MVFC Power Rankings, Post-Week 7

Almost every match-up went as thought this last week. The higher rated team won all but one. And the one was Northern Iowa, pulling a minor upset on the road at South Dakota. This week, the top four pair off against each other and the bottom two do as well. Should be some good, close games.

1. North Dakota State (6-0 / 3-0), previously #1. So much for the chance of the post-UNI letdown. The Bison stuck it to Western Illinois early and never looked back. With all the unrest at the top of the national polls the last couple of weeks, anything less than one loss by season’s end will result in North Dakota State being the #1 overall seed. Honestly, the Bison have their next two games at home with their two toughest opponents remaining. If they get through this stretch, and they probably will, it’s 11-0, folks. Up next: vs. Illinois State.

2. South Dakota State (4-1 / 2-1), previously #2. The Jackrabbits rebounded from their near upset loss at home to Indiana State and snuffed out Youngstown State in the process. Much like NDSU, South Dakota State plays their two toughest remaining opponents the next two weeks. Big difference is that each is on the road. The first one is probably the more difficult to judge as they travel to see the Jekyll and Hyde Panthers. Next: @ Northern Iowa.

3. Illinois State (5-1 / 2-1), previously #3. The conference’s #3 team absolutely scorched the Salukis this weekend, grilling them like hot “dogs”. Okay, sorry about the pun. It’s the most brutal stretch of games coming up for the Redbirds, as they will partner off with the top two teams the next couple of weeks, followed with a road game in Cedar Falls. Overall, the Redbirds are in a good spot playoff-wise right now. But losing that game to Missouri State and playing a non-Division I team will hurt. However, they also have that FBS win in their back pocket which trumps both of those bad losses. Next: @ North Dakota State.

4. Northern Iowa (3-3 / 2-1), previously #7. If anybody heard my phone call on Friday afternoon, right before OPR went off the air, my judging of Northern Iowa was pretty accurate. “If the team who played those first three and one-half quarters against NDSU is the real Panthers, this team is going to be okay.” We know NDSU is legit and so is SDSU for their game played against the Bison. The Panthers looked like they were in the class the other day. This next one will be another big test, but also a litmus against my statement from the other day. We will see. Next: vs. South Dakota State.

5. Missouri State (4-2 / 2-1), previously #5. The Bears went on the road and got their second conference win already. The next two are at home and are winnable. Winning both will put them in playoff conversation, something that’s been mentioned here multiple times the last few weeks. November’s schedule is brutal, but at least they’d have a shot. Next: vs. Western Illinois.

6. South Dakota (3-3 / 2-1), previously #4. The Coyote’s had an early lead against Northern Iowa, then the two fought back and forth for a while. But a rough stretch in the second half resulted in a 21-point deficit, which seemed to happen in the span of just a couple minutes. It’s tough looking at this team and not seeing a playoff contender, but the loss to UNI puts them behind the 8 ball when you look at the remaining schedule. If they take care of what they should, a 6-5 / 5-3 finish is likely. And one MVFC has made the playoffs with that exact record more than once. But business needs to be addressed week-to-week, starting now. Up next: @ Youngstown State.

7. Western Illinois (2-4 / 1-2), previously #6. Western Illinois couldn’t pull the week after magic on the Bison, not fault there. Luckily for the Leathernecks, nobody with a DSU, either North or South, is left on their schedule. They’re not devoid of the talent of running off these last five games and making the playoffs. And if they did, they would be a lock. But this week’s game is really like a playoff game itself. Next: @ Missouri State.

8. Youngstown State (2-4 / 1-2), previously #8. The Penguins took a beating in Brookings. In all reality, that fourth loss hurts them more than most MVFC teams, because one was to Butler. And one of those wins being Valparaiso doesn’t help either. Don’t be surprised if you start hearing some grumbling from alumni later on this year if the losses pile up to seven or eight. Coach Pelini’s chair is going to get warm. Up next: vs. South Dakota.

9. Indiana State (2-4 / 0-3), previously #9. Played pretty good at home but came up short against Missouri State. Now something has to give. The travel down south to play the other winless conference foe. So somebody will get that elusive first W. Considering the defenses, this might be a light up the scoreboard kind of game. Next: @ Southern Illinois.

10. Southern Illinois (1-5 / 0-3), previously #10. The Salukis’ early season playoff Cinderella story just struck midnight with their fifth loss. A opening day win, followed with a hearty effort against the SEC’s Mississippi, had many people clamoring. Since then it’s been nothing but losses. A close call maybe, but still losses. This looks like their best chance to get off the schneid. Up next: vs. Indiana State.