South Dakota State will enter the 2017 college football season from a vantage point they've never experienced before.

The Jackrabbits are fourth in the STATS Pre-Season Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) poll, the highest ranking for any SDSU football team at the Division I level.

The defending Missouri Valley Football Conference co-champions even received a pair of first-place votes in the balloting conducted among a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, and writers.

The Jacks are one of six Missouri Valley teams in the Top 25. Last season’s co-champ North Dakota State is second, last season’s national runner-up Youngstown State is ninth, Northern Iowa is 18th, Illinois State 20th, and Western Illinois 25th.

Defending national champion James Madison is the pre-season favorite in the FCS.

SDSU finished 9-4 in 2016, qualifying for the FCS playoffs for the fifth straight year.

The Jackrabbits’ previous highest ranking was fifth during the 2015 season. Their best pre-season ranking was sixth in 2013.

SDSU has appeared in the Top 25 of 65 every week since October 2012.

The 2017 Jackrabbits open the season, at home, Thursday, August 31, against Duquesne.