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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 22 2012

MVFC in good position to qualify three for postseason

FARGO – North Dakota State head football coach Craig Bohl is no longer a voting member of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision top 25 coaches poll. As a result, he said, he hasn’t paid attention to the FCS national scene.

He doesn’t miss that, either. “I’ve found it easier to be focused on the task at hand,” he said.

The task on Saturday is a hot Southern Illinois team, which has won three straight to vault itself back in the playoff picture. There are four weeks to go and it appears there is plenty of shaking out to do before the 20-team playoff field is selected.

Bohl said receiver Cooper Wahlo will miss the rest of the season with a broken leg suffered in the 54-0 win at South Dakota. But receiver Ryan Smith passed his concussion test and has been cleared to play.

NDSU, meanwhile, moved up to No. 3 in the coaches poll, a spot it also holds in The Sports Network media poll. Here is a rough playoff sketch of the conferences with automatic bids as the season hits the home stretch:

Missouri Valley Football Conference: The Valley is in good position for three teams to make it. Four teams – NDSU (6-1), Indiana State (6-2), Southern Illinois (5-3) and South Dakota State (5-2) – have one loss and nationally-ranked Illinois State (6-2) has two.

Big Sky Conference: The expanded 14-team league is also in line for three picks between Eastern Washington (6-1), Montana State (6-1), Northern Arizona (6-1) and California Poly (7-0). The schedule may not shake this out since Cal Poly doesn’t play Montana State. But the Mustangs do play EWU and UNA.

Colonial Athletic Association: This is a wild card league since it perennially gets at least three teams and usually four. Yet, only Old Dominion (6-1) has one loss and ODU is ineligible for the automatic bid because it is moving to Football Bowl Subdivision next year. Otherwise, New Hampshire (6-2), Villanova (6-2) and James Madison (5-2) have the inside track. Of those three, JMU has the toughest road with Villanova and Old Dominion left.

Lone Star Conference: Six of the eight teams already have at least three losses. Southeastern Louisiana (3-4) leads the league at 3-0, but it has Sam Houston (5-2) and Central Arkansas (6-2) left. Sam Houston also has Texas A&M left on the schedule.

Southern Conference: Georgia Southern (6-1) and Wofford (6-1) are in solid shape for playoff berths. Everybody else, like Appalachian State (5-3), has at least three losses and needs to win out to have a chance.

Ohio Valley Conference: Tennessee State (7-1) has the inside track to the automatic bid for a league that usually gets one team in.

Northeast Conference: Look for nationally-ranked Albany (6-1) to come out of here.

Big South Conference: The winner most likely will come from the Nov. 10 matchup between Liberty (3-4 overall, 2-0 league) and Stony Brook (7-1, 3-0).

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference: Still wide open with five teams unbeaten or with one loss. None of them are nationally ranked.

Patriot League: It would be a surprise if Lehigh (8-0) doesn’t win the Patriot again.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia