No. 11 Redbirds Wrap Up Home Stand Against Missouri State
The Redbirds will be looking to move to 7-1 for the first time since 1967.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Senior quarterback Matt Brown led the Redbirds to a come-from-behind victory over No. 8 Youngstown State last Saturday. The Marion, Ill., native threw for 225 yards and three touchdowns and scored the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard sneak in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. For his efforts, Brown was named the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season. With his 225 yards passing, Brown sits just 61 yards behind UNI's Ryan Helming (9,089) for the top spot on the conference's all-time passing yards list.
Coming off a thrilling come-from-behind victory over nationally-ranked Youngstown State last weekend, No. 11 Illinois State (6-1, 3-1 MVFC) will look to cap off its three-game homestand at Hancock Stadium on high note when it welcomes Missouri State (1-6, 1-3 MVFC), who won its first game of the season last week against South Dakota.
The Last Meeting
October 8, 2011
Illinois State and Missouri State will meet for the 33rd time on the gridiron Saturday. ISU has won the last games against the MSU and 10 out of the last 13 meetings overall. At Hancock Stadium, the Redbirds are 9-7 at home against Bears, including wins in five of the last six meetings on their home turf.
Illinois State: Brock Spack (Purdue, 1983) is in his fourth season as the head coach of the Illinois State Redbirds (25-15). In his three seasons at the helm of the program, the Redbirds have amassed a 17-4 record at home and put together three-straight winning seasons for the first time since 1998-2000.
Missouri State: Terry Allen (Northern Iowa, 1979) is in his seventh year at the helm of the Missouri State program (26-47) and in his 20th year as a collegiate head coach (121-106). Allen has produced 41 all-conference players and 24 academic all-conference players in his first six campaigns in Springfield.
- Missouri State University is located in Springfield, Mo., and has an enrollment of 22,886 students. The Bears are members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and play their home games at Plaster Field (16,300).
- The Bears return 24 players with starting experience and 36 letterwinners from last year's team that finished with a 2-9 overall record and a 2-6 mark (T-7th) in Missouri Valley Football Conference play.
- Missouri State heads into the game coming off its first victory of the 2012 season. The Bears started 0-6, with losses to a pair of nationally-ranked FBS foes in No. 21 Kansas State and No. 23 Louisville.
- Austin Witmer's 33-yard field goal as time expired capped the Bears' fourth-quarter comeback and gave them 27-24 victory over South Dakota last Saturday at Plaster Field. The Bears, who trailed 21-3 at halftime, scored 17 points over the final five-and-a-half minutes of regulation to post their first win.
- Sophomore quarterback Kierra Harris turned in a strong performance in his first starting assignment of the season, finishing 20-of-33 for a career-best 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
- Sophomore Julian Burton was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Special Teams Player of the Week Monday, after he helped set up Missouri State's game-winning field goal in the deciding seconds with a 30-yard punt return in the final minute of the game.
- The Bears are led of defense by sophomore safety Caleb Schaffitzel, who leads the team with 77 tackles to go along with 2.5 tackles-for-loss and four pass breakups.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT
- Youngstown State University is located in Youngstown, Ohio, and has an enrollment of 15,194 students. The Penguins are members of the Missouri Valley Football Conference and play their home games at Stambaugh Stadium (20,630).
- The Penguins return 17 starters and 40 letterwinners from last year's team that finished with a 6-5 overall record and a 4-4 mark (T-4th) in Missouri Valley Football Conference play.
- YSU heads into the game ranked No. 8 in The Sports Network Top 25 Poll and ranked No. 9 in the FCS Coaches Poll, thanks to a strong 4-1 start to the season.
- Youngstown State committed three turnovers in the first half, which No. 1 North Dakota State turned into three touchdowns as the Bison went on to defeat the third-ranked Penguins, 48-7, last Saturday afternoon at the Fargodome. The loss was the first of the season for the Penguins, who previously defeated FBS foe Pittsburgh and nationally-ranked Northern Iowa to start the season.
- The Penguins are led on offense by a pair of players who are named 2012 Walter Payton Award Watch List, which is given to the outstanding offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Quarterback Kurt Hess and running back Jamaine Cook are represented on the list and both are off to strong starts in 2012.
- Hess has started all five games for YSU and has thrown for 882 yards and nine touchdowns for the Penguins. When he's not airing it out, he's typically handing the ball off to Cook, who leads the team with 485 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground.
- The YSU defense has also been stellar, limiting opponents to just under 25 points per game and just 115 yards per game on the ground. The defense features five players with over 20 tackles on the season, led by Jeremey Edwards with 26 tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss.
TIES WITH THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT
- Missouri State head coach Terry Allen was the head coach at league member Northern Iowa from 1989-96. During that time, Illinois State was just 2-6 against the Panthers, with both wins coming against nationally-ranked Northern Iowa teams. Since taking over at Missouri State, Allen is 2-4 against the Redbirds.
- Missouri State linebackers coach Wayne Chambers and Illinois State's Josh Aladenoye and Jonathon Miller all played for the Oklahoma Sooners during their collegiate careers. Chambers was a three-year performer (2002-04) at Oklahoma under head coach Bob Stoops, where he made the transition into coaching.
A COMEBACK FOR THE AGES
Facing a 21-point deficit in the second quarter, Illinois State put together a record-setting comeback to secure a 35-28 victory over No. 8 Youngstown State Saturday. The Redbirds scored 28 unanswered points on the Penguins, with the go-ahead score coming on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Matt Brown with 2:44 left in the game. The 21-point deficit tied ISU's biggest come-from-behind victory in school history. ISU last overcame the three-score deficit on Oct. 23, 1999, at Southern Illinois, winning, 55-48.
SUCCESS ON THIRD DOWN
In ISU's loss to Southern Illinois (Oct. 6), the Redbirds struggled mightily on third down and failed to convert a single try with a 0-for-12 effort in the 17-0 shutout loss to the Salukis. Just a week later, the Redbirds were lethal on third down and converted two-thirds of their attempts, thanks to a season-best 10-for-15 (66.7 percent) effort on third down against No. 8 ranked Youngstown State (Oct. 13). On the season, ISU has converted 41 percent of its third-down tries (44-for-108) and raised its season percentage by four points with the strong performance against YSU.
BROWN BOUNCES BACK
ISU senior quarterback Matt Brown threw a career-high four interceptions and arguably played the worst game of his stellar career in ISU's shutout loss to Southern Illinois (Oct. 6). After a rough start in the team's game against No. 8 Youngstown State (Oct. 13), Brown swept away the cobwebs and finished with a stellar performance to earn MVFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. The Marion, Ill., native threw for 225 yards and three touchdowns and scored the game-winner with 2:44 left in the game on a one-yard quarterback sneak to finish the game with four touchdowns. Brown has now thrown three touchdowns or more in four games this season and is responsible for 71 career touchdowns, leaving him behind only Luke Drone (72) for the all-time ISU record.
WALKER TAKES THE TOP SPOT
In his four years with the Redbirds, senior wideout Tyrone Walker has put up some pretty impressive numbers. In the team's loss to Southern Illinois (Oct. 6), he became the ISU all-time receptions leader with his eight grabs against the Salukis. The Indianapolis, Ind., native now has 206 in his career, moving past current Jacksonville Jaguar Laurént Robinson (192) for the all-time lead in that category. Walker is also in second place on the career receiving yards list with 2,865, trailing only Robinson (3,007). Walker also trails Robinson (29) in career touchdown receptions in second place with 25.
Heading into halftime, Illinois State head coach Brock Spack knew he needed to make a change in order for his team to come away with a victory against No. 8 ranked Youngstown State (Oct. 13). Spack changed his defensive game plan at the break, after surrendering touchdowns on the Penguins' first four possessions en route to at 28-7 deficit. Spack's adjustments certainly seemed to work, as the Illinois State defense stiffened over the final two quarters, holding YSU scoreless over its last eight possessions and to just 100 total yards over the final two quarters of play. The Redbirds also had to find a way to stop YSU running back Jamaine Cook, who rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns through the first two quarters. Their plan worked, with Cook only able to gain 32 yards the rest of the way.
DUDLEY DOES IT ALL
Junior wide receiver Phil Dudley did it all for the Redbirds in their come-from-behind victory over No. 8 Youngstown State (Oct. 13) at Hancock Stadium. The transfer from Ball State caught two passes for 14 yards, picked up seven yards on a reverse run and had a 29-yard kick return for the Redbirds. However, his biggest contribution of the day came when he caught a lateral from quarterback Matt Brown and then fired a 50-yard pass to Lechein Neblett, which put the Redbirds at the YSU two-yard line and set up Brown's game-winning quarterback sneak late in the fourth quarter.
UNDERWOOD DOES IT ALL
Junior defensive end Colton Underwood continued his strong play this season and sealed the victory over No. 8 Youngstown State (Oct. 13) with a sack late in the fourth quarter for the Redbirds. The Washington, Ill., native sealed the Redbird victory with a fourth-down sack of YSU quarterback Kurt Hess on the ISU 26 yard-line with 1:06 remaining. He finished with a game-high 11 tackles and tallied three tackles-for-loss to go along with the sack. Underwood now leads the team and the Missouri Valley Football Conference with 6.5 sacks and 13 tackles-for-loss on the season, and currently ranks third in the country in tackles-for-loss.
'BIRDS FLYING HIGH IN POLLS
The Illinois State football team has set up shop in the national polls recently and has little plans of moving out. After heading into the season ranked in both The Sports Network and FCS Coaches Polls in 2012, ISU was ranked No. 11 in The Sports Network Top 25 Poll and No. 13 in the FCS Coaches Poll following its 35-28 come-from-behind victory over No. 8 Youngstown State (Oct. 13). The Redbirds have now been ranked for 14-straight weeks, dating back to last season.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME
The friendly confines of Hancock Stadium have treated Illinois State extremely well over the past four seasons with head coach Brock Spack at the helm of the program. Despite a tough shutout loss to Southern Illinois last week (Oct. 6), the Redbirds rebounded with a 35-28 victory over No. 8 Youngsotwn State (Oct. 13) and have put together a 17-4 mark at Hancock Stadium under Spack and have won 10 out of their last 12 games at home, dating back to 2010.
With the team's 35-28 come-from-behind victory over No. 8 Youngstown State (Oct. 13), ISU head coach Brock Spack recorded his 25th victory with the Redbirds and moved past Todd Berry for eighth place on the Illinois State career wins list. Spack is 25-15 (.625) as the Redbirds' mentor and could tie Gerry Hart (26) with a win today against Missouri State. Berry finished his four-year career with a 24-24 overall record, which included a 19-7 record over his final two seasons.
STRONG UP FRONT
Despite a tough loss, the Redbird defense played a strong game against Southern Illinois (Oct. 6), particularly on the defensive front. The ISU defense held the Salukis to just 182 yards of total offense and Redbird defensive linemen accounted for all three of the team's sacks and eight tackles-for-loss. Junior defensive end Colton Underwood led the way with 12 tackles and three TFLs, and senior end Nate Palmer tied career-bests with two sacks and three TFLs against SIU. Junior defensive tackle Shelby Harris rounded out the strong effort up front with seven tackles, a sack and two TFLs for the Redbirds.
THE TOTAL PACKAGE
ISU senior quarterback Matt Brown has cemented his name atop several team and conference all-time performance lists in the past few weeks and he added to those achievements against Southern Illinois (Oct. 6). The Marion, Ill., native became Illinois State's career leader in total offense yards with 9,044, after recording 203 against the Salukis. Brown now holds ISU career records for passing attempts (1,257), completions (805), passing yards (9,028), passing touchdowns (65) and completion percentage (64.0). Brown is also the Missouri Valley Football Conference all-time leader in attempts and completions and is second in passing yards, just 61 yards behind Ryan Helming of UNI (9,089).
Illinois State needed a special effort on special teams against South Dakota (Sept. 29) to come away with a tough 34-31 road victory. The Redbirds blocked two punts, punted well and made two big field goals against the Coyotes. Safety Dontae McCoy blocked two punts in the second quarter, one of which led to a touchdown three plays later, to give him three punt blocks for the year. Punter Patrick Wright also had a great day, as he averaged 41 yards per punt and pinned the Coyotes inside their own 20-yard line four times. Capping off the special effort was kicker Nick Aussieker, who made a pair of field goals, including a career-long 42 yarder in the fourth quarter, that proved to be the difference in the game.
AIRING IT OUT
Redbird quarterback Matt Brown posted his second game with over 300 yards passing this season, with his 336 yards against the South Dakota (Sept. 29). Most of those yards fell into the hands of Donovan Harden and Tyrone Walker, who each had over 100 yards receiving in the Redbird victory. Harden led all receivers with a career-high 139 yards, including a 79-yard touchdown pass from Brown in the fourth quarter that gave the Redbirds the lead for good. Walker had five catches for 110 yards, marking his 11th career game with over 100 yards receiving at Illinois State. Harden and Walker became the second Redbird receiving duo to each record 100 yards in the same game this season, matching the effort of Walker and Lechein Neblett against Eastern Illinois.
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?
In his four years as the starting quarterback for the Redbirds, senior Matt Brown has proven he can do just about anything on the football field behind center. With a strong performance against South Dakota (Sept. 29), Brown cemented his name atop most of Illinois State's career passing records. Brown passed for 336 yards and accounted for two touchdowns in the win over the Coyotes. The Marion, Ill., native also tied Kevin Glenn for first on the career passing touchdowns list with 62, thanks to his 79-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Harden n the fourth quarter. For his efforts, Brown was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
REDBIRDS ON A ROLL
Off to its first 6-1 record since 1967, the Illinois State football team has been on a hot streak of late and is in the midst of the most successful run in school history. Dating back to last season, the Redbirds have won 11 out of their last 13 games, marking the best run over a 13-game span in the history of the Redbird football program. ISU won five straight from Oct. 8 to Nov. 5 in 2011, before dropping the season finale in double overtime to Northern Iowa to snap the win streak. Add in the five-straight wins to open 2012, and the Redbirds have been on quite a roll.
RACKING UP TACKLES
With his 13 tackles in a 34-31 win over South Dakota (Sept. 29), ISU middle linebacker Mike Zimmer posted his third-straight double-digit tackling effort of the season. Zimmer became the first Redbird to post a double-digit tackling efforts on the season, after he set a career-best with 15 stops in the double-overtime win against Eastern Illinois (Sept. 15). Zimmer now leads the Redbirds with 66 stops on the season, with 3.5 sacks and four tackles-for-loss, and has recorded double-digit tackling efforts in four of his last five games played.
Darrelynn Dunn has embraced his role as the starting running back and has put up a four impressive performances in the first seven games for the Redbirds. Dunn had a career day in the 56-14 season-opening win over the Dayton Flyers (Sept. 1), when he set career-highs in carries (25), yards (127) and touchdowns (3) against the Flyers to pace a Redbird rushing attack that amassed 318 yards on the ground on the day. The Bloomington, Ill., native followed that up by rushing for a career-high 129 yards against Eastern Michigan (Sept. 8), and he scored two more touchdowns. After a tough game against Eastern Illinois (Sept. 15), Dunn rebounded with 114 yards and two more rushing touchdowns in the 23-3 victory at Western Illinois (Sept. 22). He capped off the run with 107 yards and two more touchdowns on the ground at South Dakota (Sept. 29). Overall, Dunn leads the team with 608 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season.