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Eric Peterson, Published October 16 2012

Five Missouri Valley Football Conference teams rated among GPI Top 12

FARGO – The Missouri Valley Football Conference continued to flex its muscle in the Gridiron Power Index poll with five teams rated in the Top 12.

North Dakota State dropped to No. 2 in the GPI after Saturday’s 17-14 loss against Indiana State. The Bison were No. 1 in the initial GPI, which was released last week. Cal Poly took over the No. 1 spot this week.

South Dakota State (tied for 6th), Illinois State (8th), Indiana State (11th) and Youngstown State (12th) were the other four MVFC teams ranked in the Top 12 along with NDSU.

“I think with that kind of résumé, I think we’ll get more than two teams in the playoffs this year,” said Illinois State head coach Brock Spack. “That’s impressive.”

South Dakota State (5-1, 3-0 MFCV) is the only team undefeated in conference play heading into the weekend. Illinois State, Indiana State, Southern Illinois and NDSU all have one conference loss.

“It’s going to be a great race,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier. “A couple weeks ago with a bunch of undefeated teams … (it) looked like those were the favorites. Now a number of teams are back in the race for a championship.

“It’s just a reminder; tough league, great league and home or away, healthy or not healthy, you better be ready to play every play because it’s going to be a battle.”

The MVFC remained to top rated conference in the GPI. The NCAA uses the GPI as a guide in the FCS playoff selections.

All five Missouri Valley games this week will have at least one team ranked in the Top 25 of The Sports Network and/or coaches poll. No. 4-ranked NDSU plays the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls, S.D., at 6 p.m. Saturday. USD (1-5, 0-3) has yet to win a conference game.

“They’re very competitive, have been in every ballgame that I’ve seen,” Bison head coach Craig Bohl said. “I’ve watched all of them.”

Bohl said running back John Crockett (hip) would be available Saturday, while wide receiver Zach Vraa (shoulder) won’t be available.

Glenn impressed

with Bison defense

South Dakota head coach Joe Glenn is impressed with the Bison defense, which leads the MVFC in scoring defense.

NDSU is allowing 9.8 points per game and didn’t allow an offensive score against Indiana State last Saturday.

“I think they’re as good a defense as I’ve seen,” Glenn said.

Glenn called Bison junior Grant Olson the top linebacker in the conference. He also added junior cornerback Marcus Williams is “perhaps the best corner” in Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

Elsewhere in the Valley:

E Indiana State plays at Western Illinois. The Sycamores are fresh off last Saturday’s victory at then-No. 1-ranked NDSU. Indiana State head coach Trent Miles was asked how to get his team back to business after the upset.

“We show them the film,” Miles said. “There is a lot to improve on. We didn’t score an offensive touchdown.”

E Missouri State plays at Illinois State, which rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat Youngstown State, 35-28, last Saturday.

Illinois State quarterback senior Matt Brown has passed for 9,028 yards in his career. Brown is 61 yards behind Northern Iowa’s Ryan Helming (9,089) for the No. 1 spot on the MVFC all-time list.

E SDSU plays at Northern Iowa, which is looking for its first MVFC victory this season. The Jackrabbits haven’t won in Cedar Falls since 1978.

E Southern Illinois travels to Youngstown State, which has lost its past two games. Southern Illinois rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat UNI, 34-31, last weekend.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com