MVFC Power Rankings: Regular Season Wrap-up

MVFC-Power Rankings

The season is complete and happy are times in the Missouri Valley as half of the conference qualified for the FCS Playoffs. And from my perspective, a better than decent shot that three of the final eight teams will reside here in the nation’s heartland. We’ll take one more look at the conference and weigh how everybody finished.

1. North Dakota State   (9-2 / 7-1, previously #1)

The Bison won out and took the MVFC’s automatic bid. Shocker, right? Actually, no. Shockers are from Wichita. Anyhow, the Bison finished the regular season hot, with just the one little slip up against South Dakota. That loss in conference compared to Illinois State is probably why NDSU ended up with the No.3 national seed. Still, nothing to sneeze at. They get the coming week off and await the winner of conference brethren, South Dakota State and a team who beat them to open the season, Montana.

2. Illinois State   (9-2 / 7-1, previously #2)

The Redbirds had to be ecstatic on Selection Sunday when the pairing’s were released and they received the No.2 national seed. This is vitally important for a couple reasons; first, it means they have home field advantage all the way to the championship game provided they continue winning, second, it means a semifinal game against conference rivals North Dakota State or Northern Iowa would be in their nest at Hancock Stadium. They too await the winner between conference brethren, Western Illinois and Pioneer conference champion Dayton in the second round.

3. UNI   (7-4 / 5-3, previously #4)

Almost gave this spot to Western Illinois, as they technically earned third-place in the conference standings. However, nobody in the conference is playing better than the Panthers right now. The schedule has softened a some since their meat-grinder of an opening slate, but a five game win streak is a five game win streak. The Panthers get a home game in the first round against former Gateway (predecessor to the MVFC) rival, Eastern Illinois. The other Panthers left years ago in search of greener pastures in the Ohio Valley Conference. Funny that most years they do make the playoffs, they get macthed up with former (MVFC/Gateway) conference opponents.

4. Western Illinois   (6-5 / 5-3, previously #5)

The Leathernecks got the nod from the Selection Committee and took the final at-large spot with a 6-5 record. The fact they played the nation’s most grueling schedule, finished above .500, and beat three teams who also made the field says volumes about why you take on that kind of schedule. Not surprising is that they have a road game in the first round, but it is surprising that it’s at Dayton, who comes from the often overlooked Pioneer League. The Flyers finished 10-1 this year, losing only their last game in Des Moines to Drake. A win and they go to Illinois State.

5. South Dakota State   (8-3 / 5-3, previously #2)

The unlikely upset loss at Western Illinois was a curse to them and a blessing towards the conference. The Jackrabbits loss cost them a bye, as a national seed would have been all but assured had they finished 9-2. Now, the Selection Committee turns cruel and sends them to Montana, who buys playoff home games like underhanded political special interest groups. As if that weren’t bad enough, a win gets them a second round date in Fargo, where they have lost in the playoffs two of the last three years.

6. Indiana State   (5-6 / 3-5, previously #8)

The Sycamores win their finale against Youngstown State, which many figured to be a playoff entry game at the season’s inception. Instead, it was nothing more than momentum to be used for next year. Overall, it was a disappointing season, not being able to follow up with their playoff participation from 2014.

7. Youngstown State   (5-6 / 3-5, previously #6)

The Penguins had illusions that getting a sixth win would put them in the conversation for the playoffs, especially since they beat Western Illinois head-to-head. However, their weaker non-conference schedule probably would have held them out regardless and they dropped the ball the final week anyway.

8. South Dakota   (5-6 / 3-5, previously #7)

You can’t fault the Coyotes for losing their final game to Illinois State, but you can certainly fault them for how they lost. Any dreams of finishing over .500 were snuffed out like a cheap cigar by the Redbirds in one of the Valley’s ugliest outcomes of the season (not involving Missouri State). Still, you have to think the needle is trending upward for a team who was dubbed to finish last. This might be a playoff team in a year or two.

9. Southern Illinois   (3-8 / 2-6, previously #9)

The Salukis were possibly the nation’s best 3-8 team. They definitely would have an argument about the offense. This team lost a number of very close games early on and it seemed to cost them traction as the season progressed. The defense needs to be addressed before next season or they can expect to stay near the bottom of this always tough conference.

10. Missouri State   (1-10 / 0-8, previously unranked due to ineptitude)

The season has mercifully come to an end for the Bears. One almost wonders if head coach Dave Steckel wishes he stayed at Mizzou. Much like Southern Illinois, the defense needs to be addressed, it is about as bad as it gets. But even more so, the offense is in dire need of some playmakers. Their record is generous at 1-10, really. They were beaten soundly by every team in the conference where a 1-18 record would have looked more suitable. There’s a lot of work to be done in Springfield.