Playoff Preview: Bears Host UT Martin in FCS Opening Round

#10 Missouri State Bears (8-3) vs. #13 UT Martin Skyhawks (9-2)
Date and Time Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021 | 3:02 p.m. (Central)
Location Robert W. Plaster Stadium (17,500) | Springfield, Mo.
Promotion BearFest Village Tailgating Opens at 1:00 p.m.
Game Information Stadium Procedures | Tailgating & BearFest Village | Weather
Tickets MissouriStateBears.com | (417) 836-7678 | Box Office Hours:
Tue – 8 a.m to 5 p.m.; Wed. – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Thu./Fri. – Closed;  Sat. – 10 a.m. at Stadium
Program Digital Game Program
Radio KWTO (101.3 FM) (Art Hains, Dennis Heim) | MSU Radio Network | Listen Live
Television ESPN+ (Connor Onion, Barrett Brooks) | Watch
Series MSU leads 6-0 | Last Meeting: MSU 24, UTM 14 (9/12/09)
Live Stats Live Stats
Game Notes Missouri State | UT Martin | MVFC | MSU Media Guide
Follow Athletics Facebook | Athletics Twitter | Football Facebook | Football Twitter | Instagram | Bears Weekly Presser | #MSUBears | #BearsUnite | @MoStateFootball
Up Next With a win, the Bears would advance to play on Saturday, Dec. 4 at Montana State at 3 p.m. (CT)

First and Ten

  • Missouri State returns to the NCAA FCS Playoffs on Saturday (Nov. 27) when the No. 10-ranked Bears host Ohio Valley Conference champion UT Martin (9-2) at Plaster Stadium (3 p.m., ESPN+). It marks MSU’s fourth NCAA Playoff appearance – and second in a row – but the Bears’ first home playoff game since 1990 vs. Idaho.
  • The Bears are riding a 7-game home winning streak that includes a perfect 5-0 home ledger this season.
  • Bears offensive coordinator Nick Petrino was co-offensive coordinator and QB coach at UT Martin for the 2019 season before he came to Missouri State in January of 2020.
  • Bears quarterback Jason Shelley (Frisco, Texas) was announced Monday as a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, which recognizes the top offensive player in the FCS ranks. Shelley ranks 8th in the nation in yards per completion (14.4), 8th in yards per attempt (8.57), 10th in total offense (310.3), 11th in passing yards (3,068), 13th in points responsible for (176), 14th in passing yards per game (278.9) and 23rd in rushing TD’s (10). He has already shattered MSU’s single-season passing yards (3,068) and total offense (3,417) season records.  
  • Missouri State’s season total of 28 sacks (for 151 yards) is a new program record, surpassing the team’s total of 27 sacks last season. A total of 15 Bears have contributed to this year’s record-breaking sack total, including a team-high 8.0 sacks from Kevin Ellis (DE, Forth Worth, Texas).
  • The Bears are 3-1 against the 2021 FCS Playoff field with wins over Southern Illinois, Northern Iowa and South Dakota. The team also lost a 27-20 decision at NDSU, a game the Bears led or were tied for more than 55 minutes.
  • WR Tyrone Scott (Estill, S.C.) continues to impress, shattering the program’s single-season receiving yardage record (1,039) — which ranks 6th nationally, while also breaking the program’s record for 100-yard receiving games in a season (6) and tying the MSU receiving TDs mark (8). He enters Saturday’s game 2 receptions away from tying the school single-season receptions mark (62) and ranks 9th nationally in receiving yards per game (94.5) 23rd in receiving TDs (8), 32nd in receptions per game (5.5) and 38th in yards per catch (17.3).
  • For the first time since 1990 (10 games), the Bears have scored 30 or more points in 9 different games. MSU has hit the 30-point plateau in 9 of its last 10 games overall and ranks 15th nationally in scoring (34.5).
  • The Missouri State offense ranks 5th nationally in 3rd-down efficiency (.465); 7th in yards per completion (14.3); 10th in first downs (254); 14th in red zone efficiency (.891); 15th in passing (283.6); 15th in scoring offense (34.5) and 16th in scoring offense (34.5).  
  • Grant Burkett (P, Joplin, Mo.) ranks 1st in the MVFC and 4th nationally in punting average (46.1), while helping the Bears rank 3rd nationally in net punting (42.37). He has 14 punts this season of 50 yards or more.
  • Jose Pizano (K, Lehi, Utah) was this week’s MVFC Special Teams Player of the Week after he scored 13 points in the win at Dixie State with his 19th and 20th field goals of the year. He ranks 2nd in the nation in field goals per game (1.82), 7th nationally in scoring (9.3) and 10th in FG accuracy (20-for-23) with 13 straight makes.
  • The Bears have scored on their opening drive in 6 straight games (2 TDs, 4 FGs) while MSU’s opponents have punted or turned the ball over on their opening drive in 8-of-11 games on the season.
  • Coach Bobby Petrino is one of 15 finalists announced Monday for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.
  • Kevin Ellis (DE, Fort Worth Texas) ranks 2nd in the MVFC (and 34th nationally) in sacks per game (0.73) and 3rd in the league in tackles for loss (1.1). He is coming off a game with 6 solo stops, 2.0 sacks, 3.0 tackles for loss and a pair of forced fumbles at Dixie State.
  • MSU’s defense ranks 6th nationally in takeaways (24), 9th in defensive touchdowns (3), 11th in interceptions (14), 11th in turnover margin (+0.73) and 30th in sacks (2.55).
  • Kevon Latulas (RB, Port Arthur, Texas) was this week’s MVFC Newcomer of the Week after he rushed for a career-high 162 yards on just 8 carries (20.2 ypc) with two scores at Dixie State. He ripped off TD runs of 68 and 7 yards on back-to-back possessions and posted the most rushing yards by Bear since 2018.
  • Missouri State is averaging 11,173 in home attendance, which currently ranks 16th among all FCS programs.
  • The Bears are shooting for their first 9-win season since 1990 when the Gateway co-champs finished 9-3.

Coach Bobby Petrino

  • Bobby Petrino is in his second season as Missouri State’s head football coach after joining the Bears program on January 16, 2020. He is currently 132-64 (.673) in his 16th season as a head coach and is 13-8 (.619) at Missouri State, including a 7-2 ledger at Plaster Stadium and 6-6 road record. As Bears head coach, Petrino is now 12-3 in Valley games (6-1 at home). As a head coach, Petrino is 0-0 all-time against UT Martin, 5-7 in all postseason games, and 0-1 in FCS Playoff Games at MSU.
  • He picked up his 75th career conference victory on Oct. 2 at Illinois State and his 130th all-time win on Nov. 6 at Southern Illinois. He is one of 15 finalists for the 2021 Eddie Robinson FCS Coach of the Year Award.
  • During the 2020-21 season, Petrino helped lead the Bears to a 5-1 mark in Missouri Valley Football Conference play to earn a share of the MVFC regular-season title. His efforts not only landed him the prestigious Bruce Craddock MVFC Coach of the Year Award, but also led the Bears to their first NCAA FCS playoff appearance in 30 years.
  • ESPN recently ranked Petrino #77 on its Top 100 college football coaches of the last 50 years.
  • Petrino previously served as head coach in two stints at Louisville as well as Arkansas and Western Kentucky. He spent 14 seasons at the FBS level and made 11 bowl appearances with seven teams ranked in the top 25.
  • The Helena, Mont., native is in his 33rd year of collegiate coaching overall, having guided his programs to AP top-six final rankings three times (2004, 2006, 2011) and directing some of the nation’s top offensive programs along the way. His clubs have finished in the top five nationally in scoring offense three times, while his 2004 club at Louisville led the country in scoring (49.8 ppg). He has developed 34 NFL Draft selections during his illustrious career, including four in the first round, and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
  • Petrino and his wife Becky have four children: Kelsey, Nick, Bobby and Katie — and six grandchildren. Nick Petrino is Missouri State’s offensive coordinator, while sons-in-law Ryan Beard (defensive coordinator) and L.D. Scott (defensive line) are also on the MSU coaching staff this season.

Series History

  • Missouri State leads the all-time series against UT Martin, 6-0, in a regional rivalry that dates back to 1996. The Bears are 4-0 all-time against the Skyhawks and 2-0 in Martin.
  • In the most-recent meeting between the two squads (9/12/09) at Plaster Stadium, Missouri State used a fast start to cruise to a 24-14 victory before 9,357 home fans. The Bears jumped out to a 10-0 cushion behind a 23-yard field goal by Matt Hottelman and a 2-yard TD run by Jonathan Davis in the opening quarter. Cody Kirby added a 13-yard touchdown run in the third quarter while he finished the day with 103 passing yards.
This article is provided by Missouri State