This Week in Missouri Valley Conference Football
We're down to the final two weeks of the Missouri Valley Conference season with a couple of very important things still to be decided:
Who will be the conference champion and get the automatic berth in the FCS playoffs?
Is the MVC strong enough to get three teams into the expanded field of 24 teams this season?
Here's what to watch for Saturday (Sports Network Rankings/FCS Coaches Ranking):
#19/#19 South Dakota State (3-3/6-4) at South Dakota (3-3/4-6) - 1:00pm
It's the 107th meeting between the Jackrabbits and Coyotes, dating back to 1889. This is the first time the teams have played in Vermillion since 2003.
SDSU needs to win out (USD, Youngstown State) to keep their playoff hopes alive. USD needs to finish with a pair of wins (SDSU, NDSU) to finish .500 in just their second season in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Here's what the coaches have to say about the game:
#1/#1 North Dakota St. (6-0/9-0) at #15/#15 Youngstown St. (5-1/8-2) - 2:00pm
Despite being one of just two unbeaten teams in FCS (Fordham) and owning an 18-game winning streak, the Bison only have a slim one-game lead over the Penguins in the conference standings heading into this game. The winner grabs the inside track to the league crown and the automatic playoff berth that comes with it. The loser likely qualifies for post season as an at-large selection.
In their last two trips to Youngstown, the Bison have allowed more than 400 yards in total offense each time, including 340 on the ground to the Penguins in 2008.
This game features two of the best quarterbacks to ever play at this level. NDSU's Brock Jensen needs one more victory to tie the all-time record for a FCS quarterback (43), while YSU's Kurt Hess is #4 all-time in the Missouri Valley Conference with 8,735 career passing yards.
North Dakota State Head Coach Craig Bohl:
Youngstown State Head Coach Eric Wolford:
Northern Iowa (1-5/5-5) at Missouri State (5-2/5-6) - 1:00pm
The Panthers were without quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen last week, as he recovered from a concussion. In his absence, Brion Carnes led UNI to a 22-20 upset of Youngstown State, snapping the Panthers five game losing streak.
Kollomorgen has been cleared to play Saturday against the Bears.
Northern Iowa Head Coach Mark Farley:
This is the regular season finale for Missouri State, who has won four straight, and still has an outside chance at sharing the conference title, but the Bears haven't beaten UNI since 2005.
MSU quarterback Ashton Glaser is the MVC offensive player of the week after throwing for 310 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears beat Southern Illinois last week.
Missouri State Head Coach Terry Allen:
Illinois State (4-3/5-5) at Southern Illinois (3-3/5-5) - 2:00pm
It's the final game of the season for the Redbirds, who need a win to lock up their fifth straight winning season, something Illinois State hasn't accomplished since the 1940's.
Illinois State Head Coach Brock Spack:
SIU's MvCole Pruitt needs 260 receiving yards in the final two weeks to become the first tight end in MVC history to get to 2,000 career yards.
The Salukis shut out the Redbirds last season 17-0.
Southern Illinois Head Coach Dale Lennon:
Western Illinois (1-5/3-7) at Indiana State (0-6/1-9) - 1:00pm
The Leathernecks and Sycamores are trying to find positives in what have been disastrous seasons so far.
Western Illinois Head Coach Bob Nielson:
Indiana State Head Coach Mike Sanford: