South Dakota ranked 2, 3 in NCC football polls

South Dakota ranked 2, 3 in NCC football polls
The South Dakota football team, which finished 9-2 (4-2, tie for first, NCC) and earned a share of the North Central Conference title in 2005, has been selected by both the media and the league's coaches to finish in the top-three in the league in 2006, according to polls released by the North Central Conference Office.

In the 2006 Preseason Media Poll, the Coyotes were picked to finish second, after accumulating 137 points. USD finished with three first-place, eight second-place and four third-place votes among the 19 media members participating in the poll.

North Dakota was picked by the media to win the conference after receiving 11 first-place votes, three second-place votes and five third-place votes for a total of 158 points. UNO was third with 128 points.

The complete media poll is as follows: North Dakota, 158 (11 first-place votes); South Dakota, 137 (three first-place votes); Nebraska-Omaha, 128 (three first-place votes); Minnesota-Duluth, 116 (one first-place vote); Central Washington, 96; St. Cloud State, 89; Augustana, 72; Western Washington, 32; and Minnesota State, 29.

In the coaches' poll, USD was picked to finish third, just two points from first-place UND. USD had 70 points, including two first-place and four second-place ballots. UND was the coaches' pick to win the league after receiving four first-place, two second-place and two third-place votes for a total of 72 points. UNO finished just ahead of USD with 71 points, including three first-place and three second-place votes.

The coaches' poll is as follows: North Dakota, 72 (four first-place ballots); Nebraska-Omaha, 71 (three first-place ballots); South Dakota, 70 (two first-place ballots); St. Cloud State, 53; Minnesota-Duluth, 45; Central Washington, 31; Augustana 24; Minnesota State, 18; and Western Washington, 14.

The media has chosen the conference champion 27 times while coaches have selected the conference champion 12 times.

In 2005, USD, UNO, UND, and Minnesota Duluth all won a share of the NCC title.

The 2006 Coyotes have high hopes for another good season as the squad returns 54 letter winners and 16 starters.

This season, South Dakota will feature five returning starters on offense, including Harlon Hill Trophy candidate Stefan Logan, who has been selected to three preseason All-American teams. A year ago, Logan was fourth in rushing nationally and first in the NCC with 1,751 yards, including 8.1 yards per carry.

Logan returns as USD's all-time leading rusher (4,251 yards) and all-purpose yards (5,189 yards) leader. In addition, the offense returns receiver Brooks Little, who set a school mark with 54 receptions in 2005. The defense, which will transition to a 3-4 alignment, returns nine starters, including the entire secondary, which is led by All-NCC defensive back Jordan Davis.

In two seasons with head coach Ed Meierkort, USD has an 18-4 overall record or a winning percentage of .818. It is the best two-year start by a head coach in Coyote school history. USD has won 13 straight home football games, including a 12-0 mark during Meierkort's tenure.

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