Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

College Football Focus: Missouri Valley Football Is Flying High

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

College Football Focus: Missouri Valley Football Is Flying High

Article excerpt

The Missouri Valley Football Conference isn't quite the SEC of the Football Championship Subdivision, but with seven teams in the top 25, the St. Louis-based league has a multitude of contenders for the 2014 playoffs.

North Dakota State continues to sit atop the FCS rankings, and that won't change after its 37-17 win over South Dakota State.

But entering the weekend there may not have been a deeper conference in college football with No. 6 Illinois State, No. 13 Youngstown State, No. 19 South Dakota State, No. 21 Indiana State, No. 22 Northern Iowa and No. 25 Southern Illinois-Carbondale.

"We all know in the Missouri Valley a lot of games are going to come down to the fourth quarter and most have for us," Illinois State coach Brock Spack said. "Teams in this league are just tremendous. It's the most balanced league I've ever been a part of."

Illinois State suffered its first loss over the weekend at Northern Iowa. Youngstown State and Indiana State both won, and SIUC had a bye.

North Dakota State has won three consecutive national championships and is the favorite again this season. The Bison have impressed enough people that they are receiving votes in the Associated Press rankings.

But there are plenty of contenders for the postseason field as reflected by the most recent Gridiron Power Index, which is a top indicator for at-large selections.

In that ranking before the weekend, North Dakota State and Illinois State were 1-2. And the conference had eight of the top 19 teams, with Missouri State at No. 18. No other league had more than four teams in the top 25.

Even the bottom of the conference has proved challenging. Western Illinois gave NDSU its toughest game, losing 17-10. The Leathernecks also lost 37-34 to Illinois State. And last-place South Dakota led at Youngstown State in the fourth quarter before losing.

"We all know in this league if you don't prepare and come out with your 'A' game, you're going to get knocked off," said NDSU coach Chris Klieman.

TOUGH NIGHT FOR OLE MISS

Mississippi suffered through a disastrous night, losing in the final minute to Auburn 35-31 and also seeing receiver Laquon Treadwell break his left leg while trying to put the Rebels in the lead. …

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