North Dakota State’s recent dominance in the Missouri
Valley Football Conference has been even greater than on a national

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