segments that review (“Two-Minute Drill”) and preview (“The Extra Point”) each week’s contests throughout the season. The MVFC and other FCS leagues have partnered in the production of a weekly “FCS ALL IN” special which will air throughout the season beginning later this month.

The MVFC preseason favorite has claimed the league crown 22 times (in 26 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. North Dakota State leads the way with 12 total selections. Missouri State, UNI, and South Dakota State each have nine on either the first- or second-team unit.

The Missouri Valley Football Conference led all FCS leagues with 22 total selections on the Stats Perform FCS Preseason All-America Teams, announced Monday, Aug. 1. North Dakota State and South Dakota State tied for the FCS high on those units, with six each.

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE

QB Jason Shelley, Missouri State

RB Isaiah Davis, South Dakota State

RB Jaleel McLaughlin, Youngstown State

RB/AP Javon Williams, Southern Illinois

FB Hunter Luepke, North Dakota State

WR Avante Cox, Southern Illinois

WR Jaxon Janke, South Dakota State

WR Tyrone Scott, Missouri State

TE Tucker Kraft, South Dakota State

OL Landon Bebee, Missouri State

OL Garret Greenfield, South Dakota State

OL Cody Mauch, North Dakota State

OL Mason McCormick, South Dakota State

OL Alex Jensen, South Dakota

 

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE

DL Kevin Ellis, Missouri State

DL Eli Mostaert, North Dakota State

DL Caleb Sanders, South Dakota State

DL Reece Winkelman, South Dakota State

LB Adam Bock, South Dakota State

LB Spencer Cuvelier, UNI

LB Brock Mogensen, South Dakota

LB Zeke Vandenburgh, Illinois State

DB Montrae Braswell, Missouri State

DB PJ Jules, Southern Illinois

DB Kyriq McDonald, Missouri State

DB Benny Saap III, UNI

DB Michael Tutsie, North Dakota State

 

FIRST TEAM SPECIAL TEAMS

LS Dalton Godfrey, South Dakota

PK Matthew Cook, UNI

P Grant Burkett, Missouri State

RS Montrae Braswell, Missouri State

AP Carter Bell, South Dakota

 

SECOND TEAM OFFENSE

QB Mark Gronowski, South Dakota State

RB Kobe Johnson, North Dakota State

RB Cole Mueller, Illinois State

FB Jacob Garrett, Southern Illinois

WR Carter Bell, South Dakota

WR Bo Belquist, North Dakota

WR Dante Hendrix, Indiana State

TE Noah Gindorff, North Dakota State

OL Drew Bones, Illinois State

OL Nash Jensen, North Dakota State

OL Erik Sorensen, UNI

OL Donny Ventrelli, North Dakota

OL Jaison Williams, Youngstown State

 

SECOND TEAM DEFENSE

DL Braydon Deming, Illinois State

DL Nick Gaes, South Dakota

DL Caden Houghtelling, UNI

DL Devin Rice, UNI

DL Spencer Waege, North Dakota State

LB Greg Benton Jr., Youngstown State

LB Bryce Flater, UNI

LB James Kaczor, North Dakota State

LB Devon Krzanowski, North Dakota

DB Clayton Bush, Southern Illinois

DB Korby Sander, UNI

DB C.J. Siegel, North Dakota

DB Destin Talbert, North Dakota State

DB Dawson Weber, North Dakota State

 

SECOND TEAM SPECIAL TEAMS

LS Joey Malinowski, Illinois State

PK Jose Pizano, Missouri State

P Cade Peterson, North Dakota

RS Jayden Price, North Dakota State

AP/WR Quan Hampton, UNI

 

PRESEASON POLL

North Dakota State (39) 446

South Dakota State (2) 407

Missouri State 355

Southern Illinois 306

UNI 304

South Dakota 235

North Dakota 190

Illinois State 178

Youngstown State 132

Indiana State 109

Western Illinois 44