Missouri Valley Football Conference 2022 Week 5 Review/Week 6 Preview

North Dakota RB Isiah Smith breaks off a 54-yard TD score in helping lead the Fighting Hawks to a 48-31 win over Missouri State in Grand Forks. (Courtesy of UND Athletics)

Week 5 saw North Dakota use its home field advantage and a homecoming crowd to knock off Missouri State in a key game for UND to stay in the MVFC race. The Fighting Hawks though were down 11 points late in the first half. North Dakota ended the game on a 38-10 scoring run to defeat the Bears 48-31, inside the Alerus Center on Saturday afternoon.

UND had a well-balanced attack, finishing with 515 yards of offense (248 on the ground and 267 through the air). Comparatively, MSU ended with 389 yards of offense with 271 yards passing and 118 yards rushing. The lose for the Bears was their third in a row and now MSU will be on the hot seat the rest of the year to gain a playoff spot.

Missouri Valley teams are now just 1-9 in the Alerus Center since the Fighting Hawks joined the league in the spring of 2021. The lone win was last year by NDSU.

Speaking of NDSU, the Bison also had their homecoming game this past weekend and fought off Youngstown State 27-14. The Bison used a strong first half and held onto the win. NDSU jumped out to 14-0 lead on two FB Hunter Luepke scoring runs.

The Penguins closed the gap to 14-3 on a 22-yard field goal by K Colt McFadden early in the second quarter.

However, NDSU answered with its third touchdown in as many drives as RB Kobe Johnson scored on a 17-yard run to give NDSU the 21-3 halftime lead.

YSU would close the gap to 24-14 late in the third quarter but could not overcome that first half deficit.

South Dakota State was up on Western Illinois just 10-3 late into the second quarter but the Jackrabbits used a QB Mark Gronowski touchdown run late in the second quarter made it 17-3 at halftime.

From there, it was the Jack running game that resulted in the 34-10 final score. RB Isaiah Davis rushed for 199 yards and his first two touchdowns of the season with the first one coming in the first quarter and the third. Overall, SDSU rushed for 270 yards and possessing the ball for more than 40 minutes in what turned out to be the lopsided final score.

Northern Iowa won a close final of 20-14 over Indiana State. The Panthers QB Theo Day accounted for the two UNI touchdowns but Indiana State pulled within 17-14 midway through the final quarter on RB Dawson Basinger’s 1-yard touchdown run.

However, Day and the Panthers went on a a 12-play, 57-yard drive that took up nearly six minutes and was capped by Matthew Cook’s 35-yard field goal with 1:44 to play.

On the ensuing series, the Sycamores drove to their 40 before UNI CB Benny Sapp III intercepted Sycamore QB Gavin Screws’ pass to end it.

The last game of the weekend in the MVFC was another close one with Southern Illinois over Illinois State. The Salukis scored what would be their only points of the game in the second quarter and raced out to a 19-0 halftime lead on three rushing scores from QB Nic Baker and one each from RBs  Javon Williams and  Ro Elliott. The Salukis missed two extra points to give the 19 points.

The Redbirds scored a pair of second-half touchdowns and were facing 4th-and-8 at the SIU 13 with less than two minutes remaining and ISU was looking for the game winning score.

The SIU defense though had other ideas on that fourth down play. Saluki LB Louis Wilbert collapsed the left side of the pocket, and DE Richie Hagarty swooped in from the opposite side to sack ISU QB Zack Annexstad with the ball coming out. Southern took possession of the ball and ran out the clock to preserve their third win in a row.

See highlights of these games below:

31 - 48
Alerus Center

North Dakota 48, Missouri State 31

Highlights: Available
10 - 34
Dykhouse Stadium

South Dakota State 34, Western Illinois 10

Highlights: Available
14 - 20

Northern Iowa 20, Indiana State 14

Highlights: Available
19 - 14
Hancock Stadium

Southern Illinois 19, Illinois State 14

Highlights: Available

2022 Missouri Valley Standings

PosTeamWLConf WConf LPFPA


Five games again daunt the MVFC schedule this week with Western Illinois being the lone MVFC with a bye. The biggest game this week has to be Southern Illinois at Missouri State. The two teams are going in opposite directions with SIU having won three games in a row and MSU losing three in a row. The winner of this game will have a clear advantage moving forward.

Elsewhere, the South Dakota Showdown will take place in Brookings with SDSU hosting South Dakota. This rivalry game will take place early this year with the Jackrabbits hoping for revenge from last year’s unbelievable ending that saw the Coyotes pull it out on a hail mary pass at the end.

Here is a look at my predictions for all five games:

31 - 26
Memorial Stadium (Indiana State)

North Dakota State 31, Indiana State 26

Highlights: Available

The Bison will make a trip to Terre Haute for the first time since 2017 due to MVFC scheduling and COVID cancelations over the past five years. NDSU did play the Sycamores last year in Fargo and the Bison won 44-2. Historically, NDSU is he Bison have won six straight and have a 10-1 lead in the series dating back to 2008.  The Bison have also never lost in Terre Haute (5-0).

The Bison have been sluggish at times this year and have not faired as well against the run as they traditionally have in the last decade plus of play so I think the Sycamores will try to establish the running game based on this. But like in past years, NDSU grows throughout the year and finding the defense against the run will get there and this might be the game that they find themselves. I like the Bison by three touchdowns in this one. North Dakota State 31 Indiana State 10

38 - 21
Plaster Stadium

Southern Illinois 38, Missouri State 21

Highlights: Available

As mentioned above, this game is one with the two teams that are going in opposite directions in terms of wins and losses. SIU has won three in a row, while MSU has lost three in a row. I expect though this game will be tight throughout. I think the Bears will play with some desperation as another loss this week might put them into playoff aspiration limbo.

Turnovers though will be the key in a close game like this and think the homefield advantage for the Bears will allow them to get back in the win column. Missouri State 37 Southern Illinois 32

3 - 28
Dykhouse Stadium

South Dakota State 28, South Dakota 3

Highlights: Available

The taste of that last second miracle throw has to haunt the Jackrabbits in Vermillion last year. That loss likely cost SDSU a seed a year ago and while the Jacks still wound up in the semifinals of the playoffs, it had to win two road games to get there which I think cost them in their third road game in a row from continuing to the national title game.

That bad taste from last year will give the Jacks the motivation to beat their in-state rivals this year as I think their focus will be all on the Coyotes to not allow another loss like that on their resume. I like SDSU to win rather easily in this one. South Dakota State 38 South Dakota 20

23 - 21

Illinois State 23, Northern Iowa 21

Highlights: Available

UNI seems to be getting its offense somewhat in the groove as it was able to muster up enough to win at home last week over Indiana State. Illinois State also in the second half of its game against Southern Illinois looked better than it has really the whole season. Both defenses have been very good and think that will again be the case in this game. I like a low scoring game in this one but think the home field will give the Panthers the victory narrowly. Northern Iowa 21 Illinois State 17

35 - 30
Stambaugh Stadium

North Dakota 35, Youngstown State 30

Highlights: Available

Relative newcomer UND will play at Youngstown for the first time in MVFC play this week. The last time UND played at the eastern Ohio school was 1961. A spring 2021 contest at Stambaugh Stadium was postponed then cancelled for COVID reasons. Last year in Grand Forks, YSU built a 21-10 fourth-quarter lead but UND rallied with a pair of touchdowns in under three minutes to earn the victory, 24-21.

These two teams are very similar in that the like to run the ball first offensively and like to stop the run defensively. I think a similar result as the one last year will be the case this year but I like the home field for YSU as UND just seems like a different team on the road. Youngstown State 24 North Dakota 21