Not only are six Missouri Valley Football Conference teams in contention for a playoff bid, four are still in the hunt for a seed. With two weeks left in the regular season, there's still a lot to be decided as far as the conference race and who makes the 24-team postseason bracket.
Here are five storylines to pay attention to.
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Does South Dakota State suffer a hangover?
Is there a college football program that exists out there that doesn't use the saying "1-0 each week"? Probably not. But in truth, it's a good mindset to have, especially for SDSU. The Jackrabbits are coming off another program-defining win against rival North Dakota State. But history has shown teams struggle out of the gates coming off a rare win against the Bison.
The Jacks can't afford to do this against a solid Illinois State team. They are now in position to earn a playoff seed. But one of the hurdles is mentally getting over an emotional win the week prior.
Which Illinois State team shows up?
There's the Redbirds that lost to Northern Arizona 37-16 and Southern Illinois 42-7. Then there's the Redbirds that beat No. 4 South Dakota and No. 21 Youngstown State in back-to-back weeks. There's the Redbirds that were up 14-0 at halftime last week on No. 15 Western Illinois. Then there's the Redbirds that gave up 31 unanswered points in the second half.
ISU is 6-3 with games at SDSU and against NDSU remaining. It seems like a 50/50 shot that this team makes the playoffs, depending on which team shows up.
Does Easton Stick get back on track?
The NDSU quarterback began to be in discussion as a top quarterback in the FCS through the first six games. Then the last three games happened. Zero interceptions on the season turned into seven interceptions in those three games. Whether he's being bothered by injuries is up for debate. Head coach Chris Klieman said on Bison1660 that Stick told him he's feeling the best health-wise as he has all year.
Then again, we didn't find out until after last season that Stick was dealing with a back injury during the second half of the season, about the same time his numbers began to decline like this year's. Maybe it is just a mental thing. Slumps happen. Whatever it is, and no matter how much depth this team has, NDSU's national title hopes ride on the right arm and legs of Stick. He's going to have to play better.
Does USD regain its momentum?
The Coyotes were one of the hottest teams in the FCS through the first six games. Undefeated with an FBS win and the subdivision's highest scoring offense had USD rolling. But the last three games have resulted in two losses. And there's no bigger test than facing NDSU in the Fargodome with the Bison coming off a loss.
USD has relied on dual-threat quarterback Chris Streveler's arm in recent weeks. He's rushed the ball less and less. SDSU quarterback Taryn Christion proved elusiveness in the pocket while keeping your eyes downfield can create havoc on NDSU's defense. Streveler is a Walter Payton Award frontrunner. He's going to need do his thing to get the Coyotes back rolling into the playoffs. A seed is still out there for them to take.
Does WIU or Northern Iowa have a costly slip-up?
WIU is 6-3 and the Panthers are 5-4. Both play teams at the bottom of the conference in these last two weeks. If they go 2-0 each, a playoff bid is very likely. Simply put, now is not the time to have an off week.
WIU lost its last three games of the 2016 season to finish 6-5 and miss the playoffs and have lost two of its last three games this year. The Panthers missed the postseason last season, which rarely happens under Mark Farley, and this year have been fighting for their playoff lives since Week 6. Both are favored to go 4-0 combined. But if there's a loss somewhere in there, it'll prove to be costly.