Per the beauty of the blog, time to editorialize my story from Wednesday on the playoff possibilities of Missouri Valley teams. In other words: who is going to make the field? OK, I’m breaking down, yes it’s November tomorrow and time for some bracketology:
- NDSU (8-0) is in. At 8-0, even if the Bison drop one of their last three games, they still should get one of the top two seeds and be guaranteed home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
- Youngstown State (7-1) is in. The Penguins, however, have their toughest stretch left being at South Dakota and Northern Iowa and at home against NDSU and SDSU. I think they will beat USD and have a solid shot to win at UNI and at home against SDSU and have a chance against NDSU.
- After that, it gets dicey. The team that has the best chance? Southern Illinois (4-4) with winnable games left against Western Illinois, Missouri State, Illinois State and Indiana State. Plus, the Salukis own wins over Northern Iowa and SDSU and would have the head-to-head advantage if all three finish 8-4. Problem is SIU lost its starting quarterback and it remains to be seen if the backup can lead the way.
- South Dakota State (5-4). Only three games left including a much-needed bye week this week. The Jacks host Indiana State, are at South Dakota and travel to Youngstown on the last game of the season that can be a statement game to make the playoffs. SDSU beat UNI so therefore, if the Panthers run the table and SIU doesn’t, it would have the head-to-head advantage if both finish 8-4.
- UNI (4-4). The Panthers have that FBS win at Iowa State, but have dropped four straight and lost their defensive leader in linebacker Jake Farley. Like SDSU, it plays Youngstown (in two weeks) and has winnable games left against Illinois State this weekend, Missouri State and Western Illinois. UNI needs to run the table and have SDSU and SIU both stumble once more, certainly not out of the question.
- South Dakota (4-4). The Coyotes gave it a run, but a lack of offense will eventually catch up them. Plus the schedule is brutal with Youngstown, Montana, SDSU and NDSU remaining.
- Illinois State (4-4). Like USD, the Redbirds have tough schedule remaining plus have a freshman quarterback. The finish at NDSU and SIU and they still don’t have a playoff quality win and we’re heading into November. Best victory is USD.
What will happen on Selection Sunday: NDSU and Youngstown will be the only representatives from the league. Everybody else has been beating each other up, no reason to figure it will stop now. You can argue all you want about the power of the Missouri Valley, face it, when it comes to playoff selection, it comes down to wins and losses in the eyes of the playoff committee. There are notable exceptions like Lehigh with one loss last year not making it, but I wouldn’t bet on it.