At 4-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, MSU is tied with Illinois State (a team the Bears have already beat) for third place in the league. A win at Southern Illinois this weekend would give the Bears their most league wins since 1990, which was also the last time MSU made the FCS playoffs.
It’s been a roller coaster season that began with an 0-4 start in the non-conference schedule, followed by losing two of the first three MVFC games.
But somehow, some way, the Bears are on the upswing/
MSU has finally found some offense to go with its stellar defense, and the results have been three straight convincing wins. Their game this Saturday will have long-term and short-term implications.
A win, and the Bears keep their slim hopes for the p-word (I can’t bring myself to type it and jinx it) alive. The Bears would be 5-6 overall and 5-2 in the MVFC, with a regular season finale at home the following week against last-place Northern Iowa.
You wouldn’t think a .500-level record would be good enough to get into the FCS playoffs, but the Bears have a few things working to their advantage.
For one, they play in what’s usually viewed as one of the toughest conferences in the FCS. Generally, the MVFC sends multiple teams to the playoffs. That at-large bid may be a pipe dream with a 6-6 overall record, but at least at 6-2 and alone in third place, the Bears would have chance.
In speaking with the media this week, Allen said: “If we can get this one (at Southern Illinois), then we’re coming home and might be playing for something pretty specially. So we gotta make sure they know that, but also stay in the mindset that it’s one game at a time.”
So, you mean to say MSU’s season might not be over after playing Northern Iowa on Nov. 16?
“(Players) understand that,” Allen said. “We’ve made sure of that.”
The FCS playoffs also expanded from 20 to 24 teams for the 2013 season. While it may have been bleak to get a bid two or three years ago, the Bears could land in one of those new playoff spots.
Here’s a recap of how many MVFC teams have made the playoffs in the last five years. Keep in mind, between 2010-2012, there were 10 at-large spots available. There are 13 at-large spots this year.
• 2012 – League champ: North Dakota State; At-large: Illinois State, South Dakota State
• 2011 – League champ: North Dakota State; At-large: Northern Iowa
• 2010 – League champ: Northern Iowa; At-large: North Dakota State, Western Illinois
• 2009 – League champ: Southern Illinois; At-large: South Dakota State *16-team playoff, 8 at-large spots
• 2008 – League champ: Northern Iowa; At-large: Southern Illinois *16-team playoff, 8 at-large spots
In the interest of full disclosure, the easy case against the Bears’ playoff chances would be that none of those at-large teams in the last five years had a .500-level record. That just makes the Bears’ early season struggles all the more frustrating.
If they don’t somehow pull a loss from the jaws of victory against Murray State, Central Arkansas and South Dakota, they’re at least 6-4 and a near-lock for the playoffs if they win out.
Let’s play along and say the Bears win their last two games, defy the odds, and squeak into the playoffs with one of the last at-large bids.
Suddenly, your head coach goes from the hot seat to the contract-extension seat. Allen will have given the Bears their most league victories and first playoff appearance in over 20 years. He also would go into 2014 in the final year of his contract.
You have to bring him back for 2014 and let the contract play out, but now do you reward him with an extension? Does one improbable late-season run into a playoff spot outweigh seven seasons of average-to-above average football?
It would be hard for Allen to go on the recruiting trail, coming off a breakthrough playoff appearance for the school, and try to land players while they know his contract will be up after their first season at MSU.
That contract extension depends on if the Bears can win at Southern Illinois, then return home and beat Northern Iowa (something Allen has never done at MSU.) Past history would tell us that this is the classic MSU sports scenario where we slightly get our hopes up, only to be let down.
If they lose one or both of the next two games, we could see a lot of changes with MSU football before next season. A “lame duck” situation would not be ideal for anyone.
Still, it’s a refreshing change that basketball season is about to start and the football Bears still have something to play for.
(Liberty)- Friday night the Mountain View/ Liberty Eagles went toe to toe with the Ash Grove Pirates where the Eagles proved themselves victorious once again winning 54-6.
The voice of the Eagles Dave Quinn has your Liberty Friday Night Football Follow-Up:
Once again the Liberty Eagles defeated the Ash Grove Pirates 54-6. Friday nights win takes the Eagles into week three of district play with a season record 10-1.
(Strafford)- Friday night was round two of district playoffs for the Willow Springs Bears as they traveled to take on and lose to the number one team in the district the Stafford Indians 61-0.
The voice of the Bears Larry Spence has your Willow Springs Friday Night Football Follow-Up:
Once again the Stafford Indians defeated the Bears 61-0. The Bears ended their season 4-7.
(West Plains, Mo) The Missouri State University West Plains Grizzlies opened their home season last night(Friday) at the West Plains Civic Center, during the Grizzly Tip Off Classic.
Brian Ingall’s filed this report.
Up next for the Grizzlies will be Iowa Western tonight(Saturday) at the West Plains Civic Center, tip off is scheduled for 7pm and the game can be heard on Today’s Hot New Country 102.5 KDY
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball team, visit http://wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb
(West Plains)- The West Plains Zizzers hosted the Carl Junction Bulldogs for round two of district action and unfortunately came up short on the scoreboard, losing 28-21.
The voice of the Zizzers has your West Plains Friday Night Football Follow-up:
Once again the Zizzers lost to the Carl Junction Bulldogs 28-21, ending their season at 9-3.
(Lockwood)- The Cabool Bulldogs found themselves up against the Lockwood Tigers, in round two of district play, Friday night where the Bulldogs showed no mercy and defeated the Tigers 42-27.
The voice of the Bulldogs Brad McNew has your Cabool Friday Night Football Follow-Up:
Once again the Cabool Bulldogs won against the Lockwood Tigers 42-27. Fridays win escalates the Bulldogs into week three of District play.
(Cape Girardeau) – Ozark Radio Sports’ Gary Lee checks in with another update in the state volleyball finals:
Several local teams are in action today across the Ozarks and to keep you up to date where you can find your favorite team, a schedule has been provided below.
12:30 Winona v. New Haven Volleyball 96.9 The Fox / Audio Stream
2:00 Mt. View B/T vs Fatima Volleyball 96.9 The Fox / Audio Stream
6:00 Mt View B/T vs Ash Grove Football 96.9 The Fox / Audio Stream
6:45 West Plains Zizzers vs Carl Junction Football 102.5 KDY / Audio Stream
6:45 Willow Springs Bears @ Strafford Football Classic Country 100.3 KUKU
6:45 Cabool Bulldogs @ Lockwood Football 93.9 Q94 Jack Fm
7:00 MSU-WP Grizzlies vs Panola College (TX) 1450 AM KWPM/ Audio Stream
96.9 The Fox will continue to follow Winona and Mt. View B/T into Saturday’s contest. Here is that schedule.
9:00AM Class 1 3rd Place 96.9 The Fox / Audio Stream
10:30AM Class 2 3rd Place 96.9 The Fox/ Audio Stream
3:00 Class 1 1st Place 96.9 The Fox / Audio Stream
4:30 Class 2 1st Place 96.9 The Fox / Audio Stream
6:45 MSU-WP Grizzlies vs Iowa Western 102.5 KDY / Audio Stream
(West Plains) – The Grizzly Basketball team will open the 2014-15 season by hosting the annual Grizzly Tip-Off Classic Tournament Friday and Saturday in the Joe Paul Evans Arena at the West Plains Civic Center.
Joining the Grizzlies on the court will be Iowa Western Community College, Panola College and Arkansas Baptist College. Games are at 5 and 7 p.m. each day, with the Grizzlies competing in the 7 p.m. contests.
Everyone is encouraged to canned food items for local food banks as part of the team’s community service project for the night.
The game sponsor is Holiday Inn Express.
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball team, visit http://wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb.
(Cape Girardeau) – Gary Lee has an update from the State Final Four for girl’s volleyball:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Thousands of Royals fans showed up Thursday to celebrate Kansas City’s best season in three decades, one day after the team’s magical run came to an end with a Game 7 World Series loss to San Francisco.
Chants of “Let’s go Royals” mingled with speeches by local politicians, team officials and players masked the melancholy of the 3-2 loss.
Some Kansas City-area schools were not in session because of parent-teacher conferences, giving children in Royals jerseys a chance to cheer alongside more experienced fans who remembered the last playoff appearance for the team back in 1985.
“We have been watching the whole World Series together as a family,” said Mindy Lilyquist, 36, a stay-at-home mom from Kansas City who brought her four children, ranging in age from 3 months to 7 years old. “It’s almost like we know the players … like they have been in our living room every night.”
Tim Duncanson, 47, of Toronto, Canada, said he became a Royals fan as a child in 1976 when the team won the AL West but lost in the ALCS to the New York Yankees. Duncanson, who works in the finance industry, brought his son to the first and seventh games of the World Series and returned to Kauffman Stadium for the rally.
Though his heart was broken in 1976, and again in 1980 when the Royals lost to Philadelphia in the World Series, Duncanson said Wednesday’s loss didn’t cut so deeply.
“It wasn’t as severe because they had such a great playoff run,” he said. “It was so satisfying. We were one hit away.”
Elsewhere, gray and brown hues normally associated with late October replaced the blue Royals playoff shirts and hats sold at local supermarkets and so common around the city over the past four weeks.
Longtime fans like retired Kansas City police officer Eric Weir took the loss in stride and proclaimed their satisfaction for a postseason performance very few ever saw coming.
“We lost by 90 feet,” said Weir, 71, in the cafeteria at a supermarket. “That’s as close as you get.”
Newer fans, like 29-year-old convenience store clerk Katie Snelling, seemed to be more disappointed in the outcome – not so much because of their allegiance to the team, but because they had become addicted to the excitement that had gripped the city.
“I was a bandwagoner, but I feel like it could have been very, very different,” Snelling said.
Michael Klingler is a Cardinals fan who moved to Kansas City two months ago from St. Louis and got swept up in Royals fever, which he said was more intense than what he has seen in St. Louis during his team’s frequent playoff appearances.
“It’s definitely been crazier than it would have been in St. Louis,” the 22-year-old said over breakfast at a downtown restaurant. “We’re kind of used to this. That’s not to say there’s not excitement (when the Cardinals are in the playoffs), but you can’t compare it to something you only get every few decades.”