Missouri Valley Football Conference defending champion UNI has been picked to win the MVFC crown in 2011. The Panthers received the top spot in a poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors.
UNI, which has been ranked in 81-straight regular-season polls, received 316 total points and 29 of 36 first-place votes. The Panthers were one of three league teams in the FCS playoffs last year and finished the 2010 league slate with a 6-2 mark and outright MVFC crown.
North Dakota State finished second in the balloting, earning six first-place votes and 275 points. The Bison also qualified for the FCS playoffs and won two games before falling in the quarterfinals in overtime to Eastern Washington – the eventual national champ.
Southern Illinois, which finished in a six-way tie for third place last year, received the remaining first-place vote and earned 207 points to finish third in the pre-season balloting.
The next three spots in the pre-season poll were tightly contested, as four points separated South Dakota State (172), Illinois State (169) and Indiana State (168).
The last three pre-season favorites (NDSU-2008, UNI-2009, SIU-2010) did not win the league, but a pre-season favorite has claimed the league crown 13 times (in 25 previous polls).
2011 Valley Football Preseason Poll
Team (first-place votes)Points
1. UNI (29)316
2. North Dakota State (6)275
3. Southern Illinois (1)207
4. South Dakota State172
5. Illinois State169
6. Indiana State168
7. Western Illinois151
8. Youngstown State88
9. Missouri State74