Missouri Valley Football Conference defending champion Northern Iowa 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-consecutive 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 preseason balloting.
The next three spots in the poll were tightly contested, as four points separated South Dakota State (172), Illinois State (169) and Indiana State (168).
The last three preseason favorites (NDSU-2008, UNI-2009, SIU-2010) did not win the league, but a preseason favorite has claimed the league crown 13 times (in 25 previous polls).
|Rank||Team (First-Place Votes)||Points|
|2.||North Dakota State (6)||275|
|3.||Southern Illinois (1)||207|
|4.||South Dakota State||172|
|Honorable Mention: QB Matt Brown (Illinois State); QB Ronnie Fouch (Indiana State); RB Chris Douglas (Missouri State); WR Terriun Crump (Western Illinois); WR Marvon Sanders (Illinois State); OL Nick Bledsoe (Illinois State); OL Jonathan Fick (South Dakota State); OL Brian Palangi (UNI); OL Jordan Valle (Western Illinois); PK Pat Smith (Western Illinois); DL Chance Coda (Southern Illinois); LB Aaron Archie (Indiana State); LB James Conley (UNI); LB Preston Evans (North Dakota State); DB Jimmie Strong (Missouri State); DB Andre Martin (UNI); DB Ryan Davis (Western Illinois); P Jordan Chiles (Missouri State); RS Jarred Herring (UNI).|
|RB||Jamaine Cook||Youngstown St.||5-9||200||Jr.|
|FB||Brock Lough||Indiana St.||6-0||220||Sr.|
|WR||Jermaine Saffold||Missouri St.||6-1||198||Sr.|
|WR||Tyrone Walker||Illinois St.||5-11||200||Jr.|
|TE||Alex Jones||Indiana St.||6-3||235||Sr.|
|OL||Bryan Boemer||Southern Illinois||6-2||317||Sr.|
|OL||Cal McCarthy||Illinois St.||6-2||285||Sr.|
|OL||David Pickard||Southern Illinois||6-5||306||Sr.|
|OL||Andrew Radakovich||Youngstown St.||6-6||315||Jr.|
|DL||Eric Brunner||Illinois St.||6-2||285||Sr.|
|DL||Ben Obaseki||Indiana St.||6-3||235||Jr.|
|LB||Josh Howe||Illinois St.||6-0||235||Sr.|
|LB||Jacolby Washington||Indiana St.||6-1||235||Jr.|
|DB||Calvin Burnett||Indiana St.||5-9||160||So.|
|DB||Mike McElroy||Southern Illinois||6-1||212||Sr.|
|DB||Alex Sewall||Indiana St.||6-1||210||Sr.|
|P||Nick Liste||Youngstown St.||5-10||185||So.|
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