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ISU, Missouri Valley Football Notes

>>Pair of ISU Redbirds Selected to Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Team

 width=Coming off its first sub-.500 season in the last five years, the Illinois State football team was picked to finish sixth in the 2014 Missouri Valley Football Conference preseason poll announced Tuesday by the league office. Three-time defending national champion North Dakota State was selected first in the annual list selected by the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media.

A pair of Redbirds were also selected to the 2014 MVFC Preseason Team in the annual vote. Senior preseason All-American long snapper Chris Highland and 2013 All-MVFC Second-Team linebacker Pat Meehan were among 30 MVFC student-athletes listed on the preseason lineup. In addition, senior offensive tackle Jermaine Barton was tabbed as a preseason honorable mention selection, signifying he received at least five votes on the ballots submitted.

Highland has been named to several preseason All-America lists in 2014, after earning Second-Team FCS All-America honors from The Sports Network in 2013. Over the past two seasons, he has not been credited with a bad snap while handling long and short snapping duties in all 24 games for the Redbirds.

Meehan started all nine games he played in at middle linebacker for the Redbirds last season and led the team with 82 total tackles. He ranked fifth in the MVFC with 9.1 tackles per game, despite missing a pair of games due to illness, and added two sacks, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and two pass breakups. In his first season at middle linebacker, Meehan posted four double-digit tackle efforts, including a career-high 15-tackle effort in the season finale at Southern Illinois.

Barton started all 11 games at right tackle in 2013 and has started every game on the offensive line for the past two seasons, after he transferred from Miami. A 2012 MVFC All-Newcomer Team selection, Barton was a key member of the unit that led the way for Marshaun Coprich, who rushed for 885 yards, with nine touchdowns, and recorded four 100-plus yard rushing performances in 2013.

The Redbirds will open the season Saturday, Sept. 6, at home against Missisppi Valley State, with kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Hancock Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago, with Kurt Pegler and Boomer Grigsby calling the action.

>>North Dakota State Picked To Win Missouri Valley Football Title

 width=Three-time defending national champion North Dakota State is picked to win the Missouri Valley Football Conference title.

The poll of league coaches, media and sports information directors released Tuesday shows the Bison with 24 out of 39 first-place votes and 370 points.

NDSU has won 24 straight games. The Bison had a change in head coaches over the winter when Chris Klieman (KLY'-mihn) was named to replace Craig Bohl, who left for Wyoming.

South Dakota State is the second choice with eight first-place votes and 330 points, followed by Northern Iowa with seven first-place votes and 324 points.

Youngstown State is tabbed for fourth with 240 points, followed by Southern Illinois (237), Illinois State (197), Missouri State (180), South Dakota (121), Western Illinois (96) and Indiana State (50).

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