Monday, October 17, 2011 | Valley Football
Valley Football Notebook - Oct. 17
Play Video

Tuning In
 All five MVFC games will be on the air this weekend, including the MVFC TV Game of the Week on ESPN3. Valley Football television cameras will be in Normal, Ill., for a 1:04 p.m. kickoff between Illinois State and visiting Indiana State. The game is the third of five league broadcasts on ESPN3.

Indiana State at Illinois State, 1:04 pm CT (ESPN3) -- Scott Warmann, Danan Hughes, Erin Bajackson

*#17/16 Indiana State at Illinois State, 1:04 p.m. CT [ESPN3]
Series Note: Indiana State won last year’s game, 59-24, as QB Ronnie Fouch had four TD passes while completing 16-of-22 passes for 250 yards. Illinois State leads the series, 31-29-2, and the Redbirds had won 11 of the previous 12 games before last year’s blowout in Terre Haute.

*#3/5 North Dakota State at South Dakota State, 2 p.m. CT [Midco Sports Net] (Dakota Marker)
Series Note: It’s the 98th meeting in a series that began in 1903. North Dakota State won last year, 31-24, and the Bison had two interception returns for TDs against the Jackrabbits. North Dakota State holds the edge in the all-time series, 52-40-5.

*Southern Illinois at #2/2 UNI, 3:05 p.m. CT [KWWL / WSIU]
Series Note: Seven of the last eight UNI-SIU games have been decided by a TD or less, including last year’s 45-38 OT victory by Southern Illinois in Carbondale. UNI leads the all-time series, 15-14, and Southern has won the past three meetings. The top two attendance marks in UNI-Dome history have occurred the last two times Southern Illinois traveled to Cedar Falls. In 2009, the Panthers-Salukis showdown set a Dome record with 17,190 fans.

*Missouri State at Western Illinois, 6 p.m. CT [Mediacom]
Series Note: Western Illinois leads the all-time series, 15-14-1, and the Bears have won each of the past two years, including a 31-28 score last year in Springfield. The Bears are 8-7 all-time in Macomb, including a 3-3 mark since 1999 against the Leathernecks at Hanson Field.

St. Francis (Pa.) at Youngstown State, 3 p.m. CT / 4 p.m. ET [MyYTV-taped]
Series Note: YSU leads the all-time series, 4-0, but the teams haven’t met since 1953.

2 MVFC Losses Too Much?
 The 2010 season marked only the second time in 26 previous league seasons in which the conference champ had two league losses. UNI (6-2) won the MVFC and was one of three MVFC teams in the playoffs. The only other season that produced a league champ that had more than one loss was 2005. That year, UNI, SIU, and YSU shared the league title with 5-2 marks. So far, six of the league’s nine schools already have two league losses. UNI (0), North Dakota State (0) and Indiana State (1) do not.

Something’s Gotta Give?
 Illinois State ranks No. 3 nationally in rushing defense, as the Redbirds are allowing just 70.57 yards per game on the ground. That’s certainly a big change from 2010, when ISU ranked No. 8 in the conference and surrendered 199.8 yards per game on the ground. Indiana State, notably, ranks No. 20 in the nation in rushing yards per game, and the Sycamores are led by sophomore Shakir Bell, who leads the FCS in rushing at 160.7 yards per game.

Bell Reaches 1,000 Yards
 Only 11 times in the league’s 26-year history has a league RB reached 1,000 yards in seven or fewer games. Indiana State’s Shakir Bell recorded his fourth 200-yard game of the season last week to eclipse the 1,000-yard barrier for ISU. He leads the FCS in rushing average (160.7 yards per game).

4-0 League Starts Important
 UNI improved its conference record to 4-0 last week after beating South Dakota State, 31-14, last Saturday. And North Dakota State is looking for a 4-0 league start this weekend. A league team has started conference play with a 4-0 record 26 previous times in league history. All but one (Western Kentucky in 2005) finished second or better in the league standings. Twenty one of the previous 26 with 4-0 or better starts earned playoff berths, while 18 won the league title.

Bison Looking for 7-0 Start
 North Dakota State is looking to become the first Valley Football team since 2007 to start a season 7-0. That year, UNI and Southern Illinois both won their first six games before playing one another. (The Salukis lost at UNI to snap their streak, while UNI went 12-0 before losing in the playoffs to Delaware). Only Georgia Southern, NDSU and Sam Houston State (all 6-0) are perfect this year. The Bison are 6-0 for the first time since 2007 when they started the year 10-0.

Dominant Defenses, 1 and 2
 North Dakota State leads the nation in scoring defense (11.2 ppg allowed), while UNI is No. 2 nationally (13.8). The league has had a team lead the nation in scoring defense in 1998 (Western Illinois - 9.4 ppg) and in 2004 (Southern Illinois - 13.2 ppg). Both of those teams won the league title.

Jensen Gets 19 in a Row
 North Dakota State’s Brock Jensen completed his first 15 passes against Missouri State on Oct. 15, 2011, and coupled with a four-completion streak carried over from the SIU game, he went 19-straight attempts without throwing an incomplete pass - the second-longest streak in league history.

20, Austin Moherman, MSU, vs. Indiana St., 2000
19, Eric Sanders, UNI, vs. South Dakota St., 2007
19, Brock Jensen, NDSU, vs. SIU (4), MSU (15), 2011
17, Sean Payton, EIU, vs. Western Kentucky, 1986
17, Sam Clemons, WIU, vs. Indiana State, 2001
15, Tom Zetts, YSU, vs. Western Kentucky, 2004
15, Drew Kiel, ILS, vs. Eastern Illinois, 2009
14, Donny Simmons, WIU, vs. Mo. Western, 1992

No Interceptions in 2011
 UNI is one of just three teams nationally that has not thrown an interception in 2011 (Cal Poly and Georgia Southern are the others.) Notably, QB Tirrell Rennie has had 123 consecutive attempts (121 this year) without an interception. That is approaching what is believed to be the UNI record of 138, established by Eric Sanders in 2007. Cal Poly’s Andre Broadous has gone 148 tosses without an interception (84 this year) and is the current FCS leader. Tennessee State QB Michael German’s streak is at 131.

Ball Security = Winning
 Two league schools rank among the nation’s Top 5 this season in turnover margin. UNI ranks No. 2 nationally with a +15 turnover margin (20 takeaways, 5 fumbles lost), while North Dakota State ranks No. 4 as the Bison are +11 so far this year. The Panthers are 5-1 this year and ranked No. 2 in the FCS poll. North Dakota State is 6-0 and No. 3.

Highest Turnover Margin, MVFC History
+24 -- Eastern Illinois (1995)
+22 -- UNI (1996, 2008)
+17 -- W. Illinois (1998); Western Ky. (2002); SIU (2009)
+16 -- Western Illinois (1999); Youngstown State (2000)
+15 -- Seven times, most recently: NDSU (2010)

Fewest Turnovers Lost in a Season, Since 1992
10 - Eastern Illinois, 1995; Youngstown State, 1999
11 - S. Illinois, 2006 (13 games); W. Illinois, 2007
12 - S. Illinois, 2004 (12 games); UNI, 2004
13 - Six times, most recently: WIU, 2010; MSU, 2010

Home Cooking
 In 2010, the MVFC was 18-15 against non-league teams, which included a 13-7 mark vs. the FCS (1-8 vs. 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). The league is 12-12 so far in non-league play in 2011, including a 8-0 record at home. The league has three non-league games remaining in the regular season -- all at home.