MVFC Power Rankings, Week 3

Hot Beef Take

Hmmm? Used this term many times, but the wheat is already separating from the chaff. The top seven teams went undefeated, the bottom three were defeated. Some interesting match-ups coming this week. This week also doubles as the traditional final week before league play starts in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. Two teams, Northern Iowa and Youngstown State, do play next week, but the bye week rest period won’t work against them as they start conference play against one another. Let’s go over the rankings this week.

1. North Dakota State(3-0), previously #1. There were a handful of people nationally that thought the cross country trip to Delaware was a potential tripping point for NDSU. Wrong! The Bison completely controlled the game and won handily, 47-22. And the scoring is deceiving, as it was 33-8 going into the fourth quarter. This week is a game I’ve been looking forward to since the schedules started trickling out in late spring. If there’s a finesse team who will be able to push the Bison, it’s a team with a quarterback like Jake Maier. But I have my doubts. Next week: vs. UC-Davis.

2. South Dakota State(2-1), previously #2. Well, I was bamboozled. All year the schedule from the site I go to had said SDSU was playing at Drake. I should have known better, the game was in Brookings. Not that a venue changed was going to benefit the Bulldogs. A third non-conference home game comes this week and is a familiar opponent to the MVFC this season. Northern Iowa wasn’t nice to the Thunderbirds. You shouldn’t figure the Jackrabbits will be either. Next: vs. Southern Utah.

3. Illinois State(2-1), previously #3. Illinois State did little more than they had to to beat Eastern Illinois. That means they ran the ball about 80% of the time, attempting only 11 passes for the entire game! EIU has fallen on some really bad times and for a dominance perspective, it would have been nice to see ISUred put a little more of a hurting on their cross-state neighbors. But embarrassment was something they might not have wanted to deal out. A home game against the Big Sky finishes the pre-MVFC slate with a dangerous, but oft injured quarterback, Case Cookus. The Redbirds will have to be on their toes because the Lumberjacks will be throwing it all over. Here’s to windy conditions, right? Next: vs. Northern Arizona.

4. Northern Iowa(1-1), previously #4. The Panthers had the week off and were provided a pretty solid blueprint on beating their next opponent by FBS Utah. That’s not to say that UNI can follow that plan to exact precision, but surely they saw how to keep the soon-to-be visiting Bengals in check. Their punter kicked for almost three times as many yards as their offense moved the ball! Sometimes FBS games are too unfair. Next: vs. Idaho State.

5. Youngstown State(3-0), previously #5. The Penguins took to the field against an over-matched NEC team and over-matched them ov the scoreboard, 34-14. Duquesne is a solid program and is better than 50/50 to win their conference. But it wasn’t in the cards this last weekend. YSU will take a second bye week, still playing a twelve game schedule, because they got to play that Week 0 tilt over Samford. Next week, they play another NEC team, one that recently lost to a sub-FCS opponent. That might be really ugly. Next: vs. Robert Morris(on September 28).

6. Southern Illinois(2-1), previously #6. The Salukis responded with their huge FBS upset of Massachusetts by laying an egg in the first quarter, down 14-0 to Tennessee-Martin. They did rectify the situation and righted the ship eventually, winning 28-14. Now, they’re sitting in a unique position. They’re 2-1 with one FBS win in their pocket and a second coming up this week. Another upset, would easily vault them into the top 25, probably top 15 and give them a major calling card when selection Sunday comes around in late Novemeber. And their opponent was just railroaded by Georgia 55-0. Next: @ Arkansas State(FBS).

7. Indiana State(1-2), previously #7. The Sycamores may have just saved their season last week. After an unforeseen 0-2 start, a big win over OVC fellow bubble mate, Eastern Kentucky was just what the doctor ordered. Now, they’re far from out of the woods yet. They’re not even into MVFC play and sitting below .500. A win this week would get them out of the hole and give them a shot at playoff redemption with an in-conference winning record. So now they get a break with a struggling opponent that was just steamrolled by ISUred. Will ISUblue use the same modus operendi? Next: vs. Eastern Illinois.

8. South Dakota(0-3), previously #8. If anybody has seen the Coyote defense, please give head coach Nielsen a ring, I’m sure he’d like to know where they’ve been. If he doesn’t answer, follow the trail of hair he’s surely pulled out. USD’s defense has been beyond disappointing or abysmal. The best adjective is probably non-existent. I don’t wanna dump on a team who just won, but giving up 53 points to Houston Baptist is grounds for firing. And I hate saying that, because I think Nielsen is one of the best at getting the most of what he has. This game coming up has to be a must win or that seat is going to be to hot to sit on. Next: @ Northern Colorado.

9. Missouri State(0-2), previously #9. If you’re going to get pounded by a team from FBS, 58-6, it better be someone in the Power Five conferences and probably the top 25. Having two weeks to prepare for a very FBS-mediocre Tulane and taking a skull crushing like that is symbolic of old Pete Puma with Bugs Bunny. “How many lumps you want?” “Ohh, three or four.” Insert mallet here. This week looks to be a rough one also. Facing a team who’s nationally ranked, even after graduating their inaugural class last year. Bears have a long way to go still. Next: vs. Kennesaw State.

10. Western Illinois(0-3), previously #10. Western Illinois looked as good as they have all season and it still resulted in a nine point loss to Montana State. But the Bobcats are a nationally rated outfit with gobs of returning starters and the Leathernecks are basically starting over from scratch. This week is a game they can certainly win. The Eagles are not a tradition rich program, though they are 2-1 this year, so they have some confidence about them. And that’s something WIU is in desperate need of right now. Next: vs. Tennessee Tech.