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69 Days until Kansas Football: What if KU were in the Missouri Valley?

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Forget about everything else - the money, basketball, etc. What If: Kansas Football played in the MVC?

NCAA Football: DI Football Championship Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

When I first thought about doing this conference, I thought, well it will be North Dakota State, then KU, then everyone else, right?

Not so fast, my friend.

We’ve already looked the MAC, the Sun Belt, and the Mountain West. I’m convinced at this point that KU would be, at best, an average team in those conferences. Now admittedly, part of that comes from simulations performed by WhatifSports that (in the interest of length) I haven’t shared in these posts.

However, WhatifSports doesn’t have FCS teams in it. Neither do the F+ Ratings, which is what we’ve been using in these posts. So for this one, we’ll go to the Sagarin Ratings Index.

Brace yourselves, folks.

Kansas in the MVC

School 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
School 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
KANSAS 157 125 156 115 119
North Dakota St 31 44 36 32 17
South Dakota St 63 82 89 67 94
Western Illinois 82 135 116 118 159
South Dakota 90 136 144 175 160
Northern Iowa 78 95 77 55 93
Illinois State 106 110 76 41 124
Youngstown St 94 67 109 110 108
Southern Illinois 149 148 122 108 97
Missouri State 174 185 226 113 111
Indiana State 222 174 132 92 198

So um, yeah.

Per these rankings, KU would have been the second-worst team in the Valley in 2017 and 2015. In 2016 they would have finished sixth, in 2014 ninth, and in 2013 seventh.

That’s just brutal.

How does David Beaty still have a job? At least Zenger is finally gone.

Obviously, North Dakota State is the cream of the crop in this group. Northern Iowa is no slouch (ask Iowa State) and South Dakota State appears to be improving as well. Thank God for Missouri State and Indiana State I guess.

The Valley is no slouch, particularly at the top. Half of the conference finished ranked in the FCS Top-25 poll in 2017; all five of those teams competed in the playoffs that year. North Dakota State is the most famous FBS killer, knocking off Iowa, Iowa State, K-State, Colorado State, Minnesota, and Kansas all since 2010.

Northern Iowa has beaten Iowa State in 2007, 2013, and 2016.

South Dakota State has just one win against FBS competition - Kansas in 2015, a game in which the Jackrabbits led 31-7 at one point.

Overall, I don’t really know what to make of these numbers. In its current condition, I feel like Kansas would be hard pressed to finish first or second in this league. A top 4 finish I would think is quite likely - SDSU ranked 67 spots higher than KU in 2015, and while they got the big lead in that game, the Jayhawks eventually wore them down and made a huge comeback in the second half.

Best case scenario involves consistent winning seasons and top-4 finishes; worst case scenario is finishing next-to-last as the number indicate for 2015 and 2017.

This is a much more difficult comparison due to the differences in scholarships, weight programs, other facilities, and probably several other factors. But then the question remains - do you really think Kansas could regularly beat teams that make the FCS playoffs?