Listed in predicted order of finish by conference coaches

1. Bethel (12-1 overall, 8-0 MIAC in 2013): Coming off their fifth MIAC title since 2000, the Royals edged St. Thomas (by three points) for the top spot in the coaches’ preseason poll. QB Erik Peterson, the 2013 MIAC MVP, returns for his senior season, along with all-conference RB Brandon Marquardt.

2. St. Thomas (8-2, 6-2): The Tommies, 6-2 in the MIAC last season after going 27-0 in the previous three seasons, return players with starting experience at 16 positions. The Tommies, who missed the Division III playoffs for the first time since 2008, averaged 34 points and 444 yards per game last season.

3. Concordia (8-2, 6-2): Coming off back-to-back 8-2 seasons, the Cobbers are looking to return to the Division III playoffs for the first time since 2005. Senior QB Griffin Neal, in his third season as a starter, is on pace to become the school’s all-time leading passer. Neal passed for a school-record 2,158 yards last season.

4. St. John’s (7-3, 5-3): The Johnnies will be tested early in their second season under coach Gary Fasching with their first two MIAC games, against Concordia and St. Thomas. Junior WR Josh Bungum, who led the MIAC with 84 receptions, and senior LB Andrew Rose, who had a team-high 85 tackles, return.

5. Augsburg (5-5, 3-5): Junior QB Ayrton Scott, first-team All-MIAC in 2012 and 2013, returns to direct the Auggies’ potent offense. Junior WR Joey Sonnenfeld, who led the MIAC with 13 TD receptions, and senior DL Chris DeVet, also return.

6. Gustavus (6-4, 4-4): The Gusties are coming off their best season since 2008. Three of the Gusties’ four losses were by eight or fewer points. QB Mitch Hendricks, who passed for 1,938 yards last season, returns, but the Gusties will have to find a replacement for graduated RB Jeffrey Dubose, the school’s all-time leading rusher.

7. Carleton (5-5, 3-5): Knights coach Bob Pagel enters his third season with new starters at all six offensive skill positions. On defense, the top two tacklers from 2013 return — LBs Mason Schnarr (11.3 tackles per game) and Dan Cook (8.1 tackles per game).

8. Hamline (2-8, 1-7): Chad Rogosheske enters his second season as the Pipers coach with 52 returning players. Junior RB Austin Duncan, who led the MIAC and set a school record with 1,460 rushing yards last season, returns.

9. St. Olaf (1-9, 0-8): QB Nate Penz, who passed for 2,475 yards last season, is back for his second season as a starter. Leading rusher Connor McCormick (473 yards) also returns.

JOEL RIPPEL