This Week in Missouri Valley Conference Football
Just one unbeaten team remains in the Missouri Valley Conference after a month of play, and North Dakota State looks poised to stay perfect as they travel to Indiana State, who is one of two teams (Northern Iowa) still looking for a league win in 2013.
South Dakota is just a game off the lead at 3-1, South Dakota State has dropped three of four in MVC play.
Here's what to watch for Saturday (Sports Network Rankings/FCS Coaches Ranking):
South Dakota (4-3/3-1) at Illinois State (3-4/2-2) - 1:00pm
The Coyotes are on a roll with three straight wins in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Quarterback Kevin Earl is the conference's offensive player of the week after passing for a career high 370 yards at Northern Iowa. Wide receiver Riley Donovan is the Missouri Valley newcomer of the week after nine catches for 178 yards.
Defensively, the Coyotes have the top pass defense in the league, allowing just 112 yards per game, with seven interceptions so far.
The Redbirds scored early and often in a 55-14 win over Indiana State last weekend. Running back Marshaun Coprich with his third straight 100 yard game.
Illinois State is tops in the Missouri Valley this season on kickoff return average (28 yards per return).
Head coach Brock Spack on South Dakota:
#17/#18 Northern Iowa (4-3/0-3) at #25/#24 South Dakota State (4-4/1-3) - 2:00pm
One of the most surprising games of the season has two teams in the Top 16 pre-season a combined 1-6 in league play so far.
Northern Iowa has won 6 of 7 against the Jacks.
SDSU running back Zach Zenner is over 1,000 yards for the third straight year, while wide receiver Jason Schneider us leading the Missouri Valley with 78 receiving yards per game.
The Jacks are looking for a much better start than last week's game at Missouri State.
The Panthers have dropped three straight, including the last two in overtime.
UNI has the top all-purpose player in the league in running back David Johnson, and the #1 receiver in Chad Owens, with an average of 5 catches a game.
Head coach Mark Farley on the Jackrabbits:
#1/#1 North Dakota State (7-0/4-0) at Indiana State (1-6/0-3) - 2:00pm
These are two teams that have gone in totally opposite directions since the Sycamores handed the Bison their only loss last season.
North Dakota State has won 16 straight since that game, the top active winning streak in FCS.
The Bison are #1 in the nation in total defense and scoring defense, and lead the Missouri Valley with 13 sacks.
Head coach Craig Bohl on Indiana State:
Since beating the Bison in Fargo last October, the Sycamores have won just 3 of their next 11 games, including a current four-game losing streak.
This week it was announced that the active career rushing leader in the Missouri Valley, Shakir Bell, was no longer with the team for unspecified reasons.
The Sycamores are last in the league in scoring offense (17 points per game) and last in points allowed on defense (36 points per game).
Head coach Mike Sanford on North Dakota State:
Missouri State (2-6/2-2) at Western Illinois (3-5/1-3) - 6:00pm
The Bears hope to get injured quarterback Kierra Harris back this week. He threw for 3 touchdowns in Missouri State's 42-3 win over the Leathernecks last season. Overall, the Bears have won the last four in the series.
Missouri State's Caleb Schaffitzel is the Missouri Valley defensive player of the week after 14 tackles and a key fourth quarter interception against South Dakota State last week.
Head coach Terry Allen on Western Illinois:
Despite being losing their last three, the Leathernecks are in the Top 20 in the nation in total defense (325 yards per game) and are one of just three teams in FCS (Arkansas - Pine Bluff, Southern Utah) with just one fumble lost this season.
Offensively, Running back J.C. Baker has 5 100-yard rushing performances this season.
Head coach Bob Nielson on Missouri State:
Southern Illinois (4-4/2-2) and Youngstown State (7-1/4-0) both have the weekend off.