The battle for that automatic qualifying spot in the FCS Playoffs begins this weekend in the Missouri Valley Conference, as eight of the league's ten teams go head-to-head in week one.

#1 North Dakota State (3-0) at #6 South Dakota State (3-1) - Saturday - 2:00pm

Two of the top six teams in FCS go head-to-head to start the conference schedule.  NDSU won both meetings last season, 20-17 during the regular season, and 28-3 in round two of the playoffs.

South Dakota (1-3) at Western Illinois (2-2) - Saturday - 3:00pm

This will be just the second time these two have met since 1977.  Leathernecks won 24-17 last season.

#24 Illinois State (1-2) at Missouri State (0-4) - Saturday -1:00pm

The 24th ranked Redbirds are a perfect 10-for-10 in the red zone this season, but were upset at home against the Bears last season.  Illinois State is working in some new fgaces, with a redshirt quarterback taking over the the MVC's all-time leading passer, Matt Brown, who graduated after last season.  The Redbirds also have five new players in the front seven defense.

Head Coach Brock Spack says he's still learning about his team:

Missouri State Head Coach Terry Allen knows his team needs the same kind of effort from last season to pull off back-to-back wins against Illinois State:

#25 Youngstown State (3-1) at Southern Illinois (2-2) - Saturday - 6:00pm

Head Coach Eric Wolford is preparing his team for a very balanced Saluki squad, which features the conference defensive player of the week (linebacker Bryan Presume) and offensive lineman of the week (Ethan Wirth):

Head Coach Dale Lennon is excited about getting the conference schedule underway:

The two remaining Missouri Valley teams, Northern Iowa and Indiana State, have non-conference games this week.

The #5 Panthers (3-0) host #9 McNeese State from the Southland Conference, while the Sycamores (1-2) play at Tennessee Tech of the Ohio Valley Conference.