Someone’s streak is coming to an end.
Iowa (0-1) goes into Saturday’s game against Missouri State (0-1) with a seven-game losing streak. It’s the longest since Iowa dropped 13 consecutive between the 1999-00 seasons. Last Saturday was another close defeat, 30-27 to Northern Illinois. Dating back to 2010, Iowa has had trouble closing the deal in games decided by three points or less, posting a 3-10 record.
If Saturday is decided by three points or less, well, it won’t be. This is a “cash” game for Missouri State. The school will earn $425,000 for Saturday, which kicks off at 11 a.m. (Big Ten Network).
Missouri State will come into Kinnick Stadium with a seven-game road losing streak that dates back to 2011. The Bears opened the season last Thursday with a 23-17 home loss to Northwestern State.
“After our defense made a great goal-line stand, we had a first down, but a young man trying to make another yard fumbled the football,” said MSU coach Terry Allen, an Iowa City native and former Northern Iowa head coach and Iowa State assistant. “But that’s football. We definitely had our chances.”
Oh, “that’s football.” That was an oft-used phrase last week at Kinnick, too.
Missouri State is an FCS team that plays in the Missouri Valley Conference, with Northern Iowa and North Dakota State, both of which beat FBS teams last weekend. MSU isn’t in the “beat FBS” class. It was picked to finish eighth in the MVC’s preseason poll, ahead of only Western Illinois and South Dakota.
The Bears returned 10 starters on defense, including preseason all-American, all-Valley safety Caleb Schaffitzel. MSU finished 42nd in total defense in the FCS, including 64th against the run (162.6 yards a game).
Senior defensive end Anthony Grady (6-7, 289) anchors the defensive line.
Eight return to the offense, including all-MVC receiver Dorian Buford and junior quarterback Kierra Harris. Buford, who suffered a couple of stinging drops against Northwestern, caught 59 passes for 642 yards last season. Harris completed 60.7 percent of his passes (99 of 163), but threw eight interceptions to seven TD passes.
MSU scored 22 TDs last season and averaged just 17.45 points a game.
During the loss to Northwestern State, running back Ryan Heaston was lost for the season with a broken collarbone. He led MSU in rushing last season with 424 yards on 84 carries (5.0 yards per carry).
These are tough times for Allen, who has two years left on his contract. This is his eighth season at Missouri State. The Bears have finished above .500 only twice under Allen.
Allen was kept after last season’s 3-8 record, leaving him 28-49 in seven seasons at MSU. According to the Springfield, Mo., News-Leader, Allen didn’t get a contract extension and has the two years left at $108,211 per season.
The school is spending $2.3 million on football this year, the News-Leader reported. The last time the Bears made the FCS playoffs was 1990. That seems to be the expectation this season if Allen, who won seven straight MVC (then known as the Gateway Conference) titles at UNI from 1989-96, wants to stay.
MSU president Clif Smart gave Allen a vote of confidence, telling the News-Leader that he anticipates the school playing meaningful games in November.
“The pressure that it puts on me is that these are our guys,” Allen said. “I want to have success for those 20 some seniors. That’s what it’s about. Bringing them through the program and hopefully by the time they get through we’re winning football games.”
Allen lost 40 pounds in the offseason. There seems to quite a bit more on the line this season.