East Central at #3 Northwest Missouri
Northwest Missouri will put their #3 ranking on the line as they are the only MIAA team stepping out of the conference this week. They will face East Central who finished 8-3 and in third place in the Great American Conference last season. Northwest Missouri enters the 2012 campaign after falling to eventual National Champion Pittsburg State in the regional final in 2011. They return quarterback Trevor Adams who threw for 2,202 yards last season and 21 touchdowns. Collin DeBuysere led the team with 73 tackles in the defensive backfield. The Tigers averaged 392.1 yards per game on offense and allowed an average of 329.7 yards on defense last season.
Central Missouri at #18 Missouri Western
Two teams who made trips to the post-season last year will face off in St. Joseph, Mo. as #18 Missouri Western who made the NCAA Division II Playoffs will take on Kanza Bowl participant Central Missouri. MWSU leads the overall series 14-13-1 and are 7-6-1 when playing at their home stadium. The Griffons return the MIAA’s leading rusher on offense in Michael Hill who ran for 1,305 yards last season and 12 touchdowns. On defense they return All-American David Bass who led the MIAA with 14.5 sacks and had 20 tackles for a loss. Central Missouri returns one the of league’s best tight ends in David Cannon who caught 60 passes for 810 yards and nine touchdowns. On defense Patrick Lewis had 104 tackles to lead the Mules secondary.
Truman at Southwest Baptist
Southwest Baptist will make their return to MIAA football at home as they face Truman in both team’s season opener. The two teams will be facing each other for the second straight game though they come months apart after Truman defeated Southwest Baptist 24-8 to end the 2011 season. This will be the 23rd meeting between the two teams with TSU holding the overall series record 19-4 and have won nine of the last ten meetings. On offense the Bulldogs must replace J.B. Clark under center but return Dallas Grier who had 47 catches for 599 yards last season. On defense leading tackler Richie Schumacher returns after making 130 tackles last season which ranked second in the MIAA. The Bearcats will look to returning quarterback Dan Conners on offense after he threw for 2,179 yards and 14 TD’s last year. On defense Chris Muhammad will anchor the secondary.
Missouri Southern at Central Oklahoma
Missouri Southern will welcome Central Oklahoma to the MIAA as the two teams face off in the season opener from Edmond, Okla. Both teams will be lead onto the field by first year head coaches as Darryl Day takes over the helm for the Lions and Nick Bobeck enters his first season with Bronchos. On offense the Lions return wide receiver Landon Zerkel who led the league in receiving yards per game. On defense they return Brandon Williams who was 13th in the nation in tackles for a loss. For the Bronchos Joshua Birmingham returns to the UCO running game. On defense Sam Moses had 68 tackles last year including nine tackles for a loss.