Friday, August 31, 2012

Rough Opening for the MVFC

Last night the Missouri Valley Football conference opened up the 2012 season. Two games were schedule last night, Western Illinois vs. Butler and Southern Illinois at Eastern Illinois. As the title of this post suggests, the results from last night were disappointing.

Nikko Watson, RB Western Illinois (Photo: WIUAthletics)
Western Illinois did end the night 1-0. They beat the Bulldogs 23-15 and should end up 2-0 next week after they play Indianapolis. The problem with this victory was the product of football Western Illinois showed us. The Leathernecks showed us that they can't pass. Josh Hudson threw for 109 yards and 1 INT. It could have been worse, however, when you're playing a non-scholarship football team you still want to polish up on the weaknesses of the football team.

A win is a win, right?. Also, I still need to remember that Western was up 23-0 in the third quarter. Now, I wasn't there; maybe they brought in the second string defense and that resulted in quick scores from Butler. Who knows. In the end Western had two running backs over 100 yards and won the game. We'll see what they're made of in the next few weeks.

LaSteven McKinney, WR SIU (Photo: SIUAthletics)
The Southern Illinois game was a nightmare for the Salukis; they lost 49-28 to Eastern Illinois. They seemed to start off right where they left off last season; inconsistent, sluggish, and oddly talented. The Salukis gave up 522 yard total offense! Youngstown State, Illinois State, South Dakota State, and Northern Iowa are going to torch Southern Illinois through the air if the Salukis don't figure it out.

You have to question the coaching by Southern Illinois. Mi'kial McCall averaged 5.1 yards per carry yet he only received 11 rushing attempts; he shared carries with Steve Strother who had 12. The Salukis need to get it started on the ground, and keep it on the ground. Faulkner and his receivers are not efficient enough to keep drives alive. If they could have called half as many pass plays and twice as many run plays, Southern Illinois would have won the game. No doubt in my mind.

Next up for the MVFC:

Illinois State vs. Dayton, Saturday 2:00 (ET)
South Dakota @ Montana, Saturday 3:30
Northern Iowa @ Wisconsin, Saturday 3:30
Youngstown State @ Pittsburgh, Saturday 6:00
North Dakota State vs. Robert Morris, Saturday 7:00
South Dakota State at Kansas, Saturday 7:00
Missouri State at Kansas State, Saturday 7:10
Indiana State at Indiana, Saturday 8:00

Friday, August 24, 2012

MVFC Expansion

I'm dreaming.

I know that Northern Iowa, Illinois State, Indiana State, and any other Missouri Valley Basketball fan will deny that South Dakota State and North Dakota State have zero chance of joining the Missouri Valley for all sports. Personally, I would love that. But I will have to agree, it won't happen. Only under specific circumstances would the MVC take on more teams.

However, leaving all that out of it I would like to see this happen in the future of the Missouri Valley Football. Twelve teams. Two divisions. The MVFC couldn't play a Championship Game because of NCAA FCS rules, but it would allow for more teams to become playoff eligible. Currently the Missouri Valley has five teams that have playoff talent (NDSU, YSU, ISU(r), ISU(b), UNI), possibly even seven if you add dark-horses SDSU and SIU.

It wasn't too long ago when the CAA was dominating the playoff scene with their two-division set-up. The MVFC could do the same. Two teams need to be added to get to twelve teams. Here are some possibilities:

Drake (Private)
Enrollment: 5,221
Location: Des Moines, IA
Stadium: Drake Stadium (14,557)

- In MVC for all sports
- Geographically located in the middle of the conference
- Big media market
- Already has a D-1 Football program

- D-1 Football program is non-scholarship
- Might have difficultly funding the football program
- Would have to balance football scholarships with Title IX policies; would have to add a women's sport or cut a couple mens sports.

Eastern Illinois
Enrollment: 11,651
Location: Charleston, IL
Stadium: O'Brien Stadium (10,000)

- Already has a D-1 Football Program
- Geographically located in the middle of the conference
- Was one of the founding members of the Gateway Football Conference

- Would be hard to pry them away from the Ohio Valley Conference

Enrollment: 14,903
Location: Omaha, NE
Stadium: Al F. Caniglia Field (9,500)

- Making the transition to D-1
- Close proximity to many MVFC teams
- Big media market in Omaha

- Will always be overshadowed by UNL and Creighton; won't have the greatest support
- Shutting the program down obviously signified financial stress; adding the sport would bring it back- would be unstable for years.

Wichita State
Enrollment: 14,806
Location: Wichita, KS
Stadium: Cessna Stadium (31,500)

- Already in D-1; has the support
- Has a big stadium ready for football (would they fill it?)
- Already in Missouri Valley Conference.
- Might tap into a large media market for the MVFC to get some exposure.

- Might consider by-passing FCS to move to FBS
- Travel would get more difficult; Kansas spreads the conference further southwest
- Might struggle with recruiting (like Missouri State)

Augustana (Private)
Enrollment: 1,745
Location: Sioux Falls, SD
Stadium: Kirkeby-Over Stadium (6,500)

- Has had some strong years in D-II since the big publics left the NCC. They've built a new (very nice) stadium and had created very fun to watch football program.
- Would allow travel relief for western MVFC schools.

- Small private school would have a hard time financing a D-1 program and would likely hurt the program moving forward.
- Would struggle to recruit against SDSU, NDSU, and USD; just like in D-II.

In any circumstance, if two teams were added to the MVFC the divisions would be split East/West. Here is how I envision the Divisions if Eastern Illinois and Drake were added.

Great Lakes:
Youngstown State
Indiana State
Eastern Illinois
Illinois State
Southern Illinois
Western Illinois

Great Plains:
North Dakota State
South Dakota State
Northern Iowa
Missouri State
South Dakota

Again, I'm just dreaming. But this setup would almost certainly ensure five 7-win+ teams a year; meaning more playoffs for the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Eight More Days!

Today's post is a bunch of rambling; you've been warned.

College Sporting News just announced their Missouri Valley Conference Preview; View it here. There are a few differences between their projections and mine; major differences include the position of Illinois State and Western Illinois.

NDSU's Fargodome last year against Georgia Southern in the Playoffs.
#1 North Dakota State
#2 Illinois State
#3 Northern Illinois
#4 Youngstown State
#5 South Dakota State
#6 Indiana State
#7 Southern Illinois
#8 South Dakota
#9 Missouri State
#10 Western Illinois

#1 North Dakota State
#2 Northern Iowa 
#3 Youngstown State
#4 Illinois State
#5 Indiana State
#6 South Dakota State
#7 Southern Illinois
#8 Western Illinois
#9 South Dakota
#10 Missouri State

Both Projections agree and have North Dakota State finishing #1. The Fargodome will certainly be a lively place (as it always is) in 2012. This preview also announced "Game of the Week" for each week in 2012. I have decided that I'll use these and do weekly featured previews on each "Game of the Week". 

Missouri Valley Conference Game of the Week

Southern Illinois @ Eastern Illinois, Aug 30

South Dakota State @ Southeastern Louisiana, Sept 8

Southeast Missouri State @ Southern Illinois, Sept 15

Northern Iowa @ Youngstown State, Sept 22

Western Illinois @ South Dakota, Oct 6

Indiana State @ North Dakota State, Oct 13

Southern Illinois @ Youngstown State, Oct 20

Illinois State @ Northern Iowa, Oct 27

Illinois State @ Indiana State, Nov 3

South Dakota State @ North Dakota State, Nov 10

South Dakota @ South Dakota State, Nov 17

Power Rankings

I really can't wait to start doing the Power Rankings. I've had a massive itch to stat punching in numbers for about three weeks now. Only eight more days left until I can start! I've also decided that I would leave out Strength of Schedule until the fourth or fifth week. This will make the SOS factor more accurate. After testing the system it turns out that teams that lost to FBS teams got a huge boost because the opponent win % plus the bonus they get for playing an FBS team. Once teams' records get to be more connected the SOS will be an accurate measurement device.

Also, I'm running out of ideas for polls. I've got a new one coming out at the end of the week. Please feel free to leave comments, concerns, ideas, or anything; I want to know what you guys want to see out of this blog for the duration of the football season and beyond.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pre-season Scrimmages

This past Saturday Indiana State held their second scrimmage of fall camp. This particular event gathered my attention because of the quarterback situation in Terre Haute.

Indiana State QB, Mike Perish (Photo: ISU Athletics)
The first team offense was led by Mike Perish who led the squad efficiently (7-9, 82 yards, 1 TD). I was hard on Indiana State on my predictions for this season. However if Mike Perish proves to be a viable replacement for Ronnie Fouch then Indiana State could easily contend for the MVFC this season. I mean, really, the only thing he has to do is hand the ball to Shakir Bell and complete a few passes here and there. The anticipated 2nd string QB is Robert Tonyan, Jr. He also performed well in the scrimmage (9-17, 145 yards, 1 TD). Shakir Bell apparently saw limited action; Richie Dyer handled most of the carries for the first-team offense according to

The Sycamores weren't the only team scrimmaging on Saturday. Youngstown State, Missouri State, and Southern Illinois all held official scrimmages. Western Illinois practiced and finished up fall camp with a pep rally.

Youngstown State:

Western Illinois:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Looking Ahead to Week #1

Week 1 is 14 days away. Here's what's on the conference slate for week 1:

Projected wins:
Butler @ Western Illinois
Dayton @ Illinois State
Robert Morris @ NDSU

Close games:
Southern Illinois @ Eastern Illinois
Indiana State @ Indiana

Unlikely Upsets:
South Dakota @ Montana
South Dakota State @ Kansas
Youngstown State @ Pittsburgh

Northern Iowa @ Wisconsin
Missouri State @ Kansas State

I'm obviously getting very anxious about football season, its still 14 days away and I'm holding myself back from writing game previews for these games. Anyway, by the end of week 1, the Missouri Valley Football Conference may have only three wins under its' belt. The projected wins are no-brainers; WIU, ISU(red), and NDSU all face bottom-tier conference teams and should have no problem with their respective opponents. This first week should be a good start for Western Illinois; they need some confidence, and the Butler game might just be what the doctor ordered. I pity-da-fool who thinks Dayton or Robert Morris have any chance at W's in week one.

Indiana State RB, Shakir Bell
The close games come between Southern Illinois/Eastern Illinois, and Indiana State/Indiana. Last year Southern Illinois blasted Eastern 45-28, in Carbondale. This year the game will be in Charleston where Eastern Illinois topped Illinois State last year 33-26. Eastern Illinois went 2-9 last year; Southern Illinois went 4-7. Two presumed sub-par teams facing off for a fresh start in a new season, should be a barnburner. The other close game, well, the Hoosiers suck. I don't care whether they are a Big Ten team or not, they haven't been decent since Antwaan Randle El. I expect Shakir Bell to have a field day and keep it close, and maybe even pull of the victory.

South Dakota, South Dakota State, and Youngstown State all face games that are games that might produce upsets, but are fairly unlikely. They face Montana, Kansas, and Pittsburgh, respectively. Montana is coming off a playoff run from last year and will reload in 2012. Montana is facing some challenges already in 2012 with their starting QB, Jordan Johnson being charged for rape earlier this summer. However, I just don't see enough firepower from the Coyotes to pull off an upset in Missoula. South Dakota State gets another chance to knock off an FBS opponent, this time it will be Kansas of the Big 12. I just don't see the Jackrabbits having the maturity to handle a higher level opponent this year, SDSU is still very young. The same goes for Youngstown State, they face Pittsburgh and they will have to play a near flawless game to pull off the upset.

UNI RB, Carlos Anderson
Northern Iowa and Missouri State face ranked FBS teams, Wisconsin and Kansas State. Northern Iowa is a good team, but beating Wisconsin is a tall-tall task. Playing Wisconsin will not be like playing their in-state rivals Iowa State, and Iowa every other year. Badger RB, Monte Ball will prove to be alot for Northern Iowa to manage. Missouri State vs. Kansas State just isn't fair. The Bears will get their pay-day but that, I'm afraid, is all they'll get. Kansas State likely will not match their 10-win season from last year, but they will still be dangerous and are projected to finish somewhere in the middle of the new-look Big 12. No doubt Missouri State is a struggling team, and to pull off an upset against Kansas State this year would be one-in-a-million.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NCAA '13 & Division I Football

A couple of things to rant about today. First, I returned my copy of NCAA '13 to Gamestop today. Although I found it fun to play with UMass, Texas St, and UTSA the game was so laggy that I found it unplayable. I used to be able to zip through recruiting (and do it efficiently) in fairly little time. In NCAA '13 it took me an hour--Not a fan. If that wasn't enough, I started a dynasty and simulated the first season and then began to play the second season; I got four games into the season when the game started freezing. I was freaking out because I thought it might have something to do with my Xbox. However, I plugged in some other games and none of them seemed to have that issue. I've lost all confidence in EA Sports to put out a good game; I won't buy a game in that series for a long, long time.

 After having this issue with NCAA '13, It started getting me thinking about how messy Division I football really is. Division I is not a true Division I. I dream about the entirety of Division 1 football coming together and becoming Division I. Of course I know that will never happen. BCS schools will not let smaller schools share the loot. Can you imagine what kind of profits would come from a Division I 32 team playoff, featuring teams from ALL over Division I? If it was set up like March Madness teams that participated, even in the first round, would receive some sort of bonus check. And why shouldn't they? Programs should be rewarded on success. There would be blow-outs. There would be upsets. During rivalry week when the BCS conferences clash; the Mid-Majors could duke out some sort of BracketBusters weekend where they fight for a middle seed. That is just the tip of the iceberg, there could be NIT-like post-season tournaments as well featuring teams not quite good enough to make the NCAA. Even further, there could be the CBI and other low level tournaments for teams to enjoy post-season play.

Of course, I am just dreaming. In an alternative universe, maybe this exists.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Preseason Jitters

Just ordered my Phil Steele FCS Preview; I couldn't be more excited. Football season just gets closer and closer. August is almost half over and the anticipation for football season only builds further from here. The Sports Network recently released its' Top 25. Five of the ten MVFC teams made appearances in that poll: NDSU (2), UNI (9), Youngstown State (13), Illinois State (19), and Indiana State (23).

College Sports Madness is also doing a FCS Preview. This preview features the top 44 teams in FCS according to College Sports Madness. So far only two MVFC squads have been selected, SDSU (32) and Indiana State (26).

I have also arranged my 2012 football schedule, excited to be for sure attending these following games:

South Dakota State @ Kansas, Sept 1
Western Illinois @ Iowa State, Sept 15
South Dakota State @ UNI, Oct 20
Youngstown State @ South Dakota State, Oct 27 (Hobo Day)
South Dakota @ South Dakota State, Nov 17

I would love to make it to North Dakota State @ UNI on Sept 29, but I'd have to pull some strings. We'll see. Anyway, I'm excited to make my way back to the UNI-Dome. I haven't been there since 2008.

The one and only, UNI-Dome

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Eastern Michigan's Home Attendance

I went out and bought the FBS Phil Steele Preview today (ordered my FCS Preview online, now I'm impatiently waiting) I was tickled when I saw this on Eastern Michigan's page (for the 3rd year in a row, by the way)

Now, I know Ypsilanti is extremely close to Ann Arbor, but to average only 4,267 fans per game? Seriously? Eastern Michigan even had a relatively good year (6-6). Eastern Michigan's football stadium has a capacity of 30,200. Whenever I run into an uniformed college football fan who thinks any FCS is far inferior to FBS, I ALWAYS mention these MAC teams who have less fan support than most teams in the MVFC, and this PROVES it.

Saturday Special: NDSU DB, Marcus Williams

Marcus Williams is easily the most sensational defensive backs in the Football Championship Subdivision. Williams came out of Hopkins High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was a three-year starter at both wide receiver and defensive back. His contributions on the football field garnered him time-time all-Metro and all-CLC team honors; he also received an All-State selection as a senior. Needless to say, Marcus Williams has been producing big numbers and making a huge impact on the football field for many, many years.

Marcus Williams turns the corner against the Gophers (Photo: Mark Vancleave)
After a redshirt season in 2009, Williams started 12 of 14 games in 2010. In those 12 games he complied 47 tackles, 4 INTs (one returned for TD), and 12 pass break-ups. This kind of production would be expected out of an upperclassmen leader, not a redshirt freshman. His one pick-six occurred came in the biggest game of North Dakota State's 2010 playoff run against eventual FCS Champions, Eastern Washington. Without a doubt, his production alloted him an Honorable mention on the All-MVFC team and a spot on the MVFC All-Newcomer team, as well as instant fame among Bison nation.

Last year, Williams started all 15 games as a sophomore and put up enormous numbers. How does 53 tackles, 7 INTs returned for 274 yards (4 for TDs), and 15 pass break-ups sounds? Unbelievable numbers like that change the game tremendously. The momentum shifts provided by Williams' performance created an aura around the Bison football team of unmatchable confidence and unprecedented production. Like a well-oiled machine, the Bison defense fed off of Williams big-play mentality and cruised its way to an FCS Championship.

NDSU  students worship him with a Big Head
Marcus Williams will be a Junior this year and will certainly provide the same boost in momentum for the next couple of years. If Williams matched or even surpasses his production from the previous two years, a selection in the NFL Draft can be seriously discussed. Some critics will downplay his NFL potential citing his size as a primary issue. However, former Pro-Bowler Darrelle Revis (5'11, 198 lbs) of the New York Jets is almost identical in size to Williams (5'11, 194 lbs). I would not be surprised in two years if Marcus Williams gets draft and pushes for a successful NFL career.

With the 2012 season fast approaching, we should all be ready to watch Williams make spectacular plays. Even if its against "our" teams, lets try to remember in the moment that watching good football is a privilege. Some day, when Williams is playing on Sundays, we can even say, "Hey, I watched that guy in college; he was spectacular."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Western Illinois New Uniforms

Western Illinois will be wearing all purple for home games this season; they will also be wearing new helmets for 2012. I was a huge fan of their old uni's with the stripes on the sleeves. What I don't like about these new jersey's is that they turned their gold into yellow.


Missouri State New Uniforms

It appears Missouri State will be in new threads in 2012:

I love the Bear claws on the sleeves... but why not MVFC logo on the away jerseys?

Dale Moss

Packers WR, #13 Dale Moss
Dale Moss had a successful first NFL appearance with the Green Bay Packers last night in a preseason bout against the San Diego Chargers. Moss caught three balls for 29 yards, second to Randall Cobb who caught four balls for 58 yards and a TD. Nice to see some production from former MVFC players. Next preseason game for the Packers is next Thursday against the Browns.

Tonight former North Dakota State TE, Matt Veldman will make his debut with the Jacksonville Jaguars in their preseason game against the Giants. The game starts at 6:30 CST. I'll be following along on ESPN Gamecast while I'm watching the Twins.

Leave a comment on this post on other former MVFC players making their debut in the NFL this season.

#10 Western Illinois

Western Illinois RB, Nikko Watson (Photo: Tom Loftus)
Western Illinois has experienced a very up and down last 5 years; they just can't remain consistent. In 2008 Western Illinois went a mediocre 6-5, the next year the Leathernecks reached a low going 1-10 with their only win coming against Sam Houston State. In 2010, things looked up again; Western finished the season 8-5 after a nice playoff run. However, last year things went downhill again. The Leathernecks finished the season 2-9 with their only wins coming from non-scholly Jacksonville and a struggling Southern Illinois team.

In 2012, Western Illinois will have an extremely easy non-conference schedule which should be a confidence builder for the Leathernecks. Western has had very good teams in the past which makes them unlike Missouri State, however, I believe that the Leathernecks are a couple seasons away from contention for the Missouri Valley Football Conference crown.

After the previous four years, logic would dictate that 2012 should be a winning season for the Leathernecks. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to disagree with that logic. Western Illinois has alot of work to do before they can come back into contention. They lacked many key aspects last year and the result was a two win season. After looking through some of last season's stats, I was shocked when I saw the "points by quarters". 

It appears as though Western Illinois got themselves in a hole before games even started. Momentum is a huge part of football; it can lead to upset victories, winning streaks, a loud and vocal crowd, and the rise of new talent. The Leathernecks need to find a way to grab some momentum and run with it. A couple players that could reignite the Leatherneck presence in the MVFC are, QB Josh Hudson and RB Nikko Watson

Josh Hudson was an okay QB last season for the Leathernecks. He completed 119 of 207 passes for 1528 yards, 12 TDs and 11 INTs. We've all seen worse stats, however, with the state of the Western Illinois defense last year, those stats needed to be much better. In 2012, it will be interesting to see how Hudson develops. He will be missing his favorite target from last year, former WR Terriun Crump. 

I got to see Niko Watson in action last year when I watched the SDSU-WIU game. Taking into account that I already knew that the Jackrabbit defense wasn't exactly stellar, I was still impressed with how hard Watson ran. Niko Watson only played four games last year. In those games he ran the ball 90 times for 485 yards and scored three times. That averages out to 121 yards a game, a definite momentum builder. 

Defensively the Leathernecks will need to perform much better than they did in 2012. Western Illinois will rely on playmaker Kieron James to provide momentum shifts. Last year James had three picks and ten pass deflections. Dwight Harris provided four sacks at DL last season for the Leathernecks as well. The defense is going to need to play with more heart to keep Western Illinois in games and give their offense a chance to win the game. 

As stated before, Western Illinois will enjoy an easy schedule in 2012. They begin 2012 with two easy games against non-scholly Butler and D-II opponent University of Indianapolis. They will, however, play Big 12 Iowa State the following week. Coming out of non-conference play I see Western Illinois at 2-1. The conference schedule is relatively easier for Western Illinois than for other MVFC teams. Missing from their MVFC slate is projected conference winner, North Dakota State. Conference games that Western Illinois could win are road games against South Dakota, Missouri State, and Southern Illinois. By the end of the season I see Western Illinois going anywhere between 2-9 and 4-7. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

#9 Missouri State

Missouri enters 2012 coming off of a stunning victory against Youngstown State last year. Unfortunately, I believe that win has more to do with an unfocused Youngstown State team looking ahead to the playoffs (not realizing that they needed that last win). In any light, a win is a win and Missouri State definitely needed a positive note to end on after a dismal 2-9 performance last season.

Missouri State TE, Matt Thayer (Photo: Pat Dailey)
As usual, the Missouri State defense last year was atrocious. Missouri State gave up the most points (408) out of any team last year in the MVFC. Teams torched Missouri State both on the ground and through the air. Missouri State opponents averaged more than 200 yards per game on the ground and scored 27 times through the air. It is safe to say that the Bears lack a fire.

Last year QB Trevor Wooden was the Missouri State offense. He led the team in rushing, rush attempts, rush TDs, all the passing stats (obviously), and total offense. Bad news, Trevor Wooden was dismissed from the team in May for breaking team rules. Whoever will take the field in place of Wooden will have some big shoes to fill. Junior QB, Ashton Glaser (transfer from Missouri) will likely be named starter. Glaser has no game experience outside of Missouri spring games in 09' '10' and 11'. Pre-season MVFC All-American TE Matt Thayer will make an impact again this year at TE. Thayer scored three times and averaged nearly 13 yards a catch last year.

Junior RB Scott Vernon will bring in the most experience in 2012. Vernon was a transfer from Colorado State after his redshirt season. He was also injured last season against Arkansas and started only one game against North Dakota state. In that start he carried the ball 13 times for 66 yards, not bad but not overpowering. Time will tell if Scott Vernon takes the next step and gives Missouri State a steady, consistent running attack.

Defensively Missouri State has alot of work to do to get better from 2011. As stated before, the Bears gave up the most points out of any team in the MVFC last year. To get better the Bears must find some sort of fire to rejuvenate this defense. One player that could relight the fire is LB Andrew Beisel. Beisel was picked as an MVFC Pre-Season All-American and will continue to make an impact on defense. The question is will Beisel be successful in creating that "aura" around him that makes everyone on defense a better player. Those of you that played football know what I am referring to. Leadership skills ooze out of these types of players and fires up each and every player they come in contact with. Other players that should make an impact include DE Martin Montgomery (47 tackles, 4 sacks), DB Sybhrian Berry (44 tackles, 7 pass break-ups), and LB Nate Davis (44 tackles, 2 sacks, fumble recovery). These players are the pieces for progress for the Bear defense.

The only relief Missouri State will get in their schedule in 2012 is that they don't play Youngstown State. Even so, this schedule is tough. Two FBS games and a tough Murray State opponent sets Missouri State to likely go 0-3 entering conference play.

Once the Bears get to conference play it doesn't get much easier. Missouri State faces challenging road games at South Dakota State, Indiana State, Illinois State, and Northern Iowa. Possible wins for Missouri State could come against South Dakota, Western Illinois, and possibly Southern Illinois (all these games are at home).

Missouri State likely has a long season ahead of them. With the tough non-conference schedule and the unlucky draw of home games vs. road games. I'd say that Missouri State will likely finish anywhere between 1-10 to 3-8.

South Dakota State's New Uniforms

South Dakota State is taking their uniforms in a new direction. After years of traditional plain blue and yellow combos, a new Under Armor contract has brought in new change. Here is what the Jackrabbits look like come fall:

Its going to take me some time to get used to the new jerseys. I must say the old traditional jerseys grew on me and it will be tough to clear that old image.

After Southern Illinois went to Under Armor, I was envious. The other thing to consider for any new clothing change for the Jackrabbits is to make sure they have a distinct look so there is no confusion between them and Delaware. I like these 'unis'. The Jacks will look sharp in them.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Power Rankings

I'm going to put together a power rankings formula for the MVFC this year. So far I've come up with an effective, simple, formula. I plugged in last years regular seasons' stats into the formula and this is what resulted:

These power rankings do not include strength of schedule of margin of victory. I would love to include those two variables if anyone has any ideas on how to plug those into my original formula. Like I said before the formula is very simple: 

((wins* points scored)-(losses* points allowed))/games played

Anyway, I just thought to myself doing power rankings for this season would be something fun to do. I am unaware of any MVFC explicit power rankings out there (besides the GPI), so I thought I'd give it a shot. If anyone has any suggestions for a more accurate system please comment here or leave me a PM on AGS. 

#8 South Dakota

The South Dakota Coyotes will become the tenth team in the MVFC conference this year. The addition of USD into the conference was a hot topic for many MVFC fans. Many fans saw the addition of South Dakota as a problematic travel aspect since it may require (in some seasons) two plane trips to the Dakota region a year. Other fans saw the addition of USD as a dilution, in terms of overall team strength, in the MVFC. Some South Dakota State fans are bitter that the Coyotes have joined them on the same level in D-1; North Dakota State fans are not threatened. Whatever angle, opinion, or feelings we might have on the addition to South Dakota means nothing. What we can discuss will be the potential strengths the Coyotes will bring to the table.

2010 Coyotes after beating Minnesota (USD Media Guide '11)
South Dakota RB, Marcus Sims (Photo by: David Lias)
The Coyotes have been a traditionally fairly well-to-do program for decades. In Division II, the Coyotes made 4 playoff appearances and won 10 conference titles in a strong D-II NCC. So what have they done in D-1? Their strength of schedule since moving to D-1 has been an issue, mainly consisting of a worn down Grest West Football Conference, a couple D-II schools, and an FBS game each year. South Dakota did not perform as strongly as North Dakota State or South Dakota State in the Great West and it will be interesting to see how they handle the heavy strength of the Missouri Valley Conference. With the exception of a victory on the road against Minnesota in 2010, the Coyotes have struggled to be a threat on the road since joining D-1. That certainly must be turned around before the Coyotes can think about contending for the Valley crown and a trip to the playoffs. South Dakota has recently hired new head coach, Joe Glenn, to take over the reigns after releasing coach Ed Meierkort. Glenn has an 8-2 playoff record in the FCS and will look to rejuvenate the Coyotes.

In 2012, South Dakota will look toward some young talent to carry the Coyotes through the first season in the MVFC. Sophomore QB, Josh Vander Maten is expected to take the reigns and provide efficiency for the Yotes. Last year as a backup to star Dante Warren, he managed the game very well during his limited time on the field. He connected on 22 of 38 pass attempts for slightly over 200 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs.

At RB, Marcus Sims will lead the offense as a lone senior in the backfield. Sims ran for 678 yards last season and scored four times. He split time with Chris Ganious at RB and QB Dante Warren effected the Coyote run game last year as well. Warren ran for 415 yards 9 TDs, and had the most running attempts by any other Coyote last year. If the Coyotes can recreate Warren's production then the Coyotes could be an offensive threat in 2012.

On defense, South Dakota returns a tremendous athlete Tyler Starr who had 14 sacks and 7 forced fumbles last year at linebacker. Starr will look to step into a leadership position as a junior and will continue to impact the game defensively for the Coyotes. South Dakota lost their top three tacklers from last season. Look for LB Darius Hogans and DB Aaron Swift (no relation to Taylor) to accompany Starr as this years leading defensive starters.

South Dakota's schedule will be much more difficult than what fans have seen in the past. The non-conference schedule is highlighted by a September 22nd date with Big Ten foe, Northwestern. I see South Dakota coming out of the non-conference slate sitting at 1-2 with their win coming against Colgate.

They open up the conference with two home dates against Illinois State and Western Illinois. Illinois State handled USD last year; they allowed the Coyote offense only 108 yards as ISU beat USD 28-3 in Normal.

The games I see USD having the best chances of winning are Western Illinois, Missouri State, and South Dakota State. The last game of the season against South Dakota State will be a barnburner. As the rivalry is renewed, USD will be bringing everything they have; no rivalry game is a guaranteed win. At the end of the season, I expect USD's final record to be somewhere between 2-9 and 4-7.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

#7 Southern Illinois

I caught some grief with picking Southern Illinois at #7. Southern Illinois has been a top notch program in FCS for years. The recruiting, development, and coaching for the Salukis has been among the best in the nation. However, the past two years Southern Illinois has been a very inconsistent team. The Salukis best games came against North Dakota State (3-9, loss) and Indiana State (35-28, win).

SIU's transfer RB, Mika'il McCall
The problem with the 2011 Saluki team was the defense, especially in the second half of the season. In the last six games of 2011, the Saluki defense gave up 191 points. The pass defense was primarily the problem; 21 touchdowns were given up through the air last year. The offense needs to be more efficient and consistent as well. Too many times drives were cut short by poor decisions and turnovers. Changes must be made in 2012 to turn the program around. 

Good news is... Southern Illinois has restocked their talent for 2012. Per usual, Iowa running backs continue to fall out of the Hawkeye program like rain. This year, transfer Mika'il McCall will look to make an immediate impact in the backfield. McCall had only 11 attempts at Iowa, however, in those 11 attempts he averaged nearly 6 yards per carry. McCall is also only a sophomore, giving the Southern Illinois run game promise for the next three years. 

Kory Faulkner is anticipated to take the reigns at quarterback this season. At times, Faulkner showed signs of brilliance, he shredded the Eastern Illinois defense in a 45-28 win going 16-22 for 234 yards a touchdown, and most importantly no interceptions. That type of production form a quarterback will most certainly effect the rest of the players around him. In 2012, Faulkner needs to continue to develop as a leader and limit costly mistakes. 

A big name we all need to be watching for on the Saluki defense is Kenneth Boatright. Boatright came up huge last season with 7 sacks and 13 tackles-for-loss. Boatright's sacks, combined with NT Kayon Swanson's presence create a very stout defensive line. The Saluki's should have a very good running defense in 2012. 

In 2012, Southern Illinois has a chance to start off strong with a weak non-conference schedule highlighted with MAC member, Miami (OH). Miami will be coming off of, presumably, a pretty bad beating against Ohio State the weekend before they meat up with the Salukis. This should be a good chance for Southern Illinois to make a statement to announce they mean business in 2012. I envision Southern Illinois at 3-1 before they enter league play against Indiana State on September 29.

Their conference schedule provides no relief from difficult teams. Southern Illinois will be playing all of the forecasted top teams in 2012. The team they miss out on is newcomer South Dakota. With likely conference wins against Missouri State, Western Illinois and possible wins against South Dakota State and Indiana State, Southern Illinois could go anywhere from 4-4 to 2-6 in conference. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hello World!

Wow, my apologies everyone. The past month was a blur, I moved, got married, and traveled between South Dakota and Iowa about 14 times. needless-to-say, I was busy.

Now, we're extremely close to football season and I've got a few more write ups on a few more teams in the MVFC. I'll get those done soon.

I was contacted by a Bison fan about possibilities of multiple bloggers to help carry some of the load on the blog. I would love that. If you are interested in guest blogging please email me at I'll be looking into how that all works.

I am also newly armed with a brand new smart phone, my first. I plan to use it diligently for the blog.

In the mean time, enjoy these pictures of future MVFC stadium projects: