‘We’re fired up’: Missouri State football preparing to host first playoff game since 1990
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Missouri State Bears football team will host its first playoff game since 1990 on Saturday against the UT Martin Skyhawks.
The 1990 season was one of the last few under former head coach Jesse Branch. The Bears played the Idaho Vandals in their last home playoff game, a contest they lost by a score of 41-35.
“Thirty years is a long time,” said Missouri State athletic director Kyle Moats. " I don’t really like to talk to much about the past, but I think you have to recognize the past.”
This makes the second consecutive playoff appearance for the Bears since Bobby Petrino took over as head coach. Last year’s season came to an end with a 44-10 loss to North Dakota Fighting Hawks in the opening round.
“We have a really good football team,” said Moats. “Our community knows. Those who have been out to watch understand how fun our games have been.”
For perspective, Idaho was the opponent in the last home playoff game. Bobby Petrino was one of the coaches on the staff at the time. The Vandals are now a Division 1A team in the Big Sky Conference.
“I’m excited about it. We’re fired up to have it at home,” said Petrino in a press conference earlier this week. “I think that was the thing when they announced it: the big cheer was we were at home.”
A lot has changed since then, Robert W. Plaster Stadium didn’t even have its upper deck expansion yet, which was added as part of a project in 1991. And just last month, Missouri State announced a new expansion to the south end zone.
But the crowd may look a little different too, given many students are home for Thanksgiving break.
“I hope our community comes out and supports this team,” said Moats. “I think it will be a little different than a homecoming or a parents’ weekend, but I hope those that come out are really loud and boisterous and really give us that home-field advantage.”
The attendance at football games has been on the rise in the recent years after falling to the lowest point in nearly three decades in 2017. Crowds are important in a playoff game, where hosts have to keep several elements neutral, compared to a regular-season contest.
“We’re hosting this event on behalf of the NCAA. It is not a Missouri State event,” said Moats. “There will be several different aspects of neutrality in terms of signs and video board animations and things like that. It only raises the importance of the crowd providing the home field advantage.”
Moats hopes it will have a large impact on the weekend economically with several families visiting town for the holiday.
A playoff victory would be only the second in school history and the first in the Bobby Petrino era.
“Yeah, I think it’s really important,” said Moats. “Important for our program and our university to have something like that be a part of our university. I’m just excited to be able to have a playoff here on campus.”
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Kickoff for Saturday’s game is set for 3 p.m.
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