This Week in Missouri Valley Conference Football
We're pulling into the halfway point of the 2014 Missouri Valley Conference schedule this week, and two teams (NDSU and Youngstown State) are still unbeaten in league play, while two teams (Northern Iowa, and Indiana State) are looking for their first league win.
Here's what to watch for (Sports Network Rankings/FCS Coaches Ranking):
#15/#18South Dakota State (4-3/1-2) at Missouri State (1-6/1-2) - 1:00pm
The Jackrabbits grabbed their first conference win last week at Western Illinois. The four interceptions in the game give them an FCS high 15 on the year. SDSU is second in the nation in turnover margin.
Defensive back Winston Wright is the conference defensive player of the week.
The Bears have thrown more interceptions (7) than touchdowns (5) this season, and have never beaten SDSU in five tries.
Wide receiver Julian had 6 catches for 128 yards against NDSU last week.
Missouri State head coach Terry Allen on South Dakota State:
South Dakota (3-3/2-1) at #11/#13Northern Iowa (4-2/0-2) - 4:00pm
The Coyotes are riding their first two-game winning streak in two years, and have a defense that's 6th in the nation in fewest yards allowed and 11th in the nation in fewest points allowed.
Running back Trevor Bouma is the conference newcomer of the week after a career-high 145 yards and two scores against Indiana State.
The Panthers have allowed the 4th fewest points in the nation, are 15th in turnover margin, and 20th in fewest yards allowed.
Northern Iowa's two straight losses have come in the final seconds at top ranked North Dakota State, and in overtime at home against Southern Illinois.
The Panthers haven't lost to the Coyotes since 1981.
#1/#1 North Dakota State (6-0/3-0) at Southern Illinois - 2:00pm
North Dakota State is #3 in the nation in fewest points allowed, fewest yards allowed, and fewest rushing yards allowed.
Kick returner Ryan Smith is the conference special teams player of the week after returning a punt 85 yards for a touchdown last week against Missouri State.
The Bison have won 15 straight, including a come-from-behind 23-17 win over the Salukis last year.
NDSU head coach Craig Bohl on Southern Illinois:
The Salukis are playing a top ten team for the third straight week. They won the previous two against #7 South Dakota State and #4 Northern Iowa.
SIU quarterback Kory Faulkner has more touchdown passes in seven games this season (17) then he had in his previous 23 games (16).
The Salukis have allowed the 4th fewest yards in the nation on the ground this season.
Southern Illinois head coach Dale Lennon on NDSU:
Indiana State (1-5/0-2) at Illinois State (2-4/1-2) - 1:00pm
The Sycamores haven't won a game in more than a month, and have lost 13 of 15 to the Redbirds.
Running back Shakir Bell is now over 4,200 rushing in his career.
Indiana State head coach Mike Sanford on Illinois State:
The Redbirds have received back-to-back 100-yard rushing games from running back Marshaun Coprich.
Illinois State head coach Brock Spack on Indiana State:
Western Illinois (3-4/1-2) at #16/#15 Youngstown State (6-1/3-0) - 2:00pm CDT
The Leathernecks are hoping for the return of running back Nikko Watson this week after an illness landed him in the hospital last week, forcing him out of the South Dakota State game.
WIU linebackler J.J. Raffelson had 13 tackles against the Jackrabbits. The Leathernecks had 5 sacks last week, 19 already this season (8 better than last year).
Western Illinois head coach Bob Neilson on Youngstown State:
The Penguins are trying to keep pace with North Dakota State atop the Missouri Valley standings.
YSU quarterback Kurt Hess is the conference offensive player of the week after 311 yards passing and 4 touchdowns against Illinois State last week.
The Penguins have won 8 of 9 against the Leathernecks.
Youngstown State head coach Eric Wolford on Western Illinois: