Defending national champion North Dakota State overwhelming favorite in Missouri Valley

The Missouri Valley Football conference has long been one of the deepest and most competitive leagues in the Championship Subdivision.

Rarely has a team been as big of a preseason favorite as North Dakota State.

The two-time defending national champion Bison were a unanimous pick to win the league in a poll released Monday. North Dakota State, which returns 18 total starters for the squad that went 14-1 and trounced Sam Houston State in the national title game, got all 39 first-place votes from a collection of league coaches and media.

South Dakota State was second, followed by Northern Iowa and Illinois State.