SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The FCS playoff hibernation is over for the Missouri State Bears.
Missouri State is making its return trip to the playoffs for the first time since 1990, the selection committee announced on Sunday.
The Bears (5-4, 5-1) will play at North Dakota on Saturday at 3 pm.
“It should be a great challenge for us, but are certainly excited and looking forward to it,” Bears head coach Bobby Petrino said.
Missouri State enters the game on a four-game win streak, while North Dakota hasn’t played a game since March 20.
The Bears and Fighting Hawks both make the playoffs out of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and were supposed to play against each other on April 3. That game was canceled because of COVID concerns within the UND Tier 1 group.
The MVFC got five teams into the playoffs with South Dakota State earning the top overall seed.
The conference also earned four of the six at-large bids.
“We were all sitting in there as a staff and saw (Southern Illinois) come up, we weren’t really sure if we were in or not,” Petrino said. “Some coaches thought that was a good sign and some thought it wasn’t. We just continued to watch and when we saw it come up we were all excited and fired up about it, certainly I know our players are. I’ve already had a bunch of texts come in from our players and how excited they are.
Missouri State went 0-3 during the fall portion of the schedule with losses at Oklahoma, at Central Arkansas and at home against Central Arkansas.
Then the Bears turned it on in the spring, winning all of its conference games with the lone exception coming at the hands of perennial power North Dakota State. After the effort, Missouri State earned a share of the conference regular season title.
The Bears – Fighting Hawks opening round game is scheduled to air on ESPN3.