Missouri Valley Football 2020 Non-Conference Schedule Analysis

Missouri Valley Football Conference
FCS Non-Conference Schedule Analysis
The Missouri Valley adds North Dakota into the fold in 2020, bringing the conference roster to eleven teams. With that comes a little more potential for an unbalanced schedule, as teams will miss two opponents in conference play. Not only that, it brings an end to the conference’s traditional uniformity of everyone taking their bye by the first week of October. With an off number of teams, someone will always have an open date, unless it’s filled with a non-conference foe, which happens this year. On top of that, South Dakota will have played two conference games before Southern Illinois or Western Illinois sees their first. As for the schedule, every team plays one FBS opponent, nine of which are from power conferences. And there’s a rare lower division game on the docket.
Illinois State: @ Illinois (FBS), vs. Eastern Illinois, vs. Dixie State.
  • The Redbirds will look to start the season off with a huge Big Ten upset against Illinois. Eastern Illinois comes to ISUred this year for the Mid-America Classic. Dixie State, an FCS newcomer, visits for the season finale. Figure the Redbirds to be using this as a statement game with style points, if possible.
Indiana State: @ Eastern Illinois, @ Middle Tennessee (FBS), vs. Lindenwood (lower).
  • Since Illinois State hosts EIU, Indiana State will travel across the state line to see annual non-con Eastern Illinois. Their FBS game at Middle Tennessee is next before finishing up with the MVFC’s lone lower division game, Lindenwood. Lindenwood is a pretty solid D-II program but shouldn’t give the Sycamores too many problems.
Missouri State: @ Oklahoma (FBS), vs. Montana, @ Tarleton State.
  • Those first two games have beat down written all over them. But wait a second, Montana has been known to have hiccups away from home and we all thought the same thing when Mo State hosted Northern Arizona a few years back, beating them 40-8. Playing a Tarleton State seems very generous to a newcomer to the FCS level.
North Dakota: vs. Valparaiso, @ Kansas State (FBS), @ Portland State.
  • Valpo will be the first non-conference opponent for the Fightin’ Hawks as a full member of the MVFC. That game may go smoothly, but the roadie to FBS Kansas State figures to be very tough. After four conference games, UND will return to playing a Big Sky opponent, when they travel to Portland State. This will be the final game in the MVFC/Big Sky Challenge.
North Dakota State: @ Oregon (FBS), vs. Drake, vs. North Carolina A&T.
  • This FBS opener is a game that’s been looked at with anticipation for a few years now. The Bison will take a six game win streak against the FBS into this game against a foe who figures to be Top 15 in the country. The home game with Drake figures to be easy. Then comes the final non-conference game, North Carolina A&T, the defending HBCU National Champion. Been a lot of chirping about playing NDSU. Careful what they wish for, you just might get it.
Northern Iowa: @ Iowa (FBS), @ Idaho State, vs. Weber State.
  • Northern Iowa continues to schedule as strong as anyone in FCS football and they probably don’t need to, considering the strength of the MVFC. Still, it always seems to have them prepared and usually rolling into playoff season. FBS Iowa is a semi-normal fixture, as the Panthers usually play one of the state’s two FBS schools. Idaho State could be a tricky road game and Weber State is a perennial power visiting in Week 3.
South Dakota: @ Iowa State (FBS), @ Northern Arizona, vs. Dixie State.
  • South Dakota will begin the season with two difficult road tests. FBS Iowa State figures to be ranked nationally, if not, they’ll be close. Northern Arizona is one of those Big Sky at elevation games that seem tough for midwestern schools. The final game, hosting newcomer Dixie State, won’t happen until the middle of October.
South Dakota State: vs. Butler, @ Nebraska (FBS), vs. Tarleton State.
  • Butler will travel northwest this year to face SDSU. The ‘Rabbits don’t figure to be very cordial hosts, but you wonder how much they’ll show before going to FBS Nebraska. Good thing here, SDSU has a bye week between games. Not always good to have that bye so early, but maybe this gives them the boost to pull a huge upset. Tarleton State fills a schedule hole in November, which is when their bye would have been otherwise.
Southern Illinois: @ Tennessee-Martin, @ Wisconsin (FBS), vs. Southeast Missouri State.
  • Tennessee-Martin is a great local non-conference opponent, both in perceived level of talent and location. Roadie to Wisconsin will be a huge uphill climb, but the Salukis won an FBS game last year, at Massachusetts. Their annual match-up with Southeast Missouri State is at home this year.
Western Illinois: vs. North Alabama, @ Eastern Washington, @ Oklahoma State (FBS).
  • North Alabama comes to WIU as a return for last year’s visit to the south. The game at Eastern Washington will be difficult. Not only will a decent team be waiting but you have to be prepared to play on that strange red turf, The Inferno. FBS Oklahoma State appears to be a straight check game, as the Cowboys are typically relentless in these kinds of games and they have distinct talent advantages.
Youngstown State: @ Akron (FBS), vs. Duquesne, vs. Eastern Kentucky.
  • After years of being ridiculed for their non-conference schedule, Youngstown State was able to get one of the numerous Ohio FBS schools to host them. Duquesne and Eastern Kentucky are good local FCS opponents, both of which they’ll play at home.
Missouri Valley Numbers
6 vs. Big Sky
1 vs. Big South
1 vs. MEAC
1 vs. Northeast
5 vs. OVC
3 vs. Pioneer
4 vs. FCS Independent
11 vs. FBS
1 vs. Lower Division (Div-II, Div-III, NAIA, NCCAA)