The Missouri Valley: The SEC of the FCS

By Tyler Davis, Daily Egyptian

College football has been slammed by some pundits for a lack of inclusiveness and equality, as the same conference seems to appear in the championship game yearly.

The Southeastern Conference of the Football Bowl Subdivision won seven consecutive national championships before last season when Florida State University, of the Atlantic Coastal Conference, won it all. FSU is atop the AP Top-25 Poll but the SEC is still the top conference—it has eight of its 14 teams ranked.

The Pacific-12 Conference is second with six teams making the poll, but it has not had an outright national champion this millennium. The University of Southern California’s 2005 Orange Bowl win was vacated.

Advertisement

Advertisement

But the FBS is not the only league with a parity problem. Missouri Valley Football Conference champion, North Dakota State, has won the Football Championship Subdivision’s last three national titles.

This season appears to be on the same track as a league record seven of the Top 25 teams in FCS Coaches’ Poll are from the MVFC—meaning more than a quarter of the ranked teams are from the conference.

The Colonial Athletic Association has the second-most ranked teams in the FCS, with four, but has the largest conference with 12 teams. The MVFC has 10 teams.

But which conference has a better strangle hold on its respective subdivision?

The SEC has more of a historical reign over the FBS as the MVFC began its supremacy this decade. However, with the dethroning of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide by an ACC team, it seems the MVFC has become the undisputed, best conference in college football compared to its competition.

It would be shocking if an MVFC team such as North Dakota State, South Dakota State or SIU, does not win the FCS championship. The conference’s ranked teams are an impressive 14-0 against FCS opponents and have played a series of close games against the superior FBS.

Side note: I’d love to see the odds of a non-MVFC championship winner. Las Vegas should really look into the probability of that.

Moreover, an astounding 70 percent of the conference is ranked—the highest percentage of any conference in Division I basketball, baseball or football.

And with Indiana State and South Dakota State University both receiving votes, that number could grow. Even arguably the worst team in the conference, Western Illinois, is undefeated against the FCS.

It seems any FCS conference-winner would be hard pressed to take down defending champion NDSU, or all the potent teams behind the Bison. The Bison haven’t lost a game since 2012 when the Sycamores beat them. Since then, the only FCS teams to challenge NDSU in the regular season have been SIU, the University of Northern Iowa and South Dakota State University. Each team lost by six points or less.

While the SEC is the cream of the FBS crop for now, the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 are all charging hard. The Big 12 had another team creep into the rankings this week, and although the Big 10 is considered to be having a “down year,” it still has four teams in the rankings with Penn State looking better in the post-Paterno era.

The realization of the MVFC’s dominance is bittersweet. It is gratifying to know SIU competes with the best college football the FCS has to offer but it is scary to think of the gauntlet the Salukis have run when conference play starts Saturday against Western Illinois.

If the Leathernecks defeat the Dawgs, which is more probable than fans may believe, the MVFC could have an unprecedented eight ranked teams.

Enjoy your reign as the top conference in all of college football while you can, SEC. You may dominate the FBS but the Valley’s domination is unmatched.

Tyler Davis can be reached at [email protected]or on Twitter @TDavis_DE.

Advertisement