North Dakota State, one of two new members in the nine-member Missouri Valley Football Conference, has been tabbed to win the 2008 league title in a poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors.

The Bison, as high as No. 2 nationally in some preseason football publications, earned 289 points and 13 first-place votes, to edge defending league champ Northern Iowa in the poll. The Panthers received 275 points, including 15 first-place tallies.

The next three teams were tightly bunched for the third-, fourth- and fifth-place spots, as 10 points separated Youngstown State (3rd-209), Western Illinois (4th-202), and Southern Illinois (5th-201). Each of the top-five teams in the poll received at least one vote to finish first.

The league’s other new team, South Dakota State, is picked sixth with 149 points. The Jackrabbits, with North Dakota State, competed in the Great West Football Conference last year.

The poll has Missouri State picked seventh (105 points), followed by Illinois State (104) and Indiana State (41).