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North Dakota State begins 2022 where it left off, at No. 1.

The defending champion Bison topped the 2022 STATS preseason Top 25.

If you're an FCS fan pining for someone other than North Dakota State to hoist the national championship trophy in January, you got a bad omen on Monday. 

The Bison topped the STATS FCS Top 25 for the seventh time. In four of the previous six times NDSU began the year No. 1, they also finished No. 1. That does not include 2021, when defending champion Sam Houston started the year first but North Dakota State won the title anyway. The only full season in which North Dakota State started, but did not finish, at No. 1 was 2016, when the Bison were upset in the FCS semifinals by eventual champion James Madison. 

Of course, considering NDSU has won nine of the last 11 crowns at the FCS level, perhaps the surprising stat here is that the Bison have only started seven of the past 12 seasons at No. 1. (Sam Houston is transitioning to FBS and, thus, ineligible for the 2022 FCS playoffs. They were not included in the preseason poll.)

South Dakota State begins the year at No. 2 after finishing 2021 at No. 4. Defending runner-up Montana State slipped to fourth to begin 2022, trailing rival Montana at No. 3. 

The biggest risers heading into 2022 are Bobby Petrino's Missouri State squad, who jumps into No. 5 after finishing last season a modest 8-4, and Chattanooga, who did not qualify for the 2021 FCS playoffs at 6-5 but begins the fall ranked No. 12. 

View the full poll here:

1. North Dakota State -- 1,348 total points (52 first-place votes)
2. South Dakota State -- 1,285 (2)
3. Montana -- 1,218
4. Montana State -- 1,203
5. Missouri State -- 1,066
6. Villanova -- 997
7. Sacramento State -- 991
8. Kennesaw State -- 959
9. Southern Illinois -- 915
10. Stephen F. Austin -- 813
11. East Tennessee State -- 750
12. Chattanooga -- 652
13. Eastern Washington -- 538
14. Incarnate Word -- 533
15. Jackson State -- 515
16. Holy Cross -- 503
17. Southeastern Louisiana -- 440
18. UT-Martin -- 404
19. Delaware -- 401
20. Weber State -- 391
21. Northern Iowa -- 289
22. Rhode Island -- 242
23. Mercer -- 215
24. Richmond -- 166
25. UC Davis -- 153