Midwestern State received three first-place votes, but were picked to finish second to rival West Texas A&M in a rugged race for the 2013 Lone Star Conference championship as released during media day Tuesday afternoon.
The Mustangs rolled to their 13th consecutive winning season with a 9-2 mark while claiming a share of the their third LSC title in the last four seasons.
MSU recovered from a season-opening 20-17 loss at Tarleton State before peeling off nine consecutive wins including an improbable 52-48 win at West Texas A&M to take a share of the conference championship.
The Mustangs rode the momentum to their fifth NCAA Division II playoff appearance before falling 31-14 at Great Lakes Valley Conference champion Indianapolis.
MSU returns 38 letter winners and nine starters from last season's squad, but only two -- senior lineman Bryan Keith and senior running back Keidrick Jackson -- are back from an offense that averaged 38.6 points and 459 yards per game.
The Mustangs return seven starters on defense including senior defensive end Tyler Tackett, senior cornerback Neiko Conway, senior safety Taiyon Jackson, junior defensive end Cameron Williams, junior linebacker Donald Napoleon, senior linebacker Gadrian Muse and senior defensive tackle Armonti Yharbrough.
Midwestern opens the season against rival Tarleton State in the Lone Star Football Festival at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Kickoff on Sat., Sep. 14 is set for 4 p.m.
The remainder of the schedule includes non-conference tilts against West Georgia (Sep. 21), McMurry (Oct. 12), West Alabama (Oct. 19) and Menlo (Calif.) (Nov. 2).
The Mustangs' LSC slate consists of games at Texas A&M-Commerce (Sep. 28), Texas A&M-Kingsville (Oct. 5), Angelo State (Oct. 16), Eastern New Mexico (Nov. 9) and West Texas A&M (Nov. 16).
2013 LSC Preseason Poll
Offensive Player of the Year
Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M
Defensive Player of the Year
Ethan Westbrooks, West Texas A&M