The Missouri State Bears will be looking for their first 2-0 MVFC start in 19 years Saturday when they welcome the five-time defending FCS national champion North Dakota State Bison to Robert W. Plaster Stadium for a 2:04 p.m. Valley contest. This weekend’s match-up with No. 1 North Dakota State represents the Bears’ sixth contest vs. a top-ranked club, with MSU dropping each of its previous five such games.
The Bears’ last two meetings with an FCS No. 1 team have come against the Bison, the most-recent of which was a 41-26 setback to NDSU in Fargo on Oct. 12, 2013. The Bears played NDSU at the end of last season and lost 55-0, but the Bison were ranked 2nd.
Last Saturday’s 45-24 win at No. 24 Indiana State represented the Bears’ largest-ever margin of victory over a ranked opponent on the road
Missouri State will honor its 1966 MIAA championship squad at halftime of Saturday’s game as part of its annual reunion weekend festivities
Preseason All-America linebacker Dylan Cole moved into the Bears’ career top 10 for tackles (350) with his 13-stop afternoon at Indiana State; Cole earned STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week recognition for his efforts, while junior guard Sam Ellifrits claimed MVFC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors.
The Bears enter Saturday’s game with the top overall defense (299.0 ypg.) in the Valley, as well as the No. 5 rushing defense (76.5 ypg.) in the nation; MSU leads all MVFC defenses with 11 takeaways, which is the 10th-best total in the FCS ranks.
MSU’s offense has scored a touchdown on its opening drive in three of the Bears’ four games to date; the Bears posted their three longest scoring drives of the season (11, 12 and 14 plays) — as well as their two longest plays from scrimmage (64 and 69 yards) — in last Saturday’s win in Terre Haute.
Bears quarterback Brodie Lambert opened last Saturday’s contest with 12 consecutive completions, matching a pair of Mitch Ware performances for the second-longest such streak in program history; Lambert tossed three of his six career TD passes in the win over Indiana State and finished with career highs for completions (24) and passing yards (279).
Junior receiver Malik Earl hauled in a career-best 11 catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns last week–all in the first three quarters; Earl combined with Calan Crowder (131 rushing yards) for five of MSU’s six TD’s in the win, giving MSU a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver in the same game for the first time since Oct. 16, 2010, when Stephen Johnston ran for 112 yards and Jermaine Saffold reeled in 141 receiving yards at Indiana State.
Story: Missouri State Athletics