MVFC – Week 6 in Review

MVFC LogoWell, as I’m writing most of this, it’s 12:30 AM Sunday morning, I just got back from watching my Leathernecks give me a heart attack against Northern Iowa, and I was driving, so I’m still awake from some later-than-usual caffeine. I must say…this was an interesting week…assuming you like a bit of chaos with your football, right?

Now that we’re a couple of weeks into conference season, I think we can start looking at conference standings, where teams are in relation to being set up for a playoff spot or if they’re already out of the picture. I’ll list the team, then overall record, conference record, and then each team’s remaining 6 games of the regular season.

School Overall Conference Remaining 6 Games
North Dakota State 5-0 2-0 @YSU, WIU, UNI, @SDSU, USD, @ILSU
South Dakota 5-0 2-0 INSU, @ILSU, SIU, @UNI, @NDSU, SDSU
Illinois State 4-1 2-0 @SIU, USD, @YSU, WIU, @SDSU, NDSU
South Dakota State 4-1 1-1 UNI, @MSU, @WIU, NDSU, ILSU, @USD
Western Illinois 4-1 1-1 MSU, @NDSU, SDSU, @ILSU, @INSU, SIU
Youngstown State 3-2 1-1 NDSU, @UNI, ILSU, @INSU, @SIU, MSU
Northern Iowa 2-3 1-1 @SDSU, YSU, @NDSU, USD, @MSU, INSU
Southern Illinois 2-3 0-2 ILSU, @INSU, @USD, MSU, YSU, @WIU
Missouri State 1-4 0-2 @WIU, SDSU, @INSU, @SIU, UNI, @YSU
Indiana State 0-5 0-2 @USD, SIU, @MSU, YSU, WIU, @UNI


For reference, in recent history, I believe only one 8-DI-win MVFC team has been excluded from the playoffs (YSU in 2013, who went 8-4 in a 12-game season, but was tied with 3 other MVFC teams at 5-3 in the conference). In general, 7 DI wins will get MVFC teams at-large spots in the playoffs, and 6 DI wins is possible if the situation is right and the team gets a bit of help from other “bubble teams”. It’s happened twice so far, WIU in ’15, and ILSU in ’16, but it’s by no means a forgone conclusion.

Personally, given where teams are right now and who they have yet to play, I think that NDSU and USD are both solidly in the playoffs. SDSU, WIU, and YSU all have a strong shot at an at-large playoff spot if they are able to win the games they’re “expected” to. ILSU, UNI, and SIU are both going to have to work hard and pull off an upset or two to get an invite (even though ILSU is 4-1, they have to face a “murderer’s row” of the top MVFC teams assuming they beat SIU next weekend). MSU could technically still make it if they win out, but with games at WIU and YSU, and home against SDSU, that sure doesn’t look very likely. INSU can finish as high as 6-5 if they win out…so…unless NDSU accidentally left their entire team in Terre Haute and the Sycamores are able to sign them all up to play for them, there’s pretty much no chance.

#2 North Dakota State at Indiana State

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
NDSU 7 17 21 7 52
INSU 0 0 0 0 0

Quick Hits:

  • NDSU – TE Connor Wentz (cousin of Carson) had a big day, tying his best scoring performance with 2 receiving TDs.
  • NDSU – QB Easton Stick was efficient, hitting 78% of passes with 191 yards and 4 TDs.
  • NDSU – RB Lance Dunn had a “down day” (for him) with 74 rushing yards and 2 TDs.
  • NDSU – FS Tre Dempsey, CB Jalen Allison, and SS James Hendricks all had INTs in the game.
  • INSU – RB LeMonte Booker led the Sycamores with 104 rushing yards.
  • INSU – WR Bob Pugh had two caches for 69 yards, 8 yards rushing, and a 54-yard punt return, for a total of 131 all-purpose yards.
  • INSU – CB Rondell Green forced a fumble that was recovered by LB Jordan Jackson.

Did anyone really expect anything different? Indiana State has had a couple of strong performances OOC, but it’s apparent by now that INSU just doesn’t have the team to do well in the MVFC this year. NDSU built a 24-0 lead in the first half and exploded for 21 points in the 3rd, assisted by two interceptions against Sycamore QB Cade Sparks. By the end of the 3rd, NDSU had pulled their starters and spent the rest of the game getting experience for their second string.

North Dakota State moves to 5-0 on the season and will have a tough matchup at 3-2 Youngstown State next weekend.
Indiana State falls to 0-5 and will take on 5-0 South Dakota in Vermillion…Sycamore fans…you have my condolences.

My Pick in Review:

I said: Bison by 30
It was: Bison by 52
Fine…ok…we get it…your team is freakishly good. I knew it’d pretty much be a blowout, but seriously? You gotta completely shut out a conference foe while putting up over 50 points on them…at their place? That’s cold.

#3 Youngstown State at #5 South Dakota (Dakota Days)

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
YSU 7 7 7 7 28
USD 7 14 7 3 31

Quick Hits:

  • USD – QB Chris Streveler continued his dominance with 360 passing yards and 3 TDs, as well as 48 yards on the ground.
  • USD – WR Shamar Jackson had a career day, with 229 receiving yards on 11 catches with 1 TD. Jackson only had 199 total receiving yards in his first two seasons.
  • USD – DL Darin Greenfield had 7 tackles with 3 for loss including 2 sacks and a QB hurry and received the MVFC Defensive Player of the Week award.
  • USD – PK Ryan Weese went 4-4 on XPs, but most importantly, hit the 29-yard game-winning FG with 7 seconds left. Fittingly…he received the MVFC Special Teams Player of the Week award.
  • YSU – RB Tevin McCaster ran for 90 yards and a career-best 4 TDs.
  • YSU – QB Nathan Mays was pretty much shut down all game, connecting on only 48% of his throws for 153 yards.
  • YSU – FS Jalyn Powell led the team with 10 tackles.

Well, the AGS Game of the Week certainly lived up to the hype. It was a close game the whole way with USD mostly ahead, but YSU staying with them until the end. USD had a 7 point lead at halftime and would eventually open up a 14-point lead in the 3rd before YSU would battle back, eventually tying it up with less than 4 minutes left in the game. The 29-yard FG with 7 seconds left would give the Coyotes the huge Homecoming win and their first 5-0 start since 2005, back in their DII days.

Youngstown State is now 3-2 and it won’t get any easier, hosting the always tough 5-0 NDSU Bison team in Youngstown next weekend.
South Dakota takes another step forward moving to 5-0. Next up for the Coyotes, another home game, this time against 0-5 Indiana State.

My pick in Review:

I said: Coyotes by 3
It was: Coyotes by 3
What did I say…what did I freakin’ say. The Yotes are for real this year. They keep playing like this and there’s very few teams that are going to be able to stop them. Assuming Streveler doesn’t get bent in half at some point, I forsee a likely 10-1 regular season record in their future.

#12 Western Illinois at Northern Iowa (Homecoming)

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
WIU 3 2 13 20 38
UNI 0 14 0 15 29

Quick Hits:

  • WIU – QB Sean McGuire had a great day, throwing for 334 yards and 3 TDs and was awarded the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week award.
  • WIU – WR Jaelon Acklin has another strong performance with 158 yards and 2 TDs, including the game-winner with 0:06 left in the game.
  • WIU – LB Brett Taylor leads the team with 13 tackles, 1.5 for loss, and continues to lead the FCS in tackles per game with a 14.2 average.
  • UNI – QB Eli Dunne throws for 342 yards and 4 TDs, but also 2 interceptions.
  • UNI – WR Daurice Fountain led the team with 103 receiving yards, although TE Elias Nissen had a great game, catching for 60 yards and 3 TDs on 3 catches.
  • UNI – LB Ricky Neal had 7 tackles including 2 sacks.

The Leathernecks continue to show that they’re mostly a second-half team, with UNI holding a 14-5 lead at the half, then putting up 13 points in the 3rd to take the 18-14 lead. From there, UNI kicked their offense into high gear, throwing successfully on (what seemed like) nearly every down, fighting back and taking a 29-25 lead with just over a minute left in the game. WIU was able to come back though, at one point converting a 4th and 15, and take the lead back with a TD with 6 seconds left. On the kickoff, the UNI returner fumbled the ball right into the hands of WIU LB Michael Bishoff who took it back 20 yards for a TD with no time left. So, despite the 9-point differential, it was a close game right up to the end.

Western Illinois recovers from the loss last week and is now 4-1. They’ll head back home and bring 1-4 Missouri State to town next weekend.
Northern Iowa drops to 2-3 and is seeing their playoff hopes quickly slip away. The Panthers have a difficult matchup ahead at 4-1 South Dakota State.

My Pick in Review:

I said: Leathernecks by 6
It was: Leathernecks by 9
If I told you that, with 44 seconds left in the game, UNI with all the momentum, WIU with the ball just 1 yard into UNI territory, 4th and 15, down 29-25…what would you think the score could end up being…do a bit of mental math. 29-25 final?..likely. 32-29 WIU win?…possible. How about 38-29 WIN win?…yea…it was just that kind of weird game. Only 3 points off on my pick though, so that’s a win.

Southern Illinois at #9 South Dakota State (Hall of Fame Game)

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
SIU 0 0 7 7 14
SDSU 14 21 0 14 49

Quick Hits:

  • SDSU – QB Taryn Christion throws for 216 yards a 4 TDs.
  • SDSU – RB Brady Mengarelli had a phenomenal game, running for 220 yards and 2 TDs, allowing SDSU to hold on to the ball for 41 1/2 minutes of the game.
  • SDSU – True Freshman TE Skylar Cavanaugh led the Jackrabbits with 53 yards receiving, a TD, and got the MVFC Newcomer of the Week award. WR Marquise Lewis ends up catching 2 of the team’s 4 receiving TDs.
  • SDSU – CB Jordan Brown leads the Jackrabbits with 8 tackles and an interception.
  • SIU – QB Sam Straub has 179 yards passing with 1 TD and 2 INTs, and 20 yards and 1 TD rushing.
  • SIU – S Ryan Neal leads the team with 9 tackles.
  • SIU – CB Vince Martin has a couple of tackles and an interception

Quick start for the Jackrabbits after not doing much last week. By halftime, they had already built a 35-0 lead, and held pretty much the same margin the rest of the game.

Southern Illinois falls to 2-3 and hosts the 4-1 Illinois State Redbirds next weekend.
South Dakota State is a solid 4-1 and brings 2-3 Northern Iowa to town for Hobo Days (that’s their “Homecoming”) next Saturday.

My Pick in Review:

I said: Jackrabbits by 14
It was: Jackrabbits by 35
I was kinda attributing the lack of offensive production last week to a combination of both SDSU’s offense being down and YSU’s defense being really good. It looks like SDSU’s run game is solid. The passing game was still down, but the run game more than made up for it this time. I knew it’d be a big win for the Jackrabbits, but they pulled ahead quite a bit faster than I was expecting. Still a solid pick.

#8 Illinois State at Northern Arizona (Hall of Fame Game/Family Weekend)

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
ILSU 0 6 3 7 16
NAU 0 13 14 10 37

Quick Hits:

  • ILSU – QB Jake Kolbe throws for 223 yards and 1 TD, but also had 3 INTs and was sacked 5 times.
  • ILSU – WR Spencer Schnell was the only Redbird to reach the end zone, with 88 yards and 1 TD receiving.
  • ILSU – DL Dalton Keene led the team in tackles with 10 (3 for loss including 1 sack).
  • ILSU – PK Sean Slattery had the rest of the Redbird points with FGs from 32, 38, and 51 yards out (in the high-altitude dome…just fyi).
  • NAU – QB Case Cookus seems to have found his rhythm after struggling for the first couple of games. He had 380 yards and 3 TDs.
  • NAU – WR Elijah Marks had most of the receiving yards, picking up 130 and 1 TD.
  • NAU – S Josh Clarke led the team in tackles with 11 including 3 for loss (1 sack) and a pass breakup.
  • NAU – The defense as a whole held ILSU to only 63 yards on the ground and 223 yards through the air, with LB Byron Evans, CB Maurice Davidson, and CB Andrew Gose each nabbing interceptions.

The NAU defense did surprisingly (for me) well in this game. I know that Cookus has been getting better throughout the season, but did not expect the defense that allowed Western Illinois to put up 38 points a month ago to hold what was supposed to be a similarly explosive Illinois State offense to only 16 points. The 3 INTs really helped with that. NAU built a narrow 7-pt lead in the first half, but was able to pretty much move the ball at will against the ISU defense with two TDs in the 3rd. In the 4th, ISU QB Kolbe threw two picks which allowed NAU to put up 10 more points, meanwhile, the Redbirds wouldn’t find the end zone until just over 8 minutes left in the game.

Illinois State loses their first game of the season and are 4-1 overall. The Redbirds will be on the road again (but a much shorter trip) heading down to Carbondale to face off with the 2-3 Salukis next weekend.
Northern Arizona gets above .500 to a 3-2 record. Up next for NAU, it’s back to Big Sky play with a road game at 0-5 Portland State.

My Pick in Review:

I said: Redbirds by 18
It was: Lumberjacks by 21
I’m not sure there’s a more “wrong” that I could be without getting a time machine, going back 101 years (+ a few days) and putting money on Cumberland to beat Georgia Tech. Redbirds got ‘jacked…and not in a good way.

I was 27-8 in my picks this season going into this week. This week was a decent 4-1 for me…pretty much nailed the two close games too (by sheer luck). That puts me at 31-9 for the season so far.

Next week, the obvious “big game” in the conference is NDSU at YSU. Will YSU rebound from a loss at the DakotaDome? Will NDSU prove that their 5-0 start is not just due to the fluke of a fairly easy early-season schedule? This will be a big one to watch for a lot of people. Other than that, I’m also pretty interested to see how UNI matches up with SDSU, mostly so I can get a handle on how my Leathernecks might match up with SDSU. Western is home against Missouri State, so I’ll be there, tracking the other scores on my phone. Check back later this week for my full preview of all of the Week 7 games in the MVFC.

Written by 

Father, runner, drum corps alumnus. Former member of the Western Illinois Marching Leathernecks. Following Leatherneck football and I-AA/FCS football since 1996.

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