The league could have an outright champion, co-champions, or tri-champions depending on the results this Saturday. North Dakota State (6-1) can secure at least a share of the league title with a win at Western Illinois and would be outright champs with a win plus a UNI loss. UNI (6-1) is at Illinois State (5-2), and both UNI and ISU are in the championship mix. North Dakota State, however, holds tiebreakers over both UNI and ISU and would get the league’s AQ should there be a two or three-way tie for first.
*#4/4 UNI at #14/14 Illinois State, 11:04 am CT [ESPN3]
Series Note: The teams have met as ranked vs. ranked opponents just three times previously, and UNI has won two of those three meetings. The Panthers lead the all-time series, 18-9, and UNI has won four of the last five games. The Redbirds did win the last game played in Normal, a last-second 22-20 decision, also played on the final day of the regular season.
*Missouri State at Youngstown State, 12 pm CT / 1 pm ET [MyYTV (taped)]
Series Note: Youngstown State leads the all-time series between the two schools, 11-4, and the Penguins are 6-1 vs. Missouri State in Youngstown, Ohio. Missouri State has won three straight against Youngstown State, all double-figure victories over the Penguins, including a 17-7 win at Stambaugh Stadium on Oct. 3, 2009.
*#5/5 North Dakota State at Western Illinois, 1 pm CT [KXJB (live) / WIU-TV3 (taped)]
Series Note: This is the fifth meeting between North Dakota State and Western Illinois in a series that started in 2007. The series is tied at 2-2 with each team winning twice on the road. Western Illinois won 28-16 in the Fargodome on Oct. 2, 2010.
*Southern Illinois at rv/#23 Indiana State, 1:05 pm CT [No TV]
Series Note: Southern Illinois leads the all-time series against Indiana State, 25-23, although Indiana State has a 14-10 edge in games played in Terre Haute. The series began in 1944. The Sycamores reeled off nine-straight wins against SIU from 1994-2002, but the Salukis have rebounded with a series win streak of their own, winning eight straight vs. ISU from 2003-present.
South Dakota State (5-6, 4-4 MVFC) -- season complete
Previous MVFC Champions
In the league’s first 26 seasons, UNI has won or shared the title a league-best 15 times. Western Illinois and Southern Illinois have the second-most Valley Football titles, with five each. Three teams (UNI, Southern Illinois, Youngstown State) have combined to earn every MVFC title since 2003.
Three of four league 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 11:04 a.m. kickoff between nationally ranked UNI and Illinois State.
UNI at Illinois State, 11:04 am CT -- Scott Warmann, Danan Hughes, Mick Shaffer
ESPN3 is available in nearly 70 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. It is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks.
8-3 = Playoffs; 7-4 Too?
In 26 previous seasons, 48 league teams have had eight or more regular-season wins, and all but five made the playoffs: UNI (in 1989 and 1999), WIU (in 1994), and YSU (in 2001 and 2005) are the only league teams to win eight and not make it. The 2011 selection show will air on ESPNU at 10 a.m. (ET) and 9 a.m. (CT) on Sunday, Nov. 20.
Five league teams enter the final weekend of the regular season with legitimate arguments for inclusion in the NCAA FCS Playoff field. The league has had two or more playoff participants every year since 1995, including four in 2003, three in 2006, and three in 2010. Last year, all three of the league’s playoff participants were 7-4 during the regular season. UNI, North Dakota State and Western Illinois represented the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2010.
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.
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.
Ranked vs. Ranked
Illinois State hosts UNI in a battle between two MVFC ranked teams. In league history, there have been 91 previous contests in which two league top-25 teams played one another, including four previous games this season. The home team in those matchups has recorded a 55-36 record all-time, while the higher ranked team is 50-41.
Bison ... No. 1 for 2 Weeks
On Oct. 31, North Dakota State became the league’s first No. 1 ranked team since 2009 as the Bison earned the top spot in both the Sports Network/Fathead.com and FCS coaches polls. On Oct. 29, then-ranked No. 3 North Dakota State beat No. 2 UNI, 27-19, while previously unbeaten and top ranked Georgia Southern fell to No. 5 Appalachian State to open the door for NDSU.
Sumner Sets League Record
A candidate for the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision, South Dakota State’s Austin Sumner completed 19-of-39 passes for 208 yards last week and finished the season with 2,382 yards, breaking the previous league freshman record of 2,369 yards set by Illinois State QB Matt Brown in 2009.
All-Time Single-Season Passing (MVFC Freshmen)
2,382 – Austin Sumner, South Dakota State (2011)
2,369 – Matt Brown, Illinois State (2009)
2,265 – Kevin Glenn, Illinois State (1997)
2,117 – Kurt Hess, Youngstown State (2010)
Bison Streak Ends at 9-0
North Dakota State is the first Valley Football team since 2007 to start a season with nine-straight wins. 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). The league record for consecutive victories to begin a season is 12.
Consecutive Victories to start a season
12, UNI, 2007 (lost to Delaware in the FCS playoffs)
10, Southern Illinois, 2003 (lost at UNI)
9, North Dakota St., 2011 (lost to Youngstown St.)
9, Western Illinois, 1988 (lost at Northern Illinois)
8, UNI, 1992 (lost at Eastern Illinois)
6, Youngstown State, 2000 (lost at Western Illinois)
6, Youngstown State, 1997 (lost at UNI)
6, Missouri State, 1989 (lost at Western Kentucky)
6, Southern Illinois, 2007 (lost at UNI)
Missouri Valley vs. Ohio Valley
Southern Illinois beat Eastern Illinois this past weekend (Nov. 12, 2011). Since 1985, the MVFC is 110-57-1 against the OVC, including a 2-2 record in 2011. Valley Football has a streak of eight-straight .500+ seasons against the OVC, going 48-21 in that span. Notably, Valley Football teams have won eight-straight playoff meetings against OVC members, dating back to 2001.
Winning Against No. 1
An MVFC member has posted 10 victories against a No. 1-ranked team. Six times, including on Nov. 12, 2011 when Youngstown State beat No. 1-ranked North Dakota State, 27-24, a league team has knocked another league team from the top spot. Here are the MVFC’s previous win against No. 1 teams:
1992 -- Eastern Illinois 21, #1 UNI 15
1993 -- Illinois State 13, #1 Youngstown State 10
1997 -- UNI 35, #1 Youngstown State 32
1997 -- Youngstown State 37, #1 Villanova 34
1998 -- Western Illinois 14, #1 Youngstown State 0
2002 -- Western Kentucky 34, #1 McNeese St. 14
2005 -- Illinois State 61, #1 Southern Illinois 35
2005 -- S. Illinois 31, #1 Western Kentucky 20
2005 -- UNI 24, #1 New Hampshire 21
2011 -- Youngstown State 27, #1 N. Dakota State 24
The league is 15-12 in non-league play in 2011, including an 11-0 record at home. The league’s previous best all-time home non-conference record was in 1999 (20-1). The MVFC was 13-4 against other FCS teams this season. 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).
BEST HOME NON-CONFERENCE RECORDS
1. 11-0 (2011) -- 1.000
2. 20-1 (1999) -- .952
3. 19-1 (1996) - .950
4. 16-1-1 (1991) - .917
5. 20-2 (1993) - .909
Putting Up the Points
Youngstown State has scored 28 or more points in seven of 10 games and the Penguins rank No. 8 in scoring offense (36.40 points per game). The Penguins are one of just four schools in the FCS with 50 or more touchdowns in 2011 (YSU has 51).
Defense .. Three in Top 5
North Dakota State is No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense (14.30 ppg allowed), while UNI is No. 4 nationally (15.8). The MVFC has had a team lead the nation in scoring defense in 1998 (WIU - 9.4 ppg) and in 2004 (SIU - 13.2 ppg). Both of those teams won the league title. Illinois State, meanwhile, yields just 81.30 rushing yards per game to rank No. 5 in the nation.
Rushing .. Two in Top 5
Indiana State’s Shakir Bell (1st-153.30 ypg) and Youngstown State’s Jamaine Cook (5th-128.2 ypg) are among the national leaders in rushing yards. The last MVFC player to lead the nation in rushing was North Dakota State’s Pat Paschall (2009, 139.7 ypg).
Turnovers .. Two in Top 5
Two league schools are tied for No .5 nationally in turnover margin. North Dakota State has a +14 turnover margin (20 takeaways, 6 turnovers), while UNI is also at +14 (26 takeaways, 12 turnovers).