The Youngstown State football team, which advanced to the Division I National Championship Game last year, has been slated to finish third in this year's Missouri Valley Football Conference, the conference announced on Tuesday.
In the closest preseason voting in the MVFC's 33-year history, North Dakota State garnered 21 first-place votes and 380 points while South Dakota State had 19 first-place votes and 379 points. The Penguins, who play host to both SDSU and NDSU this season, were a strong third with 290 points.
The Penguins open MVFC play against the Jackrabbits on Sept. 30 at Stambaugh Stadium. Two weeks later on Oct. 14, YSU entertains the Bison. NDSU and SDSU are set to square off in Brookings, S.D., on Nov. 4. The Jacks won in Fargo during the regular season but lost the rematch in the Fargodome in the FCS quarterfinals.
Last year, YSU was picked fifth in the league before finishing in sole possession of third place and winning four games in the playoffs to reach the final.
UNI was tabbed fourth (255), Illinois State was fifth (246), Western Illinois was sixth (188), South Dakota was seventh (182), Southern Illinois was eighth (132), Missouri State was ninth (81) and Indiana State was 10th (67).
YSU also plays host to Illinois State and Missouri State with its road games at UNI, South Dakota, Southern Illinois and Indiana State.