Good bye: Youngstown State has won five straight and is 4-0 in the Missouri Valley for the first time since 2005 but head coach Eric Wolford is happy to get a break. “When you look at the status of our team right now, it’s come at a good time,” he said. “Defensively, we’ve been banged up all year and hopefully we can get some of these guys back on the field. We need them for the stretch run.” Senior DT D.J. Moss (knee) and senior LB Dom Rich (pelvis) and sophomore DE Eric Myers (broken left hand) have all missed several games. Wolford is 0-2 after open dates — he didn’t have one in 2010 — and lost four straight after last year’s bye.
Playoff payoff: YSU is tied with North Dakota State atop the conference standings and Wolford’s contract calls for him to make an extra $3,000 if he wins the MVFC. He’ll also make $3,000 per playoff game and $20,000 if he wins the national title. Wolford’s assistants will get a $500 bonus for each of those accomplishments.
Tough stretch: YSU will play at South Dakota for the first time on Nov. 2. The Coyotes are a surprising 3-1 in the conference after going winless in the MVFC last season. The Penguins finish the season against what was expected to be the top three teams in the MVFC this season: UNI (ranked third in the preseason poll), North Dakota State (first) and South Dakota State (second).
In the zone: YSU ranks second nationally in red zone scoring percentage at 94.3 percent. The Penguins have 29 TDs and four field goals in 35 trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line.
Rare company: NDSU (7-0) is one of just four unbeaten teams in the FCS. YSU (7-1) and NDSU are two of the four FCS teams with seven victories. The Bison have won 16 straight games, which is eight short of the FCS record, shared by Montana and Penn. The Penguins and Indiana State are the only two teams to beat NDSU in the past 21/2 years.