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Bobby Petrino's Missouri State reminded the country they are not messing around against Arkansas


To many on the outside looking in, the Arkansas vs Missouri State game was just another non-conference game on a Saturday in September that Arkansas should easily win. After all, the Razorbacks were favored by 28.5 points.

But to Bobby Petrino and the Missouri State faithful, this game meant much, much more. Not only was it an opportunity for the Bears to show how much they've improved against an FBS opponent, It was Bobby Petrino's return to Fayetteville for the first time since 2012. Petrino had previously coached at Arkansas from 2008-2011 before being ultimately fired due the famous off-field scandal that involved Petrino showing up to a press conference in a neck brace.

Though Petrino's demise at Arkansas was mostly of his own doing, his departure was anything but mutual and any time where a former player or coach returns to their former stomping grounds they tend to make it personal regardless of the actual circumstances. Anything for that extra self-motivation.

Bobby Petrino and the Bears showed the entire country that they are not messing around

Missouri State came out firing against the Razorbacks when they took an early 17-0 lead in the first half. It was as if Arkansas didn't even come prepared. Most knew Petrino would give Arkansas everything they could handle but Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman and defensive coordinator Barry Odom did not have their team looking like they knew that.

Arkansas obviously has a major talent advantage over FCS Missouri State but the Bears' offense picked the Arkansas defense apart as Petrino found soft spots in the defense throughout the game and exploited Arkansas defenders that were constantly out of position. The offense had moved the ball effortlessly for most of the night.

Arkansas eventually tied it up 17-17 in the third quarter but the Bears' wouldn't go down so easily. Petrino drew up a beautiful 4th and 1 play action pass at midfield that went for a touchdown and made it 24-17. Missouri State continued to control the time of possession battle and managed to get Arkansas' offense off the field as it entered the fourth quarter. Missouri State tacked on one more field goal to make it 27-14 with just over twelve minutes to go in the game. The Razorbacks were truly on upset alert.

Unfortunately, the Bears would run out of gas as Arkansas scored two quick touchdowns to make it 31-27. One on a 73-yard touchdown run and the other on a punt-return taken to the house. Razorbacks' star running back Raheim Sanders was too much for Missouri State to handle as he ran the ball 22 times for 167 yards and a TD. Arkansas quarterback K.J. Jefferson added 385 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns as well. The QB-RB tandem essentially carried the Razorbacks to victory with a final of 38-27.

Missouri State quarterback Jason Shelley went toe-to-toe with Jefferson throwing 24 completions for 357 yards and put an Arkansas defender in a blender with a nice spin move that resulted in a 24-yard touchdown run. The Bears did absolutely everything they could. In the end, they couldn't pull off the upset but there was no shame in losing to Arkansas who was ranked No. 10 in the country coming into the game. Had Missouri State won it would have been one of the biggest upsets in college football history. Despite coming up short, the Bears still covered the spread. Had a few other things broken right for the Bears, Missouri State may have even won.

Head Coach Bobby Petrino could be seen running up and down the sidelines screaming at officials all night, even at the age of 61. The determination to win this game was evident. Not only that, but you could tell the players knew how much this game meant to Petrino in the way they played. Sure, they didn't win, but the fact Petrino took an FCS roster and gave a legitimate top ten team in the country a run for its money says a lot about the coach that Petrino (still) is and the team Missouri State has.

When Petrino took over at Missouri State, they were the laughing stock of FCS football. From 2006 to 2019, The Bears went a combined 50-106 over those seasons before Petrino took over in 2020. Petrino's overall record as Missouri State's head coach currently sits at 13-7 and the excitement around the program in Springfield is at an all-time high. Petrino has quickly turned around one of the most decrepit programs in the country from FCS bottom-feeder to atop the FCS polls.

Missouri State put the country on notice this past Saturday and let the country know that they are not messing around. FBS teams looking to schedule Missouri State shouldn't be chalking up the game as a "free win". Petrino has made the Bears a dangerous competitor and they have a shot to win the FCS this year with stud quarterback Jason Shelley and coach Petrino leading the way.


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