Another week of games, and a couple more upsets. Seems like this is often the way it goes…a bunch of tough teams able to grind out wins against higher-ranked opponents.
First up though, let’s take a look 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 4 games of the regular season.
|School||Overall||Conference||Remaining 4 Games|
|North Dakota State||7-0||4-0||UNI, @SDSU, USD, @ILSU|
|South Dakota||6-1||3-1||SIU, @UNI, @NDSU, SDSU|
|Illinois State||5-2||3-1||@YSU, WIU, @SDSU, NDSU|
|Northern Iowa||4-3||3-1||@NDSU, USD, @MSU, INSU|
|Western Illinois||5-2||2-2||SDSU, @ILSU, @INSU, SIU|
|South Dakota State||5-2||2-2||@WIU, NDSU, ILSU, @USD|
|Southern Illinois||4-3||2-2||@USD, MSU, YSU, @WIU|
|Youngstown State||3-4||1-3||ILSU, @INSU, @SIU, MSU|
|Missouri State||1-6||0-4||@INSU, @SIU, UNI, @YSU|
|Indiana State||0-7||0-4||@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.
NDSU has reached 7 wins, which means that barring some complete collapse to finish the season, they’re in the playoffs.
USD is still at 6 wins and likely need one more to be solidly in the playoffs. They do have a tough schedule ahead, but should be able to pick up at least one more win.
ILSU, SDSU, and WIU are all at 5-2 and are hoping for at least a 2-2 finish to the season to get their 7 wins. Based on how things look right now, WIU probably has the easiest route there, with a couple of winnable games and a couple of probably “coin flip” games. ILSU and SDSU both have to play NDSU, WIU, one other tough opponent (YSU for ILSU and USD for SDSU), and each other to finish out the season…so, one will pick up a win when they play each other, but it remains to be seen if they can get one more from the other 3.
SIU and UNI are 4-3 and they’ll need to win 3/4 to finish with 7 wins. I could see SIU taking maybe one…two tops…but I don’t think the Salukis will get there. UNI has been very strong the last couple of games. They’d need to beat MSU and INSU and snag one of the games at NDSU or home vs USD to do it. USD is the more likely of the two, but they’ll both be tough games.
YSU is now 3-4 and desparately needs to start winning some games. Lots of close games against really tough teams, but at some point you just gotta win. With 4 games left, they pretty much need to win out to make the playoffs. It can be done, the majority of the rest of their schedule sits at the bottom of the conference standings, but they can’t have any more slip-ups if they want to be playing after Thanksgiving.
MSU and INSU can’t even reach 6 wins this season, so neither of them will be making the playoffs this year.
#9 Youngstown State at #28 Northern Iowa (Family Weekend)
— FCS Football (@NCAA_FCS) October 22, 2017
- YSU – WR Damoun Patterson had 100 yds and 1 TD receiving
- YSU – QB Nathan Mays threw for 175 yds and 1 TD but was sacked 8 times
- YSU – LB Armand Dellovade led the team in tackles with 15
- UNI – RB Marcus Weymiller ran for 132 yds and 2 TDs
- UNI – QB Eli Dunne passed for 151 yds, with 2/3 of that (99 yds) going to WR Daurice Fountain
- UNI – Defense had 31 tackles for loss including 10 sacks. LB Rickey Neal had 3.5 of those sacks and earned the MVFC Defensive Player of the Week award.
Northern Iowa has been really stepping up the last couple of weeks with some key players back from being out with injuries. The Panther defense’s 10 sacks were 1 away from tying the school’s single-game record, and if you know I-AA football, you know that UNI has had some seriously good defenses in the past. After a promising start, Youngstown State’s season is in freefall. The Penguins couldn’t get really anything going on offense, especially on the ground, only getting 47 net yards rushing in large part due to losing 63 yards on tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
UNI got ahead early with a FG in the 1st quarter and 2 TDs in the 2nd, while allowing 1 TD, taking a 16-7 lead into halftime. Panthers got another FG in the 3rd and YSU only had another TD in the 4th and would never hold the lead in the 19-14 finish.
UNI is now 4-3 overall, 3-1 in the conference, and will take on 7-0 NDSU next weekend in the Fargodome in what will likely be a seriously good battle.
YSU falls to 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the MVFC, and they head back home to face off with 5-2 ILSU next Saturday.
My Pick in Review:
I said: Penguins by 4
It was: Panthers by 5
Margin right…pick wrong. UNI is a better team than I gave them credit for (especially defensively) and are a much better team than when I saw them live a couple of weeks ago.
#3 South Dakota at #27 Illinois State (Homecoming)
RISE UP REDBIRDS!
— FCS Football (@NCAA_FCS) October 21, 2017
- USD – QB Chris Streveler threw for a career-high 440 yds and 2 TDs, but also had his first two INTs of the season
- USD – TE Aaron Ramsey had 79 receiving yds and a TD, but 3 other Coyote receivers had 50+ yds and 3 others had 40-50 yds
- USD – DB Andrew Gray led the team with 10 tackles
- ILSU – QB Jake Kolbe had 236 yds passing, 2 TDs and 1 INT, with 191 yds (80%) going to WR Spencer Schnell who earned the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week award.
- ILSU – RB James Robinson ran for 193 yds and 2 TDs
- ILSU – PK Sean Slattery hit FGs from 47 yds, 33 yds, and then 45 yds and finished the game with 13 total points, earning him the MVFC Special Teams Player of the Week award.
After a couple of losses (one a blowout to SIU), ILSU was looking like their backs were against the wall with the matchup with the undefeated Coyotes. Well, it looks like the Redbirds play from that position pretty well. Their defense held USD to 3-and-outs on the first couple of drives before nabbing Streveler’s first INT of the seasonT he ILSU defense did an exceptional job shutting down USD’s running game. Illinois State put up the games first 14 points, but USD would battle back, tying the game at 14 in the 2nd. ILSU would add a FG to gain a 3-pt lead at halftime. A 3rd quarter TD run would give the Redbirds the lead for good, as they’d use a couple more FGs and hold USD to only one more TD to come away with the 37-21 win.
Illinois State is now 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference and will head over to Ohio to take on 3-4 Youngstown State next weekend.
South Dakota heads back home and brings in 4-3 Southern Illinois in what could be a very high-scoring matchup.
My Pick in Review:
I said: Coyotes by 14
It was: Redbirds by 16
Is Illinois State good? They lost to Northern Arizona and got blown out by Southern Illinois, but on this day, they were good…really good. Also on this day, I was wrong…really wrong.
Southern Illinois (3-3, 1-2) at Indiana State (Homecoming)
— Saluki Athletics (@SIUSalukis) October 21, 2017
- SIU – QB Sam Straub had 352 yards passing and 3 TDs w/ 3 INTs as well as 50 yards rushing
- SIU – WRs Darrell James and Raphae Leonard had the majority of receiving yards with 154 (and 1 TD) and 104 respectively
- SIU – S Ryan Neal had 2 INTs that he took back for a total of 70 yards, as well as 3 tackles
- INSU – WR Bob Pugh caught for 92 yards including a 61-yard TD catch. Pugh also had 59 yards on returns
- INSU – LB Katrell Moss led the Sycamores with 20 tackles, including 1 for loss
- INSU – P Thomas Bouldin averaged 50.5 yards on 8 punts including an insane 90-yarder that broke the school and conference record (previous record was 89 yards by WIU’s Mike Scifres in 2000)
The Sycamores started off well, putting up the game’s first TD and at one point having a 14-7 lead in the first quarter. Unfortunatly for Indiana State, it was pretty much all Salukis from there. SIU would get the next 17 points and take a 24-14 lead into halftime. SIU answered an INSU FG with a Saluki TD in the 3rd and had two more TDs in the 4th. INSU did have a 17-yard pick-6 in the 4th, but it was too little too late, falling 45-24 in Terre Haute.
Southern Illinois moves over 500 to 4-3 with a 2-2 MVFC record and will face off with 6-1 South Dakota next week in Vermillion.
Indiana State drops to 0-7 overall, 0-4 in the conference and head down to 1-6 Missouri State to play in what can only be described as the “Battle for the Bottom”…INSU’s best chance at getting a win this season.
My Pick in Review:
I said: Salukis by 12
It was: Salukis by 21
Margin a little larger than I thought, but hey…I got one right (finally).
#15 South Dakota State at Missouri State
Big-play Jackrabbits bounce Bears https://t.co/IPqncl91s1
— SDSU Football (@GoJacksFB) October 21, 2017
- SDSU – QB Taryn Christion threw for 323 yards and 2 TDs and ran for 59 yards and 1 TD
- SDSU – TE Dallas Goedert caught 170 yards and a TD on 8 passes and WR/KR Cade Johnson caught for 75 yards and 1 TD on 2 passes and had a 61-yard kick return earning him the MVFC Newcomer of the Week award
- SDSU – RB Brady Mengarelli ran for 115 yards and 2 TDs
- SDSU – LB Christian Rozeboom led the team with 18 tackles including 1 for loss
- MSU – QB Peyton Huslig threw for 189 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT, and ran for 123 yards
- MSU – LB McNeece Egbim had 10 tackles including 2.5 for loss
- MSU – WR/RS Deion Holliman took a punt back 63 yards for a TD and racked up 150 all-purpose yards
I’m not really going to get into the details of the scoring…SDSU did a lot of it…9 TDs worth. MSU tried to stay with them, but too many times had to answer a TD with a FG. The Bears were only down 34-27 at halftime, but the Jackrabbits really pulled away in the second half with 4 TDs vs MSU’s single FG to take the 32-point win.
South Dakota State is now 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the MVFC and will have another trip south to take on 5-2 Western Illinois next weekend.
Missouri State drops to 1-6 overall, 0-4 in the conference and they will stay home, welcoming the 0-7 Sycamores on Saturday.
My Pick in Review:
I said: Jackrabbits by 20
It was: Jackrabbits by 32
SDSU’s offense is clicking at a slightly higher rate than I had anticipated. I figured it’d be a high scoring game though, and with 61 total points at halftime, higher than the final point totals for 3/4 of the other conference games, it was. I count that as a win for me.
#7 Western Illinois at #2 North Dakota State
— FCS Football (@NCAA_FCS) October 21, 2017
- WIU – WR Jaelon Acklin caught 115 yards on 6 receptions
- WIU – LB Brett Taylor had 17 tackles, 1 for loss, and became the 4th Leatherneck to ever reach 400+ career tackles
- WIU – LB Quentin Moon had 9 tackles, 1 for loss, and an INT taken 43 yards back for a TD
- WIU – PK Nathan Erickson made his first collegiate FG attempt from 52 yards late in the 2nd quarter
- NDSU – QB Easton Stick threw for 221 yards and 1 TD (w/ his first 2 INTs of the season) and ran for 61 yards and 2 TDs
- NDSU – WR RJ Urzendowski caught 4 passes for 100 yards and 1 TD
- NDSU – Safeties Robbie Grimsley and James Hendricks and DE Caleb Butler each had 5 tackles, with Butler having 2 for loss incluing 1 sack, and DT Cole Karcz had 1.5 sacks for 14 yards
- NDSU – Bison Defense held Western to only 12 points (had been averaging 41.8) and only 31 rushing yards
WIU started off well, holding NDSU to a FG in the first quarter, while picking up a FG and INT->TD themselves. In the 2nd, a WIU defender fell down which left NDSU’s Urzendowski wide open for a 58-yard TD pass. WIU tacked on 3 with a 52-yard FG, which gave WIU a 2-pt lead at halftime. Second half though, the NDSU defense really picked up and shut down WIU’s offense. There were a couple of times when Western was able to get close, but ultimately was held scoreless, while NDSU QB Easton Stick used some strong runs up the middle to pick up two rushing TDs in the 3rd, resulting in a 12-point Bison win.
My Pick in Review:
I said: Bison by 10
It was: Bison by 12
As much as I was hoping to be wrong on this pick, I was pretty much spot-on. My Leathernecks did much better than their last trip to the Fargodome (a 59-7 blowout), but it’s still a tick in the loss column for them. I did get the pick right though…so I guess that’s something.
I was 34-11 in my picks this season going into this week. This week I went 3-2 in my picks which puts me at 37-13 for the season so far.
Four games left in the regular season for the MVFC teams. Up next week are a slate of games where nearly all will have a significant impact on playoff spots. Check back later this week for my full preview of all of the Week 9 games in the MVFC.