The Missouri State football team recently had its schedule shaken up when Indiana State University opted not to play in the spring FCS season. This led to a few changes in the MVFC and MSU schedule.
The spring season now includes eight MVC games, with four home games and four away games. Here’s a look at the Bears’ opponents for the 2021 season.
Illinois State, Feb. 17 (Home)
A team that finished 10-5 in the 2019 season will be seeing a lot of changes to their roster. Near 1,900-yard rusher James Robinson pursued an NFL career after the 2019 season, opening up a hole at the running back position. Senior quarterback Brady Smith and safety Christian Uphoff also ended their Redbird careers before the spring season. Uphoff has drawn attention as a late-round prospect in the upcoming NFL draft and will be using the spring as a preparation period for his possible career in the NFL. Standout senior offensive lineman Drew Himmelman may not return for the spring season either, as he is drawing interest from a number of NFL teams. This is going to be a team full of new faces and somewhat untested talent at the running back and quarterback positions.
Western Illinois, Feb. 27 (Road)
The Leathernecks were the only team MSU beat in the 2019 season, winning 37-31 in triple overtime. WIU brings back a good amount of veteran talent and has seniors starting at nearly every position. The team’s leading passer and receiver, seniors Connor Sampson and Dennis Houston, will both be playing in the spring season. The team’s most versatile weapon, fullback Clint Ratkovich, transferred to Northern Illinois University. Ratkovich was the team’s leading rusher and fourth on the team in receiving yards.
North Dakota State, March 6 (Home)
The Bison have compiled an 85-6 record since 2014 and have finished No. 1 in the conference in those six seasons. While NDSU is a powerful team in the conference, they will be without arguably their three best players in the 2021 season. Highly-touted NFL prospects quarterback Trey Lance and offensive lineman Dillon Radunz are both forgoing the spring season to pursue an NFL career. The team will also be without their 2019 tackle for loss and sack leader Derek Tuszka. However, head coach Matt Entz will still have a talented group to work with. The Bison retain their leading receiver, tackler and their interception leader from the 2019 season.
South Dakota, March 13 (Road)
MSU will travel to Vermillion, South Dakota to face the Coyotes. USD has a potent offense that posted 30 points per game in the 2019 season. The team returns their leading rusher, senior running back Kai Henry, and leading receiver, senior Caleb Vander Esch. Quarterback Austin Simmons’ departure from the program leaves a hole at the position for the Coyotes. Simmons was the team’s leading passer, touchdown scorer and second-leading rusher. Filling that hole and getting similar production from senior Tanner Tsagalis will be vital in maintaining their elite offense.
Follow TJ Scott on Twitter, @iamtjs_
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