The start of the 2019 season for the Missouri Valley Football Conference has differing opinions in the social media corners where FCS talk is most prevalent. And both sides are overreacting.
You see, the MVFC is known by some as the best conference in the FCS or one of the best conferences in the FCS by others. So the Valley starting out 2-8 has caught a lot of people's attention.
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On one side, this is the start of the MVFC's demise. This is a sign that the CAA and the Big Sky can overtake the Valley as the top conferences.
But this is an overreaction.
The reality is three of those losses were by teams we don't expect to threaten for the playoffs: Southern Illinois, Western Illinois and Missouri State. The one bad loss was South Dakota losing 31-17 at home to Montana, two middle-of-the-pack teams in their respective conferences. And the other four losses came against FBS opponents in games that went down to the wire.
On the surface, a 2-8 start isn't looking great. But when you dive into those losses, it's nothing to panic about.
That brings us to the other side of the overreaction spectrum, which is people getting too caught up in close FBS losses. The reality is being competitive with an FBS opponent doesn't always mean a team is going to have a tremendous season. Every year we see FCS teams not really on the national radar perk our ears because they almost knocked off an FBS program. But whether it's because the FCS team treated it like the Super Bowl and/or if the FBS team overlooked this game, there are times when that's the peak of the FCS team's season.
Now, when it comes to the four MVFC teams that had close losses — Indiana State, South Dakota State, Northern Iowa and Illinois State — we already expected these squads to be good. And while these four teams answered some offseason questions and there's plenty of reason for optimism, let's not overreact.
Just because Indiana State lost 24-17 to Kansas doesn't mean you can assume the Sycamores are a playoff team.
Just because SDSU lost 28-21 to Minnesota doesn't mean you can assume the Jackrabbits are going to get over the hump and make it to the national title game.
Just because UNI lost to No. 21 Iowa State 29-26 in triple overtime doesn't mean you can assume the Panthers are going to make a deep playoff run.
And just because Illinois State lost 24-10 (with a late pick-six) to Northern Illinois doesn't mean you can assume the Redbirds are making the playoffs.
The same can be said about the two MVFC wins. Youngstown State looked good in a 45-22 win against Samford in Week 0. But we also must realize that Samford is way down this year and make sure we don't put too much stock in the Penguins until we see what they do in the MVFC.
And speaking of overreactions. North Dakota State and its new redshirt freshman quarterback Trey Lance looked pretty damn good against Butler. I even marveled at how well of a ball it was on Lance's first touchdown throw and he certainly passes the eyeball test in a tremendous debut.
No doubt the future is bright for Lance these next four seasons. But let's see what he does when All-Conference or All-American defensive linemen on a solid defense are in his grill in a high-pressure situation instead of picking apart a non-scholarship secondary with a nonexistent pass rush before we label him a top quarterback in the MVFC, the FCS or even in the discussion as a freaking Heisman Trophy candidate.
I'm a big believer in Lance. I think he'll be an All-American one day. But notice how this column is talking about overreacting…?
FCS football is back. Everyone was amped for Week 1 and I truly appreciate the passion. But these Week 1 results, outside of USD's loss to Montana, really aren't going to mean anything once October hits and the playoff picture starts to form. YSU's and NDSU's wins aren't going to pop out on their resumes. And those close FBS losses are thrown out the window by the playoff committee.
Plus, we'll get a better understanding of how the Big Sky and the MVFC match up when UC Davis plays NDSU or UNI plays Weber State, rather than Northern Arizona beating Missouri State.
I'm all for the FCS discussions, but let's take it easy on the overreactions.
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