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.