As universities and athletic programs across the nation hoping and preparing for a sports season this fall, two of the top football teams in Division II come from just 40 miles apart.
The College Football America Yearbook unveiled in preseason top 30 with Northwest Missouri State coming in at No. 9 and Missouri Western earning the No. 24 spot.
MIAA rival Central Missouri also appeared in the poll at No. 13.
Northwest Missouri State returns 16 starters in Rich Wright’s fourth year after a 12-2 season ended in the Division II quarterfinals. The Bearcats shared the MIAA Championship with Central Missouri, their sixth in seven years.
Missouri Western finished Matt Williamson’s third season with a 9-3 record and a second straight win in the Live United Bowl. It was the most wins since 2012, and nine All-MIAA performers are back from a season ago.
Minnesota State, which fell to West Florida in the national championship game, is No. 1 in the 2020 College Football America Yearbook Division II preseason Top 30. The Mavericks’ only loss last season came to the Argonauts, as they fell, 48-40.
West Florida, which last season won its first national championship in just its fourth season as a varsity program, is No. 2. Valdosta State, Ferris State and Slippery Rock round out the Top 5. Valdosta State won the 2018 title, while Ferris State and Slippery Rock reached the national semifinals in 2019.
Rounding out the Top 10 are No. 6 Lenoir-Rhyne, No. 7 Notre Dame (Ohio), No. 8 Colorado Mines, No. 9 Northwest and No. 10 Texas A&M-Commerce.