- The Missouri State Bears will open their 77th season at Robert W. Plaster Stadium Thursday (Sept. 6), when they host the Lincoln Blue Tigers in an 11 a.m., non-conference game.
- The contest will be carried on the Missouri State Radio Network, as Art Hains and Dennis Heim will once again have the call.
- Missouri State holds an all-time mark of 212-168-12 (.556) at Plaster Stadium.
- The Bears are 67-35-4 in home openers, including a 26-8-2 mark in such games as a Division I program.
- The contest will be the Bears' second-straight Thursday game, marking their first back-to-back Thursday games to open a season since 2007; MSU brings a 21-16-3 all-time Thursday ledger into the game.
- Peyton Huslig rushed for 109 yards in MSU's season opener at No. 25 Oklahoma State last week, marking his fourth career 100-yard rushing game (in 12 games) with MSU; accounted for 259 of MSU's 260 yards of total offense against the Cowboys and tossed two touchdown passes in the 58-17 loss.
- The Bears and Blue Tigers will be meeting for the first time since 1983 Thursday, with MSU holding a 10-5 edge in a series that dates back to 1969.
- MSU has won each of the last six meetings in the series at home and 10 of the last 11 vs. LU overall since the Blue Tigers took the first four matchups (1969-72).
- Over the course of their six-game home win streak in the series (since 1973), the Bears have out-scored the Blue Tigers by a combined margin of 283-23.
- MSU is 68-70-1 all-time against the current membership of the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC).
THE BLUE TIGERS
- Missouri State was tabbed for ninth place in the Missouri Valley Football Conference's annual preseason poll.
- The Bears return 36 letterwinners and 15 total starters from last year's 3-8 squad.
- MSU's defense will welcome back nine starters, led by first-team preseason All-MVFC pick Angelo Garbutt and second-team choice Darius Joseph.
- Led by 2017 honorable mention All-MVFC quarterback Peyton Huslig, the MSU offense will also feature several key returners, including preseason all-conference lineman Marquis Prophete.
- MSU is 465-503-3 all-time as a program and 8-26 under fourth-year head coach Dave Steckel.
- Lincoln, from Jefferson City, Mo., is in its second season under head coach Steven Smith, who guided the Blue Tigers through a 1-9 season last fall.
- The Blue Tigers return 14 starters, including defensive lineman Isaiah Gray and wide receiver Blake Tibbs, who were both All-GLVC selections last season.
- LU knocked off Lane College, 10-7, in its season opener behind a stout defense that allowed just 123 yards of offense and nine first downs.
Missouri State opened the 2018 campaign with a 58-17 setback at No. 25 Oklahoma State last Thursday, despite a valiant comeback effort that saw the Bears slice a one-time 31-0 deficit down to 21 points in the third period.
- Peyton Huslig accounted for 259 of the Bears' 260 yards of total offense with his fourth career 100-yard rushing performance.
- Brendan Withrow provided an early highlight with his third career boot of 60 yards or more, pinning the Cowboys inside their own 5 with a 63-yard punt; Withrow punted 10 times in the game, averaging 44.6 yards per attempt.
- Jordan Murray reeled in the first scoring catch of his MSU career on the Bears' initial scoring drive of the game late in the second quarter.
- Antwan Woods caught a 27-yard scoring strike from Huslig in the third quarter for his first catch and TD as a Bear.
- Kam Carter established a career high with his 11.0 solo tackles and matched his single-game high with 12 stops overall.
- Kevin Ellis (7 tackles) and Tyler Lovelace (5) also registered career-best tackle totals for MSU, while Zack Sanders turned in a personal-best seven stops to go along with his second career interception.
- Two MSU newcomers — TE Mauricio Chio and DT Kylin Washington — drew starting assignments in their initial games as Bears, while 16 additional MSU newcomers saw game action.
Missouri State begins a rare three-game home stand this week that runs through the month of September. The last time MSU hosted three games in a row was 2009, while the last time the Bears played out the month of September without a road game was 1954.
The Bears will also play two of their four October games at home with one home contest slated for the month of November.
STRONG IN THE NON-CON
Missouri State's contest with Lincoln represents the first of two straight non-conference home games, with Northern Arizona slated to visit Plaster Stadium on Sept. 15. MSU has enjoyed a history of success in non-conference play at home since joining the Division I ranks in 1982, going 56-20 overall against non-league foes at Plaster.
WELCOME TO THE PARTY
The Bears bring a four-game home win streak versus non-conference opponents into the 2018 home slate, including shutout wins in two of those outings. MSU has out-scored its last four non-league opponents by a combined 144-34 margin, posting a 57-0 win over Southwestern College (Sept. 1, 2016), a 21-13 victory over Chadron State (Sept. 12, 2015), a 38-0 white-washing of North Dakota (Sept. 13, 2015) and a 28-21 decision over Murray State (Sept. 16, 2017). The Bears have logged at least one non-conference home win in 27 of their last 31 seasons.
HUSLIG HAULS THE ROCK
Junior quarterback Peyton Huslig
rushed for 109 yards in MSU's season opener at No. 25 Oklahoma State last week, marking his fourth career 100-yard rushing game (in 12 outings) with the Bears. Huslig accounted for 259 of MSU's 260 yards of total offense against the Cowboys and threaded two TD passes through the OSU defense. Only former Bear DeAndre Smith (1987-90), with six 100-yard rushing games, has more than Huslig from the QB position.
Huslig will once again spearhead the Bears offense on the heels of a breakthrough debut 2017 campaign that ened with his selection as an Honorable Mention All-MVFC choice. In his first season at MSU, Huslig started all 11 games as a sophomore transfer, registering one of the top debut seasons for a Bears signal-caller in the Division I era of MSU football. His 2,602 yards of total offense last fall ranked as the fifth-best single-season total in program history. Additionally, Huslig completed 159 passes and totaled 1981 yards through the air to rank eighth and 10th, respectively, on those two MSU single-season charts.
The Andover, Kan., product registered three 100-yard rushing games and three 200-yard passing performances last fall, making him the first MSU quarterback to accomplish that feat in the same season. With his season-opening performance at OSU, Huslig moved up to 14th on the Bears' career passing yardage chart with his 150-yard day. His career total of 2,131 yards is 341 behind Brodie Lambert
(2,472) in the No. 13 position on the list.
Missouri State's cause will receive a boost by an influx of talent in 2018, with 42 newcomers adorning the Bears' roster entering the first week of the regular season. Head coach Dave Steckel
and his staff welcomed 24 freshmen, as well as 18 transfers to campus at the start of fall camp. MSU saw an immediate impact from its decorated group of newcomers, as 18 newcomers saw game action last Thursday at Oklahoma State, including starters Mauricio Chio
and Kylin Washington
MSU's talented crop of newcomers will be aiming to continue a tradition of excellence displayed by Bear rookies over the last two decades. In the history of the Missouri Valley Football Conference, only Western Illinois (82) and Illinois State (82) have produced more MVFC All-Newcomer selections than the Bears, who have collected 79 such honors since the league began recognizing an all-rookie team in 1994. On this year's roster, five Bears have been listed on previous MVFC All-Newcomer squads: 2015 - Jared Beshore
(S); 2016 - Coleman Clanton
(OL) and McNeece Egbim
(LB), and 2017 - Peyton Huslig
(QB) and Angelo Garbutt