Disappointed? Of course! Who wouldn’t be with the Bears getting walloped by a really good North Dakota football team 44-10.
But, let’s not forget that the reborn Petrino’s succeeded in changing not only their own mindset and focus on football, but the perspective of a starved football public in the Ozarks as well. It seems like eons since Bears football has been at the forefront of the sports conversation in this area. However, that has changed and in this reporter’s opinion, will be the outlook for the foreseeable future.
There’s obviously some improving to do with the Maroon and White. Certainly, the Bears were ready to play when game time arrived on Saturday. But, it didn’t appear as if the offensive line was cognizant of the team speed the Fightin’ Hawks presented on defense.
The first half was a veritable nightmare for the beleaguered Matt Struck who was virtually under siege at quarterback. The transfer QB had very little time to formulate the game plan, especially in regards to the passing attack. Struck was sacked eight times and hurried six more times as the Hawks applied suffocating pressure with an excellent attack of disguised blitzes and overpowering “bull rushing” by the down linemen.
The running game was negated until late in the game when the Bears were able to assert themselves and produce some positive results in all aspects of the attack.
North Dakota’s terrific start to the game really provided the impetus for the home standing Green clad Hawks who, for the record, notched their first ever FCS playoff victory. However, lest we be misleading, this is a VERY good football team which is quite likely to ve a force in the Valley, if not nationally, for quite some time. AND … they will play in Springfield next October.
And, on the subject of the Missouri Valley, the league got the best possible first round result for which they could have hoped, four first round victories.
We’re all hoping that the Bears will be back in the hunt when the season resumes just over three months from now. That’s not a very long recovery period, but that’s the way it’s going to be. Despite the encouraging success achieved this spring, Missouri State will have some rugged challenges in the fall. At this writing, the balance of power in the Missouri Valley appears to be with the northern tier schools and the Bears will be facing three of them next season. North Dakota (here), North Dakota State (there) and Northern Iowa (here). In addition, the Bears will travel to Southern Illinois, one of the first round playoff winners.
Coach Petrino, his staff and the Bears know there’s work to be done. But, the aggressive turnaround from this spring and a playoff berth after three decades of frustration, demonstrates that there’s more than just a spark of hope … a spark that we all needed.