St. Cloud State favored in NCC

Updated: August 13, 2003, 10:36 AM ET

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- St. Cloud State is the preseason choice of coaches and media to win the North Central Conference football title this year.

Nebraska-Omaha is picked second and North Dakota third in the polls.

St. Cloud State received 18 of 19 first-place votes from sportswriters and sportscasters, and five of eight first-place votes from league coaches.

The Huskies return quarterback Keith Heckendorf, who led the league in total offense, and running back Matt Birkel, who led the league in rushing.

St. Cloud State was 6-2 in the NCC last year and shared the league title with Northern Colorado after UNC was forced to forfeit two conference wins for using an ineligible player.

Nebraska-Omaha, 5-3 in the league last year, received the remaining first-place votes in both polls.

The NCC, down to eight teams this year with the departure of Northern Colorado to NCAA Division I-AA, opens conference play Sept. 27.

Poll results:

Coaches: 1. St. Cloud State; 2. Nebraska-Omaha; 3. North Dakota; 4. North Dakota State; 5. South Dakota State; 6. Augustana; 7. South Dakota; 8. Minnesota State, Mankato.

Media: 1. St. Cloud State; 2. Nebraska-Omaha; 3. North Dakota; 4. Augustana; 5. North Dakota State; 6. South Dakota State; 7. South Dakota; 8. Minnesota State, Mankato.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index