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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 30 2012

Indiana State, Illinois State set for key matchup

FARGO – It will be a battle for Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff position Saturday when Illinois State plays at Indiana State. Both teams have two overall losses, and the way things are shaping up around the country, three defeats may be on the bubble of making it.

That’s not the belief, however, of Indiana State head coach Trent Miles, who says Illinois State is already in the playoffs with its 7-2 record.

“I don’t know how seven Division I wins from this conference is not in the playoffs,” he said.

The Sycamores are also

7-2, but one win was over an NAIA team in Quincy College (Ill.) and that means they are 6-2 in the eyes of the FCS playoff committee. It’s possible Indiana State could get the Missouri Valley Football Conference automatic bid even with a loss on the strength of its win over North Dakota State.

In an oddity from recent years, Illinois State is 4-0 on the road but 3-2 at home, including a huge rally to beat Youngstown State 35-28 and a 54-41 double overtime win over Eastern Illinois.

“It’s strange because we’ve been a really good home team our first three years here,” said Redbirds head coach Brock Spack.

Elsewhere around the Valley:

E South Dakota State, which comes to Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome in two weeks, will attempt to remain one of three teams with one conference loss at Southern Illinois. The Jackrabbits are coming off a season breakthrough throwing night by quarterback Austin Sumner, who had 351 yards against Youngstown last week.

“He’s had some injury problems and we’ve had execution problems and that takes away some confidence,” said SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier. “But he sure got it back Saturday.”

E The University of South Dakota will play Youngstown State for the first time ever in a matchup of two teams who have seen their seasons go south. One was unexpected in the Penguins, who have dropped four straight after being ranked No. 3 in the FCS top 25 coaches poll.

YSU head coach Eric Wolford was asked if the 48-7 loss to NDSU that started the losing skein had any lingering effects: “I don’t necessarily put it on one game,” he said. “In looking back, we had one turnover in our first four games. In the last four, we’ve had 11 turnovers. When you turn it over like that, you don’t have a chance to win games.”

E Northern Iowa, which played without top receiver Terrell Sinkfield last week because of disciplinary action, play at a Western Illinois team that has lost three straight. The Leathernecks pulled the redshirt off freshman quarterback Hayden Northern last week against Missouri State and it was a struggle. He was 6 of 15 for 42 yards with three interceptions.

“He threw three freshman rookie balls we don’t expect him to throw again,” said WIU head coach Mark Hendrickson, who has played eight true freshmen and 10 redshirt freshmen this season.

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