MVFC Week 10 Recap and Playoff Projections
The Valley continued to beat the crap out of itself this week. There isn’t much else to say. With two weeks to go, not much has been decided and this week didn’t really help clear anything up. Recaps of the games below.
Missouri State put themselves on the cusp of a playoff spot, and Southern Illinois’ crazy season took another turn as the Bears beat the Salukis in Carbondale. The win gives MSU a second signature W (along with their win over South Dakota) and likely puts them in a position where they only need to win at home against UNI next week OR at winless Dixie State the following week to get into the playoffs. For an SIU team that was ranked 3rd two weeks ago, the league title and a first round bye have seemingly slipped through their fingertips. They now must focus on ensuring they are simply included in the postseason field. The Bears set the tone early on with a ten play, 82-yard TD drive to start the game. Jason Shelley was responsible for most of the Bears’ movement in the drive and capped it with a 20-yard TD run. The Missouri State special teams gave momentum back, though, as a muffed punt set up SIU with a short field and Nic Baker converted with a 17-yard TD pass to Justin Strong to tie the game at 7. MSU turned the ball over again on their next possession on a fumble by Jason Shelley in his own territory. That set up SIU in good field position again, but they were unable to convert and turned it over on downs. Missouri State then moved the ball 35 yards on 10 plays for a field goal to take a 10-7 lead. Southern responded with a field goal drive of their own to tie it at 10. The defenses held strong for the remainder of the half. A late Jason Shelley interception set up SIU’s Nico Hualdoni for a 55-yard kick just before intermission that put them up 13-10. After a slow start to the third quarter in which both sides punted the ball, Mo State put the game away with three consecutive TD drives with no response from the Salukis. Shelley orchestrated a 58 yard, 11-play drive capped by a 14-yard run to put Missouri State up 17-13. They extended the lead to 24-13 after a 7-play, 65-yard drive that finished with a Tobias Little 1-yard TD run. The Bears extended it to 31-13 on an 87-yard run by Kevon Latulas early in the fourth quarter. From there it was all over but the yelling. SIU scored on their next drive to cut the lead to 31-20, but Mo State responded later with another TD on a 31-yard pass from Shelley to Tyrone Scott to make it 38-20. SIU added a TD in garbage time for the 38-28 final. The Bears deserved the W as they outgained SIU 485-298, including a 237-36 discrepancy on the ground. Jason Shelley was 15-28 for 248 yards, a score and a pick for the Bears and Kevon Latulas was the day’s rushing leader with 104 yards on 7 carries (buoyed by his 87-yard run). Nic Baker was 21-38 for 262 yards and 3 TDs in a losing effort. His run game managed just 36 yards on 31 carries between eight guys. SIU will look to right the ship in Terre Haute next week, while Missouri State will look to cinch up a playoff spot at home against UNI.
It wasn’t the blowout I expected, but the Fighting Hawks rallied for a win against Youngstown State. The Penguins saw the return of Demeatric Crenshaw under center and got a big day from Jaleel McLaughlin, but it wasn’t enough to pull out a win on the road. Youngstown State started off well with a 75-yard opening drive, capped by a 5-yard TD run by Jaleel McLaughlin. The Fighting Hawks answered immediately with a ten play 78-yard drive capped by a 9-yard TD pass from Tommy Schuster to Bo Belquist. Youngstown answered right back again with another TD, this time after a 75-yard drive on ten plays, ending in a one-yard run by Christian Turner on the last play of the quarter. The second quarter went very differently as each team had the ball three times and neither put any points on the board. North Dakota threw an interception, and YSU had a fumble. The Fighting Hawks missed a 48-yard field goal as well, and Youngstown led 14-7 at the break. UND got back on the board early in the third quarter with a ten play, 51-yard drive that culminated in a 32-yard field goal by Brady Stevens to cut the Penguin lead to 14-10. Youngstown looked like they were starting to pull away early in the fourth quarter when they scored on a ten play, 65-yard TD drive that ended with Crenshaw sneaking it in from the one-yard line. The score gave Youngstown State a 21-10 lead with ten minutes to go. North Dakota answered with a quick ten play TD drive that covered 77 yards in just 2:37, capped by a 16-yard TD pass from Tommy Schuster to Garett Maag. That cut the YSU lead to 21-16. The Hawk defense pushed the Penguins backward 18 yards on their next drive, forcing a punt that set UND up at midfield with five minuets to go. It took the Fighting Hawks just two plays to get the go-ahead score, with Otis Weah finding paydirt on a 43-yard run. The ensuing Penguin drive stalled on 4th down at midfield and the Hawks ran out the clock from there for the 24-21 win. UND outgained Youngstown 354-278. Tommy Schuster was 23-35 for 191 yards and 2 TDs (with a pick), and Otis Weah led a crowded UND backfield with 90 yards on 14 carries. Demeatric Crenshaw was 13-17 for 75 yards and a pick, while Jaleel McLaughlin had a stellar 122 yards rushing and a TD on 18 carries. North Dakota hosts Illinois State next week while Youngstown hosts NDSU.
Yeah, my homerness is probably going to show here…….but I am just so frustrated. TEvery year it is the same song and dance. Predictable, boring playcalling? Check. Refusal to make adjustments? Check. Bailing out the other team’s overmatched offense with penalties and turnovers? Check. Incorrect referee call that changes the outcome of the game? Check. Rallying just enough to break your fans’ hearts twice? Check. Losing to a team you should beat after beating top-ten teams on back-to-back weeks? Checkity check check check. It is rare you find a Mark Farley game that checks every single one of the clichés boxes of his era, but as a poster on the UNI message board said……this is his masterpiece. The Panthers likely knocked themselves out of the playoffs and planted another round of apathy into their fanbase with the loss. This one was a bit of a clunker for fans who like to see actual things actually happen in a football game. The only thing breaking up eleven straight punts to start the game was Theo Day’s pick six to ISU’s Clayton Isbell in the first quarter. Illinois State’s 19-yard field goal drive at the end of the half was the extent of the offensive scoring in the first half, as ISU led 10-0. The excitement picked up from there in the second half, as the first seven drives between the two teams were punts. Finally, UNI drove 53 yards for a field goal early in the fourth quarter. In that drive, the Panthers drove inside the Illinois State ten where they proceeded to run two plays that had no chance of scoring. That set up the ISU blitz on third down (like they had been doing all game), and set up the field goal. Three more punts followed until a 60-yard pass from Day to Isaiah Weston set up UNI for the first offensive TD of the game. It came in the form of a four yard pass from Day to Sam Schnee, and tied it at 10 with 2:35 to go. The UNI defense then forced a three-and-out, and Deion McShane returned it to the ISU one, however the referees called a block in the back. It was a terrible call. The Panthers ended up letting the clock run out and the game went to OT. ISU scored on a 27-yard pass on their second play of OT. UNI never really attempted to score in their half of the frame, continuing to try and do what hadn’t worked all game and run the ball up the middle. The were stopped on fourth down and ISU won 17-10. In all there were 22 punts in this game, and UNI outgained Illinois State 315-164. Jackson Waring was 9-22 for 87 yards and a TD, and Cole Mueller gained 51 yards on 27 carries. Theo Day was 15-30 for 252 yards, a TD and a pick. The Panthers combined for 63 rushing yards on 42 carries, but dang did they keep trying. UNI is at Missouri State next week, and Illinois State is at North Dakota.
Carson Camp returned and South Dakota set themselves up for a run at the postseason with a rare win in Macomb. The win moves South Dakota to 6-3 and likely gives them two shots at the postseason over the next two weeks that will see them face SDSU and NDSU. After exchanging punts early, USD busted out in a big way with a 99-yard TD drive, most of which was accomplished on a 91-yard TD pass from Carson Camp to Carter Bell. Western Illinois answered with a six-play, 75-yard TD drive to tie the game at 7. Myles Wanza finished that drive with a 2-yard TD run. After a few more punts, WIU took a 14-7 lead after driving 46 yards on eight plays for a TD. Connor Sampson hit Tony Tate for the five-yard score. After the Coyotes punted for the third consecutive time, momentum shifted when Connor Sampson threw an interception to the Yotes’ Jack Cochrane. Camp hit Bell for a 60-yard score on the very next play to tie the game at 14. South Dakota dominated the rest of the first half. After forcing a Leatherneck punt, South Dakota went 78 yards on ten plays for a score to take a 21-14 lead. It ended with a 5-yard TD run by Michael Mansaray. After another punt the Yotes scored again, this time going 76 yards on eight plays. A one-yard QB sneak by Camp with 7 seconds to go gave South Dakota a 28-14 halftime lead. Neither team got on the board in the third quarter, punting six times between them. Finally, South Dakota broke it open with an 85-yard drive consisting of four chunk running plays and ending with a 4-yard TD run by Nate Thomas. The score gave South Dakota a 35-14 lead. They increased their advantage to 42-14 midway through the fourth with a 10-yard run by Jonathan Lewis, and WIU scored in garbage time on a 21-yard pass from Sampson to Ludovick Choquette to make the final score 42-21 USD. South Dakota only outgained WIU by seven yards, 479-472. Carson Camp finished 13-21 for 246 yards and two TDs for USD, while Nate Thomas added 110 rushing yards and a TD on 11 carries. Connor Sampson was 29-51 for 362 yards, two TDs and two picks for ISU and Myles Wanza had 70 yards and a TD on 16 carries. USD will get their first shot at seven wins (and a likely playoff spot) hosting SDSU next week. WIU will have the week off before playing at UNI on the final week of the season.
While SDSU’s win was an upset on paper, Valley fans shouldn’t be surprised by the result. North Dakota State was the last stable thing in the league, so it had to be taken down a peg. South Dakota State has struggled against every decent team they’ve played at home this year, so naturally they came up with a great performance against the Bison. The win is actually good for the league as it sets it up to have two seeded teams. However, both teams have some questions to answer if they want to make a run at the title game. The Bison still haven’t established themselves under center, as this was the second consecutive start for Cam Miller after NDSU made the switch from Quincey Patterson. The Jackrabbits need to find a more consistent level of play and heal up from some of their injuries. Pierre Strong set the tone early with a 75-yard TD run on the second play of the game for South Dakota State. After an exchange of punts, the Bison answered with a five play, 54-yard TD drive. Cam Miller hit Josh Babicz for a 22-yard score. SDSU responded immediately with a six-minute scoring drive that covered 75 yards and took 12 plays. Strong scored his second TD, this time from just one yard out, to put the Jackrabbits up 14-7. A Cam Miller interception halted the next NDSU drive. South Dakota State’s ensuing drive took nearly ten minutes off the clock as they methodically went 80 yards in sixteen plays for a TD that put them ahead 21-7. Pierre Strong threw an 11-yard TD pass to Tucker Kraft on a trick play on fourth down. After forcing a quick Bison punt, the Jacks put together another drive in the final 95 seconds and scored on a 32-yard field goal to take a 24-7 lead into the break. South Dakota State threatened to break it open early in the third quarter as they recovered a Cam Miller fumble in Bison territory on the second play of the half, but the Bison defense held on fourth down to keep the score at 24-7. The lead was extended to 27-7 after a 45-yard SDSU field goal midway through the third quarter. North Dakota State finally responded with a 75-yard TD drive, leaning heavily on their run game. It was capped by a 14-yard pass from Cam Miller to RaJa Nelson and cut the lead to 27-14 through three -quarters. After forcing a Jackrabbit punt, the Bison put together a long 88-yard drive in which they moved the ball to the SDSU two-yard line. NDSU tried four times, but were unable to get the ball in the end zone, turning the ball over on downs. They did get two points for their troubles, though, as SDSU took a safety on their next possession to make it 27-16. The Bison were able to drive into SDSU territory late and kick a field goal to cut the lead to one possession, 27-19. But the onside kick failed and the Jackrabbits escaped with the victory. NDSU outgained SDSU 365-349. Chris Oladokun was 13-22 for 157 yards for the Jackrabbits. South Dakota State’s Pierre Strong carried the ball 23 times for 156 yards and two TDs. For the Bison, Cam Miller was 15-22 for 218 yards, 2 TDs and a pick. Miller was also the leading rusher for the Bison with 59 yards on 13 carries. SDSU will face USD in Vermillion in what is probably the highest profile SD Showdown Series game in DI history next week. NDSU is at Youngstown.
AROUND THE FCS
That is it for MVFC action for the week. Here are some of the key results from around the FCS in week 10.
-Stony Brook (4-5) 22, Maine (4-5) 17: Maine was being talked about as a low-key playoffs candidate but that result pretty much put an end to that discussion.
-Sacred Heart (6-3) 14, St. Francis PA (4-5) 13: Sacred Heart’s win here, coupled with Bryant’s loss to Central Connecticut gives the Pioneers the inside track to the NEC title. Heart need only win their final two games against the NEC’s two worst teams to claim the title.
-Delaware (5-4) 24, #20 William and Mary (6-3) 3: The CAA is also doing the “beat itself up” thing. A week after upsetting Nova for their first big W, Bill and Mary got creamed by a struggling Blue Hens team.
-#14 East Tennessee State (8-1) 27, #18 VMI (6-3): Huge win for ETSU who is looking very likely to get a playoff spot at this juncture. VMI’s playoff hopes hang by a thread.
-Davidson (7-1) 42, St. Thomas (5-3) 15: With the win, Davidson only needs to get a W in either of their final two games to clinch the Pioneer League automatic bid.
-Valparaiso (3-6) 65, Presbyterian (2-7) 55: The Blue Hose QB Hefley was 44-68 for 544 yards, 7 TDs and 3 picks. Presby outgained Valpo by nearly 175 yards but turned it over 3 times and turned it over on downs four times.
-Portland State (5-4) 30, #24 Weber State (4-5) 18: The Wildcats will struggle to get a playoff spot now after accruing their fifth loss.
-#15 UT Martin (8-1) 41, Tennessee State (5-4) 20: The Skyhawks handled their first OVC autobid challenger with ease. The OVC autobid looks likely to come down to the final week when UTM plays SEMO.
-#22 UIW (7-2) 55, #6 Southeastern Louisiana (7-2) 52: Massive win for the Cardinals who are now two wins away from clinching the Southland autobid and taking the decision on their playoff fate out of the committee’s hands.
-Rhode Island (6-3) 35, UMass (1-8) 22: Another FBS win for the Championship Subdivision, although UMass probably wouldn’t make the FCS playoffs.
-#4 Montana State (8-1) 23, #5 Eastern Washington (7-2) 20: In the “other” game of the week, Montana State fully established themselves as FCS title contenders with this big win over Eastern Washington.
-Stephen F Austin (6-3) 31, #25 Eastern Kentucky (6-3) 17: Both teams are probably on the soft side of the bubble after this result.
Those are the notable FCS games. Now I will attempt to pick through the mess that is the FCS playoffs for my projections.
-AQ7 (1): #1 Sam Houston State (8-0)
-Big Sky (5): #2 Montana State (8-1), Sacramento State (7-2), #7 UC-Davis (8-1), Eastern Washington (7-2), Montana (7-2)
-Big South (1): Kennesaw State (8-1)
-CAA (2): #4 James Madison (8-1), #5 Villanova (7-2), William and Mary (6-3)
-MVFC (5): #3 North Dakota State (8-1), #7 South Dakota State (7-2), Missouri State (6-3), Southern Illinois (6-3), South Dakota (6-3)
-NEC (1): Sacred Heart (6-3)
-OVC (1): UT-Martin (8-1)
-Patriot (1): Holy Cross (7-2)
-Pioneer (1): Davidson (7-1)
-Southern (3): #6 ETSU (8-1), VMI (6-3), Chattanooga (6-3)
-Southland (2): Incarnate Word (7-2), SE Louisiana (7-2)
Also Considered: Florida A&M (7-2), Mercer (6-2), Northern Iowa (5-4), Rhode Island (6-3), Delaware (5-4), Monmouth (6-3), Stephen F. Austin (6-3)
Seeding was a mess. The top four were relatively easy, but after that it was extremely tough. Nova has only one FCS loss to a decent team and a good win (and they’re in a good league) so I gave them #5. ETSU has a power 5 win and only one loss to a good team, and now has a good win over VMI so I gave them #6. I went with Davis for #7 as they only have one loss and an FBS win, although not a ton of substance to their other wins. SDSU climbed back to #8 after beating NDSU, with an FBS win and both losses to good FCS teams. I also gave consideration to EWU (good wins including FBS, but two FCS losses), Montana (FBS win, but two FCS losses), Sac State (just one FCS loss to a decent team and a win over Montana but otherwise weak schedule), Kennesaw State (undefeated against FCS against a weak schedule), UT-Martin (undefeated against FCS against a weak schedule), and SE Louisiana (only one FCS loss to a decent team but no good wins).
Going through the list there were 21 spots I thought were obvious, leaving me with three spots for the final teams. I went through again and found ten teams I deemed worthy of consideration for those spots. The seven that weren’t chosen are the ones listed under “also considered”, and the last three in were VMI, Chattanooga, and William & Mary. Florida A&M (7-2) will miss the SWAC title game in favor of Jackson State who they lost to 7-6. Their other loss was an FBS loss, but they don’t have much substance to their wins. Chattanooga (6-3) has a bad loss (Austin Peay), and a close FBS loss, as well as an OK loss at VMI. They also have a very big win against ETSU. Mercer (6-2) has only two losses that are fine (@Alabama and @VMI), but has no quality wins and got blown out by VMI. They’ll get their chance against UTC and ETSU the next two weeks but there isn’t enough there right now. VMI (6-3) has beaten both Chatanooga and Mercer but lost to the Citadel. Their other losses are a blowout to Kent State and a competitive loss to ETSU. UNI (5-4) has the worst overall record of the group, but has three quality wins (@Sac St, @SDSU, vs. SIU) and only one bad loss (this week at Illinois State). William and Mary (6-3), has a huge win at Nova but not much else and a mediocre loss to Maine. They’ll get a shot against James Madison this week. Rhode Island has an “FBS” win over UMass and an OK win over Delaware but mediocre losses to Towson and Maine. Delaware (5-4) has probably accrued too many losses to have a bad one (Stony Brook) and only a decent win against William and Mary. Monmouth (6-3) has no terrible losses but no wins of substance. They’ll get a shot at the autobid on the final week of the season. Similarly, SFA (6-3) has no eye-popping wins and a mediocre loss to Jacksonville State. The first go-round of cuts dropped Mercer, Delaware, SFA and Monmouth leaving six teams for three spots. I gave one to VMI due to their wins over Mercer and Nooga. The two bad losses eliminated Rhody next, leaving four teams for two spots. From there it was an outstanding toss-up. I eliminated UNI due to their four losses and status as the sixth team from their league, and the fact that I am mad at them. I included Chatty due to their big win over ETSU. That left Florida A&M vs. William and Mary for the final spot. I had to go with the Tribe due to their win over Villanova.
And that is it for this week! We’re coming down the home stretch and I’ll see you on Thursday for the Week 11 preview.