The Wayne State football team was picked to finish seventh in the South Division and 12th in the Northern Sun Conference preseason coaches poll released Wednesday.
The Wildcats were 4-7 in 2015 and finished 1-6 in the NSIC South last year, but return seven starters on offense and six on defense this season.
Minnesota State was selected the preseason favorite by league coaches, getting 11 of 16 first-place votes. Augustana was second, followed by Minnesota Duluth, University of Sioux Falls and Bemidji State to round out the top five.
In the NSIC South Division, Minnesota State got six of the eight first-place votes to come away as the division favorite, followed by Augustana and Sioux Falls in a tie for second. Southwest Minnesota State was picked to finish fourth, followed by Winona State, Upper Iowa, Wayne State and Concordia-St. Paul.
Wayne State’s Players to Watch in the NSIC this season are junior quarterback Zach Osborn and sophomore defensive end Logan Weinandt. Osborn, a 6-foot, 185-pounder from Harlan, Iowa, suffered a broken thumb on the second series in the second game last season at Minnesota Duluth and received a medical redshirt. In his first two seasons as starter (2013 and 2014), Osborn threw for 5,440 yards and 43 touchdowns. Weinandt, a 6-foot-5, 255 pounder, from Wynot, appeared in 10 games last season and ranked sixth on the team in total tackles (37) and third in tackles for loss (6.5/31 yds).
Wayne State opens the 2016 season on Thursday, Sept. 1, with a 6 p.m. game at MSU Moorhead.