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Week 2 MVFC Recap

The Valley got off to a spectacular start in week one with an FBS win, several close FBS losses and a 6-0 record against the FCS. Week two wasn’t quite as solid by those lofty standards but it was still pretty dang great. A recap of the week that was is below.

-Utah State 48, #9 North Dakota 24: My perfect run of predictions came to a screeching halt as ninth-ranked North Dakota took it on the chin against FBS Utah State on Friday night. This also put an end to a run of MVFC teams taking it to the wire against FBS schools, as the Aggies dominated the second half en route to the win. My prediction of a 27-26 UND win looked OK early on though. North Dakota jumped out to a 21-7 lead by the end of the first quarter on TD passes to three different receivers. However, Utah State slowly turned the tide of the game from there. The Aggies had the deficit down to one by halftime at 21-20. North Dakota parlayed an early second half turnover into three points to extend the lead to 24-20, but it was all Utah State from then on. They scored four touchdowns to end the game with a comfortable 48-24 win, outscoring the Hawks 41-3 over the game’s final three quarters. It is fair to say this was the first shellacking an MVFC team has taken to an FBS team this year (but it would, unfortunately, not be the last). The Hawks simply couldn’t stop the Utah State offense who amassed 621 total yards. UND put up a respectable 439 themselves but couldn’t keep up with the Aggies. Tommy Schuster was 29-43 for 345 yards but threw two picks (and a TD). Otis Weah was held to 57 yards rushing on 17 carries. The good news for North Dakota is that the Pioneer League’s Drake Bulldogs come to town next week. That should be an easier test (although Drake was picked among the best PFL teams preseason).

-Michigan State 42, Youngstown State 14: It didn’t take long for the MVFC to take another one on the chin on Saturday as Youngstown opened the morning TV window with a 42-14 loss to Michigan State. This one was always going to be a tall order for Youngstown, and they fell behind early, giving up a 75-yard TD pass on the first play of the game. Incidentally, this was the second consecutive week Michigan State scored a 75-yard TD on their first play (and the second consecutive week the Spartans won big). Sparty built a 28-0 lead before the Penguins got on the board late in the half on a 12-play 75-yard drive that ended with a 6-yard TD run by QB Demeatric Crenshaw on fourth down. Before that, Youngstown had either committed a turnover or punted on each of their first five drives. With the outcome no longer in doubt, YSU did play better in the second half. They opened the 3rd quarter with a 10-play, 75-yard TD drive and allowed only one more Michigan State score in the half for the final 42-14 tally. YSU was driving as the game ended as well, but just ran out of time. Michigan State put up 595 yards of offense to Youngstown’s 304, and Demeatric Crenshaw was only able to complete 10 of 23 passe for 81 yards and a pick. All world back Jaleel McLaughlin was held to 34 yards on 13 carries and was only the third leading rusher on the day for YSU (Crenshaw actually had a nice day on the ground, leading the team with 69 yards on 18 carries). I predicted a 38-20 Spartan win, so I wasn’t terribly off. YSU only has a 10-game schedule with two non-conference games this year, so their next game will be their league opener against Western Illinois on September 25th.

-Northwestern 24, Indiana State 6: The Sycamore defense had a solid day, but the offense couldn’t solve Northwestern’s B1G defense in a 24-6 Indiana State loss. It was a decent showing for the team picked 10th in the Valley, despite the loss. The Wildcats got off to a very good start, scoring touchdowns on their first two drives to take a 14-0 lead into the first quarter break. From there, though, it was a dogfight. The Indiana State defense played very well, holding Northwestern to a field goal over the next two quarters. NU did not get back to the end zone until midway through the final frame. When it was all said and done, Northwestern was only able to produce 275 yards of offense. The Trees did a spectacular job neutralizing the Northwestern passing attack in particular. QB Hunter Johnson was only able to complete 9 of 16 passes for just 66 yards and an interception. ISU wasn’t able to bottle up the rushing attack as effectively. Northwestern gained 209 yards on the ground including 126 (and two TDs) from running back Evan Hull. Still, it was a very good performance by the Sycamore defense. Unfortunately, the offense was not able to take advantage of their defense’s performance. ISU was only able to put up 169 yards of total offense, with just 31 rushing yards on 22 carries. They were a little better through the air where Anthony Thompson completed 21 of 34 passes for 132 yards and a TD. The TD came with under 4 minutes to go and cut the Wildcat lead to 24-6. That ended up being the final score, a more defensive outcome than I had in mind with my 31-17 prediction. Next week, Indiana State will hit the road to play an interesting FCS matchup with Eastern Kentucky.

-South Dakota 34, Northern Arizona 7: The Coyotes made a statement against a middle-of-the-pack Big Sky team with a dominant 34-7 victory in the grand opening of the newly renovated DakotaDome. South Dakota set the tone early, with two touchdowns and a field goal on their first three drives to take a 17-0 lead into the first quarter break. They only added to their advantage with another TD and field goal in the second quarter to take a 27-0 halftime lead over the shellshocked Lumberjacks. The Coyote defense came out strong as well. Every NAU drive in the first half ended in a punt or a pick. The Coyotes grabbed a pick six early in the second half to extend the lead to 34-0 and cruised from there to a 34-7 win. I thought this would be a competitive game (I had USD winning 31-21) but South Dakota had other ideas. USD technically only outgained NAU 380-350, but a lot of the ‘Jacks yards came after the outcome was no longer in doubt. Three NAU turnovers to USD’s one helped the Coyotes pull off the rout. QB Carson Camp was a solid 15-24 for 215 yards and a score, while six Coyotes recorded at least two carries. Travis Theis gained 72 yards on 12 carries and added two scores to lead the rushing attack which combined for 158 yards on 40 carries. South Dakota is in the W column and will now hit the road to face another tough but winnable game against a Big Sky team (Cal Poly) next week.

-#5 North Dakota State 64, Valparaiso 0: So it turns out my prediction of a 56-0 Bison victory was conservative. NDSU came in and dismantled the overmatched Pioneer League outfit, Valpo, 64-0. The Bison probably could have put up 100 if they wanted to. North Dakota State had already more-or-less taken its foot off the gas by halftime, when it built a 43-0 halftime lead. Why such an odd score you ask? Well after holding Valpo to -9 yards on their first drive and returning the ensuing punt for a TD they went ahead and went for two because why the hell not? Its worth noting that NDSU had all the points they would need in this one before the offense even took the field. They scored a TD on every drive in the first half. As the second half rolled around and backups started to filter in, they slowed down a bit but never stopped. They added three more TDs for a total of nine. The only time NDSU was forced to punt the entire game, the….uh…..Beacons muffed the catch allowing NDSU to get the ball right back. North Dakota State outgained Valpo 583 yards to 185 including a 458-73 advantage on the ground. NDSU also outgained Valpo through the air despite throwing just six passes. QB Quincy Patterson was 4-5 for 102 yards and a TD while a boatload of NDSU Bison combined for 458 yards on 43 carries on the ground (eleven Bison got at least one carry and ten of them got at least two). Not much to glean from this one. We knew NDSU was good and Valpo wasn’t, and that is what played out. NDSU will hit the road to face Towson of the CAA in what should be a bit more of a challenge but still very winnable for NDSU.

-Western Michigan 28, Illinois State 0: I thought the Redbirds would be more competitive in this one (I had them losing 27-24), but they simply could not get anything going offensively. Like seriously. ISU was held to 57 yards total on the game. FIFTY-SEVEN. They got 29 yards through the air on Bryce Jefferson’s 8-19 passing for 29 yards (and a pick), while nine Redbirds combined for 28 yards on the ground on 26 carries. Jalen Carr had one carry for 13 yards, making him the Redbirds’ leading rusher. I’ve honestly never seen anything quite like this. The game was brutal. The Broncos got 24 first downs to Illinois State’s 4, and they outgained ISU 407-57. The defense was decent, and strong enough to keep them in the game at halftime (down 14-0) despite no contribution from the offense. But they could only hold out so long, and two third quarter TDs put it away for WMU. There honestly isn’t much else to say about this one. It was just bad. ISU will hit the road to face Eastern Illinois next weekend.

-Kansas State 31, #8 Southern Illinois 23: The Big 12 ended up going 4-0 against the MVFC this year, but man did they have to earn it. Southern Illinois led at the half and took Kansas State to the wire in a 31-23 loss. The MVFC lost four games to the Big 12 this year by a total of 24 points, and none of the games were decided by less than a touchdown. K-State started off strong, with TDs on three of their first four drives to take a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter. But the Salukis kicked it into gear the remainder of the half. First it was a nine-play 75-yard TD drive capped off by a Javon Williams TD run. Then after K-State immediately fumbled the ball away on the next drive, SIU capitalized with another Javon Williams TD. Three plays later PJ Jules picked off a K-State pass and returned it 41 yards to paydirt. Just like that SIU had a 23-21 lead going into halftime. K-State drove for a field goal on their first drive of the second half to take a 24-23 lead. SIU then turned it over on downs at midfield but forced a K-State punt. On the ensuing drive, SIU drove down to the Wildcat 30-yard line, but missed a 47-yard field goal to take the lead. K-State then finally added to their lead to make it 31-23, but SIU didn’t give up. They drove all the way to the K-State 21 with 19 seconds to go. But a strip sack of Nic Baker by the Wildcats put the game on ice. My prediction of 34-21 K-State wasn’t too far off in the end. SIU was outgained 380-276 overall and 208-100 on the ground. Nic Baker was 16-27 for 176 yards and an interception. Javon Williams was SIU’s leading rusher with 46 yards on 12 carries and two TDs. SIU will host Dayton out of the Pioneer League (who beat a full-scholarship team, Eastern Illinois, this week) in their home opener on Saturday.

-#2 South Dakota State 52, Lindenwood 7: This one was already over before it started, as the 2nd ranked Rabbits took control early in this rout of Division II Lindenwood. SDSU scored TDs on its first three possessions, followed by a field goal, and then three more TDs to close the half. Meanwhile the defense forced four punts, a turnover on downs and a turnover. It added up to a 45-0 Jackrabbit lead at the break. SDSU forced a punt and scored another TD to start the second half to build that lead to 52-0. From there they took their foot off the gas and finished with a 52-7 tally (not far from my 48-10 prediction). SDSU outgained the Lions 560-196. They put up 330 rushing yards to Lindenwood’s 84. Chris Oladokun was 12-14 for 171 yards and four TDs, while SDSU had two 100-yard rushers. Pierre Strong had 110 yards on 7 carries (and a TD) and Amar Johnson (not Isaiah Davis) ran for 105 yards on 15 carries with a TD. Because that is what SDSU needed, another viable rushing option. Honestly, this is what it should look like when an MVFC contender takes on a D2 team. SDSU will be off next week before opening league play at Indiana State on September 25th.

-#23 Missouri State 43, #19 Central Arkansas 34: In what was probably the game of the day in the MVFC, 23rd ranked Missouri State won a back-and-forth contest with 19th ranked Central Arkansas to continue what has been an impressive showing early on for MSU. This was the third meeting between these two teams in the last two years (UCA played MSU twice last fall) and Missouri State won for the first time. This had the look of a contest between two evenly matched teams from the start, as an MSU field goal just before the half gave them a 17-14 lead at the break. Two more field goals by our Bears gave them a 23-14 lead after three quarters, and that is when things started to get a little silly. A short field allowed Central Arkansas to drive thirty yards for a TD to make it 23-21. After an MSU punt, UCA drove deep into MSU territory, but an interception allowed the Bears (again our Bears) to retain the lead. Another Missouri State punt pinned Central Arkansas on their own three-yard line. But it took UCA just three plays to traverse the field and claim a 27-23 lead with 3:05 to go. Missouri State responded with a flipping kickoff return for a TD (96 yards by Montrae Braswell) to take a 30-27 lead. But Central Arkansas answered quick, long drive of their own going 75-yards on two plays (the big one being a Breylin Smith 71-yard TD pass to Tyler Hudson) to reclaim the lead, 34-30. Then Missouri State slowly but methodically took the ball on a nice game winning drive of 69-yards aided by a couple of UCA penalties. It was capped by a 26-yard TD pass from Jason Shelley to Xavier Lane to give the Bears (our Bears) a 37-34 lead with 29 seconds to go. The final play of the game, a desperation heave by UCA, was intercepted and returned for a TD for the final 43-34 tally. I predicted that the the Bears (our Bears) would win by a “weird score” and although I had that as 29-25, it feels like 43-34 is plenty weird. MSU had a lot of naysayers coming into the season but thus far they have proven them all wrong. A close loss to Oklahoma State and a win over a good UCA team is a solid start. MSU was outgained 453-374 but committed no turnovers to Central Arkansas’ two. Jason Shelley was 18-36 for 231 yards and a TD, while Kevon Latulas ran for 98 yards on 10 carries. Petrino’s posse has a week off before they open league play at home against South Dakota.

-#4 Montana 42, Western Illinois 7: The MVFC’s perfect record against FCS foes came to an end, but quite frankly if we had won this one the rest of you may-as-well have stopped trying altogether. Fresh off their big win at Washington, Montana really took it to the Leathernecks. The Griz scored on a 6-play, 65-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead into the first quarter break. After another Montana score, Western Illinois briefly got back into it with a 75-yard interception return by Michael Lawson late in the first half. Montana recovered with a quick TD drive to end the half, capped by an 18-yard TD pass with one second to go. That seemed to break the Leathernecks a bit and they never really challenged in the second half. Montana added two more TDs in the third and another in the fourth for the final 42-7 margin. Statistically, the game was dominated by Montana who outgained Western Illinois 518-151. WIU put up 40 rushing yards which isn’t unusual for them. But the Griz were also able to contain Western’s normally potent passing attack. Connor Sampson was 21-31 through the air for WIU, but only amassed 111 yards with no TDs (and a pick). My pick was 27-7 Griz. It won’t get much easier for Western as they welcome 7th ranked Eastern Washington to Macomb next week.

-#21 Northern Iowa 34, Sacramento State 16: It is a brand new Day for the Panthers! UNI fans already knew they had a good defense, but they now have reason for optimism for the offense. Michigan State transfer quarterback Theo Day came off the bench at the break and gave UNI a spark, leading them to touchdowns on each of his first four drives at the helm. His presence helped turn a 9-7 halftime deficit into a 34-16 Panther win at Sacramento State. It was a rare west coast win for Northern Iowa, but it looked to be more of the same for the Panthers early on. They turned an early Sacramento State turnover into a 23-yard TD drive (without throwing a pass). But the offense looked anemic otherwise, going three-and-out several times and missing a field goal. Will McElvain did not look sharp as he had completed just 2 of 7 passes for 7 yards (most of which came off a ricocheted pass that fell into the arms of a receiver), and UNI was entirely dependent on the run game. At halftime, Coach Farley turned to Day who immediately led UNI on a 6-play, 78-yard TD drive including a 48-yard deep ball on his second pass of the game. UNI increased its lead to 21-9 on the next drive, and 28-9 on the following drive (capped by a 34-yard TD pass to Isaiah Weston). The lead was then extended to 34-9 on a TD pass to Quan Hampton. In all, Day was 6-11 for 120 yards and two TDs in the second half which is Hurculean by UNI standards. The Panthers also ran for 219 yards, with most carries spread across three running backs. Dom Williams, Vance McShane and Bradrick Shaw combined for 200 yards on 36 carries. The UNI defense did allow 455 yards (mostly through the air) but made up for it by forcing six turnovers. My 14-13 prediction correctly picked the Panthers to win, but I failed to account for the Day effect in my score. Northern Iowa will take their talents to Cedar Falls for the first time this season where they will host the D3-to-Pioneer League converts St. Thomas in the Tommies’ first game against a DI team.

That is all for MVFC action in week 2. Take a look below for some other interesting FCS results from around the nation.

-Dayton 17, Eastern Illinois 10: Always head-turning when a non-scholarship team takes out a fully funded one as the Flyers did here against Eastern Illinois.

-Duquesne 28, Ohio 26: When was the last time an NEC team handled an FBS foe? I don’t remember, but it can’t happen often. Huge win for the Dukes.

-Merrimack 35, Holy Cross 21: Holy Cross took out UConn last week only to come home and get beat by a squad that has only been D1 for a few years. Ouch.

-Presbyterian 68, UFTL 3: According to the box score there were no punts in this game by either team. Ren Heffley was held to four TDs after his 10-TD performance last week.

-Louisiana Tech 45, Southeast Louisiana 42: The Lions took it to the wire against FBS foe Louisiana Tech but ended up falling by 3.

-Texas Tech 28, Stephen F Austin 22: SFA dominated possession and outgained the Red Raiders but couldn’t pull it out. The Big 12 never lost, but sure struggled with FCS foes this year.

-Louisiana 27, Nicholls 24: Another near miss for an FCS squad, this time the Sun Belt’s Louisiana (ranked to begin the year) were nearly the victims.

-Jacksonville 20, Florida State 17: The FCS didn’t do as well against the FBS this week as it did last, but this game was the division’s 8th win of the year. This was probably the game of the week nationally as the Gamecocks won on the last play of the game. If you haven’t seen it you ought to.

-St. Thomas 12, Michigan Tech 9: The Tommies, who will face UNI next week, won their debut as a DI team after moving up from D3. Their opponent wasn’t DI, but dubs be dubs.

That’s all for this week. Stay tuned for my week 3 primer coming up in a few days!

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