Missouri Valley Week 1 FCS Football Game Breakdowns


Week 1 MVFC Game Breakdowns


Ten games are on the docket as the new season of Missouri Valley Conference football gets underway, albeit with many games against FBS opponents on the regular schedule. Here is a look at week one:

#16 Illinois State at Ball State, Thursday, 6:00

Life in Bloomington was very good last season as Illinois State’s football team tied for third in the MVFC with Indiana State and Southern Illinois at 5-3 (9-4 overall) and qualified for the FCS playoffs. Illinois State is among the challengers for the MVFC crown once again, and Ball State will provide a worthy first challenger. The Cardinals also went 9-4 overall but had a 6-2 record in Mid-American Conference West play. This is the first meeting between the teams since Ball State won 45-30 all the way back in 1993. The series itself dates back to 1957. Two very good teams should equal a strong matchup.

Projected Score: Ball State 30, Illinois State 27


Hampton at Western Illinois, Thursday, 7:00

New football coach Bob Nelson attempts to guide Western Illinois onward and upward from a 3-8 ranking of a year ago. Western Illinois went 1-7 in the MVFC, and it faces a Hampton squad that went 3-7 overall and 3-5 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Western Illinois had the 10th best interception rate in the country when it picked off 16 passes, and chances are that defense will be out in full force when this game is played. Nelson’s inaugural season in Quincy should begin with a win.

Projected Score: Western Illinois 24, Hampton 10


Indiana State at Indiana, Thursday, 7:00

Although the teams are located in the same state, this really is not about bragging rights. Indiana State belongs to the MVFC and tied with Southern Illinois and Illinois State at 5-3 (7-4 overall), while Indiana is one of the weaker programs in the Big Ten. Still, Indiana State has not won a matchup against the Hoosiers in four tries and there is no reason to believe the 11th try will be the one that does it. Indiana State has lost all 10 of its matches against Big Ten opponents. Like we said, if you’re looking for the upset special then look elsewhere. It sure won’t happen here.

Projected Score: Indiana 37, Indiana State 20


Northwestern State at Missouri State, Thursday, 7:00

The teams have not met since Sept. 2, 1989, when then-quarterback DeAndre Smith had 100 rushing yards in a 20-10 victory by Missouri State. It was part of the Bears’ 1989 playoff run. Missouri State (3-8, 3-5) fell on hard times last season, but Northwestern State (4-7, 2-5) had its share of struggles as a member of the Southland Conference. These teams had similar experiences a year ago, but Missouri State should get the edge here thanks to a more difficult schedule.

Projected Score: Missouri State 27, Northwestern State 10


Dayton at #23 Youngstown State, Thursday, 7:30

A battle of two lesser-known Ohio football teams concludes the Thursday schedule, but Youngstown State is no lightweight team. Youngstown State went 7-4 last year and split its MVFC schedule equally at 4-4. Youngstown State has lost nine straight matches to Dayton, so the team is hungry to make sure the 10th loss in a row does not take place. Dayton competes in the Pioneer League for football and there the Flyers went 5-3 (6-5 overall). Will the 10th time be the charm?

Projected Score: Dayton 27, Youngstown State 20


#1 North Dakota State at Kansas State, Friday, 8:30

Can North Dakota State become the first team in league history to win a game against an FBS opponent four years running? North Dakota State (14-1, 7-1), which is the defending FCS champion, topped Kansas in 2010, Minnesota in 2011 and Colorado State in 2012. Beating Kansas State in Manhattan would deflate that team’s spirits and set the stage for another spirited year at North Dakota State. In the Bison’s favor is a strong road record. North Dakota State has won 17 of its last 20 games on the road, and Kansas State is in recovery mode. The FBS upset looks pretty realistic.

Projected Score: North Dakota State 21, Kansas State 17


Southern Illinois at Illinois, Saturday, 12:00

Carbondale meets up with Champaign in the first FBS game for Southern Illinois since the 2009 season. Southern Illinois (6-5, 5-3) tied for third in the MVFC last season, and it goes up against an Illinois team that has had its fair share of disappointments in recent memory. Georgia transfer Ken Malcome and Oregon State transfer Malcolm Agnew will bolster a running game that could use its fair share of reconstruction. Keep an eye on junior TE Mycole Pruitt, who needs seven catches to tie the record for most career receptions by a tight end. The previous holder, Damon Jones, caught 99 passes between 1994 and 1996.

Projected Score: Illinois 24, Southern Illinois 10


UC Davis at South Dakota, Saturday, 3:05

If this game is anything like the last meeting, this could turn out to be one of the more exciting games of the weekend. South Dakota won the last meeting, 27-24, back in 2011, and this will be the first of three games South Dakota has against Big Sky opponents. Randy Wright will return at quarterback, and he threw for over 2,400 yards a year ago. UC Davis was 1-5 on the road, but this could be a closer game than expected because four of UC Davis’s losses were by less than eight points.

Projected Score: UC Davis 30, South Dakota 24


Butler at #4 South Dakota State, Saturday, 7:00

A school normally associated with basketball goes up against one of the most powerful programs in the nation in a strong matchup. South Dakota State (9-4, 6-2) finished a game back of North Dakota State in the MVFC standings, and there is every likelihood these teams will compete for the championship once again. For now, this nonleague game features a team trying to extend its seven-game winning streak at home. Butler, the champions of the Pioneer League at 7-1 (8-3 overall) along with Drake and San Diego, will make this game quite a contest. This may be the game of the weekend involving an MVFC opponent.

Projected Score: South Dakota State 30, Butler 27 (OT)


#10 Northern Iowa at Iowa State, Saturday, 8:05

These teams are separated by a small amount of interstate highway and about an hour of US Highway 20. Northern Iowa lost to Iowa State, 20-19, in a matchup in 2011. When was the last time Northern Iowa won a game between these teams, you say? How about 2007 in Ames, when Northern Iowa prevailed by a 24-13 margin? This matchup could be very interesting, especially because Northern Iowa (5-6, 4-4) is looking to rebound following a down season. That rebound may come against an Iowa State squad hungry for more. Considering Iowa State went 6-7 overall and 3-6 in the Big 12, an upset could happen here.

Projected Score: Northern Iowa 28, Iowa State 24


See All FCS Games of the Week Breakdowns