SPRINGFIELD, Mo–Bobby Petrino has led the Missouri State Bears to back to back NCAA FCS playoff appearances.

The Bears took the first step to a three peat Wednesday at Plaster Stadium.

It was the first practice of the season.

Petrino welcomes back 41 players, 17 of them were starters last year.

The team went 8-4 and hosted Tennessee-Martin in the first round of the playoffs.

Missouri State was picked to finish third in the Valley Football Conference in a poll released Tuesday.

Eight Bears were named preseason All-Valley.

In addition to that, quarterback Jason Shelley, defensive back Montrea Braswell and punter Grant Burkett were named pre-season All-Americans by STATS.

The Bears open the season on Thursday, September 1st at Central Arkansas.

The first home game is the next Thursday, September 8th against that same Tennessee-Martin team.