In the ultra competitive, ten-team, Missouri Valley Football Conference, only three teams aren't represented in the national rankings after the first month of the season.

But for South Dakota, Missouri State, and Southern Illinois, a couple of MVFC wins are all it takes to remedy that.

The Coyotes (1-2) open league play when they travel to Youngstown State, Saturday.

In Ohio, USD is trying to do something they have yet to do in four previous MVFC openers - win a game.

The Coyotes will be back on the field after a bye week, 14 days removed from a 47-44 double overtime loss at North Dakota, in a game that saw USD build a three-score lead, but allow 20 unanswered points to end regulation.

South Dakota quarterback Chris Streveler comes in as the nation’s leader in points responsible for per game (26), accounting for 13 of USD’s 15 touchdowns. The University of Minnesota transfer has thrown four TD passes in each of his last two games. He is also the nation’s eighth leading rusher (115 yards per game).

Running back Trevor Bouma is in the top four in rushing in the conference with 95 yards per game this season. Wide receiver Shamar Jackson has ten catches for 137 yards and four touchdowns in his last two games.

The Coyotes biggest problem on offense has been turnovers - eight in three games - leading to 52 opponents points.

Defensively, senior middle linebacker and team captain John Wessel may be done for the season with an injury. In his absence, outside linebacker Jet Moreland, a converted defensive back, is leading the team with 25 tackles, while sophomore linebacker Alex Coker is one of five MVFC players with three sacks.

They'll be going against a Youngstown State team that has a reputation for playing close games.

The Penguins (2-1) dropped three conference games by a field goal or less in coach Bo Pelini's first season since coming over from Nebraska last year. Like USD, they are also coming off a bye week.

This season, YSU has switched things up a quarterback. Last season's starter Hunter Wells is now third on the depth chart behind, Ricky Davis and Trent Hosick. Davis started the first two games before suffering a concussion against West Virginia. Hosick started in the win over Robert Morris two weeks ago, but Davis is expected to be back for the USD game. He's thrown for four touchdowns and no interceptions and is averaging 188 yards a game thru the air. He also has the ability to scramble, averaging nearly 70 yards a game on the ground.

Running the ball behind a veteran offensive line is what the Penguins do best, averaging 294 yards rushing per game. Running back Martin Ruiz has 33 touchdowns in his career and has gained nearly 3,500 yards. Jody Webb has rushed for 35 scores in his career. He's missed the last two games with an injury. but is expected to play against USD. In his absence, sophomore Tevin McCaster has averaged 78 yards per game.

On the outside, wide receiver Alvin Bailey, a transfer from the University of Florida, has seven catches for 129 yards and a touchdown.

On defense, the YSU line is anchored by a pair of talented ends. Derek
Rivers is a pre-season All-American who has two sacks and six quarterback hurries this season. Nebraska transfer Avery Moss has a pair of sacks and four hurries.

The Penguins have allowed one 256 yards on the ground in three games and no rushing touchdowns.

I asked Coyote head coach Bob Nielson about the bye week and the match-up with Youngstown State: