Missouri State University Announces 2011 Football Schedule
SPRINGFIELD - Missouri State University will have an opportunity to play against two of the nation's top FBS programs as part of an 11-game schedule for the 2011 season, the University announced Friday (Jan. 7).
The Bears will play three non-conference games in the month of September, including a Sept. 3 opener at Arkansas and a trip to Eugene, Ore., on Sept. 17 to play BCS Championship Game participant Oregon. In between the two games against FBS teams, MSU will also travel to Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 10 as the return game from the Bears' 2010 opener against the Colonels.
An eight-game Missouri Valley Football Conference slate follows the trio of non-conference games, and head coach Terry Allen says his squad is ready to take on the challenging slate ahead.
"This is a great opportunity for our program to play on a national stage against two of the top major-conference schools," said Allen who is beginning his sixth year at Missouri State. "Arkansas and Oregon are both among the final eight teams in the BCS this year, and it will be both a challenge and a privilege to play them."
Missouri State Director of Athletics Kyle Moats noted the rationale for scheduling two guarantee games this season reflects the many financial challenges facing MSU and his department in particular.
"We have to look at a number of ways to increase revenue for intercollegiate athletics, and this is one that can help the entire department," said Moats. "We are certainly not alone in facing budget cuts and financial challenges, and I think you are going to see more and more Division I FCS programs across the nation playing more than one guarantee game. I am grateful to Coach Allen for being willing to help out in every way possible."
"Playing two FBS teams gives football an opportunity to help the entire athletic department from a budget standpoint," Allen said. "It also helps us from a recruiting standpoint and helps solidify our program financially."
The Bears will kick off a four-game Valley home slate on Oct. 1 against the defending MVFC champion Northern Iowa. The following week, MSU hosts Illinois State (Oct. 8) before facing a pair of 2010 playoff teams on the road.
MSU will be looking for its third straight win over both North Dakota State and Western Illinois, who were both 2010 Division I playoff qualifiers. The Bears travel to national quarterfinalist North Dakota State on Oct. 15 before an Oct. 22 trip to Macomb, Ill. to take on the WIU Leathernecks.
The Bears play two of their final three games at Plaster Field where they own a six-game winning streak. Allen's troops host South Dakota State on homecoming Oct. 29 before an open date on Nov. 5 and a home date with Indiana State on Nov. 12. MSU closes out the 2011 campaign at Youngstown State on Nov. 19.
"The Missouri Valley Football Conference had three teams in the (Division I FCS) playoffs in 2010, and that shows how competitive this league is from top to bottom," Allen said. "Even though there are just four home games for us, our fans are going to see quality football. Having the support of the community, our fans and our students will be critical to us when we are at home."
Missouri State is expected to have 31 lettermen back from a 5-6 squad that finished 4-4 in the MVFC to tie for third place in the nine-team league. MSU was 5-0 at Plaster Field in 2010 to post its first unbeaten home season since 1992. The Bears also defeated three ranked opponents last season, including two NCAA playoff qualifiers.