Thursday, August 25, 2011 | Valley Football
Valley Football Opens 2011 Season on Sept. 1

The 27th season of MVFC football begins Thursday, Sept. 1, with a pair of games.  Illinois State travels to Eastern Illinois in an historic game, while Western Illinois also opens on the road, at Sam Houston State.  Four games next week are against FBS opponents on the road.


All in MVFC Get Votes, 3 Ranked
 Three MVFC schools are ranked in the pre-season Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25 poll, and all nine league schools are receiving votes. UNI is the top-rated MVFC school, ranked at No. 7. North Dakota State is ranked No. 11, and Southern Illinois clocks in at No. 19. UNI (7), NDSU (11) and SIU (17) are also ranked in the Top 25 of the FCS coaches poll.

Big Weekend vs. The FBS
 The Missouri Valley Football Conference has beaten 28 teams from the FBS, including one game last season (North Dakota State won at Kansas). During the first week of the season, the MVFC will face five FBS teams. A total of 10 FBS teams dot the league non-conference slate in 2011. Indiana State (Penn State, Western Kentucky) and Missouri State (Arkansas, Oregon) each play a pair of FBS teams this season.

Panthers Picked To Win Title
 Missouri Valley Football Conference defending champion UNI has been picked to win the MVFC crown in 2011. The Panthers received the top spot in a poll conducted by league coaches, media and sports information directors.

2011 Valley Football Preseason Poll
1. UNI (29) ... 316
2. North Dakota State (6) ... 275
3. Southern Illinois (1) ... 207
4. South Dakota State ... 172
5. Illinois State ... 169
6. Indiana State ... 168
7. Western Illinois ... 151
8. Youngstown State ... 88
9. Missouri State .. 74

“Valley Live” to Air Three Games
 The Missouri Valley Football Conference has announced that it will partner with Webstream Productions to air three league webcasts, as part of the league’s digital network (Valley Live). The streams will be free. The schedule enhances the league’s 2011 telecast package, which includes as many as five games on ESPN3.com, four games on the Big Ten Network, and as many as 30 other games on institutional packages.

2011 Valley Live Schedule
Sept. 24 -- Youngstown St. at Indiana State, 1 pm CT
Sept. 24 -- Missouri St. at Southern Illinois, 6 pm CT
Nov. 12 -- South Dakota St. at W. Illinois, 1 pm CT


ESPN3.com to Air Valley Games
 ESPN has reached an agreement with the Missouri Valley Football Conference to air as many as five telecasts on ESPN3.com during the 2011 college football season.

2011 Valley Football Schedule on ESPN3.com
Oct. 8 -- North Dakota St. at S. Illinois, 2 pm CT
Oct. 15 -- UNI at South Dakota State, 6 pm CT
Oct. 22 -- Indiana State at Illinois State, 1 pm CT

Two additional “wild-card” games (to air in November) will be announced by Oct. 10.

Home Cooking
 Last season, the MVFC went 18-15 against non-conference teams, which included a 13-7 record against FCS teams (and a 1-8 record against the FBS). The league went 14-3 in non-conference home games, but were just 4-12 in non-conference road contests last year. The 14-3 home slate represented the best league record in home non-conference games since 2006 (15-3).

Nine Pre-Season All-Americans
 Nine players from the Missouri Valley Football Conference have been selected to The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Preseason All-America Team.

First Team (MVFC Players Only)
Ben Boothby, UNI, DT, Sr., 6-0, 280

Second Team
D.J. McNorton, North Dakota St., RB, Sr., 5-10, 203
Bryan Boemer, Southern Illinois, OL, Sr., 6-2, 315
Mike McElroy, Southern Illinois, S, Sr., 6-1, 210

Third Team
Jamaine Cook, Youngstown State, RB, Jr., 5-9, 195
Brock Lough, Indiana State, FB, Sr., 6-0, 220
David Pickard, Southern Illinois, OL, Sr., 6-5, 300
Carlos Anderson, Northern Iowa, KR, Jr., 5-8, 172
Ben Obaseki, Indiana State, DE, Jr., 6-3, 235

5 in MVFC on Preseason Lists
 Three MVFC student-athletes are among 20 Football Championship Subdivision standouts on the preseason watch list for the Walter Payton Award, sponsored by fathead.com, The award honors the top Offensive Player in the FCS. And two MVFC players are on the 20-player Watch List for the FCS’s Buck Buchanan Award -- the subdivision’s top individual defensive honor.

Buchanan Watch List (MVFC Players)
Ben Boothby, UNI, DT, Sr.
Ben Obaseki, Indiana State, DE, Jr.

Payton Watch List (MVFC Players)
D.J. McNorton, North Dakota St., RB, Sr.
Jamaine Cook, Youngstown State, RB, Jr.
Tirrell Rennie, UNI, QB, Sr.

Welcome to the MVFC
 The University of South Dakota has accepted an invitation to join the Missouri Valley Football Conference beginning with the 2012-13 academic year. The Coyotes, who become eligible for the FCS playoffs in 2012, will bring league membership to 10 schools for the first time. League members will still play a minimum of three non-conference games, and an eight-game league schedule will be used in 2012. Since 2008, the league has added three schools (USD, North Dakota State and South Dakota State).

Long-Time Rivals
 The college football rivalry between Illinois State and Eastern Illinois will have a bit more significance in 2011, as the two in-state foes will meet for the 100th time in the 110 year series. To commemorate the milestone, the rivalry was officially re-branded as the Mid-America Classic and a traveling trophy has been unveiled. The rivalry between the two schools began in 1901 and is the oldest in the state of Illinois. Illinois State holds a 51-39-9 advantage in the all-time series. Here are the longest rivalries involving Missouri Valley Football Conference schools.

Most Played Rivalries, by number of games
110 - North Dakota State vs. North Dakota (began in 1894)
104 - South Dakota State vs. South Dakota (began in 1889)
*99 - Illinois State vs. Eastern Illinois (began in 1901)
*97 - North Dakota St. vs. South Dakota St. (began in 1903)
*92 - Illinois State vs. Western Illinois (began in 1904)
84 - Indiana State vs. Eastern Illinois (began in 1901)
*83 - South Dakota State vs. North Dakota (began in 1906)
78 - Illinois State vs. Illinois Wesleyan (began in 1887)
*77 - North Dakota State vs. South Dakota (began in 1900)
*76 - Southern Illinois vs. SE Missouri State (began in 1913)
75 - South Dakota State vs. Morningside (began in 1922)
*played in 2010

Missouri Valley vs. Ohio Valley
 Since 1985, the MVFC is 108-55-1 against the OVC, including a 2-2 record in 2010. Valley Football has a streak of eight-straight .500+ seasons against the OVC, going 46-19 in that span. Notably, Valley Football teams have won eight-straight playoff meetings against OVC members, dating back to 2001. Two OVC members are on the MVFC’s opening week slate (Illinois State faces Eastern Illinois, and Southern Illinois takes on Southeast Missouri State).

Valley Football Ranks No. 2
 The Gridiron Power Index (GPI), the index ranking for the NCAA Division I FCS and a top indicator of at-large playoff selection had the MVFC as the second-rated conference, behind the CAA in 2010.

Valley Trio in the 2010 Playoffs
 UNI, North Dakota State and Western Illinois represented the Missouri Valley Football Conference in the 2010 field. The league has had three or more playoff teams three different seasons (2003, 2006, and 2010).

Playoff Success
 Including last year’s 3-3 record, the league is 39-30 during the past 14 years in the FCS playoffs (since 1997), and the league has had at least two playoff teams every year since 1995. A league team has reached the semifinals in 11 of the past 14 years (and 14 times overall), which includes two national crowns. Two league members have made the playoffs in each of the past 16 seasons.

Everybody’s In
 With North Dakota State’s first-ever trip to the FCS playoffs, every Missouri Valley Football Conference team has qualified for the FCS playoffs since 1978 - no other league has had every member reach the playoffs.