That ranking has us looking up at 6 teams (at least) in our conference.
Based upon our recent performance, you can understand why. I really think that if a couple of our transfer additions play as advertised, and if our offensive and defensive lines come together, we can scramble those rankings a bit. Are those big "ifs"?
All very fair, given our results in 2021 .. spring and then fall .. in fact, it may be more than 6 teams we are looking up to from the outside perspective.
But couple things weighing in our favor, year over year:
- New OC Tony Peterson has an actual track record .. in fact, a stronger resume than Beathard IMO
- New Transfer QB Zack Annexstad with good promise ... he could be a better version of Jake Kolbe .. the 2016 version, though is nothing like dual threat Roberson ( run threat and deep ball). Annexstad seems to be a much better short-medium range passer than Roberson.
- return of a defense that had lost so much from 2019 and 2020, but was surprisingly very stout in fall 2021 for most part. If I were inclined to crunch the numbers, I would hazard a guess that our defense was way up there if only measuring quarters 1-3. Our offense was so anemic, the defense seemed to run out of gas (or mojo) as games wore on and we couldn't move chains or chew clock.
- I don't know the numbers, but a disproproportionate % of reps went to FR and SO in 2021.
- our RB group was already very solid and young, and will now be another year older. Same for TE group.
OL and WR are the biggest variables it seems. That and we'll see if/when the new OC and QB bring things together in pass game .. or not. But if they do, then our run game will look even better. And if we can do that on offense, then moving chains will really help our young promising defense.
In short, if pass game is just pretty solid, Redbirds will surprise this fall ... starting to feel like the Redbirds history could repeate itself ... a 2013 dip leading way to 2014 run:
+ coming off a bad year, though showed some promise .. 5-6 vs 4-7
+ a new established OC signing .. Beathard vs Peterson
+ a big 10 QB transfer tthat started some games .. Roberson vs Annexstad
= Natty Run ...... TBD ???
Prior to the 2022 FCS football season, here's a 1-to-130 ranking of the combined win percentage of each team’s Division I opponents last year.
Note, I put near zero credence in this Strength of Schedule ranking system, which is simply by opponents record from 2021 .. because it hs nothing to do with strength of schedule .... just record. For example, MVFC has 10 teams that play 8 conf games ... 80 games, and 40-40 collective record. Same as any other conference. So that leaves 3 nonconf games .. typically, an FBS, a good FCS, and maybe a weak FCS. We played a good WMU (8-5)
In any case, the interesting note made on our schedule is linked and below .. got some very tough road games: Wisconsin, NDSU, SDSU, UNI, and ISUb. We usually play SDSU and UNI tough, but this is tough slate. Going to have to hold court for 6 home games, beat ISUb, and then either SDSU or UNI. We do have 2 easy nonconf home games in EIU and Valpo. Next easiest home game isnt until week 11 against WIU. We open MVFC season with SIU at home ... theyve moved to upper third of MVFC, so that is a tough home game. We don't play 2 tough teams this fall in MoST and UND .. not NDSU or SDSU, but they are good.
Notable: The Redbirds kick off the season at Wisconsin and have MVFC road dates at Northern Iowa, Indiana State, North Dakota State and South Dakota State. The .682 win percentage (45-21) of those five opponents is the highest among FCS road schedules.
At the end of this football season FCS losing a 10 teams who are in the top 20 to move to FBS. Then with the pending announcement of 4 mvfb team moving up who knows. . But for those of you who do not want to go watch ISU play Division 1 opponents because that means you couldn't mow your lawn oh, you may be out of luck