Missouri State Bears
2017 Record: 3-8
2017 OFFENSE: 24.2 ppg. (61st in FCS)
2017 DEFENSE: 38.3 ppg. (117th in FCS)
Most people may have forgotten or overlooked the fact that Oklahoma State defeated Missouri State (Then Southwest Missouri State) in college football’s first ever overtime game. By way of their 23-20 victory, on August 31st, 1996, the Cowboys and Bears have been the answer to a trivia question for more than two decades now.
While Thursday night shouldn’t bring a game that get’s anywhere close to overtime, the Bears are bringing a team with a lot of experience to Stillwater. Head coach Dave Steckel has only won eight games during his first three years in Springfield, seven of them coming over the last two seasons.
What Steckel is banking on is 13 returning starters in 2018 leading to significant improvement. That improvement will depend heavily on the defense where the Bears have their top eight tacklers returning from 2017.
Junior corner Darius Joseph and junior linebacker McNeece Egbim are the two defensive leaders you’ll want to know about. Egbim recorded 71 total tackles last season, with 7.5 being for loss, and Joseph (52 tackles in 2017) was a preseason All-Conference Honorable Mention.
On the offensive side of the ball Missouri State will look to returning quarterback Peyton Huslig to run the show once again. After leading the Bears in both passing and rushing yards, Huslig is expected to take another step forward as a junior.
Husling will have senior running back Jason Randall in the backfield with him. Randall scored five rushing touchdowns last season and caught three more scores out of the backfield.
The Bears did lose their top four pass catchers from a year ago, including Edmond, Oklahoma native Malik Earl, but they are hoping that 6-3 JUCO transfer Antwan Woods can make an immediate impact.
The odds are certainly stacked in Oklahoma State’s favor here but that doesn’t mean Missouri State won’t be good for a big play here or there. They are one of the more experienced teams in the Missouri Valley Conference but that won’t equate to keeping up with the Cowboys.