MVFC Power Rankings, Week 0

Okay, this is really Week 0 + 1, as Youngstown State played during the kickoff weekend. Still, everyone else waits until the very end of August to get that first game in. Let’s take a look at the 2019 season’s starting grid…

1. North Dakota State. Yes, we’ve all seen it and heard it. Their coach left. Their winningest quarterback in history graduated. Hordes of others players graduated. And? Do you really think anything is going to change? I don’t. Their back-ups have had ample in game experience already from years of convincing wins. And some of the pieces remaining are amazing. Linebacker Jabril Cox. About six near elite level running backs. An offensive line that resembles the Great Wall of China. A fall back here means 8-4. This team is still going to the playoffs. Up first: vs. Butler in Minneapolis.

2. South Dakota State. Yes, we’ve all seen it and heard it. The greatest quarterback in program history is gone. But the other weapons are all this there. This offense will be just fine. Who knows? Might be just as explosive. Just a different kind of explosive, maybe. Ever hear of Christian Rozeboom? He just tackled a caribou in practice. The guy tackles everything. Didn’t think the MVFC would see another Brett Taylor(Western Illinois), guess what? We are. They will be in the hunt. And they’ve been a national semifinalist two years in a row. Why doubt them now? Up first: @ Minnesota(FBS).

3. Illinois State. There should be a lot of James Robinson seen running the football in Normal this season. Anything besides that, would be abnormal. The offensive line is stout and the quarterback situation is in good hands with Brady Davis. Their defense has eight players returning, so you figure they should be a bit more advanced than last season. And they weren’t bad then. If this team can live up to their expectations and what most people thought would be the continuance from a national championship game appearance just three years ago, they could win the league. Up first: @ Northern Illinois(FBS).

4. Indiana State. Not very often does a team have five fifth-year seniors on their offensive line. If these road graters aren’t a cohesive unit by this point, they never will be. But the Sycamores were a monster on the ground last year and figure to be again. A back will need to step up and give quarterback Ryan Boyle a reliable option to hand off to. Dante’s Inferno Receiving Corps(Jones II & Hendrix) should catch plenty of balls. The defense is probably a little behind the elite level that some Valley teams have, but there’s been improvement there also. A true wild card with their solid mix from both sides of the ball. Could push for the top, might fall to eighth. Up first: @ Kansas(FBS).

5. Northern Iowa. The Panthers have a lot to replace, there’s no secret there. But, the offensive line continues to improve and the depth with it has slowly as well. The specialty positions appear well rounded without no real superstar amongst them, sans tight end Briley Moore. Moore may be one of the two best tight ends in the FCS. If Will McElvain can run the offense efficiently, meaning no turnovers, things will be fine. It might take a week or two to get the defense into top order, but that’s usually not an issue for thus group. Of course, they face a brutal schedule. Up first: @ Iowa State(FBS).

6. South Dakota. Quarterback Austin Simmons threw for more than any returning quarterback in the MVFC in 2019 and there’s plenty left in the cupboard. This offense should have no problem scoring points. The issue has been the other side of the ball, where opponents have no problems scoring either. There are a few good pieces on the ‘fence, like Greenfield and Cochrane. But they’re going to need a lot more than two to step up. Up first: vs. Montana.

7. Youngstown State. Nathan Mays came to play in the season opener in Alabama, roasting Samford for 90 yards rushing. 124 yards passing probably won’t get it done most weekends in the Valley. Even with the Penguins defense. Though, having four players rush for more than 50 yards, that could solve a lot of ills. Not to mention keeping the ball away from the opponent’s offense. Still hard to figure out exactly what we’re going to see from Youngstown State, Samford is in a near total rebuild. Up next: September 7, vs. Howard.

8. Southern Illinois. The Salukis have really become the MVFC’s enigma team. Every year they look to be on the brink of breaking through and joining the top ranks in the league. Then POP! That bubble bursts all over again. D.J. Davis is a Swiss-Army knife of a weapon, doing just about everything for the offense. Quarterback Labonowitz needs to take the reigns early and steer this ship efficiently. Having Davis will help, but they might be tasked for needing 40 points per game. The defense was abysmal last year, even with an all-conference talent like end Anthony Knighton. Up first: @ Southeast Missouri State.

9. Missouri State. Coach Dave Steckl is a defensive mind. The thought would be after four years, the Bears would start to peak on that side of the ball. Really, they have improved tremendously. But the offense is a mess. The defense spends too much time on the field. They have an above average linebacking corps, by the numbers, but those numbers are a little inflated because of ample opportunity. Quarterback Huselig needs to learn the color of his team’s uniforms, having thrown too many interceptions. The offensive line is thin also. Somehow, the Bears still beat Illinois State and Indiana State last season, probably costing each a playoff spot. Up first: @ Northern Arizona.

10. Western Illinois. The Leathernecks have graduated some top level talent the last couple of seasons. Talent that might not be replaced by what’s on their current roster. A rare fullback(Ratkovich)/halfback(Norris) combination, gives them a decent place to start. And wide receive Brunner is a more than capable player. The help after them is hard to spot right now. The defense looks thinner than years past also. This might be the toughest year the few attending fans in Macomb have seen in some time. Up first: @ North Alabama.