Hey…it’s another week of exciting games. Not quite on par with a few weeks ago when they were all within 1 score and decided in the last minute of the game or on the last play, but still pretty exciting stuff. If you weren’t paying attention, here’s the scores, and if you want the full rundown, then scroll on down a bit.
#7 South Dakota State – 21
Illinois State – 38
Southern Illinois – 35
Missouri State – 38
#18 Western Illinois – 35
#22 South Dakota – 34
Indiana State – 10
#14 Youngstown State – 13
#3 North Dakota State – 24
#33 Northern Iowa – 20
#7 South Dakota State @ Illinois State
In the first game, the 7th ranked Jackrabbits headed down to Normal to take on the struggling Redbirds. ISU got the scoring started early with a couple of long runs on a drive ending in a 18-yard QB TD run. SDSU had a difficult time on their first drive, picking up a couple of first downs, but then going for it on 4th and 1 with a QB run that was stopped at the line for a turnover on downs. ISU then drove right down the field in 11 plays for another TD, and all of a sudden, the Redbirds were up 14-0. SDSU would miss a 52-yard FG attempt, and they’d then trade punts until the end of the 1st. The 2nd quarter started the same way the 1st ended with a couple of more drives ending in punts, before the Jackrabbits would get on the board with a 6-yard TD pass. ISU scored on the next drive on a 14-yard TD run, but SDSU would answer right back with a TD drive highlighted by a 49-yard pass. ISU would counter with their own TD drive finishing with a 21-yard pass, and the half would end with the Redbirds up 28-14.
In the second half, SDSU started off strong, driving down the field and ending with a 30-yard TD pass to bring them within 7. Three plays into the next possession, ISU would fumble on a QB sack. The Jackrabbits were unable to do anything with it though, going for it on 4th and 17 but only picking up 4 yards. To be fair, they were on the ISU 28 yard line, which they felt must have been just outside the range of their FG kicker and close enough that a punt wouldn’t really gain them much, if anything. ISU would take over, but just end up punting…then an SDSU 4-plays and punt, and another ISU 3-and-out and punt, which would take them to the 4th quarter, ISU still up 28-21. The final quarter would start with an SDSU drive working down to the ISU 9 yard line, but then threw an interception in the end zone, giving ISU the ball back at the 20. ISU would drive down the field and turn it into a FG to go up by 10. The following drive, SDSU would work their way down the field getting to the ISU 13 yard line. But then, a sack put them back to the 20, and then a 92-yard pick-6 with less than 5 minutes left in the game would essentially put it out of reach for the Jackrabbits, with the Redbirds going up 38-21. The last chance that SDSU had looked to be a particularly ugly drive with 8 incomplete passes (vs 4 completions), 2 sacks, and ending with an interception. Then ISU was able to run out the clock and come away with the upset with a final score of 38-21.
La’Darius Newbold’s late INT seals the @RedbirdFB victory.
ISU tops SDSU, 38-21.
— RedbirdHD.tv (@RedbirdHDTV) October 30, 2016
SDSU QB Taryn Christion threw for 430 yards and 2 TDs and ran for 26 yards and a TD, but he also threw 3 interceptions and was sacked twice. WR Jake Wieneke caught 173 yards on 10 passes and 2 TDs, and TE Dallas Goedert picked up 118 yards on 11 passes. Wieneke is now 92 yards from taking over the #1 spot in the MVFC record books for career receiving yardage…and he’s still a Junior, btw. The running game was practically nonexistent, with RB Brady Mengarelli leading the team with 35 total yards. LB Christian Rozeboom had 9 tackles, DL Cole Langer had a forced fumble that was recovered by DL Kellen Soulek.
ISU QB Jake Kolbe only threw for 138 yards, but was just as effective on the scoring front, throwing for 2 TDs and running for another, but the biggest difference being no interceptions. WR Anthony Warrum led the team in receiving yards with 46 but had both receiving TDs. RB Jamal Towns ran for 136 yards and 1 TD. O-lineman Mark Spelman picked up the MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week award for his contributions to the offense. DB DraShane Glass led the team with 11 tackles and 1 interception. DB Willie Edwards also had an interception, and DB La’Darius Newbold had the 92-yard pick-6.
South Dakota State drops to 4-1 in the conference and 5-3 overall and will head home to take on Missouri State next weekend. Illinois State picks up their 2nd conference win, bringing their record to 2-4 in the MVFC and 4-5 overall and will make the drive across the state to take on Western Illinois next weekend.
Southern Illinois @ Missouri State
Salukis and Bears…two teams that have had a rough time overall this season, battling it out essentially for “bragging rights” and the possibility of not being last place in the conference when everything is all said and done. A few possessions into the first quarter, SIU got the scoring started with an 80-yard TD drive. Three possessions later, MSU would get their own points on a 76-yard TD pass. The next drive would take us into the 2nd quarter and finish with a SIU 9-yard TD pass. Two plays later and MSU would throw an interception, which SIU would take 9 plays to turn into a TD putting them up 21-7. MSU then turned it over on downs, but held SIU to a punt on the following drive, only to turn it over on downs again and finishing out the first half with SIU up by 14.
The second half, MSU pulled within 7 on the first possession with a TD drive highlighted by a 46-yard pass. SIU was held to a punt on the next one, but then 5 plays into MSU’s drive, they threw an interception returned 43 yards for a TD, putting SIU back up by 14. MSU would come back though and put together a nice sustained drive finishing with a 10-yard TD pass to bring them back within 7. The MSU defense then held SIU to a punt, but then so did SIU’s on the next drive which got them into the 4th quarter. On the punt, however, the returner broke through the coverage team and took it all the way back for a TD, tying it up at 28-all. SIU would respond with a 4-play drive ending in a 54-yard TD pass and then pick off MSU 7 plays into the next drive. SIU was held to a 3-and-out though, and MSU was able to put together another TD drive ending in a 36-yard TD to tie it all up again, this time at 35-all. Another 3-and-out for SIU and MSU was able to drive down the field getting to the SIU 14 with 10 seconds left in the game. From there, MSU hit a 32-yard field goal to take their only lead of the game. A couple of plays later (including one of those frantic “get as far as you can then lateral it” plays) and the clock would run out on SIU, ending in a 38-35 Missouri State victory.
— MO State Football (@MOStateFootball) October 30, 2016
SIU QB Josh Straughan passed for 315 yards and 2 TDs with 0 interceptions. Most of his passing yards went to WR Israel Lamprakes who had 56 yards and 1 TD. WR Connor Iwema would also have a TD reception. The team’s rushing leader was RB Cameron Walter who ran for 56 yards. RB Jonathan Mixon would return from being out the last few weeks due to injury, picking up only 8 net yards, but 2 TDs. LB Kyron Watson had 11 total tackles. Safetys Ryan Neal and Jefferson Vea each had an interception, and CB Craig James had the 43-yard pick-6.
MSU QB Brodie Lambert threw for 339 yards, 4 TDs, but also 3 interceptions, but it would be good enough to garner him the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week award. WR Zac Hoover picked up 150 yards and 2 TDs, and both TE Erik Furmanek and OL Cole Christiensen (yea….O-lineman) would have 1 TD catch each. TB Jason Randall ran for 86 yards. LB Dylan Cole finished with 19 tackles including 1.5 for loss, and kicker Zach Drake had 1 FG attempt, hitting the 32-yarder in the last 10 seconds to win the game.
SIU came away with a loss in what could have been their last good chance at a conference win, dropping them to 2-6 overall and 0-5 in the MVFC. They’ll head back home and take on South Dakota next weekend back in Carbondale. MSU continues with their “somewhat improved” season…as in, not being last in the conference, and stays firmly in the middle of the conference, pulling to 4-4 overall and 2-3 in the MVFC. They will head up to Brookings, SD to take on a very tough SDSU team next weekend.
#18 Western Illinois @ #22 South Dakota
In a game some were calling the “Nielson-Bowl”, the “formerly coached-by Nielson” WIU Leathernecks headed to the DakotaDome to take on the “currently coached-by Nielson” USD Coyotes. We expected there to be quite a bit of emotion in this one, and the game did not disappoint. A few drives into the game, USD would hit a 20-yard TD pass (which followed a 45-yard pass), to give the Coyotes an early advantage.WIU would respond right away with a 55-yard TD run on the second play from scrimmage. USD would hit a 40-yard pass on the next drive and eventually get as close as the WIU 10 yard line, but would have to settle for a FG, putting them ahead by 3. On the next play from scrimmage, WIU would hit a 57-yard pass that would set up a 7-yard TD pass. USD would counter with an extended drive ending in a 7-yard TD pass to go back up by 3. Short drives ending in punts would take us into the 2nd quarter, but a few drives in, WIU would throw an interception that was returned to the WIU 10 yard line, which USD would take 2 plays to get into the end zone on a 4-yard run. WIU was then held to a punt and USD was able to use up most of what was left in the half with a TD drive to go ahead 31-14, which would be the score going into halftime.
The second half started with WIU getting the ball and driving 75 yards ending in a 6-yard QB TD run. On the next drive, USD would go for it on 4th and 1 from the WIU 28 but would get stopped for no gain, turning the ball over. A couple of short drives later and then Western would work their way back down the field ending in another TD run, this time from 9 yards out. USD was held to a punt early in the 4th on their next drive, but then WIU was held to a 3-and-out. USD would take the ball all the way down to the WIU 4 yard line, but was only able to come away with 3 points on a 21-yard FG, but it did increase their lead to 6 points. WIU was held to a punt on the next drive and then USD was able to complete a 69 yard pass to get them within the WIU 8 yard line. A couple of runs later and it was 3rd and goal on the WIU 1. USD’s usually reliable RB would take the handoff but ended up fumbling the ball into the end zone where it was fallen on by Western, giving them a touchback and the ball at the 20 yard line, down by 6 points, with 4 ½ minutes left in the game. Western drove down the field, at one point going for it on 4th and 10 and nailing a 28 yard pass to keep moving the chains, and eventually hitting a 2-yard TD pass with 32 seconds left in the game (although better clock management by the Leathernecks could have probably dropped that time remaining quite a bit) to give the Leathernecks the 1-point lead. USD would not go quietly though, using time outs and smart passes to work their way across to the WIU 37 yard line, where they would call upon their exceptional kicker to attempt a 54-yard FG to win the game. The snap and hold were good, but the kick went just left (and maybe a little short, but it was hard to tell from the video), giving Western the 1-point win, with the score of 35-34.
— Leatherneck Football (@WIUfootball) October 31, 2016
WIU QB Sean McGuire passed for 286 yards with 2 TDs and 1 interception as well as running for 30 yards and a TD. WR Lance Lenoir caught 111 yards and 1 TD of that on 6 receptions, which gave him a total of 255 total receptions in his career and moved him up to #1 in the MVFC record books for that stat. Lenoir is also 242 yards away from the current #1 spot for career receiving yards, although SDSU’s Jake Wieneke is likely to hit that mark first and surpass any additional yards Lenoir has (since Lenoir is a senior, but Wieneke is still only a junior). WR Isaiah Lesure had 63 yards and WR Joey Borsellino had 45 and a TD. RB Steve McShane stayed at #1 in the conference for rushing yards, picking up 112 and 1 TD. RB Jamie Gilmore only had 26 yards but also had a TD. LB Brett Taylor picked up 15 total tackles (11 of those were solo, giving him the #1 spot in the FCS for solo tackles with 7.9 per game) as well as the fumble recovery in the end zone which set up the final WIU TD drive. LB Quentin Moon picked up 12 tackles including 3 for loss.
USD QB Chris Streveler actually had a really good game, passing for 373 yards and 2 TDs, 0 interceptions, as well as being the team’s rushing leader with 102 rushing yards and 1 TD, which garnered him the MVFC Newcomer of the Week award. WR Brandt Van Roekel had been out with a shoulder injury, but unexpectedly was able to return for this game, where he caught 137 yards of passes. Freshmen WRs Trystn Ducker and Dakarai Allen each had a TD reception. RB Trevor Bouma picked up 42 yards and a TD on the ground. Defensively, freshman DB (and former WIU recruit) Marchalo Judge Jr. had 8 tackles, and DB Danny Rambo had the interception taken back for 26 yards. USD kicker Miles Bergner remained one of the best punters in the FCS with 5 punts averaging 43.8 yards…two of them over 50 yards, and was 2 for 3 on FGs, hitting from 27 and 21 yards out, but missing on the game ending 54-yarder (only his second miss of the season).
With the win, Western Illinois moves up to 6-2 on the season and 3-2 in the conference and will head home to take on in-state rival Illinois State next weekend. South Dakota, meanwhile, falls to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the conference. They’ll head down south to take on the SIU Salukis next weekend.
Indiana State @ #14 Youngstown State
The Sycamores headed east to take on the Penguins in what looked to be a defensive battle. Would YSU be able to stop the trees’ quality passing offense? Would the Penguin offense be able to put points on the board…like…any points….maybe? Also, what would be coach Pelini’s decision with regards to their QB situation? Play one of the two guys who are still able to play but have been rather ineffective this season, or try to convince the former starter to come back and play this season rather than sitting out and transferring? Well, it looked to be the latter, with a QB who hasn’t taken any snaps this season lining up to lead the YSU offense.
The first quarter, Indiana State scored first on the game’s second possession, with a 23 yard FG. The next drive, YSU would throw an interception, which ISU would take 5 plays to turn into a 9-yard TD run, putting them up 10-0. The very next play for scrimmage and YSU would throw another interception and making it look like it was going to be a very long day for the Penguins. However, the YSU defense stepped up, nabbing their own interception 3 plays later. A long drive headlined by a 41-yard run later, and Youngstown State was able to put points on the board with a 23-yard FG. A couple of traded punts, and ISU was able to get to the YSU 7 yard line, but then threw an interception in the end zone, giving YSU the ball at the 20. They took 8 plays to get down the field, ending in a 31-yard FG as time expired in the first half, giving ISU the 10-6 lead going into halftime.
The second half started with a couple of short stalled drives before ISU fumbled on a QB sack. YSU would get down to the 16 yard line and go for a 33-yard field goal, but it was blocked. ISU was held to a punt again, and again YSU drive down the field, this time getting to the 27 yard line, going for a 44 yard FG, but missing that one early in the 4th quarter, with the score still 10-6 Sycamores. A couple more traded punts until YSU finally broke one open, returning the punt 79 yards for a TD to take the lead by 3. A Few more drives held to punts and an ISU turnover on downs essentially finished out the game, giving the Penguins a 13-10 victory. And as to the YSU offense putting points on the board…considering all of their points came from FGs or kick returns…their offense essentially didn’t score. It was all special teams and the YSU defense that really stepped up, holding ISU scoreless after the first quarter
Had to grind out the win, and we’ll happily sing the fight song in celebration!
— YSU Football (@YoungstownStFB) October 29, 2016
ISU QB Isaac Harker threw for 1 TD and 148 yards, primarily to WR Robert Tonyan who had 40 yards and the game’s only offensive TD. RB Roland Genesy ran for 88 yards. LB Jonas Griffith led the team in tackles with 9 and an interception. LB Jameer Thurman also had an interception that was taken back 15 yards.
YSU QB Hunter Wells threw for 101 yards and 2 interceptions. Nobody caught for over 30 yards, but RB Martin Ruiz ran for 151 total yards. FS LeRoy Alexander had 11 tackles including 3 for loss. D-lineman Avery Moss had 3 sacks for 27 yards, 1 forced fumble, and 2 qb hurries. The fumble was picked up by DT Donald Mesier, and SS Jameel Smith and CB Kenny Bishop each had interceptions. WR Darien Townsend picked up 24 receiving yards, but his biggest contribution was taking one punt return 79 yards for a TD to put YSU ahead in the 4th quarter. Townsend would be awarded the MVFC Special Teams Player of the Week award for his contribution.
Indiana State falls to 2-4 in the MVFC and 4-5 overall this season and will face off against the UNI Panthers at home next weekend. Youngstown State will head up to the Fargodome in a battle that will have a large impact on conference standing in the upper half, as well as likely impact on the playoff picture, as they take on the NDSU Bison.
#3 North Dakota State @ #33 Northern Iowa
And in probably the biggest game of the week in the conference, the late game featured the impressive (although slightly less so than in some previous years) Bison against the UNI Panthers and their new-found offense. Was the Panther offense from the previous week a fluke and would they be able to put up anything close to those numbers against a MUCH better defense?
This big-time game started off with a couple of 3-and-outs, then NDSU held to another punt, before UNI threw an interception giving NDSU the ball at the UNI 24 yard line. 4 plays later and the Bison would be the first to put points on the board with a 1-yard TD run. UNI would take 14 plays on the next drive, going into the 2nd quarter and gaining 68 yards before having to settle for a 30-yard FG. A couple more drives ending in punts and NDSU would hit a 31-yard TD pass to go up by 11 points late in the first half. UNI would finish off the half with another FG…this time from 25 yards out, to make the score 14-6 at halftime.
Two plays into the second half, UNI threw another interception, but NDSU was unable to do anything with it, going 3-and-out. The Bison responded by holding UNI to their own 3-and-out, and then took the following drive 58 yards on 6 plays ending in an 8-yard TD run to go ahead 21-6. UNI was held to another 3-and-out, but on the first play after the punt, NDSU threw an interception. UNI was able to work down the field 74 yards, capped off with a 17 yard TD pass. NDSU got as close as the UNI 8 on the next drive, but had to settle for a 25-yard FG early in the 4th quarter. The Panthers came right back with a 45-yard TD drive to pull within 4 points. At this point, the two defenses really stepped up. NDSU 3-and-out, UNI 4 plays and punt, NDSU 3-and-out, UNI 3-and-out, and then a big break for UNI…NDSU throwing an interception. Problem was…4 plays later, UNI threw an interception right back. The UNI defense again held NDSU to a punt, which gave UNI the ball at their own 28 yard line with only 11 seconds left in the game. Time for a game-winning drive?…unfortunately for UNI…the answer would be no, with the rest of the game time being eaten up by a false start penalty against the Panthers, and then an interception to essentially end the game, with the Bison coming away with the win, 24-20.
— NDSU Football (@NDSUfootball) October 30, 2016
NDSU QB Easton Stick had 118 yards and 1 TD passing, but also threw 2 interceptions and had 2 sacks. WR RJ Urzendowski caught for 43 yards, and TE JEff Illies had 35 yards and a TD receiving. RB Lance Dunn led the team with 118 rushing yards, RBs Chase Morlock and King Frazier each had rushing TDs. On the defensive side of the ball, LB Matt Plank had 10 tackles and an interception. LB MJ Stumpf had 7 tackles including 2 for loss (1 sack). SS Robbie Grimsley picked up an interception returned for 14 yards, and FS Tre Dempsey had 2 interceptions including the one that essentially “sealed” the victory for the Bison and a pass breakup in the end zone and was rewarded with the MVFC Defensive Player of the Week award.
UNI QB Eli Dunne (in only his second start) threw for 216 yards and 2 TDs, but threw 4 interceptions and was sacked 3 times. RB Michael Malloy led the team in receiving yards with 63, and WR Jaylin James and TE Briley Moore each picked up a receiving TD. RB Tyvis Smith led the team with 57 rushing yards. DB Damon Hendrix had 12 tackles in the game, and DL Karter Schult had 7 tackles and remained at the #1 spot in the FCS for sacks with 1 this game. DBs Malcolm Washington and Elijah Campbell each had an interception.
North Dakota State will head back to their home dome for a matchup with Youngstown State next weekend. They are 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference and are in a good position to challenge for the conference autobid if they win that one (although SDSU does have the “head-to-head” advantage). Northern Iowa is 3-5 overall and 2-3 in MVFC play and will head over to Indiana State to play the Sycamores next weekend.
First off, I wanted to mention that the MVFC website has a nice write-up of interesting notes, records, and other miscellaneous stats across the games this last weekend in their Weekly Valley Football Notebook: http://www.valley-football.org/news/default/2016-17/9104/weekly-valley-football-notebook-oct-31/
For example, did you know that Western won their fourth game this year decided in the final minute of play? I did…my blood pressure did…the stress headache I had for the rest of Saturday evening did…but did you?
Anyway, how’d I do on my predictions this week? Well, here’s what I’d said vs what actually happened.
South Dakota State over Illinois State by 17 – Ok…I was dead-wrong on this one. I guess I should have listened to some of the SDSU guys over at AGS who said that this would be their “let down” game…they were right…I was wrong.
Southern Illinois over Missouri State by 7 – Oh come on Salukis, you had this game in the bag. You had to just go and give up 31 points in the second half to mess up this pick for me, eh? MSU won it by 2, so that’s another loss for me….not doing so well this week, am I?
Western Illinois over South Dakota by 4 – First half it felt like my Leathernecks came out TOO emotional…missing tackles, trying to do too much, etc. and had a pretty bad first half. To their credit, they came out in the second half and did well, although it took a couple of lucky plays (fumble at the end zone, best kicker in the country missing a FG) to pull it off. Still, like they say, good teams find a way to win, and for the most part, the Leathernecks have done a good job of that this year….and it gave me a win for my pick.
Youngstown State over Indiana State by 14 – I underestimated how anemic the YSU offense would be, but thankfully their special teams came through and helped me pick up a win here with their win out there. YSU only won by 3, but I think it counts.
North Dakota State over Northern Iowa by 1 – If it weren’t for all those interceptions from the young UNI QB and his receivers still learning the new system only 2 games into it, I would have gotten this pick wrong. UNI played well, but couldn’t overcome the 4 interceptions (and credit to the NDSU defenders for being in the right places at the right times. NDSU won it by 4 and I won on this pick.
So, I was 3-2 this last weekend, combined with my previous record of 15-8, and I’m now at 18-10 in picking games this season for the MVFC.
Now that we’re essentially to the last month of the season, with most teams in the conference having 3 regular season games left (although the ISU’s only have 2), I thought it’d be a decent idea to talk about the playoff picture. I did that a little bit in my preview article for this week, but thought maybe I’d dig in a bit more now that we’re one step closer to it.
Here’s the teams, in their current standing order in the conference, along with the rest of their opponents and their chances at making the playoffs (or at least, at making the 7-win mark that is generally necessary for consideration. And, yes, I know better than most that a 6-win team can snag an at-large, but that happened once and was due to a confluence of events and situations that are unlikely to come together very often, so I’m working under the assumption that you gotta get to 7 wins playing in the MVFC to make it in.
- North Dakota State – 7-1 overall, 4-1 in MVFC, remaining games vs YSU, vs ISUb, @ USD. Bison are already at 7 D1 wins, so barring a complete collapse practically unheard of in FCS football outside of the east side of Ohio, they’ll be in the playoffs. Win out, and they’re a lock for a seed and depending on what happens with SDSU, possibly the conference auto-bid.
- Youngstown State – 6-2 overall, 4-1 in MVFC, remaining games @ NDSU, vs SIU, @ MSU. Penguins need 1 win in the next 3 to reach 7 D1 wins. Even if they lose at NDSU, which is a very real possibility, the last two games are very winnable for them, even with no offense to speak of. I could easily see them going 2-1 for the last 3 games and making the playoffs with a 8-3 overall record….then again, if there’s one thing the Penguins have historically been very good at, it’s losing in November.
- South Dakota State – 5-3 overall, 4-1 in MVFC, remaining games vs MSU, vs USD, @ UNI. SDSU needs 2 out of the next 3 to hit 7 wins, but it’s entirely possible. I think a couple of the games could be tough, but they have the potential to win all 3…that’d make them 8-3 and winning the last 3 straight…they’d be in the playoffs pretty easily.
- Western Illinois – 6-2 overall, 3-2 in MVFC, remaining games vs ISUr, vs UNI, @ SIU. Leathernecks need 1 more win to hit 7 D1 wins. I’d say about a 90% chance of winning at least one, probably a 60% chance of winning two of them, and maybe a 30% chance of winning all 3. So, possibly could reach 9-2, although 7-4 or 8-3 is more likely. Either of which should get them into the playoffs, especially considering their 3-0 OOC record against three halfway decent full-scholarship (and 1 FBS) teams. Also, the two toughest of the remaining three games are at home, so that helps their odds a little.
- South Dakota – 4-4 overall, 3-2 in MVFC, remaining games @ SIU, @ SDSU, vs NDSU. With the loss to WIU, USD has to win out the season to get to 7 wins. It’s possible…but going to be very hard. They can win the first one, but the last two games are essentially against the two toughest teams in the conference…plus the only home game is against the Bison who travel really well and will probably outnumber the Coyote fans in their own dome, so you can practically treat these as three away games. I just don’t see them getting to 7. 5 wins, sure….6 wins, maybe….7 wins, nope, not this year.
- Missouri State – 4-4 overall, 2-3 in MVFC, remaining games @ SDSU, @ ISUr, vs YSU. Are the Bears improved over last year?….sure. Enough to finish with a winning record this season?….probably not. I think all three games will be tough for the Bears…IL State would have been considered probably the “easiest” (not that there is an “easy” in the MVFC) but they showed that they can still compete with the top teams at times this last weekend. I think they might win 1 of these games, although the most likely scenario is probably losing all 3 and finishing 4-7. And remember, one of those wins was against an NAIA team, so doesn’t really count towards playoff consideration anyway. But still, it is an improvement over last year….so, maybe it can be a “moral victory”.
- Northern Iowa – 3-5 overall, 2-3 in MVFC, remaining games @ ISUb, @ WIU, vs SDSU. UNI just did not play like themselves for most of the season. What took the fans maybe 2 weeks to realize apparently took the coach another month to figure out. Since then, they’ve destroyed a not-great MSU team and were very competitive with NDSU, and could have won if the QB maybe had a bit more experience in the passing game. It’s hard to predict how they’ll finish out the season now, but I think they will likely win 1-2 of their last three games…the first one, and then possibly one of the last two. SDSU is the better team of the last three, but they do have them at home. Still, at 3 total wins so far, even winning out will only get them to 6-5, which I don’t think will get them into the playoffs, but it’s hard to be 100% sure on that.
- Illinois State – 4-5 overall, 2-4 in MVFC, remaining games @ WIU, vs MSU. Despite the big win over conference leader SDSU last weekend, ISU is still not likely to make the playoffs. The first game will probably be the toughest, but if they do win out, I think they probably have the best chance at being a 6-5 getting into the playoffs. They’d have to beat WIU, and then completely blow out MSU, get some help from other bubble teams unexpectedly losing, and get some extra credit for their win over Northwestern early in the season, but it’s possible. I don’t see it likely happening though. I think they’ll most likely finish 1-1 and end up 5-6 on the season.
- Indiana State – 4-5 overall, 2-4 in MVFC, remaining games vs UNI, @ NDSU. Well, they got to 4 wins. I doubt they’ll get any more though. Only two games left, and it seems unlikely that they’re in a position to beat either UNI or NDSU. Not saying it couldn’t happen, but it doesn’t seem likely at this point. Most likely, they’re looking at a 4-7 record to finish the season.
- Southern Illinois – 2-6 overall, 0-5 in MVFC, remaining games vs USD, @ YSU, vs WIU. Now that MSU has vacated the bottom of the conference standings, someone’s gotta be there. Unfortunately for SIU, none of the remaining games are going to be very easy. They’ve got an outside shot at maybe snagging one from either USD or WIU, but neither seem very likely. Probably 2-9 is the finish that the Salukis are most likely to see on the record books when the season is all over.
So, in the playoffs from the MVFC…I think NDSU, YSU, SDSU, and WIU all make it in. Everyone else is outside looking in at 6 wins or fewer.
Be sure to check out my Week 10 preview article later this week where I take a look at the coming weekend’s matchups: Northern Iowa at Indiana State, Illinois State at Western Illinois, South Dakota at Southern Illinois, Missouri State at South Dakota State, and a big one for the conference title race, Youngstown State at North Dakota State.