MVFC, At-A-Glance, Week 9


1. North Dakota State (7-1 overall, 4-1 MVFC): Well, that didn’t last long.  The Bison have re-ascended to the catbird’s seat.  This team doesn’t always win by huge margins, but there’s one thing they almost always do – and that’s win.  A hard-nosed team that knows how to play in crunch time when the times are toughest and the chips are down.  Now, they play their last ranked opponents before the playoffs and a grand game it should be.  Next, vs. Youngstown State.

2. Youngstown State (6-2, 4-1): It took a punt return in the 4th quarter to pull out the win against Indiana State, but they did.  The Penguins’ offense is still beaten up after the Northern Iowa game and a road game to Fargo doesn’t figure to make things any better.  All that aside, this might be the best overall defense in the Valley, possibly top five in the entire nation.  They’re that good.  And defense ALWAYS travels.  Next, @ North Dakota State.

3. South Dakota State (5-3, 4-1): It’s hard to drop the Jackrabbits behind two teams they beat head-to-head and have identical records in Valley play.  But neither of those teams lost by 17 to an Illinois State team who has had trouble finding themselves since Week 2.  One would figure this team is still in really good shape to make the playoffs, but they’re not gonna want to tempt fate by losing again.  Next, vs. Missouri State.

4. Western Illinois (6-2, 3-2): The winner of the Nielsen Bowl?  Western Illinois!  The Leathernecks came back from a 17-point halftime deficit on the road, to beat South Dakota.  The playoffs are right around the corner, both on the calendar and as far as possibly locking up a bid.  As good as their resume is now, six wins would probably get them in, except they would have lost three straight, to be 6-5.  One more win and they’re very comfortable.  Next, vs. Illinois State.

5. South Dakota (4-4, 3-2): Dropping the aforementioned game to Western Illinois, really stings.  That was another signature win this program really could have used on their resume.  Regardless of whether the Coyotes make the second season this year or not, this team is definitely trending upward.  We could see it coming last year and that momentum has continued.  Next, @ Southern Illinois.

6. Northern Iowa (3-5, 2-3): The Panthers could probably retire the reward for toughest team in the nation with a losing record. Every computer ranking has them as at least a top 25 team.  And despite the losing record, they are still one of the top unranked teams getting votes from the human polls also.  The playoffs may be all but a pipe dream now.  A miracle would need to happen.  But, traditionally, November has been Farley time.  Next, @ Indiana State.

7. Illinois State (4-5, 2-4): Hmm?  The Redbirds must think they still have a shot at the playoffs if they can get to 6-5.  Whooping SDSU helps, but there’s two games left for them.  They would at least be in the conversation, but the 4-4 conference mark would probably end those dreams.  Still, here’s to making the Committee’s job harder, right?  Next, @ Western Illinois.

8. Indiana State (4-5, 2-4): The way in which they lost to Youngstown State is really bothersome.  Sometimes it just happens.  The fact is right now, the Sycamores aren’t an upper echelon team and they can’t have any lapses or things like this are going to happen to them.  On the bright side, the circumstances they came into the season with, things have gone better than expectations.  Next, vs. Northern Iowa.

9. Missouri State (4-4, 2-3): The Bears were getting handled by Southern Illinois, when suddenly they exploded for 31 2nd half points and a field goal with 10 second remaining to even up their record.  Still, it must be a concern, even in victory, the number of points this defense has given up the last few weeks.  Might be a situation where they’ve hit the wall.  Next, @ South Dakota State.

10. Southern Illinois (2-6, 0-5): Had them right where they wanted them…then poof – it’s gone!  If the Salukis didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all.  With everybody else having at least two conference wins and only three to play(for most), it appears Southern Illinois will be relegated to finishing last in 2016.  And the last three opponents on the schedule are all in the top half…more bad luck.  Next, vs. South Dakota.