Bears face ISU Sycamores Saturday in Homecoming clash
The Missouri State football Bears will host the Indiana State Sycamores in Gateway Football Conference action Saturday at Plaster Field on the MSU campus. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m. and it is Homecoming weekend at MSU.
The Bears have finally finished a seven-week span which started in early September in which they played five of seven games on the road. After last week’s visit to Southern Illinois, the Bears are home to stay with their final three games at Plaster Field. The Bears entertain top-ranked UNI Nov. 3 and Southeast Missouri State Nov. 10 in the season finale.
Missouri State has dropped two games in a row for the first time all year, slipping from 4-2 to 4-4 and the Bears are bidding to get back above the .500 mark for the season this Saturday against the Sycamores. At 1-3 in the league, Missouri State will have to win its final two conference games to get to .500 in Gateway play. The Bears dropped a 49-21 decision Sept. 29 at two-time defending Gateway champ Youngstown State in the conference opener for both teams, and MSU then rolled past Illinois State 58-41 at Plaster Field Oct. 6. The Bears lost 31-10 at Western Illinois Oct. 13 before a 45-10 setback at Southern Illinois last weekend.
The Bears opened the season with wins over Divison II Missouri-Rolla (62-17) and FCS 16th-ranked Tennessee-Martin (51-44), lost 61-10 at Kansas State of the Big 12 Conference, and got a come-from-behind 42-38 home win over Central Arkansas before opening league play at Youngstown State. At 4-4 after eight games, the Bears have doubled their win total from last year’s 2-9 team.
Indiana State will be just the third team in nine outings to be unranked when playing Missouri State. Central Arkansas was the only other opponent not ranked in FCS when the Bears played UCA.
Indiana State is 0-8 on the season and 0-4 in Gateway play after dropping a 56-7 decision to former Gateway member and current FBS school Western Kentucky last weekend. The Sycamores’ only win since the 2004 season was a 28-22 victory over Missouri State last year in Terre Haute, Ind.
Missouri State has six home games in 2007, including three home league games. In contrast, however, to the last five years, the Bears have non-conference play after their league schedule begins. MSU closes its campaign at home Nov. 10 vs. Southeast Missouri State. That addition to the schedule came when Western Kentucky left the Gateway after the 2006 season for the Sun Belt Conference.
The Bears have only day games the rest of the way after opening with four straight at night and a 5 p.m. start at Youngstown.
The Coaches: Terry Allen (UNI, ’76) is 6-13 with the Bears in his second year at Missouri State; 101-72 overall in his 15th year as a college head coach. He’s 7-2 vs. Indiana State. (Allen detailed bio and Missouri State and Gateway win lists attached).
Dennis Raetz (Nebraska, ’68) is 94-108-1 with an 0-4 record this year. Raetz was ISU’s head coach from 1980 to 1997 and returned to the sidelines the last week in September of this year after former head coach Lou West (2005-07) was relieved of his coaching duties with a 1-25 record in his third year at ISU. Raetz is 4-8 vs. MSU.
Series record: Missouri State leads, 13-8. The Sycamores’ 28-22 win over the Bears in Terre Haute last season snapped a string of three straight Missouri State wins in the series. MSU is 8-2 vs. Indiana State in Springfield and 5-6 vs. Sycamores at ISU.
Affiliation: Missouri State is in its 26th Division I FCS season and 22nd Gateway Football Conference year. MSU was in the NCAA College Division from 1956 until Division II was established in 1974. League affiliations have included the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association (1924-81), Mid-Continent (1981-84) and Gateway (1985-05). Missouri State has had winning seasons 11 of 25 FCS years, and reached FCS playoffs in 1989 and 1990. The 1989 and 1990 seasons included the Bears’ only league (Gateway) titles since moving to FCS. The 2005 season marks the 23rd year for Gateway competition in what has become the top FCS league in the country. The Gateway:
l Has had two or more teams in the FCS playoffs each of the last 12 years.
l Has had a playoff semifinalist eight of the last 11 years.
l Is the only FCS league in which every league member has had at least one playoff appearance.
l Owns national titles from Youngstown State (1997) and Western Kentucky (2002).
l Became the first FCS league to put four teams in the playoffs the same year (2003).
l Had both the I-AA National Coach of the Year (Jerry Kill of SIU) and the I-AA National Player of the Year (Boomer Grigsby of Illinois State) in 2004.
Missouri State All-Time: Missouri State is in its 96th football season with a mark of 424-424-40 (.500) for 888 games. The Bears first played in 1909 and have had a team all but three years since. MSU has had 45 winning seasons, 47 losing seasons and three .500 years. The longest MSU string of consecutive winning seasons is five, done three times (1947-51, ’62-66, ’89-93). The Bears’ most recent winning seasons were 2001 and 2004.
Missouri State in 2006: In their first year under head coach Terry Allen, the Bears finished with a 2-9 season record and were 1-6 in Gateway Football Conference play. Missouri State beat Southwest Baptist in its home opener and clipped GFC foe Western Illinois in the home season finale for the team’s only wins. Missouri State lost four games by a touchdown or less and dropped another contest by 10 points. Two seniors--free safety Mike Radon and offensive tackle Justin Williamson--shared the football Coors Player of the Year honor. Radon led the team in interceptions and was third in total tackles while Williamson was the line’s top graded blocker throughout the campaign. The Bears began the year with an entirely new quarterback corps and had injuries at that position to compound the inexperience. Matt Krapfl and Tyler Horner, both redshirt freshmen in 2006, wound up starting four games each as the team’s signal-caller. Missouri State had 25 seniors on its ballclub in 2006.
NFL Bears: Missouri State has two players on current NFL rosters, including OL Jason Whittle (Bills) and LS/TE Brad St. Louis (Bengals). Whittle spent four years with the Giants, including an appearance in the 2002 Super Bowl. He spent a year with Tampa Bay and two more with the Giants before moving to Minnesota last year and Buffalo this year. St. Louis is in his eighth year with the Bengals.
Personnel: The Bears are young. Half the 90 squad members hadn’t played in a Missouri State game before UMR, and 29 of the Bears who played vs. UMR were in their first game for Missouri State, including 24 freshmen. Of the rookies, 14 were redshirt freshmen and 10 were true freshmen. There are 26 lettermen back from last season. QB Matt Krapfl, QB Tyler Horner, OC David Tillman, WR Jeremy Nicholson, WR Chris Geisz, FB Jeff Sargent and WR Eric Davis on offense and LB Jeron Poole and CB Marcus Colbert on defense are returning regulars from last year. Geisz has moved from wide receiver to the defensive secondary this year.
Captains: The Bears’ 2007 captains include LB Jeron Poole, CB Marcus Colbert, TB Gerald Davis and OC David Tillman. All are seniors.
l The Bears’ 4-4 record includes the four-point win Sept. 22 over Central Arkansas and a seven-point win at Tennessee-Martin Sept. 6. Last year Missouri State was 1-5 in games decided by 10 points or less.
l Missouri State has scored between 10 and 21 points in its four losses and between 42 and 62 points in its four wins. The Bears haven’t had any game with a point total between 21 and 42.
l TB Gerald Davis scored his 11th rushing touchdown of the season Oct. 20 at Southern Illinois. Only seven players have previously rushed for 11 TDs in a year for Missouri State. Davis ran for three TDs vs. Illinois State, his second multiple-TD game of the season after he got four vs. UMR in the Bears’ 2007 opener. In addition to Davis’s scoring, QB Cody Kirby has scored seven TDs. Last year’s Missouri State individual leader for the 11-game season was Jeremy Nicholson with four touchdowns. G. Davis tied an MSU record shared by nine others with four rushing TDs in the UMR contest. He had 110 yards on 15 carries and also caught a pass to get selection as Missouri State Coors Player of the Week and the Gateway Offensive Player of the Week. With Jonathan Davis getting 113 yards on 19 carries vs. UMR, it was the first time two Bears had gained 100 or more yards on the ground in a contest in four seasons.
l The first punt of the game by Nathan Stokes at SIU Oct. 20 was a 75-yarder, putting it within four yards of the longest punt in Bears’ grid history. The 52-yard field goal Stokes kicked at Western Illinois was five yards longer than the longest FG he’s previously attempted. When he missed a 47-yarder later in the game at WIU, it was the first miss for Stokes in seven tries in 2007. Stokes was GFC Special Teams Player of the Week and MSU Coors Player of the Week for his performance at UTM. He had a record-tying 15 points on three field goals and six extra points against the Skyhawks. Stokes was perfect in his nine placement attempts as his 15 points tied a Missouri State single game kick scoring record set by Richard Grote in 1990 vs. Indiana State and tied by Wayne Boyer in 1996 vs. UT Martin. Stokes’s three field goals tied his career best in that department, matching the trio he kicked last year at Indiana State, and his 44-yarder in the final period was five yards longer than his previous career long. Stokes also gained six yards for a first down on a fake punt.
l The Bears gave up 508 yards rushing to Western Illinois Oct. 13, with 314 of those to WIU tailback Herb Donaldson. Those are the highest one-game team and individual rushing totals on record for a game against Missouri State.
l The home win over Illinois State Oct. 6 ended a string of five straight losses to the Redbirds. The last time MSU had beaten ISU was in Springfield in 2001. Missouri State closed to within a game of ISU all-time at 13-14-1 in the series.
l Kirby passed for four TDs and 277 yards vs. ISU for his best game in both categories this season. He earned his third nod as MSU Coors Player of the Week and his second pick as Gateway Offensive Player of the Week. The rookie QB was within one of the Bears’ single game record for TD passes, and his 1218 aerial yards on the season give him the third best passing yardage total for a freshman quarterback in Bears’ grid history. Through eight games, he trails only the complete season totals of Greg Arterburn (1,309 yds., 1982) and Jeremy Hoog (1,391 yds., 1994). Kirby was GFC Offensive Player of the Week for the UCA game. He hit 22-of-38 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns and carried nine times for 40 yards and three more touchdowns, including the game-winner with 21 seconds left in the fourth quarter. It was a complete game effort by Kirby in his first collegiate start. He became only the 12th Missouri State quarterback to complete 22 or more passes in a game.
l WR Jeremy Nicholson has had four career games with more than the 51 yards receiving he had at YSU Sept. 29, but his seven catches vs. the Penguins set a new career high. Nicholson scored the Bears’ third TD at YSU, marking his seventh career scoring reception. Nicholson needs 13 yards to become Missouri State’s 14th 1,000-yard career receiver.
l The Bears’ Sept. 15 game at Kansas State was played before a crowd of 46,825 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. That marks the third largest crowd ever to watch a Bears’ football game, topped only by Missouri State’s visits to Arkansas in 2001 and 2005. The Bears’ top 15 and 18 of their top 21 all-time crowds have come against FBS teams. The 19,617 at YSU Sept. 29 was the 17th largest MSU crowd.
l The Bears started 2-0 with a lot of offense on Thursdays. The Bears’ win over No. 16 Tennessee-Martin was their first win over a ranked FCS team since a home win over Northern Iowa in 2005. It was also the Bears’ first road win since Oct. 16, 2004, and ended a string of 11 straight Missouri State losses away from Springfield. The Bears were also 2-0 to start a season for the first time since 2004, and the Bears owned the longest active win streak in the Gateway at three before losing at Kansas State.
l At 4-4, the Bears have doubled their win total of all of last year in a 2-9 season. They went into Gateway play with just one non-conference loss for the sixth time in the past seven years. The only year in which the Bears had more than one non-conference loss was 2006.
l The win over #16 Tennessee-Martin came over the defending Ohio Valley Conference champs, an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision playoff team last year. The win over Central Arkansas settled the score for a 16-14 loss at UCA last year and evened the series between the Bears and the Bears at 3-3.
l The offensive free-for-all at UTM took three and a half hours to complete and marked the fifth highest combined point total for two teams in a game in the 96-year, 882-game history of Missouri State football. It was the most points an MSU team has ever allowed in a victory, the most a UTM team has ever scored in a loss, and it was the highest point total for a Bear ballclub in a game since . . . 62 against Missouri-Rolla the previous week. It was the first time the Bears have put 50-point games back-to-back since 1978 and also the most points MSU has scored in consecutive games since 1978.
l MSU guards David Arkin and Seth Reichert shared the Gateway Football Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week honor vs. UCA. Each graded out at 92 percent in blocking assignments, had nine pancakes and allowed no sacks. Junior OT Kevaughn Brown was Gateway OLineman of the Week for his blocking in the game against Illinois State.
l Gateway teams posted three straight 5-2 weeks before opening league play. GFC schools are now 20-11 vs. outside foes this season.
l The UMR win was the first time since 2004 Missouri State had won its season opener. MSU is 12-14 in season openers in Division I FCS. In beating the Miners, the Bears won their home opener for the 10th year in a row and are 20-4-2 in home openers in FCS. The all-time Missouri State record in season openers is 48-45-3.
l The UMR contest saw 29 Bears make their college playing debuts, including 24 freshmen. Ten of the rookies were true freshmen and the others were redshirts.
l Against Missouri-Rolla, the Bears rolled up their highest point total team since a 63-14 win over Drake in 2001.
l WR Tamarkus McElvane had four catches for 139 yards vs. UMR for the most receiving yards for a Bear since 2005. It was also a career best for McElvane at Missouri State. WR Eric Davis had five receptions for 76 yards, matching his career best for receptions while setting a new best in receiving yards for a game. McElvane came back with 10 receptions for 109 yards against UCA, marking the first time a Missouri State player had had double-digit receptions in a game since Steve Rush did it three times in 2004.
Through eight games, MSU and its opponents have accounted for 88 scoring plays (72 TDs, 16 FGs), an average of 10.0 scores a game. In 2006, The Bears’ and their foes averaged 7.6 scoring plays over the 11-game season.
l With 28 points in the first quarter vs. UMR, the Bears tied the MSU record for points in the first quarter of a game, set in 1992 vs. Washburn.
l The Bears’ 690 total yards vs. UMR tied the third best single game total on record at MSU. The 35 first downs were within one of a single game team record.
l The Bears have allowed 326 points in eight games, breaking the MSU season mark of 324 points given up in 2004.