Here’s the recap from the final Missouri Valley Football Conference coaches call of the season:
No. 1-ranked NDSU (9-1, 6-1) will look to win the Valley title outright at No. 11 Illinois State. The Redbirds (8-2, 5-2) would earn a share of that title with a victory, something they haven’t done since 1999. They have the benefit of being idle last week.
Either way, ISU should be in the 20-team playoff field by virtue having eight wins, one against an FBS squad. Last year, the Redbirds were the first team left out of the bracket. Coach Brock Spack attributed the progression to an improved defense and senior quarterback Matt Brown.
The defending national champion Bison have earned at least a share of the league crown by fending off South Dakota State 20-17 last week in Fargo. A win likely gets them a top-4 seed and homefield advantage throughout the postseason. They’ll go forward with DL Levon Perry, who suffered a season-ending injury vs. the Jacks.
Idle last week, No. 18 Indiana State (7-3, 5-2) will try again to get to the eight-win mark, this time at Youngstown State in a contest that will air on ESPN3. The Penguins (6-4, 3-4) would have at least slim playoff hopes with a win, as well.
Sycamores coach Trent Miles believes his team will make the field with a win in light of its GPI, a road win over the Bison and a lack of weak losses.
Western Illinois (3-7, 1-6) and Southern Illinois (5-5, 4-3) will play out the string with a meeting in Carbondale. Going forward, Leathernecks coach Mark Hendrickson feels good about three true freshmen seeing time on the defensive line. The Salukis were off last week and are vying to secure a winning record.
Missouri State (3-7, 3-4) and Northern Iowa (4-6, 3-4) are in the same boat – they’ll square off in Cedar Falls without any playoff implications. Both will finish under .500 due to slow starts against killer competition – both played two FBS foes. The Panthers are looking for a third straight win, while MSU is seeking to end 4-1.
Bears coach Terry Allen used to coach UNI, leading the Panthers to national prominence before heading to Kansas.
And, finally, a historic rivalry will be renewed with No. 21 SDSU (7-3, 5-2) hosting South Dakota (1-9, 0-7), the first meeting between the in-state squads since 2003 and the first at the FCS level. The Jacks are seeking a playoff berth, while the Coyotes are hoping to gain their first Valley victory.
The contest will air at 2 p.m. on Midco Sports Net.
“We’re excited that we’re playing the game again,” USD coach Joe Glenn said. “It’s been nine years and it’s a should-be game here in South Dakota. Now, we’re excited about the game, but we’re not real excited about going up there and playing at South Dakota State – we wish we were in the dome.”
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.