ST. LOUIS, Mo–The Missouri State Bears are picked to finish third in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

The results of the preseason poll were released Tuesday.

Bobby Petrino’s Bears are third behind North Dakota State and South Dakota State.

That’s the highest ranking for a Missouri State football team since 1996.

In addition, eight Missouri State Bears were named to the conferences preseason All-Valley team.

Bears earning the preseason honors, quarterback Jason Shelley, receiver Ty Scott, offensive lineman Landon Bebee, lineman Kevin Ellis, defensive backs Kyriq McDonald and Montrea Braswell, punter Grant Burkett and kicker Jose Pizano.

Petrino will be starting his third season as Missouri State’s head coach.

He’ll have 41 letterman returning, including 17 starters from a team that was 8-4 and made the FCS playoffs for a second straight year.