This Week in Missouri Valley Conference Football
It’s the final weekend of play in the Missouri Valley Conference regular season, with two big questions remaining:
1. Who will finish second to North Dakota State in the standings?
2. Will the MVC get three teams in the newly expanded field of 24 teams in the FCS Playoffs?
One game will provide the answers to both questions (Sports Network Rankings/FCS Coaches Rankings):
#16/#16 South Dakota State (4-3/7-4) at #15/#17 Youngstown St. (5-2/8-3)- 1:00pm
That all important #2 spot in the Missouri Valley is up for grabs, and that’s crucial because it virtually guarantees a post season berth.
If the Jackrabbits win, they finish with an identical 5-3 MVC record with YSU, but claim second with a head-to-head victory. Missouri State is done for the year with a 5-3 record, and beat SDSU this season, but won’t get any playoff consideration with only a 5-7 overall record.
A Youngstown State win could open the door for Southern Illinois to go to the playoffs as the third MVC team, if the Salukis win at Indiana State. That would move them to 7-5/5-3 – the same as the Jackrabbits – but Southern Illinois won the head-to-head meeting with SDSU, October 5th.
If Youngstown State loses to the Jacks, the Penguins would still have eight wins, but would finish the season with three straight losses.
Saturday’s match-up in Ohio features the #2 scoring offense in the MVC (YSU) against the #2 scoring defense in the league (SDSU).
South Dakota State might have the opportunity to win this game thru the air, as the Jacks have the 3rd best passing offense in the MVC and the Penguins have allowed more yards, on average, thru the air than any other league team.
Youngstown State Head Coach Eric Wolford:
South Dakota (3-4/4-7) at #1/#1 North Dakota State (7-0/10-0) – 2:30pm
The Coyotes will be trying to avoid a five -game losing streak to end the season, while attempting to knock off the #1 team in the country on their home field.
A win gives USD their first ever .500 record in Missouri Valley play.
The Bison have won 19 straight games, and NDSU quarterback Brock Jensen is looking for his 44th career win, which would be an FCS record.
NDSU won last year 54-0, outgaining USD 385-76.
North Dakota State Head Coach Craig Bohl:
Southern Illinois (4-3/6-5) at Indiana State (0-7/1-10) – 1:00pm
We spelled out Southern Illinois incentive for winning earlier, the Sycamores are just looking for a win to avoid going 0-8 in conference play this season.
ISU did make a quarterback change at halftime of last week’s loss at Western Illinois as redshirt freshman Trent Lancaster came on to guide the Sycamores to 14 second half points in the 21-14 loss.
Southern Illinois Head Coach Dale Lennon:
Indiana State Head Coach Mike Sanford:
Western Illinois (2-5/4-7) at Northern Iowa (2-5/6-5) – 4:00pm
Their records are the same (2-5), but the disappointment levels are much different for the Panthers and Leathernecks.
While WIU is about where everyone predicted coming into the season (9th in the MVC pre-season rankings), UNI was expected to compete for the MVC title this year.
But four straight mid-season losses for the Panthers (3 in OT and 1 by 1-point), dropped UNI out of contention, despite a winning record overall.
Western Illinois Head Coach Bob Nielson:
Northern Iowa Head Coach Mark Farley: