MVFC Power Rankings, Week 1

Not a lot of change this week, as almost the entire conference lost their first game. That statement is a little misleading, as four of those teams were playing FBS opponents, three of which were Power Five schools. All but one of the others, that lost, were playing on the road. I would not expect this trend to continue, but it’s a strange spot to see the MVFC in, so it’s something that has to be commented on.

1. North Dakota State(1-0), previously #1. The one team who didn’t lose this last week. I know, shocker, right? They were playing a non-scholarship program in a neutral location. But it sounds like the Bison faithfully nearly sold out Target Field in Minneapolis, 34,000 plus in attendance. That’s awesome. Any worries about the new quarterback may have been answered, as freshman red shirt, Trey Lance threw for four touchdowns and ran for a couple more, compiling 301 yards of offense himself(185 passing/116 rushing). Yes, it’s against softer competition than they’ll see later, but a great way to break in. Next week, another big winner from Week 1 visits. This one will tell us more. Next week: vs. North Dakota.

2. South Dakota State(0-1), previously #2. J’Bore Gibbs did his best to quell concerns about the graduation of Taryn Christian and almost knocked off a decent Minnesota team in their Thursday night opener. If the Gophers had not returned a pick-six, this game was squarely even on the scoreboard. A very strong effort. Defensively, the Jackrabbits might be even stronger than originally envisioned. That’s a scary thought to the potential overall strength for future opponents. This week they get their home opener, against a team who’ll be playing their first game in FCS history. Sounds like cherry pickin’, but it will be a nice reprieve from the physical first game. Next: vs. Long Island.

3. Illinois State(0-1), previously #3. The Redbirds walked into Huskie Stadium unphased and expecting to beat Northern Illinois. For the most part, they did their job. Quarterback Brady Davis had a tough game throwing the ball, not that wideout Taylor Grimes would have noticed. The rushing attack was kept under wraps and that probably hurt the offense most. ISU tied the game 10-10 at the beginning of the 4th quarter, but NIU came back in 18 seconds with a bomb, going up a touchdown again. A late pick-six put the game out of reach for good. Expect a big rebound, as a non-scholarship Pioneer League team comes calling. Next: vs. Morehead State.

4. Indiana State(0-1), previously #4. Here comes another close call against the FBS. This was a game long thought to be a prime candidate for an upset. And the Sycamores did not disappoint, unless you happen to be a Jayhawks fan. Again, the pick-six spoiled the Valley team’s bid, though this one came in the 1st quarter. After that, Indiana State played Kansas straight up. In fact, the defense produced a sack/fumble/end zone recovery for a lead with 4:22 remaining. Unfortunately, Kansas use a two minute drill well, scoring with just over 2:00. Overall, the effort was solid, it just wasn’t quite enough. Coming up, they also host a Pioneer Leaguer to their place. One that had the first week off. Next: vs. Dayton.

5. Northern Iowa(0-1), previously #5. Most of us around here either saw or heard this one. This game was a little more off the radar for upset alert, just for the fact that Iowa State was ranked nationally in FBS. But the Panthers played their hearts out and almost snuck out of Story County with a victory.  Offensively, UNI looked decent passing the ball. Though it appeared a little too dink and dunk, but some of that has to be attributed to timing as the Cyclones defensive line is very stout. Which also lead to virtually no running game. 31 rushes for 34 yards won’t cut it in the long run, but despite that fact, this game went to triple overtime. That should tell you the defense and team’s overall effort was off the charts. Unlike most MVFC teams, who’ll play non-scholly teams, UNI jumps into the Big Sky Conference(for three straight games). Next: vs. Southern Utah.

6. South Dakota(0-1), previously #6. South Dakota host a very capable and nationally ranked in some polls, Montana. The Coyotes quarterback Austin Simmons had a good, but not great day. Receiver Kody Case caught an incredible 11 passes for 144 yards. But the big story was the defense, or lack thereof. The Grizzlies moved the ball all day long for 510 yards. It’s amazing they only scored 31 points. USD did pick off a couple of passes to lessen that damage. The biggest take from this game? Where were the damn fans?! A very good Big Sky opponent coming in and not even 5200 showed up for the game?! That is disgraceful. Give your team some love, support them. Because this coming roadie is a no upset deal. Next: @ Oklahoma(FBS).

7. Youngstown State(1-0), previously #7. The Penguins had this week off, after smashing Samford in the kickoff weekend. It really should be more of the same this week as they play someone who lost to FBS Maryland, 79-0. Yes! 79-0. Those Bison got trampled by a school who’s mascot is a turtle. Hopefully, it’s at least a snapper. Next: vs. Howard.

8. Southern Illinois(0-1), previously #8. The Salukis were facing a tough road opener at Southeast Missouri State and the RedHawks showed them no quarter. Offensively, SIU did pretty good scoring 26 points against a solid SEMO defense, who has, perhaps, the best linebacker in the country in Zach Hall(19 tackles). Running back D.J. Davis was just as good as advertised, taking the rock 22 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns. But the defense was abysmal at best, allowing four different rushers to go for more than 50 yards a piece. One of which was the quarterback. If the defense doesn’t start patching the holes in the boat, the Minnow will be lost. A better effort to a bad FBS team could heal some wounds. Next: @ Massachusetts(FBS).

9. Missouri State(0-1), previously #9. Peyton Huslig had a big game at quarterback against Northern Arizona. Unfortunately, the running game was AWOL. The bigger issue was they were trading field goals against touchdowns for much of their game at Northern Arizona. This really had to be a revenge game, as the Bears spanked the Lumberjacks in Columbia during 2018. The defensedid a decent job against the run, but that’s not really NAU’s forte. They’ll get a week to decipher things before their next game as they’re getting a Week 2 bye. Next: September 14, @ Tulane(FBS).

10. Western Illinois(0-1), previously #10. For anyone debating where I put Western Illinois, their opening Thursday game at Northern Alabama gave me a little validation. The Leatherneck defense had very few answers for the Lions’ questions. They did block a punt for a score on special teams. But the Lions filled up the stats sheet pretty well. Offensively, Connor Sampson was decent but mostly unspectacular. The running game was nowhere to be found, for the most part. There’s a lot to figure out and a long road trip coming. Next: @ Colorado State(FBS).