Missouri Valley Football Conference Power Rankings, Week 3

Talk about unforeseen results. Two weeks after knocking off an FBS opponent, in their house, Northern Arizona travels to the Valley to play Missouri State. Sure, the Lumberjacks borderline All-American quarterback was out for the game, but what was expected and what happened? Completely unrelated. More notes on their capsule. Elsewhere, the coming week is pretty light on the schedule. That’s not a knock on the opponents, it’s because only three MVFC teams are playing. This is traditionally the conference’s bye week going into conference play the week after. So let’s see where everybody stands, at this point in time.

1. North Dakota State (2-0), previously #1. What we saw this last weekend from the Bison is what we pretty much see every weekend they play – a workman-like butt-kicking. It was no fault of North Alabama’s, they’re transitioning to the FCS party and it wasn’t kind of their administration to accept a game in Fargo their first year at the level. This is where one of the three games will go down this weekend. A third non-conference home game, the only one pitting the MVFC and the Colonial Athletic Association. Better bet the Bison will look to uphold conference pride, home-field and a general take that they are the best team in the land.  Up next: vs. Delaware.

2. South Dakota State (2-0), previously #2. Last week I made reference that the Jackrabbits were going to give a very, very bad team an even worse beating. It wasn’t a great prediction, it was a pretty general sense that it would be ugly. What’s scary is that because of a game involving Davidson(Pioneer League) and a Division-III opponent, SDSU’s 90, yes 90, point outburst was only the second highest in the FCS last weekend. They won’t do anything like that this week though…they’re not playing. But they go to NDSU the week after. Next: bye.

3. Illinois State (2-0), previously #4. The Redbirds were the one team who had a bye last week. Suppose they needed it after their annihilation of Eastern Illinois. Maybe it was preparation time for their one FBS game coming this week. This should be a lot tougher than each of their first two games. Though, there are a few prognosticators who have had this game on the FCS potential upset list from the very beginning. It’s asking a lot, but they should be well rested and well prepared. You never know ’til they’re played. Next: @ Colorado State (FBS).

4. Western Illinois (1-2), previously #7. The Leathernecks did exactly what they had to do this last week. An 0-3 start would have been a virtual death knell for the season. Instead, they beat the long-traveling Grizzlies and sent them back to Montana with their first loss of the season. Not only that, they helped clinch the win in the Missouri Valley/Big Sky Challenge. They are not much different than many of the MVFC’s teams that are not in the top 3 here, they need to come out in conference play strong. They’ll take the week for extra prep. Next: bye.

5. South Dakota (1-2), previously #3. The Coyotes succumb to the Weber State defense. Which is something I mention as a possibility, as the Wildcats are the one team in the Big Sky who really concentrates on that side of the ball. And actually, defensively, the Coyotes played pretty good overall, allowing just one touchdown. Still, improvement will be needed for the coming Valley grind. They will take this week off like most of the others. Next: @ bye.

6. Missouri State (2-1), previously #9. The Bears did the nearly unthinkable. When Northern Arizona came to the midwest, they were coming off a disappointing home loss to a top five conference opponent, in a strange non-conference match-up. As questioning as that conundrum may have been, there was no question in the result Saturday. The Bears crushed the Lumberjacks, quarterback-depleted or not, by 32 points! That’s a butt-kickin’ even Bison fans could appreciate. And fellow MVFC brothers had to enjoy the Bears taking down one of the Big Sky’s elite. The Bears head into bye week at 2-1 and with positive momentum headed into the conference slate. Good for them. Next: vs. bye.

7. Indiana State (2-1), previously #10. The Sycamores did exactly what Illinois State did to Eastern Illinois – scoring at will. Defensively was a different story, but hey, they’re 2-1. And there is nothing to apologize for when you have a winning record going into bye week. On top of that, they get their first conference game, coming off a bye against an opponent who’ll be playing this week…AND the game is on a Thursday, meaning short rest for the other guys. The cards are stacked nicely right now. Next: bye.

8. Southern Illinois (1-2), previously #6. Southern Illinois played in probably the craziest game from last weekend, a 48-44 loss to Southeast Missouri State. The game went back and forth numerous times. And with a mere 25 seconds to go, the rival RedHawks scored the final touchdown, sealing the game. If the first three games are any indication, this could possibly be the conference’s most explosive offense. The defense? Well, they just need to get a few stops, because shootouts look like the future. Up next: bye.

9. Youngstown State (1-2), previously #8. I know, I know. How does a team win by 35 and move down a spot? Well, they should have beaten Valparaiso by closer to 50 and it’s hard to forget their first effort of the season, losing to another Pioneer League team, Butler. The same Butler who was whacked by an average Princeton team by 43! If the Penguins still have any playoff aspirations, they need to use this week, figure out what went wrong early on and come out of the gate raging in conference action. Otherwise, they should fold their tents, think about where they’re going for Thanksgiving and be happy turkeys are eaten instead of penguins. Up next: bye.

10. Northern Iowa (0-2), previously #5. I know this will be unpopular in the area I live and those I make conversation with, but if you look at everything from the outside, this is the only possible landing spot for the Panthers. They’re the only team who’s yet to win a game and they’ve looked horrible coming out of the gate in each of their two games. Now, their opponents play a big role in that also. But, again, if you look through non-purple-colored glasses, so has everybody else and they’ve all won a game. This week’s game is of utmost importance and it seems we’ve been in this exact spot ten years in a row. A loss at home and this season would be a near over before conference play. Up next: vs. Hampton.