Bears' 2008 grid slate features new-look Gateway
A year after Gateway Football Conference membership dropped to seven teams, that list rises to nine schools next fall as the Missouri State Bears look ahead to an eight-game league slate in a 2008 season schedule announced Thursday by MSU director of athletics Bill Rowe.
The addition of new NCAA Football Championship Subdivision schools South Dakota State and North Dakota State takes effect next fall and the Bears will have an eight-game conference schedule for the first time in their history. Missouri State will also play four regular-season games in November for the first time.
The Bears open at Plaster Field Sept. 4 against Division II MIAA member Washburn University. Missouri State takes on its lone FBS foe when the Bears go to Oklahoma State of the Big 12 Conference Sept. 13, and the lone FCS non-league game will be Sept. 20 at Southeast Missouri State, a long-time MIAA foe now competing in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Bears are open Sept. 27 before facing their eight conference games.
The two Dakota schools will be eligible for the FCS playoff system for the first time in 2008 and are moving to the Gateway from the Big West Conference. South Dakota State opened the 2007 season 0-3 with losses to Gateway members Western Illinois, Youngstown State and Northern Iowa. From then, the Jackrabbits lost only to Georgia Southern and went into their season finale with North Dakota State at 3-0 in league play. North Dakota State was undefeated through 10 games and running UNI a close second in the FCS polls but lost its perfect season and the Big West title to South Dakota State in the season finale in a 29-24 decision. NDSU finished 10-1 and SDSU finished 7-4.
The Bears make their first trip to Brookings, S.D., to take on the SDSU Jackrabbits on Nov. 1. MSU plays the North Dakota State Bison for the first time on Nov. 15 at Plaster Field. The Bears will host SDSU and go to NDSU for the first time in the 2009 season. Missouri State has never previously played either of the Dakota schools in football.
Missouri State opens league play at home the first two Saturdays in October, hosting Western Illinois and Youngstown State. After a trip to Illinois State Oct. 18, the Bears close the month against Southern Illinois at home Oct. 25.
Following the game at SDSU Nov. 1, the Bears go to defending league champ UNI Nov. 8, play NDSU at home Nov. 15, and close the regular season Nov. 22 at Indiana State. FCS playoff pairings are announced Nov. 23 and the playoffs begin the following weekend.
Bears' head coach Terry Allen will be in his third season at Missouri State next fall. The 2007 Bears finished 6-5 and their four-game improvement in the win column from the previous season was the biggest gain for a Missouri State team in 19 years.