The Mustangs return nine starters and 41 letter winners off of last season's 10-1 squad which claimed the first outright Lone Star Conference championship in program history while advancing to the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Returning All-Americans Brandon Kelsey, Keidrick Jackson, Ken Van Heule, Justen Tyler and Randall Arbuckle led the team to its first unbeaten regular season.
The Mustangs are one of 10 teams in the newly formed Super Region Four which now includes the LSC, Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC), Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) to receive mention in the poll.
MSU rains in at No. 4 followed by No. 6 Colorado State-Pueblo, No. 7 Grand Valley State (Mich.), No. 10 Abilene Christian, No. 17 Hillsdale (Mich.) and No. 24 West Texas A&M while Saginaw Valley State (Mich.), Colorado Mines, Texas A&M-Kingsville and Tarleton State are receiving votes.
Midwestern is one of just six teams receiving a first-place vote joining No. 1 Pittsburg State (Kan.) (21 first-place votes), No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth (5), No. 3 Northwest Missouri (1) , No. 5 Wayne State (Mich.) (1) and No. 9 Winston-Salem State (N.C.) (1).
The Mustangs are slated to face six teams receiving mention in the preseason poll with games at Tarleton State (RV) on Sep. 8, at Texas A&M-Kingsville (RV) on Sep. 22, at No. 15 West Alabama on Oct. 4, at No. 10 Abilene Christian on Oct. 20, at No. 24 West Texas A&M on Nov. 3 and finally home against West Georgia (RV) on Nov. 10.
That means that all five games MSU plays away from Memorial Stadium are against teams which received votes in the AFCA preseason poll.
The Mustangs have received votes in 71 of the last 72 AFCA polls dating back to the 2006 season.
MSU was also ranked No. 4 by Lindy's Sports College Football Preview and No. 5 by the USA Today 2012 College Football Preview.