MVFC Power Rankings, Post-Week 6

Hot Beef Take

The second week of Missouri Valley Football Conference play brought forth a few questions and one, nearly undeniable answer.

Questions: If South Dakota State had to go into overtime to beat Indiana State, is the bottom of the MVFC really that close to the top? Or was that just a Jackrabbit let down from playing North Dakota State the week before? All but two teams have taken a loss in conference play already, how long before that drops to one, or even none?

One, undeniable answer: North Dakota State is the best team in the FCS. This was even more solidified when James Madison was upset this last weekend in Colonial Athletic Association play. More on that below. Let’s get into the rankings…

1. North Dakota State (5-0), previously #1. For anybody who had doubt, there’s no doubt now, this is the best team in the FCS. Last week, they came back and beat a team who could match the Bison with a finesse. This week, they came back and beat a team who was going to stand there and punch them in the mouth. Anybody who’s seen the movie Remember the Titans with Denzel Washington, think about this line. “I run six plays, all veers. Like novacaine, it always works, just give it time.” Maybe the scariest thing about the Bison is their patience. Two weeks in a row they’ve been down and not avoided the game plan, each time coming back to win. On top of that patience is a lot, a whole lot of really, really good talent. I predicted they would lose this next game before the season began, but right now, I don’t know if anybody besides themselves can beat this team. Up next: @ Western Illinois.

2. South Dakota State (3-1), previously #2. The Jackrabbits got maybe the most surprising scare in all of FCS, not resulting in an actually upset, last week. Going to overtime at home against Indiana State is not the impression a team should want to make after going toe to toe with NDSU. Call it overlooking or a letdown. Still, they prevailed. One would expect a team this talented to bounce back in a big way. That means the Penguins better be ready for a more focused effort. Next: vs. Youngstown State.

3. Illinois State (4-1), previously #7. Perhaps the game against Missouri State two weeks ago was the annual Redbird stinker. Was probably a little harsh in these rankings, dropping them to #7, but it was deserved at the time. This week’s home game takes on added importance as the following road test is as tough as it gets in FCS football. No more hints on who that is. After already beating Eastern Illinois and Western Illinois, a win against the Salukis this week would give them the FCS Illinois Championship. Next: vs. Southern Illinois.

4. South Dakota (3-2), previously #5. The Coyote faithful were witness to a terrific game this past weekend against Missouri State. One could probably expect another slugfest this week. The perception is this team is designed for high-scoring shootouts, but there’s a better defense than one thought. As the only team besides NDSU to be undefeated in conference play, another win this week would go along way towards late November. But even home games in the Valley are anything but guaranteed. Up next: vs. Northern Iowa.

5. Missouri State (3-2), previously #3. The Bears played well. And their trip to the Dakota Dome almost bore fruit. These are the growing pains of a blooming program. Isn’t the Valley lucky that soon there will be nobody to step on any more? Matter of perspective. Even though they hit the road this week, this is a great chance for them to get to 4-2/2-1. Who would have really thought that was possible before the season? As mentioned last week, if they can grow up quickly and take care of business during this stretch, one upset in  November will have them in the playoff discussion. Next: @ Indiana State.

6. Western Illinois (2-3), previously #4. Western Illinois had Illinois State on the ropes, but the Redbirds controlled the end of their game, pulled away and sent the ‘Necks back to Macomb with the loser’s end of the purse. Having the defending national champion coming to town usually means a loss. However, there is credible history that the week after playing Northern Iowa is hazardous to Bison success. Next: vs. North Dakota  State.

7. Northern Iowa (2-3), previously #6. For three quarters, the Panthers had to feel like the Jackrabbits did the week prior. Here’s a tough pill to swallow, UNI played almost as good as they could have and it still wasn’t enough. That’s not to say they could put together a four quarter effort, but that would mean another shot in early December, in Fargo. Not a place you wanna be. This week, it’s back on the horse and another tough opponent. Next: @ South Dakota.

8. Youngstown State (2-3), previously #9. The Penguins took down the Salukis at home. There’s a ton of work to do to even get back into the playoff talk later. A win on the road of monumental amounts will be needed. Maybe a couple. This week is the exact situation they need to play in and succeed. Opportunity is still around, they have to make it happen…now. Up next: @ South Dakota State.

9. Indiana State (2-3), previously #10. Even though this season is probably a lost cause, at least as far as the playoffs are concerned, the close call in Brookings this last week showed a glimmer of hope. If that result was as real as their shutout loss at home to Northern Iowa, this might be the most Jekyll/Hyde team in the country. Next: vs. Missouri State.

10. Southern Illinois (1-4), previously #8. The Salukis lost their fourth game of the season, which all but does the slim playoff hopes in. This week it’s about a two-hour trek up I-57 to meet their in-state brothers in Normal. Going to be an uphill battle, but this team has enough offensive firepower to have a puncher’s chance in almost every game they play. Up next: @ Illinois State.