Fresh off a season that saw his team win a home playoff game for the first time in decades, South Dakota State football coach John Stiegelmeier is adjusting to life as one of the favorites in the Missouri Valley Conference.

During the pre-season media conference call, Stiegelmeier talked about the Jackrabbits number two pre-season ranking in the Missouri Valley, taking it with a grain of salt and as a compliment all as the same time.

Just as they were in the regular season standings at the end of 2012, the Jackrabbits find themselves behind North Dakota State in the pre-season poll - and for good reason.  The Bison are the two-time defending FCS Champions and have won 28 of their last 30 games.

Stiegelmeier knows the Bison are still the team to beat in the Missouri Valley.

As for SDSU, 15 starters are back from last season 9-4 team, which lost in round two of the FCS playoffs at North Dakota State.

So with that kind of success and so many players back, does Stiegelmeier believe this is his most talented team ever in Brookings?

Robby Gallagher/South Dakota State University

Offensively for SDSU, running back Zach Zenner is the reigning rushing champ in FCS, and joins lineman Bryan Witzmann on the pre-season all-conference team, while quarterback Austin Sumner is trying to recover from an injury plagued 2012 season.

On defense, the Jacks have two pre-season all-conference selections in lineman Doug Peete and linebacker TJ Lalley, but there are some question marks on that side of the ball for SDSU.

Robby Gallagher/South Dakota State University

As for Lalley, he is coming off of a very impressive freshman season that saw him tie for the team lead with six sacks.  He was also second in tackles with 107, and notched a pair of interceptions while forcing two fumbles.

Despite all of that success in year one, his coach believes there is plenty of room for improvement for Lalley in 2013.

The one area where Stiegelmeier called out his team was on special teams, where he said SDSU needs more production in 2013.

The Jackrabbits open the 2013 season at home with Butler, August 31st in Brookings.