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).

2011 MVFC Preseason Poll
Rank Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. UNI (29) 316
2. North Dakota State (6) 275
3. Southern Illinois (1) 207
4. South Dakota State 172
5. Illinois State 169
6. Indiana State 168
7. Western Illinois 151
8. Youngstown State 88
9. Missouri State 74
2011 MVFC Preseason Team
Position Name School Height Weight Year
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).
QB Tirrell Rennie UNI 6-0 201 Sr.
RB Jamaine Cook Youngstown St. 5-9 200 Jr.
RB D.J. McNorton NDSU 5-10 204 Sr.
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 Paul Cornick NDSU 6-6 311 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.
OL Jay Teply UNI 6-7 328 Sr.
PK Ryan Jastram NDSU 6-1 205 Sr.
           
DL Ben Boothby UNI 6-0 280 Sr.
DL Coulter Boyer NDSU 6-4 248 Sr.
DL Eric Brunner Illinois St. 6-2 285 Sr.
DL Ben Obaseki Indiana St. 6-3 235 Jr.
LB L.J. Fort UNI 6-1 228 Sr.
LB Josh Howe Illinois St. 6-0 235 Sr.
LB Michael Lien SDSU 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.
DB J.J. Swain UNI 6-0 170 Jr.
DB Marcus Williams NDSU 5-11 191 So.
P Nick Liste Youngstown St. 5-10 185 So.
P Kyle Bernard UNI 6-1 198 Jr.
RS Carlos Anderson UNI 5-8 172 Jr.