Sports

The Mo Valley Playoff Race

The Mo Valley Playoff Race

With two weeks ago, time to get down to the nitty-gritty of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and the playoff scenarios. For the Bison, it’s pretty simple: win the next two weeks and they should get a No. 2 overall seed and home field advantage. That’s assuming No. 1 James Madison wins out. So here is a nutshell of what faces the leaders and how the Valley will get five teams into the playoffs:

NDSU (5-1 Valley, 8-1 overall)

  • Vs. USD; at Illinois State: NDSU can wrap up a share of the title with a split and can win it outright with a sweep. Lose two and at 8-3 with three straight losses, a first round bye (one of the top eight seeds) all of a sudden becomes iffy. Prognosis: With the top defense in the Valley, Bison win both and reach playoffs.

South Dakota (4-2, 7-2)

  • at NDSU; vs. SDSU: A couple of off-field distractions did the Coyotes no favor last week, but USD still has the second-ranked offense in the FCS averaging 41 points and 524 yards per game. Prognosis: Split next two weeks, first round playoff bye.

South Dakota State (4-2, 7-2)

  • vs. Illinois State; at USD: Jacks are on a roll, especially offensively. They should handle the Jeckyll & Hyde Redbirds this weekend but waiting in Vermillion will be USD, which is due to break through in this series. Coyotes have never beaten SDSU in the D1 era. Prognosis: Split, host first round game.

Illinos State (4-2, 6-3)

  • at SDSU; vs. NDSU: Trying to figure out the Redbirds … good luck. I’ve never seen a team so up and down in one season. Take the last five weeks: Got crushed at Northern Arizona and SIU, beat USD and Youngstown handily and last week led 14-0 at home to Western only to lose 31-14. Prognosis: Lose two and out of the playoffs. Too unpredictable.

Northern Iowa (4-2, 5-4)

  • at Missouri State; vs. Indiana State: The easiest road possible the last two weeks in the Valley and Panthers will end season winning five of their last six. Prognosis: Win twice and will travel for first round playoff game.

Western Illinois (3-3, 6-3)

  • at Indiana State; vs. Southern Illinois. Leathernecks have the second-easiest road behind UNI with games at winless Sycamores and at home against Southern Illinois. SIU is on the downslide losing 42-0 at South Dakota and 36-28 at home to Missouri State. Prognosis: Win both and will host first round playoff game.

Youngstown State (2-4, 4-5)

  • at SIU; vs. Missouri State. The Penguins have one quality win against SDSU and a quality loss in OT defeat at Pitt and, true, a 6-5 team has reached the playoffs in recent years. But too many teams ahead of YSU this year. Prognosis: Win both and out of the playoffs.

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