Entering the 2013 season, Northwest Missouri State once again finds itself on the national radar.
The Bearcats appear in the top half of top 25 polls in three prominent preseason college football magazines, all of which are available for purchase in Maryville.
Additionally, two of the team's top returners—junior punter Kyle Goodburn and senior cornerback Brandon Dixon—were recognized as preseason All-Americans by at least one of the publications.
Lindy's is the highest on Northwest, ranking the Bearcats No. 3 behind defending national champion Valdosta State and semifinalist West Texas A&M. Northwest is No. 4 in USA Today's Preseason Poll.
Sporting News has the Bearcats pegged at No. 12 in theirs.
The Bearcats return 14 starters from last year's 10-3 team that reached the second round of the playoffs and finished second in the MIAA. Only one other MIAA team—defending champion Missouri Western—is ranked in all three preseason polls.
The Griffons are slotted sixth in Sporting News, 10th in Lindy's and No. 12 in USA Today.
Northwest and Western face off Nov. 16 in a game that was highlighted by Lindy's and Sporting News as one of "five to watch" in Division II next season.
Pittsburg State, the 2011 national champion, garnered a No. 24 ranking from Lindy's. The Gorillas are unranked in the other two polls.
Minnesota St.-Mankato, who eliminated Northwest in the second round of the playoffs last year with a 38-35 double overtime win, is Sporting News' and USA Today's preseason No. 1 team.
The Mavericks are ranked fourth by Lindy's, one spot below Northwest.
Lindy's went with Valdosta State as its preseason No. 1.
Minnesota-Duluth, a playoff qualifier last year in the Central Region and the 2010 national champion, is ranked No. 3 by USA Today and No. 7 by Sporting News. Henderson State, also a playoff qualifier in the Central Region, is sixth in the USA Today Poll.
Goodburn and Dixon are preseason All-American selections by Sporting News, while Goodburn is a second team choice of Lindy's.
A first team All-MIAA selection as a sophomore, Goodburn led the MIAA last year with a net punting average of 44.3 yards. Dixon picked off five passes in his debut season with Northwest, tying his twin brother Brian Dixon for the second-most on the team.
Missouri Western tight end Reggie Jordan and Pittsburg State linebacker Nate Dreiling are first team All-American selections in Lindy's. Dreiling is also predicted to be the defensive player of the year in Division II.
Nebraska-Kearney quarterback Bronson Marsh is projected as the Division II newcomer of the year. Marsh is a transfer from the University of Nebraska.
Official Division II preseason rankings don't come out until a week before the start of the season.
Page 2 of 2 - Northwest opens with Saginaw Valley State Sept. 5 at Bearcat Stadium.