Here are the updated power rankings for the Missouri Valley Football Conference this week ending Oct. 4. The league is very close from top to bottom. In fact, three league games last Saturday ended with large scoring runs by the winning team.
North Dakota State trailed Illinois State, 10-7, with 13:06 remaining the second quarter, but NDSU scored the final 24 points in a 31-10 win.
Indiana State knotted the score at 24-24 just before halftime in its game with Missouri State, but the Bears scored all the points in the second half in a 45-24 win in Terre Haute.
And South Dakota State trailed Western Illinois 14-7 at the end of the first quarter, but the Jacks scored the final 45 points in a 52-14 victory.
Note last week’s rankings in (parentheses).
1. (1.) North Dakota State (4-0, 1-0)
Last week: Beat Illinois State 31-10 at home
This week: at Missouri State
Wide receiver RJ Urzendowski leads the FCS in yards per reception with a 25.88 average through four games. Urzendowski’s 65-yard touchdown reception against Illinois State is NDSU’s longest play of the year, and he has three of NDSU’s five longest plays this year, including a 47-yard TD catch against Charleston Southern and a 42-yard catch against Eastern Washington.
2. (4.) Northern Iowa (2-2, 1-0)
Last week: Beat Southern Illinois 42-21 at home
This week: at South Dakota
Wide receiver Daurice Fountain scored a career-high three receiving touchdowns in UNI’s 42-21 win over Southern Illinois. The last time a Panther had three receiving scores was in 2006 when Johnny Gray scored three times against Youngstown State.
3. (7.) South Dakota State (2-2, 1-0)
Last week: Beat Western Illinois 52-14 at home
This week: at Southern Illinois
Tight end Dallas Goedert tied a 67-year-old single-game school record with his four touchdown receptions Oct. 1 against Western Illinois. Don Bartlett had held the record all by himself since catching four touchdown passes against North Dakota State in 1949. Goedert has caught at least one TD pass in all four games this season and has a streak of five consecutive games with a TD reception dating back to last season’s FCS playoff game at Montana.
4. (2.) Western Illinois (3-1, 0-1)
Last week: Lost to South Dakota State 52-14 on the road
This week: vs. Indiana State
Senior Lance Lenoir took sole possession of another career record when he caught a pass in his 34th career game. Lenoir added the consecutive games with a reception record along with career marks in: yards, receptions, touchdowns and 100-yard games.
5. (6.) Youngstown State (3-1, 1-0)
Last week: Beat South Dakota 30-20 at home
This week: at Illinois State
The Penguins have not allowed a rushing touchdown through four games. YSU and fellow MVFC member UNI are the only two FCS programs which have not allowed a rushing score as of yet. YSU allowed 20 rushing touchdowns, including 14 in the conference portion of the schedule, last year.
6. (9.) Missouri State (3-1, 1-0)
Last week: Beat Indiana State 45-24 on the road
This week: vs. North Dakota State
MSU’s win over Indiana State featured another strong stretch drive, which held the Sycamores scoreless and limited their high-octane offense to just 116 yards of total offense and seven first downs in the second half. That effort continued a second-half trend for the MSU defense, which has allowed a total of just nine combined points in the third and fourth quarters this season
7. (3.) Indiana State (3-2, 1-1)
Last week: Lost to Missouri State 45-24 at home
This week: at Western Illinois
Senior LB Jameer Thurman had 14 tackles (seven solo), 4.0 TFL for 12 yards, and a sack of seven yards on a forced fumble of QB Brodie Lambert that briefly turned the tide for the Sycamores in the second quarter. The Sycamores, however, allowed Missouri State to score 21 points unanswered in the second half in the most shocking MVFC score last week.
8. (5.) Illinois State (2-3, 0-2)
Last week: Lost to North Dakota State 31-10 on the road
This week: vs. Youngstown State
The Redbirds lost their third straight game at NDSU last week. Illinois State hopes that homecoming this week against YSU will bring a halt to the losing streak. The three game losing streak is the most in Coach Brock Spock’s career in Normal.
9. (8.) Southern Illinois (2-2, 0-1)
Last week: Lost to Northern Iowa 42-21 on the road
This week: vs. South Dakota State
SIU hosts South Dakota State in Saluki Stadium, marking the first meeting between the schools since 2013. The teams have split six meetings all-time, with SIU winning the most recent battle in 2013. SIU hopes to come back with a win after a lopsided lost at UNI last week.
10. (10.) South Dakota (1-3, 0-1)
Last week: Lost to Youngstown State on the road
This week: vs. Northern Iowa
South Dakota hosts Northern Iowa for its 100th Dakota Days football game Saturday inside the DakotaDome. The Coyotes are 61-33-5 (.641) all-time in Dakota Days games and has won 11 of its last 15 homecoming contests dating back to 2001. USD hosted UNI for homecoming back in 2014 when the Panthers emerged 27-16.
CSJ Missouri Valley Game of the Week
Youngstown State (3-1, 1-0) @ Illinois State (2-3, 0-2)
Just about each MVFC match-up this week could be the game of the week but I will take this one that has two teams still ranked in major FCS polls.
This might not be a must win for the Redbirds quite yet but a loss here would put a basically a playoff mode for the rest of the season.
On the other side, Illinois State (aside from FBS West Virginia) will be the toughest opponent to date for Youngstown State.
YSU won its eighth straight conference opener with a 30-20 victory over South Dakota.. The Penguins scored on their opening possession and never led by less than double digits after Martin Ruiz’s second rushing touchdown of the game 49 seconds into the second quarter. PK Zak Kennedy kicked three field goals in the win while Jalyn Powell’s fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown helped seal the victory. YSU held South Dakota to just two field goals in the first 54:36 before the Coyotes had two touchdown passes late in the contest. QB Ricky Davis threw for a career-high 281 yards completing 15-of-23 passes in the game.
Illinois State is coming off a 31-10 defeat at North Dakota State last Saturday. The Redbirds, who have dropped three straight after winning at Big Ten member Northwestern, led 10-7 before the Bison scored the final 24 points of the contest. QB Jake Kolbe threw for 285 yards in the contest completing 23-of-35 attempts. Kolbe’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Fowler gave ISU a short-lived 10-7 lead with 13:06 left in the second quarter.
Turnovers will play a role in this game as I think the winner in this game will win this margin.
I like Illinois State to rebound on its homecoming game to muddy the Missouri Valley standings. I will take the Redbirds by a touchdown.
Illinois State 31 Youngstown State 24