North Dakota State, winner of four FCS championships in a row, begins the 2015 season Saturday at Montana (2:30 p.m., ESPN).
The Bison, who are 58-3 since 2011, open in the FCS Kickoff, a game developed to annually pit the best of college football's second tier.
NDSU was picked by publicists to win the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bison return quarterback Carson Wentz, who appears on postseason awards watch lists after passing for 3,111 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushing for 642 yards last season.
Montana is coached by Bob Stitt, who takes over the Grizzlies after 15 years at Colorado School of Mines, where he became known as an offensive trendsetter. He led the Orediggers to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference title last year.