The surprise of the Missouri Valley Football Conference is a no-brainer just one game into the league season. Missouri State knocked off No. 9-ranked Illinois State last week, which came two weeks after the Bears stuck a beatdown on No. 20 Northern Arizona. The bye week, that makes two straight wins over nationally-ranked teams.
“Our offensive mindset is to attack this year,” quarterback Peyton Huslig said in the post-game press conference after the Redbirds win. “And we’re going to keep attacking.”
Huslig was 3 for 3 on an 80-yard drive that gave Missouri State a 24-14 lead in the fourth quarter. The Bears withstood a Redbirds rally, including blocking a potential game-tying 32-yard field goal in the closing seconds.
NDSU for the record plays at Missouri State on Nov. 10, a Plaster Field location that has been tough to navigate over the years. It’s the fourth year at the helm for Bears head coach Dave Steckel, who’s been on the wrong end of lopsided scores in his time. They went 3-8 last season with the worst a 63-30 loss at home to South Dakota State. They were 4-7 in 2016 losing 61-7 at Northern Iowa. The 1-10 record in 2015 included a 73-26 loss at Southern Illinois. The Bison won 55-0 that year at Gate City Bank Field, a game that Steckel drove to after having eye surgery and was rendered unable to fly.
It’s still early in the league season, but so far the Bears are far and away the Valley’s most improved program. The Bears are at South Dakota this weekend before hosting Indiana State. The gauntlet is at the end of the year when they are at SDSU, host NDSU and travel to UNI.
(featured image photo Springfield News-Leader)