Here is a recap of this week’s Missouri Valley Football Conferences coach call:
Missouri State (1-4) visits South Dakota (1-3) on homecoming. The Bears last year scored a comeback win over the Coyotes and last week hammered 20012 playoff qualifier Illinois State 37-10 to get in the win column after several narrow defeats.
USD has lost three in a row and is winless in nine league games since joining the Valley after falling at Western Illinois last week – its 18th consecutive road loss. Coach Joe Glenn made a QB change late in that game, pulling captain Josh Vander Maten. He could stick with it this week. Or not?
“We have not made a decision,” Glenn said.
Western Illinois (3-2) looks to take another step forward at Illinois State (1-3). The Leathernecks already have three wins under new coach Bob Nielson to equal last year’s total, while the Redbirds are struggling – they already have as many losses as they did in the entire 2012 regular season.
WIU is plus-2 per game in turnover margin, an area that’s been an issue for the Birds. ISU coach Brock Spack said that the staff is pounding fundamentals with its many young starters.
No. 22-ranked Youngstown State (4-1) visits Indiana State. The Penguins are coming off a 28-27 come-from-behind win at Southern Illinois.
The Sycamores (1-3) are opening league play – they dropped a 38-37 decision to Tennessee Tech despite RB Shakir Bell hitting the 200-yard mark. ISU committed three turnovers and had two kicks blocked in the loss to drop its first FCS game of the season.
Last year, the Sycamores lost to the Penguins in the finale, an outcome that likely cost them a playoff berth.
The biggest game of the week is No. 4 Northern Iowa (4-0) at No. 1 North Dakota State (4-0) – two of the 12 unbeatens in the FCS.
Both are coming off top-10 wins, the Panthers thumping McNeese State and the Bison blanking South Dakota State. Winner of 13 games in a row, NDSU has pitched consecutive shutouts for the first time since 1987.
The Bison are facing an elite back for the second game in a row. Last week, they absolutely shut down Jacks RB Zach Zenner and now try to do the same against UNI’s David Johnson. NDSU coach Craig Bohl said that off the top of his head the game in Brookings was the best defensive showing in his tenure.
Panthers coach Mark Farley said that health and experience are big factors in his team being improved from a rough start last season.
Finally, Southern Illinois (2-3) visits No. 7 SDSU (3-2) in a game that will air on ESPN3. Both teams are licking some wounds, the Salukis losing yet another tight game last week – and at home, too – and the Jackrabbits losing big two weeks in a row against Nebraska and NDSU. SDSU hasn’t lost two in a row or a home game since 2011.
“We’ve got to be able to run the football, which we weren’t able to this last week,” Jacks coach John Stiegelmeier said. “I don’t think many teams – unless your playbook says that – wants to be one-dimensional and that’s what North Dakota State forced us to be.”
It will be Hobo Day in Brookings. The remaining reserved tickets were sold Monday, making it standing room only for the second week in a row. A crowd of 13,000-14,000 is expected.
SIU coach Dale Lennon said he’s not even taking into account the Nebraska game when evaluating the SDSU defense. He thinks the stronger showing vs. NDSU is more representative.
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.