UCA vs. Missouri State Preview

Coming off a 43-33 loss to the Montana State Bobcats on Sept. 13, UCA (1-2) looks ahead at the Missouri State Bears (2-1) this Saturday in what has been dubbed “the Battle of the Bears.” This will be Missouri State’s first trip to Conway since 2006, when UCA won 16-14 and held Missouri State to five first downs and 96 yards of total offense. This Missouri State team is different than the one that made the roughly 185 mile trek south in ’06 though, as it  has received 28 votes for the Coaches’ Poll. MSU boasts a three-headed running attack with freshman running back Calan Crowder, sophomore running back Phoenix Johnson and dual-threat senior quarterback Kierra Harris. The trio has ran for 578 yards on 108 carries in three games. By contrast, UCA owes the bulk of its carries to senior running back Willie Matthews, who has 46 rushing attempts for 172 yards. UCA’s quarterback play will be something to watch after junior quarterback Taylor Reed went down last week with a concussion. It will be interesting to see if Reed has passed the test to get back on the field for this week or see if Coach Steve Campbell will go with senior quarterback Ryan Howard. As for MSU’s quarterback, Harris has kept opposing defenses on its toes with his mobility and his arm. This season, he has completed 36 of 59 passes for 183.3 yards per game, eight touchdowns and one interception. On the defensive end, MSU sophomore outside linebacker Dylan Cole leads the team in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks with 26, 8.5 and 1.5 respectively. Cole put his name in the FCS record books when he turned in a six tackles for loss in a game on Sept. 6 against Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Oklahoma State University, which ties him for fourth all-time. Cole and MSU’s defense are allowing 379.7 yards per game, while UCA’s defense is allowing 520. One final interesting stat: UCA has scored 29 of its 94 points in the first half of its three games so far. MSU has scored 27 of its 95 points in the first half.

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