NDSU storms back; SDSU earns big win
Last weekend’s marquee matchups in the Missouri Valley certainly lived up to their respective billings.
North Dakota State fell behind early before storming back for a 34-17 win at South Dakota, while South Dakota State edged Missouri State in a colossal showdown, 28-14. Elsewhere, Northern Iowa hammered Western Illinois, 52-17, while Southern Illinois continued to get back on track with a 34-17 win over North Dakota.
Here are some takeaways from all of that, during which Youngstown State enjoyed its bye week:
SDSU STILL NO. 2
From the outset of the year, the league was viewed as North Dakota State’s for the taking, and then a battle for No. 2 between perennial league power South Dakota State and up-and-comer Missouri State.
The Jackrabbits showed their still the team on NDSU’s heels with their 28-14 win.
SDSU raced out to a 14-0 lead on touchdown passes from Mark Gronowski to Jadon and Jaxon Janke, the latter of which midway through the third quarter, before MSU rallied with back-to-back touchdowns by Jacardia Wright (15-yard run) and Raylen Sharpe (67-yard pass from Jason Shelley).
SDSU stabilized, however, scoring 14 unanswered in the fourth quarter for the win. The Jackrabbits, which won’t face YSU this season, host Western Illinois and South Dakota in the next two weeks before a monster game at NDSU on Oct. 15.
Missouri State, meanwhile, visits North Dakota this week before its bye week. The October slate finishes with Southern Illinois and then a road trip to UNI. The Bears will collide with Youngstown State on Nov. 12.
The Bison, dare I say it, looked mortal Saturday at South Dakota, trailing 17-10 at half. But, as it’s happened so many times before, NDSU asserted its dominance down the stretch, outscoring USD 24-0 after halftime for a 34-17 win over the host Coyotes.
Hunter Luepke continued his impressive stretch for the Bison with 150 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, while seven of his teammates chipped in rushes as well. As a team, NDSU ran for 356 yards and four touchdowns on 61 carries.
Quarterback Cam Miller, meanwhile, went 10-for-19 or 120 yards and was picked off once.
South Dakota’s Travis Theis went for 63 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, whie Carson Camp completed 13 of 26 passes for 120 yards, a touchdown and was picked off twice.
The Bison, of course, host YSU on Saturday. South Dakota pays a visit to Stambaugh on Oct. 29.
SIU MAY BE BACK
No doubt about it, nobody got off to a worse — and perhaps more shocking — start to the season than SIU.
The Salukis opened with a 64-29 loss to Incarnate Word. The score was surprising, but UIW is a strong team this year. The bigger surprise was a week later, when SIU fell to Southeast Missouri State at home, 34-31.
Since then, however, Southern Illinois has beaten FBS-level Northwestern, 31-24, and then toppled North Dakota this weekend, 34-17.
In that win over UND, the Salukis never trailed and in fact were up 31-10 by the start of the fourth quarter.
SIU quarterback Nic Baker was especially impressive, completing 21 of 27 passes for 289 yards and four touchdowns.
For UND, Tommy Schuster went 19-for-32 for 232 yards. Schuster was sacked seven times in the loss.
The Fighting Hawks come to Youngstown in two weeks on Oct. 8, and the Penguins also host SIU to end the season Nov. 19.
While YSU fans will be watching the Penguins visit NDSU, there are a couple other noteworthy MVFC games to keep an eye on.
The biggest of those is Missouri State at North Dakota, which kicks off at 1 p.m. A Bears win would mean UND would be coming to Youngstown on a two-game losing streak.
The other one to watch is Southern Illinois at Illinois State. The Redbirds are coming off a bye week, while SIU will look to keep its hot streak going. That game could be telling for the middle of the pack in terms of MVFC standings.
Elsewhere, Western Illinois travels to South Dakota State for what should be a Jackrabbits’ romp, and Indiana State travels to Northern Iowa.