Just like I stated with the Big Sky power poll, I can’t believe we are already at season’s end. And the Missouri Valley race is still up for grabs with NDSU, SDSU, and UNI still in contention to get at least a share of the title.
We do know that NDSU will have at least a share but could share the title three ways if it loses to Illinois State and if either or both SDSU and UNI win over USD and Indiana State repetitively.
And while a conference title is not in store for Western Illinois or South Dakota, both schools can ensure playoff spots with victories as well.
Illinois State also could get a bid but has to beat NDSU at home and probably hope for some help elsewhere in the country.
Here are my rankings this week with last week’s rankings in parenthesis.
1. (1) North Dakota State (9-1 overall,6-1 MVFC)
Last week: Beat South Dakota 49-14 at home
This week: at Illinois State
North Dakota State clinched at least a share of its seventh straight Missouri Valley Football Conference championship with last week’s win over South Dakota. NDSU can win its third outright title (2012, 2013) with a win at Illinois State this week or losses by NDSU, South Dakota State and Northern Iowa. UNI is the only other MVFC team to win seven in a row (1990-1996). NDSU’s longest streak of conference titles is seven straight (1964-1970). The Bison have won 34 conference titles altogether, including 26 in the North Central Conference and one in the Great West Football Conference (2006).
2. (2) South Dakota State (8-2, 5-2)
Last week: Beat Illinois State 27-25 (OT) at home
This week: at South Dakota
SDSU closes out the regular season this Saturday by traveling to in-state rival South Dakota for the South Dakota Showdown Series. Since the football series resumed in 2012, the Jackrabbits have won all five meetings. Each of the last two meetings between the Jackrabbits and Coyotes have been decided by a TD — a 30-23 SDSU victory in Vermillion in 2015 and a 28-21 Jackrabbit win last season at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. The series began in 1889 with a 6-6 tie.
3. (3) Northern Iowa (6-4, 5-2)
Last week: Beat Missouri State 25-10
This week: vs. Indiana State
After winning four out of their last five games, the Panthers look to cap the regular-season on a high not as UNI hosts winless Indiana State this week. UNI has won the last two meetings against ISU, with head coach Mark Farley owning a 12-2 record against the Sycamores. For the month of November, head coach Mark Farley is an impressive 51-9 over his 17 seasons at UNI. The Panthers are 2-0 so far this season, with recent wins over No. 6 South Dakota and Missouri State.
4. (4) South Dakota (7-3, 4-3)
Last week: Lost to North Dakota State 49-14
This week: vs. South Dakota State
The Coyotes, led by senior quarterback Chris Streveler, feature the second-ranked offense in the nation behind Sam Houston State. South Dakota is averaging 513 yards of offense per game and the team’s 38.8 points per game average ranks fourth nationally. Streveler, a national player of the year candidate, has accounted for 31 TDs against four turnovers. He stands 99 yards shy of breaking the program’s single-season record for passing yards set at 3,049. He will need perform better this week than last week in what might be a must-win to be assured a playoff spot this week against rival SDSU.
5. (6) Western Illinois (7-3, 4-3)
Last week: Beat Indiana State 45-0
This week: vs. Southern Illinois
A win over Southern Illinois will give the Leathernecks eight regular season wins. That would be the most for the school since 2010.
6. (5) Illinois State (6-4, 4-3)
Last week: Lost to South Dakota State 27-24 on the road
This week: vs. North Dakota State
All week long, redshirt freshman Malachi Broadnax took snaps with the first team unit preparing for a possible start against South Dakota State. On Friday, he was told he would make his first career start behind center and he nearly led the Redbirds to an upset road win over the Jackrabbits on his first try. Broadnax was steady for the Redbird offense, as he completed 10-of-18 pass attempts for 102 yards, while rushing for 63 yards. He had a long run of 22 yards in the contest, and his 19-yard run late in the fourth quarter set up James Robinson’s game tying touchdown that sent the game into overtime, where his team didn’t quite have enough. Now he and the Redbirds host NDSU in a must win game if Illinois State wants to play further.
7. (7) Youngstown State (5-5, 3-4)
Last week: Beat Southern Illinois 28-20 on the road
This week: vs. Missouri State
The Penguins probably wish they could have October back in finishing 0-4. A win at home will give YSU three wins in a row to end the season but that probably won’t be enough for a playoff spot after getting to the national title game a season ago.
8. (8) Southern Illinois (4-6 (2-5)
Last week: Lost to Youngstown State 28-20 at home
This week: at Western Illinois
The Salukis force four turnovers against Youngstown State on Saturday, bringing Southern’s season total to 23 — the most for SIU since forcing 24 turnovers in 2012. If the Salukis force two turnovers at WIU, it will mark the most for the program since forcing 33 turnovers in 2009. As a team, SIU ranks fifth in the nation in fumbles recovered and 12th in turnovers gained. Western Illinois is the only MVFC school who has forced more turnovers than SIU. Individually, Jeremy Chinn ranks fourth nationally in forced fumbles with four; he forced two last week against Youngstown.
9. (9) Missouri State (3-7, 2-5)
Last week: Lost to Northern Iowa 25-10 at home
This week: at Youngstown State
Saturday’s game at Youngstown State will mark the final chapter of the 2017 season for the Bears, who have dropped each of their last five season finales since defeating the Penguins by a 38-34 score at Stambaugh Stadium to close out the 2012 season. MSU has enjoyed its fair share of success in Youngstown, claiming two of its last three meetings with YSU at the Ice Castle since 2009.
10. (10) Indiana State (0-10, 0-7)
Last week: Lost to Western Illinois 45-0 at home
This week: at Northern Iowa
With one game remaining in the 2017 season, Indiana State is looking to keep itself out of the record book by picking up a win at Northern Iowa. ISU is winless this season and a loss to the Panthers would put the Sycamores at 0-12 for the first time since 2008 when Trent Miles took over an ailing football program that had won just one game in the three years.
Originally from LaMoure, North Dakota, Kent is a 1996 graduate of North Dakota State University. His prior writing experience is over 15 years having previously worked with D2football.com, I-AA.org, and College Sporting News before coming to College Sports Journal in 2016. His main focus is college football in the western half of the United States– the Big Sky Conference and Missouri Valley Football Conference within the Division I FCS. And in 2017, he began also to look at the FBS Group of Five conferences of the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.
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