10.21.21 Football File

Tyrone Scott catches the ball in mid-air before landing in the endzone. The Bears beat Indiana State 37-7 on Oct. 16 during Homecoming week.

The Missouri State football team fell to 4-3 (3-2) on the season after giving up two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 27-20 loss to North Dakota State.

The coaches and players have Football Championship Subdivision and Missouri Valley Football Conference championship aspirations. With its second conference loss, in a game they were leading until the late stages, those aspirations have become much more difficult to achieve. 

MVFC Championship Hopes

The Bears are currently tied for third in the conference with South Dakota, sitting behind Southern Illinois and NDSU — both of which are 4-0 in conference play. 

To claim the MVFC title outright, the Bears need a few things to happen.

  1. Win out, including winning three straight games against North Dakota, SIU and Northern Iowa. This would give the Bears a 6-2 MVFC record. 

  2. SIU losing two or more MVFC games.

  3. NDSU collapsing and losing three of its last four games.

South Dakota could give the Bears some issues in terms of climbing in the conference, but a loss on Saturday to Illinois State and a loss to MSU early in the season gives the Bears the tiebreaker.

The chances of winning the title outright are out of the realm of realism. A lot of crazy games and crazy outcomes need to go in MSU’s favor if they want to snag an MVFC title. Beating NDSU on Saturday would have nearly cemented them as the top dog in the conference. 

However, not winning the conference isn't the end of the world. The MVFC is the deepest and most talented conference in the FCS. They send multiple teams to the FCS playoffs every season. Even in a smaller field in 2020, five of the 16 teams were from the MVFC — MSU was one of those teams.

FCS Playoff hopes

Even with three losses on the season, the Bears still have a good chance to make the FCS Playoffs.

MSU was 5-4 before making the playoffs in 2020, and the committee took into account the fall games that MSU finished 0-3 in.

The Bears got off to a hot start this season, being ranked as high as No. 15 in the STATS Perform top 25. However, the playoff committee only considers the FCS Coaches Poll when determining playoff seeding. MSU hasn’t been higher than No. 16 in the coaches poll, and currently sits at No. 18.

Losing to the Bison could bump them out of the top 25 entirely, especially with UNI beating South Dakota State and North Dakota beating Western Illinois on Saturday. 

Head coach Bobby Petrino has repeatedly said that he doesn't look at any of the polls, but he knows the players do. It may be time to pay attention to those rankings because it could determine the Bears’ postseason fate. 

The expectations for this team are as high as they’ve ever been. There are no finding victories in losing close games. It's not about just making it to the playoffs, it's about winning games once they get there. 

The loss to the Bison doesn’t derail the season. MSU still has four games left, three against MVFC opponents, and a lot of time to climb the rankings, address areas of concern and make a postseason run. They have a good chance to get in, but they have to perform well down the stretch to secure a playoff spot. 

The Bears are back home to take on North Dakota on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.

 

Follow TJ Scott on Twitter, @iamtjs_

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