This is a first-time meeting between Missouri State and USD. The Coyotes will get a break from the big backs who have given them trouble against the Bears, who hand it off to Ryan Heaston, a 174-pound freshman who doesn’t start but leads the team with 81 carries for 415 yards. He had 148 yards against SDSU so he must be pretty decent.
Missouri State has lost to Kansas State and Louisville, so you can’t really count those for much in terms of what the Bears will be like on Saturday. The other non-conference loss came to Murray State (28-23) which has been a crazy scoring machine in some other games this year.
The forecast is for 79 and rain. The Bears play on a FieldTurf surface and are drawing between 8,000 and 10,000 a game.
This is a pivotal game as far as the 2012 season is concerned for reasons that are obvious — the Coyotes haven’t won a conference game yet, for one thing — but there are also other reasons.
I got a question this week on the live chat about where the loss to Western Illinois ranks on the pain-o-meter. It definitely left a mark but in no way does it compare with losses at Cal Poly and North Dakota last year. Those were games the Coyotes had in hand and lost.
It’s a different coach and a different season but the Coyotes’ road issues remain a part of the program’s identity for now. This will remain the team that can’t win road games until it starts winning road games, it’s that simple. I suspect the Coyotes will be playing an inspired Bears team because the hosts can look at their record, see the kinds of teams remaining on the schedule, and logically conclude if they’re going to get the ‘0’ out of their season, this is the week to do it. Similar to the Coyotes, it’s not going to get any easier for Missouri State in the weeks ahead, which adds to the urgency on both sides.
If the Coyotes are really a pretty decent team with the ability to put up at least a few wins in the conference, it’s got to start this week. Joe Glenn has continually praised the Coyotes for their work ethic and resolve this year but there comes a time when athletes inevitably begin to wonder whether they’re ever going to be rewarded for what they’re trying to do.
If the Coyotes play a clean game in regard to turnovers and penalties, they’ll probably win this one. If not — if the same sorts of things that brought about losses in the last two games reappear — then the idea that this a good team midst a stretch of bad luck gets harder to believe.