Missouri State Bears nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets this football season against rank number 10 Arkansas. They were up 17-0 in the second quarter, then were up by 10 points 27-17 earlier in the 4th quarter only to for the Razorbacks to score 21 un-answer points to win 38-27. Despite the loss, Missouri State are beginning a brand-new winning tradition in football thanks to Bobby Petrino. Before Petrino took over, Missouri State had only been to NCAA Division I Football Championship Sub-division post-season playoffs just twice in 1990 and 1989 which ended in first a round lost against Stephen F Austin in 1989 and a first-round quarterfinal lost to Idaho in 1990. Since then Missouri State went through 4 coaches which all of them had losing records and never were serious contenders in the Missouri Valley Conference. Bobby Petrino’s reputation was nearly tarnished after he was fired at Arkansas after the 2012 season, after using gifts worth $20,000 from the University of Arkansas Razorback Foundation, to a female friend. He would coach one season at Western Kentucky for the 2013, then return to University of Louisville were he previously coach from 2003-2006 for the 2014 season only to be fired during the 2018. Since becoming the head coach at Missouri State, the team have two winning seasons and qualified for the NCAA Division I Football Championship Sub-Division Championship playoffs two straight years. This season the Bears are ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA Division I Championship Sub-Division. The team is led by Senior Quarterback Jason Shelley a transfer from Utah State University and who was named as the Missouri Valley Football Conference offensive player of the year and Newcomer of the year in 2021. Punter Grand Burkett who ranked second in the nation with a school record punting average of 46.2 per attempt last season Defensive back and return specialist Montrae Braswell who earned All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first-team honors in 2021 and 17 returning starters after the team finished 8-4 in 2021
The impact of the teams winning ways have led some excitement from alumni groups and boosters at Missouri States. Stadium suites are sold out for home games and they’re greater enthusiasm around the community in Springfield. Fresh new recruits who would have never thought about going to MSU before are visiting are deciding to commit to play football for the Bears. First two games of the season MSU Bears won their season opening against Central Arkansas 27-14 then hung on to beat University of Tennessee Martin 35-30. Despite falling short against Arkansas, the game, the Bears felt like the made a statement that should keep the momentum going heading to the Missouri Valley Conference. There will be challenges and tough opponents in the Missouri Valley Conference. There next game will be against South Dakota State who are ranked 3 in the along with other ranked opponents like Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois and the Defending National Champion, North Dakota State. Things are looking up for the Bears Football and there’s an old saying that winning is everything and what Bobby Petrino and MSU Football have proved to their critics is just how quickly they have climbed and what this could led going forward, like perhaps a National Championship? It’s not too far-fetched but, in any case, Missouri State Football is heading in the right direction.