The last time we saw a Missouri Valley Football Conference team in action was the 2021 national title game where North Dakota State defeated Montana State 38-10. For the Bison, it was their ninth national title at the Division I level in the last 11 seasons.
And even in the two seasons that NDSU did not make the national title game, another MVFC squad did in Youngstown State in 2016 and South Dakota State in the 2020-21 spring season, although both of those schools would lose those national title contests.
Six MVFC squads out of the 11 made the FCS playoffs last year. Two MVFC made it to the semifinals in South Dakota State and North Dakota State. The other four playoff teams last year were Southern Illinois, South Dakota, Northern Iowa and Missouri State. Only one other conference in NCAA history has received six bids in a single playoff (CAA in 2018). The MVFC had received as many as five bids four times previously (2014, 2015, 2017, and in Spring 2021).
The MVFC will be an overwhelming favorite to at least get another team back to Frisco, Texas in early January.
In Week 1, all 11 schools that make-up the MVFC will be in action in non-conference games. As a reminder, a 12th school in Murray State is set to join the league next season.
The college football season got underway last week in Week 0 but no MVFC squads were in action. But a couple of this week’s non-conference opponents did see action.
North Dakota’s opponent in FBS Nebraska lost its opener in Dublin, Ireland to Big 10 foe Northwestern 31-28. And Youngstown State’s opponent of Duquesne lost last week at FBS Florida State 47-7.
Four FBS opponents are on the schedule in this opening week for the MVFC. South Dakota State and Illinois State will each travel to Big 10 foes (Iowa & Wisconsin respectively). South Dakota travels to the Big 12’s Kansas State, while Northern Iowa goes to the Mountain West’s Air Force.
The other seven opponents this week for the MVFC are against fellow FCS opponents. The marquee game of the week has to be Southern Illinois at Incarnate Word. It is the only game where two ranked teams in any of the FCS polls play each other this week.
Below are my quick selections for each of the 11 games this week.
Thursday, Sept. 1
Indiana State football will be honoring former student-athletes Christian Eubanks and Caleb VanHooser who passed away in a tragic car accident prior to the start of the 2022 season. That emotion will carry out a win over the Atlantic Sun Lions. Indiana State 31 North Alabama 20
UT Martin was a playoff team last year and actually defeated MVFC member Missouri State on the road in the opening round of the playoffs last year. WIU under new coach Myers Hendrickson will be an improving team throughout this season but I just don’t think the Leathernecks have enough at this point to hang with the Skyhawks. UT Martin 38 Western Illinois 21
These two schools know each other well as they previously played three times in the last two seasons. The two scheduled a home and home series in 2020 and then another home and home for 2021 and 2022. Missouri State won the last meeting a year ago but fell both times in 2020. This battle of the Bears was more talent rich on the UCA side in 2020 but that has shifted last year in the 43-34 win for Mo State. That has not changed for this year. I like the MVFC Bears in this one. Missouri State 41 Central Arkansas 30
Saturday, Sept. 3
The Jackrabbits will be Big 10 upset minded in Iowa City. The last time Iowa played an FCS opponent was in 2016 when MVFC rival North Dakota State defeated the Hawkeyes. SDSU defeated its FBS opponent last year in Colorado State rather easily. The Jacks also get QB Mark Gronowski, the MVFC Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the year in the spring 2021 season. Gronowski led the Jacks to the national title game against Sam Houston but tore his ACL in that game and was lost for last fall’s season. He is now back and has most of the same weapons around him. Iowa is a team that likes to run the ball and play strong defense. The Hawkeyes won the Big 10 West Division last year and are looking to repeat. I think this game will be close but in the end Iowa will have just enough to squeak by with the win in a fairly low scoring game. Iowa 24 South Dakota State 21
The Panthers will play the triple option attack Falcons for its FBS opponent this year. UNI made the playoff a year ago and seemed to get up for the bigger games as it defeated two top 10 teams last year to get the playoff spot. Air Force has never lost to an FCS opponent and are picked to finish in the upper half of the Mountain West Conference. Both teams have good defenses so I think this game will be fairly low scoring. But I think the Falcons option attack will be just too much for the Panthers. Air Force 26 Northern Iowa 21
NDSU starts its national championship repeat season against the Pioneer Football League’s Bulldogs. Drake has been a good team in the PFL most years but has been down the last two seasons. Drake lost to MVFC rival North Dakota 38-0 last year. I think the Bison will start out 2022 with a similar type of game. North Dakota State 49 Drake 3
UND might be getting Nebraska at the right time. The Fighting Hawks will play the Huskers after Nebraska lost in Ireland last week to Northwestern. UND might be able to put the last nail in the coffin for Husker coach Scott Frost. But one thing that Nebraska does is it plays close games but somehow finds a way to loss them all. I like the upset here as UND will get a spring in its step towards a playoff run. North Dakota 28 Nebraska 24
The Penguins last played Duquesne in 2019 and YSU posted a 34-14 win that season. Duquesne though does have a game under its belt already this season so they will likely be sharper at the start of the game. I thought think the Penguins will overpower the Dukes in the end. Youngstown State 28 Duquesne 14
This game in San Antonio is not only the best game of the week in the MVFC but likely the best game of the week nationally in the FCS. Both teams are coming off playoff runs last year and both fell in the second round. UIW likes to throw the ball around but will have a new QB in Lindsey Scott, who is replacing Cameron Ward after he left for FBS Washington State. Scott was the QB at UIW rival Nicholls the last two seasons but came over to the Cardinals as a transfer. While offense likely is not in question for UIW, their defense certainly is. They gave up 427.6 yards per game and 26.9 points per game a season ago.
SIU will have the combo of QB Nic Baker and WR Avante Cox back this fall after helping lead to two playoff teams the past two seasons. The Salukis also have a running game with Javon Williams, Jr. One thing though that the Salukis does better is the defensive side. CB PJ Jules and S Clayton Bush will lead a defense against the pass happy Cardinals. Overall, I like SIU to get the road victory and help set a tone for the rest of the conference when it comes playoff selection time to note the best conference in the country. Southern Illinois 38 Incarnate Word 31
The Redbirds have a new QB in Zack Annexstad and will be looking to rebound from a four-win season. ISU gets possibly the Big 10 West division favorite in their opener. I don’t think this game will be too close unfortunately for the Redbirds. Wisconsin 41 Illinois State 7
The Coyotes get another chance at a Big 12 upset this year after nearly pulling one off last year at the other Sunflower state Big 12 team in Kansas. This year they get the tougher Kansas State squad. I think USD will be able to stay in the game for the fist half but KSU will pull away in the second half to get a comfortable win. Kansas State 37 South Dakota 20
WatchESPN (for ESPN cable networks, ACC Network, if you have a cable subscription)
ESPN3 (cable subscription required)
ESPN+ (subscription required)
FLO Football (subscription required)
CBS Sports Network (subscription required)
FOX/B1G/FS1 (subscription may be required)
NEC Front Row
Mountain West Network
PAC 12 Network (subscription required)
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 is the 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.
Reach him at this email or click below: