College Football

Missouri Valley rivals to take best shot at North Dakota State


STATS FCS Senior Editor

(STATS) - North Dakota State's recent dominance in the Missouri Valley Football Conference has been even greater than on a national level.

That's saying a lot because the Bison have won two straight and a record seven of the last eight FCS championships.

In the MVFC, though, they've been champs in eight straight seasons, including four times as the outright winner. Last year's team went 15-0 overall.

But NDSU doesn't believe eight is enough in the MVFC. Voters in the conference's preseason poll predicted the Bison will continue their success, installing them as the favorite on Monday, with South Dakota State second and Illinois State third among 10 teams.

NDSU has a new head coach in former defensive coordinator Matt Entz and their streak of consecutive MVFC titles (eight) is a higher number than their returning starters (seven) after the graduation of a dominating senior class.

Regardless of all the change, the rest of the elite conference feels the Bison are the team to beat until their dynasty is halted.

"I think they're still the champions," Illinois State coach Brock Spack said on an MVFC coaches teleconference. "They have very good players in the program, they have a good staff and they've won multiple national championships, they're going to have good players waiting to play. I'm sure they've done a great job of developing those guys. It's their turn now.

"Until you beat the champion, I don't think things have changed."

North Dakota State enters the season on a Division I-best 21-game winning streak. The Bison will feature junior outside linebacker 2018 MVFC defensive player of the year Jabril Cox as well as defensive end Derrek Tuszka, offensive tackles Zack Johnson and Dillon Radunz and running back Ty Brooks.

Entz embraces the challenge to reload immediately because the Bison "have a number of kids that are hungry. There's a reason they were recruited to Fargo and that was to play football."

But NDSU's rival, South Dakota State, has reached the national semifinals in the last two seasons and again poses the biggest challenge within the MVFC. The Jackrabbits return 14 starters to a lineup that features some of the nation's best players at their position in wide receiver Cade Johnson, running back Pierre Strong Jr., linebacker Christian Rozeboom and place-kicker Chase Vinatieri.

"Last year we talked about who we lost and our guys responded, so I expect our guys to respond the same way," coach John Stiegelmeier said. "The biggest question for us is the quarterback situation, having lost a four-year starter in Taryn Christion. But again, Taryn expects us to be better at quarterback. That's a good start.



Head Coaches, Media and Sports Information Directors Vote

1. North Dakota State (32 first-place votes), 392 points

2. South Dakota State (4), 348

3. Illinois State (3), 289

4. Indiana State (1), 279

5. Northern Iowa, 266

6. South Dakota, 176

7. Youngstown State, 153

8. Western Illinois, 128

9. Southern Illinois, 89

10. Missouri State, 80

Updated July 29, 2019

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2020 by STATS PERFORM.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS PERFROM is strictly prohibited.