Nov. 16, 2015
- The Missouri State Bears take on their fourth-straight ranked opponent Saturday (Nov. 21) when they close out the 2015 campaign against the No. 3 North Dakota State Bison in a 2:30 p.m. game at the Fargodome
- MSU has won five of its last nine season-ending contests, but has claimed just 38 of its previous 103 season finales
- The Bears are 2-5 all-time against the Bison, including a 1-2 mark against NDSU in Fargo; MSU's lone road win in the series came in its first trip to the Fargodome on Oct. 24, 2009, when the Bears prevailed by a 21-17 score
- MSU is looking for its first victory over a ranked opponent since its home win over South Dakota State two years ago; the Bears are winless in five tries against ranked foes this year after going 0-7 against top 25 squads in 2014
- Sophomore Deion Holliman leads the nation in combined kick return yardage (1,176) and owns the Bears' single-season record for kickoff return yardage (1,002); he needs just 45 kickoff return yards Saturday to equal Todd Speight's MVFC single-season record of 1,047 yards
- Holliman is the first Bear to record at least 100 yards in kickoff returns on five separate occasions in a single season during the Division I era and became just the third Bear to log a 100-yard return for a touchdown Oct. 24 at USD
- Thanks to Holliman's 17.4 yards per punt return average, the Bears rank sixth in the nation as a team; MSU is sixth nationally in fewest penalties (44) and 15th in fewest penalty yards (434)
- Senior punter Chris Sullens eclipsed the MVFC single-season record for total punts (91) last Saturday and enters the season finale just 167 punting yards shy of Logan Bieghler's MVFC single-season record of 3,709; Sullens already owns Valley career marks for punting yards (12,200) and total punts (307)
- Junior linebacker Dylan Cole currently leads the Valley and ranks second nationally in tackles per game (13.8) after logging a career-high 23 stops against UNI; Cole has led the Bears in tackles in all 10 games this season
- Cole's 138 total tackles is tied for the 10th-best figure in school history and represents the most for a Missouri State defender since P.J. Jones registered 161 in 2001
|Bears Wrap Up 2015 Season at No. 3 North Dakota State |
The Missouri State Bears (1-9, 0-7 MVFC) will close the books on their 104th season of varsity football Saturday (Nov. 21) when they travel to Fargo, N.D., for a 2:30 p.m. game against the four-time defending NCAA Division I FCS national champion North Dakota State Bison (8-2, 6-1 MVFC) at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. MSU, which has dropped three straight games and five total contests against ranked opponents this season, will be looking for its first win over the Bison since 2010.
The Bears, who dropped a 41-0 decision to No. 19 UNI in their home finale last weekend, enter the final contest of the 2015 season still searching for their first Missouri Valley Football Conference victory. Junior linebacker Dylan Cole continues to lead all Valley defenders in tackles per game (13.8), rising to No. 2 nationally following a career-best 23-stop effort against UNI. Sophomore return specialist Deion Holliman will be aiming for some history of his own after becoming just the second MVFC player to break the 1,000-yard barrier for kickoff returns in a single season. Holliman leads the country in combined kick return yardage and needs just 45 additional kickoff return yards Saturday to match the league's single-season record.
Ranked No. 3 in this week's FCS Coaches Poll, NDSU enters its regular-season finale with its sights set on another MVFC title. The Bison need a win vs. MSU or losses by Illinois State and South Dakota State to lock up a share of the crown. The Bison, who claimed a 45-10 victory over the Bears last year in Springfield, have claimed four straight meetings in the series and five of seven overall since joining the conference in 2008. NDSU, which ranks second in the MVFC in both total offense (436.3 ypg.) and total defense (303.2 ypg.), leads the nation in time of possession (36:51). Sophomore Greg Menard ranks fifth in the Valley in sacks (6.0), while junior Nick DeLuca's season total of 91 tackles is also the fifth-best in the conference.
|Holliman Hones in on Valley Marks |
Sophomore return specialist Deion Holliman became just the second Missouri Valley Football Conference player to top the 1,000-yard mark for kickoff returns in a season this past weekend. He needs just 45 additional yards this Saturday to match Todd Speight's league record of 1,047 kickoff return yards. Holliman is also just three returns shy of Speight's MVFC record of 50 kickoff returns in a single season.
Over the last decade, there have been just 17 games in which a Bear has logged 100 kickoff return yards, and Holliman has posted five of those this season. Additionally, he is the first Bear since Steven Rush in 2003 to post back-to-back 100-yard return efforts.
Against Youngstown State (Nov. 7), Holliman recorded a game-high 178 all-purpose yards. Holliman, who ranks fourth in the MVFC in all-purpose yardage (1,271), returned six kickoffs a total of 150 yards, marking his fifth 100-yard game this season.
Holliman provided the Bears' lone touchdown at South Dakota (Oct. 24) with his 100-yard kickoff return in the opening quarter. His key runback marked the fourth 100-yard return in school history and MSU's first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2008. The following week against South Dakota State, Holliman set a Bears single-season record for kickoff return yardage, eclipsing Tony Gilbert's (779 yards) 26-year-old school record. Additionally, Holliman's 1,176 combined kick/punt return yards leads the nation and represents the best single-season total on record at Missouri State.
Holliman's impressive night against Southern Illinois (Oct. 10) will go down as one of the top single-game efforts by a Bears' return specialist, as he brought back nine kickoffs for a total of 238 yards. Holliman, who was named MVFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance vs. the Salukis, also logged a 36-yard punt return to set a Missouri State Division I record for combined return yards (274) in a game, just one week after breaking the record with 182 yards against Indiana State.
With Saturday's loss to UNI, the Bears finished the 2015 home campaign with a 1-4 record at Plaster Stadium, marking just the fourth time during the Division I era they have failed to win at least two home contests in a season. But MSU's home season attendance total of 50,182 gave the Bears three consecutive seasons of at least 50,000 in home attendance and a final average of 10,036 - the 13th-best in school history and the No. 24 home mark in the FCS ranks this season.
The Bears have played before a total of 143,587 fans through their first 10 games 2015, or an average of 14,359 spectators per contest, which represents the fifth-best average attendance in school history.
MSU has played before more than 100,000 fans in each of the last 26 seasons, ranking among the top 40 FCS schools in average home attendance 18 times during that span, including a school-record 234,314 spectators in 2011.
Chris Sullens continued his assault on the Valley record book this past weekend with a league-record 543 punting yards against UNI. The Camdenton, Mo., native averaged 45.2 yards on his 12 punts, including a long of 51, while pinning the Panthers inside their own 20 yard line on two occasions. Sullens, who surpassed the Valley's single-season record for total punts (91) as well, enters Saturday's season finale within 169 yards of Logan Bieghler's MVFC record (3,708) for total punt yardage in a season.
Junior linebacker Dylan Cole continued his string of dominant performances with a career-high 23 tackles Saturday vs. UNI. With the best single-game tackle total for a Valley defender in 2015, Cole moved into the Bears' single-season top 10 for tackles, matching Ken Braden's 1987 total of 138 in the No. 10 position on the chart. The MVFC's leading tackler enters Saturday's season finale within immediate striking distance of three former Bears on the list, with DeLaun Fowler (1994) first in line with 140. Dennis O'Hagen (1979) is eighth on the chart with 145, and Bill Moriarty (1982) is seventh with 146. O'Hagen set the Bears' all-time single-season mark with 226 stops in 1980.
Cole brings the Valley's top total of 138 tackles, as well as the second-best per-game average in the nation, into the game. In 33 career games, Cole has led all Bears tacklers on 17 occasions, including 12 different contests in which he has logged double-digit tackle totals.